What Is Off-Page SEO? A Comprehensive Guide 

Erika Varagouli

Mar 14, 202214 min read
Off-Page SEO

If you want your site to rank on Google and increase your brand's organic traffic, you'll need to look at more than your on-page SEO strategy. 

Off-page SEO is one of the essential parts of a successful SEO strategy. We'll share what it is, how it works, and how to use it to increase your site's visibility. 

What Is Off-Page SEO?

Off-page SEO refers to all SEO tactics that don't involve updating or publishing content to your website. 

In the past, many used "off-page SEO" and " link building" interchangeably, but in reality, there are many off-page SEO tactics you can use, including: 

  • brand building
  • citation building
  • content marketing
  • social media, and more. 

These tactics help both search engines and users better understand your website and increase your site's authority, trust, and relevance.

Think of it like this:

  • Your website = on-page SEO
  • Another site or platform = off-page SEO 

On-Page vs. Off-Page SEO vs. Technical SEO

All SEO tactics can be categorized into three buckets: on-Page SEO, off-Page SEO, and technical SEO. But what's the difference?

image.png
  • On-page SEO covers the tactics you use on your site that help search engines understand your content better and rank. These all fall under on-page SEO, creating content, optimizing title tags, image optimization, and more.
  • Off-page SEO includes activities from or "behind the scenes" of your website.
  • Technical SEO refers to activities that directly impact the indexing and crawling of your site by search engines. Examples include site speed optimization, structured data, and more.

Why is Off-Page SEO Important?

Think about off-page SEO as building your site's domain authority. Without this, your site might struggle to outrank websites with higher authority. 

Higher authority websites tend to rank better than those with low or no authority because search engines consider them more credible, relevant, and trustworthy.

You want to signal that many people trust, share, and reference your site to search engines. Links are one way to show that, but you can't focus on link building alone. There are many other off-page SEO techniques you can use — let's take a look at a few. 

13 Off-Page SEO Techniques That Work

Let's take a look at 13 different off-page tactics you can use to grow authority and organic search traffic:

  • Link Building
  • Brand Building
  • Content Marketing
  • PR
  • Local SEO (GMB and Citations)
  • Social Media
  • Forums
  • Influencer Marketing
  • Events
  • Guest Posting
  • Podcasts
  • Reviews
  • Content Syndication

Given Google's algorithm, link building remains an integral part of any off-page SEO strategy. But it is important to understand how to best build links for your website and niche. 

Earning backlinks from high-authority websites helps position your site as an authority. These high authority links work like a "vote of trust" from one site to another.

The #1 goal of link building should be to earn quality links from authority sites. You should always focus on quality over quantity.

Part of your link-building strategy should include closing the link gap between your site and your competitors' site. If they're earning backlinks from high authority sites that aren't linking to you, you could be missing out on some quality traffic. 

Here are the three primary factors you should be considering with link building:

Authority

By now, hopefully, you already understand why the authority of links is so important. You can find the authority of any website using Semrush's Authority Score metric. But what exactly is AS, and what does it measure?

Authority Score is our compound domain score that grades the overall quality of a website and tells you how impactful a backlink from a site can be. The score is based on the following Semrush data:

  • The domain's quantity and quality (authority) of backlinks.
  • Quantity of referring domains and quantity of referring IPs.
  • Follow vs. nofollow links.
  • Organic search traffic (from our Organic Positions report).
  • The number of users (from our Traffic Analytics report).

To gain insights into the authority score of current links, you can use the Backlink Analytics tool. You can view your site's links and their associated authority score on the 'backlinks' tab:

image.png

You will see the authority score in the first column header 'Page AS.' The higher the score, the higher the authority of the link.

But what about when prospecting for new links?

You can run any domain through the Backlink Analytics tool, and you will see the AS for that domain, not just those that link to it. You will find this on the domain's overview tab:

image.png

Remember, the goal of link building should be to earn links from sites with a high Authority Score, and with the data available from these tools, you can layer these insights into your prospecting. 

Unique Domains

Another critical metric of link-building success is the number of linking root domains that point to your site, even above the number of backlinks. Studies have shown a clear correlation between linking domains and higher rankings. Domain diversity should be a key focus as part of your strategy.

Referring domains chart

Credit: Backlinko

You can see the number of unique domains that link to your site using the referring domains tab of the Backlink Analytics tool.

image.png

Topical Relevance

You should always aim to land links from sites that topically align with your own. For example, if you run a travel site, you should aim for most of the links you earn to come from other travel sites; bloggers, online publishers (such as Lonely Planet), tourism boards, and the like. It makes sense.

That said, it is OK to have some links from other topics if they are natural and make sense; aim for the majority to be closely topically aligned. 

You can check out our detailed guide to link-building strategies that work to understand how to earn quality backlinks with techniques like Digital PR, brand mentions, and newsjacking. There are a lot of effective tactics you can use to build excellent links and diversify your backlink profile.

Off-Page SEO Tactic #2: Brand Building

It is now a well-known fact that Google rewards brands. 

And brand building activities should form a key part of your broader SEO and marketing strategy and part of your approach to off-page SEO. And once again, it all hooks back to building your online authority, both for users and search engines.

But how does brand building intersect with your SEO strategy, and what are the success metrics?

Brand Searches

Perhaps one of the most vital indicators that you are building your brand is increased brand searches. This could be your brand name, products, or domain name searches.

To see how your branded searches have changed over time, head to the Keyword Overview tool and enter your brand name. You will see a 'trends' box that indicates how search volumes have changed over the past month.

brand searches trends

You can also look at Google Trends to help track interest in your brand.

Again, enter your brand name and see how interest has changed over time; it is possible to look back as far as 2004.

Google trends chart on brand searches

There is another reason why it's so important to focus on brand-building efforts, too, and that's brand SERPs.

What are brand SERPs? These are the search results that show when someone searches your brand name.

You may consider these to have a reputational impact, but there is a strong SEO consideration, too. Brand-building efforts help Google to understand your credibility, which is why it has become such an essential off-page SEO tactic. 

When you build a brand, you will also find that you naturally earn links and mentions across the web, even without proactively working for them. 

Off-Page SEO Tactic #3: Content Marketing

When we think of content marketing, it is all too easy to think of it only as an on-page SEO tactic — that being, the creation and publishing of content that sits on your website.

But, taking a holistic view, content marketing spans both on-page and off-page tactics. Publishing great content on your site is only one part of content marketing; any content you create and publish anywhere on the web falls under content marketing.

If you write a guest post or publish an infographic that gets linked to a top-tier newspaper, that's content marketing. 

Creating excellent, engaging assets can make it easier to promote your content, and it could encourage others to share it too. Typical content marketing tactics that help boost off-page signals includes:

  • Blog posts
  • Infographics
  • Surveys, studies & research papers
  • Whitepapers & eBooks

Content marketing also works well with other off-page techniques like link building, social media, and PR.

Quite simply, if you have a great piece of content, tell people about it. You can use our Content Marketing Toolkit to help you find popular topics that are gaining traction online and find the most relevant industry media to promote your content.

Off-Page SEO Tactic #4: PR

PR and SEO were seen as two different marketing disciplines for a long time, but in recent years, the lines have blurred, and the two have come together.

Digital PR is now the link-building tactic of choice for many SEOs, given that it is the perfect way to earn authority links at scale. You can use PR tactics to promote a great story and corresponding linkable assets, and it is possible to earn significant volumes of links as a result.

A recent study highlighted that the average campaign earns links from between 10 and 24 unique linking domains.

image.png

PR contributes to off-page SEO signals in more ways than simply helping to build links. A great PR campaign can also:

  • Increase brand awareness and resultant brand searches.
  • Put your business in front of your target audience and gets them talking about you.
  • Drives referral traffic.
  • Positions you as a thought leader in your industry and helps to build trust signals.

Off-Page SEO Tactic #5: Local SEO

While local SEO is a complete discipline of SEO in its own right, certain elements are key off-page SEO tactics — two are Google My Business and citations.

Google My Business

Google My Business plays a vital role in the online presence of pretty much any local business. Still, it's easy to forget that optimizing your page and getting it to rank on the map pack is off-page SEO.

GMB isn't your website, and let's not forget that any efforts that focus on anything but your site counts as off-page. 

It has recently been reported that 46% of all Google searches are looking for local information and that 4 in 5 consumers use search engines to find local information. It is a simple fact that if it is not your business showing amongst local GMB results, it is one of your competitors.

Take a look at our ultimate guide to Google My Business to learn the tips and tricks to help you optimize your listing and understand how to make the most of the platform as part of your off-page strategy.

Citations

A citation is a mention of your business online that typically references your business' NAP (name, address, and phone number). Think of them as business listings.

If you are a local business looking to rank for geographically targeted search terms on the SERPs or map pack, you cannot avoid the importance of citations.

But one of the keys to success with citations is consistency. Inconsistent citations demonstrate a lack of coherency. 

You must take the time to ensure that all of your NAP references match.

You can use our Listing Management Tool to audit your citations, find new opportunities, clean up duplicates, and manage reviews.

Citation listing management tool stats

Off-Page SEO Tactic #6: Social Media

There's no denying that we live in a social-first world. 93% of regular Internet users log into social media.

Social media plays a massive role in using the web and searching for answers to our questions. Think about it this way; social media platforms are a type of search engine (or answer engine.)

However, you should know that social shares aren't a direct ranking factor. Treat social media platforms as search engines and discovery platforms. 

Your presence across social can put you in front of potential clients and customers looking for answers to their questions or for the right brands on the social networks they use.

Social media is also often used as a customer service platform.

A customer wants to speak with your brand to raise a query or question? Most of your customers will reach out on social as the first port of call.

You must maintain a strong presence, communicate professionally, and treat social as another brand channel, one that both existing and potential customers will discover as part of their sales journey.

Off-Page SEO Tactic #7: Forums

You may be surprised to see forums recommended as an off-page SEO tactic. Why?

Because for years, SEOs spammed forums, comments, and other UGC platforms as a way to build (high or low quality) links. For this reason, the attention of many shifted away from forums completely. 

When used as part of a more comprehensive strategy, forums can add real value to your marketing mix. Rather than using forums to build links, go in with a different mindset.

Think of using forums as a way to get directly involved in conversations that relate to your expertise, to position yourself as an expert, and quickly rise to be seen as a specialist or expert. 

Very few other platforms allow you to have open discussions with potential customers who are already asking questions about what you have to offer. This is a fantastic way to begin building relationships and trust. 

image.png

With a bit of effort and commitment, you can relatively easily build up a strong community and level of trust from audiences on forums. Reddit and Quora are key large-scale platforms to use, but forums within your niche can be just as effective.

Forums have declined in popularity since their heyday in the 2000s, so there is a pretty good chance your competitors won't be there, making it much easier to cut through any noise.

Off-Page SEO Tactic #8: Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing comes in several different forms today. Rewind a few years, and the tactic was about bloggers doing sponsored posts. Today, it's all about Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok.

Influencer marketing can be a phenomenal way to build your brand, amplify your content, and reach new audiences. 

We have already discussed how social networks are search engines in their own right. While they are used differently from Google, they are a form of a search engine where users are actively looking to find content. 

Influencers can go a long way to helping to ensure you are present, as a business, on these platforms. 

Don't use influencer marketing as a way to build links unless they are nofollowed; links within sponsored content violate Google's Webmaster Guidelines

Off-Page SEO Tactic #9: Events

Events are making a comeback within marketing strategies, and, believe it or not, they can help contribute to your off-page SEO strategy.

Now more than ever, online events are significant. Not only can they help to engage your audience, but you can also benefit from a real buzz around your business, which will drive social engagement and even links.

Don't discount using events from your marketing strategy. They may require more effort to run properly, but that buzz can be difficult to replicate in other ways. They are also a great way to pick up some fantastic PR coverage. 

Off-Page SEO Tactic #10: Guest Posting

Guest posting involves submitting content to someone else's website to provide information and value to their audience. 

When done right, guest posting can contribute far more to your marketing strategy than just being used as a way to build links. It remains one of the most effective link building tactics, as evidenced in our study of 850 SEO specialists:

Link building strategy study

Guest posting puts your brand in front of a targeted audience, earns targeted traffic, and helps to position you as an expert in your field.

Your primary objective of guest posting should be to reach a new audience, get in front of a related site's traffic, and build your brand. When you approach the tactic with this mindset, you will find that it can be highly valuable.

Links shouldn't be the only reason you guest post; they should be an added benefit if they happen.

Learn more about the benefits and breakdown of guest posting with our guide to using guest blogging.

Off-Page SEO Tactic #11: Podcasts

Podcasts are insanely popular right now, and they are continuing to gain more listeners every month. 57% of Americans have listened to podcasts at least once.

If you are not using them as part of your marketing strategy, you could be missing out on huge opportunities. 

Let's look at the benefits:

  • Most businesses still aren't using podcasts as part of their strategy, which is a great way to gain a competitive advantage.
  • They are a great way to reach new audiences, share your expertise, and gain visibility on search engines that aren't Google.
  • Apple's Podcasts is still a search engine — one that lets you find relevant podcasts with keywords.
  • Google Podcasts is another, as is Listen Notes.
Example of listen notes as a search engine

The businesses that recognize that SEO should cover more search engines, ultimately those who succeed in building a brand and finding ways to target their potential audience, whichever platform they choose.

Are you thinking about starting your own podcast? Check out our guide to podcasting to learn more. 

Off-Page SEO Tactic #12: Reviews

Did you know that 89% of people consult online reviews before making a purchase?

Your online reputation has never been so important. Reviews are a massively underrated off-page SEO and online reputation management tactic. 

As TrustPilot says, "Perhaps the most underrated benefit of collecting reviews is that, when implemented properly, reviews can help Google better understand your site. The common understanding is that Google uses them to derive brand signals, which can boost your site's domain authority and eventually your position in search."

When stripped back to basics, off-page SEO all comes back to building your brand and creating signals that portray you as one that deserves to rank at the top of the SERPs. 

A business that has collected great reviews on third-party platforms is positioning itself as a brand. Great reviews help to increase conversions and, once again, trust. 

image.png

Credit: TrustPilot

Off-Page SEO Tactic #13: Content Syndication

Sometimes, a publication will look to syndicate content from other sources to supplement their original articles. They do this because it is easier than creating fresh content all the time.

You often find that content is syndicated across sites that form part of a network owned by a TV or radio group. But publishers are also using this to increase the content that goes live on their site every day.

Yahoo! is perhaps one of the biggest platforms that commonly syndicate content from other sources.

You might also have considered syndicating your content to other publications to increase your reach and readership.

But how does this fare as an off-page SEO tactic?

Let's take a look at what Google says:

Syndicate carefully: If you syndicate your content on other sites, Google will always show the version we think is most appropriate for users in each given search, which may or may not be the version you'd prefer. However, it is helpful to ensure that each site on which your content is syndicated includes a link back to your original article. You can also ask those who use your syndicated material to use the noindex meta tag to prevent search engines from indexing their version of the content.

Syndicated content often isn't indexed by Google for obvious reasons related to it being a duplicate of the original. But that doesn't mean to say you should always avoid it.

Content syndication can help amplify your content. More eyeballs on your published work can positively impact brand signals, even when the URLs canonicalize to the original, which has been discussed in detail here

Make Sure Your Off-Page SEO Is in Order

You can't ignore off-page SEO these days, but it is essential to recognize that it is about so much more than link building.

Off-page SEO has shifted from a core focus on driving signals that impact ranking factors to focusing on optimizing, creating content, and ranking on other search engines aside from Google.

Think brand-first, and your off-page SEO will be much more likely to make a real difference in your brand's online presence. 

Share
Author Photo
I create local and global content marketing strategies here at Semrush. I started my career as a journalist, but gradually the world of SEO and content marketing won me over. I am obsessed with creating content people love, Nick Cave, and Italian films. Fueled by caffeine.
More on this