What is Off-Page SEO
Off-Page SEO, also known as Off-Site SEO or Link-Building, involves obtaining “backlinks” or connections from other websites to a particular website or webpage in an attempt to improve online authority and/or page rankings. It is different from On-Page SEO and Technical SEO which focus on improving elements on your website. Off-Site SEO is more about building notoriety and expertise in your niche.
Why Build Backlinks
Backlinks are prized by many SEO practitioners because it is thought that by gaining more backlinks to a web page, the web page will be seen as being more trustworthy or authoritative by search engines.
And in turn, the search engine would “reward” the website or web page with a higher ranking on the search engine results pages.
This concept or idea that search engines value a website or web page more because of the number of backlinks it has is formally known as PageRank, Link equity, Ranking credit or Link juice.
Getting backlinks can be done a number of ways. Below I included a list of some common techniques that SEO use in order to get them.
Cold Email Outreach
Cold email is the most simplistic way to build links. This approach involves emailing website owners that you want backlinks from and asking them to link to you.
The approach is called “cold” because often, you do not already have an established relationship with the website owner you are requesting a link from.
Despite being a rather impersonal method, there are SEOs that have found success with this approach.
In 2017, Authorityhackers conducted a study using an approach similar to cold outreach to gain backlinks. Their study mentioned that they sent out over 600,000 cold emails over a 3-year span to 150,000 website owners. The emails received a 53% open rate, and they got 4,306 backlinks.
The study discovered that cold emailing can be an effective strategy for link-building.
Guest blogging is the practice of writing and publishing a blog post or article on someone else’s website or blog, again with the intention of gaining a link.
In 2019 Adam Enfroy ran a 15-day guest blogging experiment. According to the 2019 study, Enfroy pitched posts to 68 website owners and received 28 responses. From those 28 responses, he published eight guest posts which resulted in 247 new backlinks and received a 372% increase in organic traffic.
Out of all the methods, this is one of the best ways to build links because it is mutually beneficial, as the website owner gets fresh content for their website, while the guest blogger gets exposure to a new audience and the opportunity to build more authority and notoriety in their niche.
Help A Reporter Out (HARO)
HARO, short for Help A Reporter Out, is a service provided by the PR software company Cision. This program allows journalists, news outlets, major publications, and website owners to seek expertise and content from industry professionals and business owners to be featured on their platforms.
The functioning of this program involves sending subscribers emails containing “daily tips” or specific requests that other website owners are looking to address. A “source” or respondent can then send an email back with the information or answer the request. Oftentimes if the request is accepted the respondent will receive a byline and/or link to their website.
This is a popular method among SEOs, but it is by far one of the most difficult ways to gain links.
In 2020, Johnathan Gorham conducted a study, and the findings revealed that he got 33 backlinks for his website from HARO. While this is noteworthy, Gorham did mention that you need to have a strategy to get backlinks on HARO, and it takes time for the pitch to be accepted. Also, there is no guarantee of a response.
With that being the case, this is a method we often use in tandem with other strategies.
Content marketing is a bit different from other link-building methods because instead of asking the website owner to link to your website – you are essentially attracting links by producing content visitors “naturally” want to link to. Again, like the other methods this content has to be valuable to prompt visitors to link to it.
The content can take many forms, such as blog posts, articles, videos, podcasts, whitepapers, infographics, social media posts, and more. Essentially by producing content that is of value to your audience and other websites, you can attract links, but also build more brand loyalty and educate potential customers about your products and services.
Out of the link-building methods, content marketing is one of the slowest, but also one of the most rewarding.
Public Relations (PR)
Rather than utilizing HARO for connecting with news outlets, another approach is to reach out to them directly for a feature, which is known as Public Relations (PR) or Earned Media.
The core concept remains the same – to present or “pitch” content that holds value for both the outlet and its audience. This content can be comprised of local stories, unique research, expert insights, or exclusive case studies.
In 2021, SEO practitioner, Domenica D’Ottavio conducted a case study on Moz. In the study, D’Ottavio explains how creating newsworthy content helped her gain 82 backlinks for her client in the home improvement niche.
SEOs, like Domenica D’Ottavio described earned media as a “win-win-win tactic” because it not only is a great way to build links but also to build trust and awareness for your brand.
We totally agree with Domenica, this is why we recommend it to all our clients as well.
A Directory site is an online hub that gathers and displays a vast array of businesses along with their contact details. While this information can be assembled automatically in some cases, other times users have the option to input their business data manually.
Typically, each business listing, also known as a Citation, features the company’s name, address, and phone number – these details are commonly abbreviated as NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number).
Moreover, citations may also incorporate a company’s website URL. As a result, numerous SEO experts, like ourselves, place great importance on generating citations to develop valuable backlinks.
Most social media platforms enable you to establish digital profiles for either personal or business purposes. When utilizing a business profile, it’s common to include a link to your website.
Moreover, by sharing content with your audience or followers, you can create “social signals,” which are instances where your content gets shared across various social media sites. These social signals are thought to function similarly to PageRank.
Overall, social media is helpful for building brand awareness and authority in general. It’s also a good way to connect with your audience and learn more about their unique needs.
Q & A websites
Q & A websites let people ask questions and receive answers from others. Examples are Reddit, Quora, and StackOverflow.
Online forums are like Q & A sites, but they focus on one topic. In Q & A sites, users can ask any question.
Posting on these sites is an effective way to gain more referral traffic and build brand awareness. Additionally, posting answers on these sites can help you become an authority in your industry.
Not to be confused with fixing 404 broken link errors on your website, Broken Link-Building is actually about identifying websites that have links to content similar to yours and examining them for any broken links.
If you find a broken link, you can convince the site owners to replace it with your own content. This method definitely get’s a lot of attention in the SEO community, but it may be outdated, and not as effective as it once was.
SEO professional Sam Oh, also VP of Marketing at Ahrefs, ran a study where he sent out 74 outreach emails to web admins who had broken links. Four of the emails “bounced,” meaning they didn’t reach the webmaster at all. Five webmasters responded, but only one website gave Oh a link to their blog. Sam reported that this was a 1.4% conversion rate.
In our opinion, this is a rather low success rate, based on the amount of time it took to not only scope out the broken links, but then to reach out to the webmasters to persuade them to replace the broken links with your own content.
Regardless, we think this is still a method worth trying, and the fact that Oh got a link shows that it does work. We just wouldn’t look at this method as a fast way to get backlinks.
Reclaiming Brand Mentions
If you are a popular business or entity, there may be instances where your company is mentioned on other websites without a link back to your website. In SEO, we call these Unlinked Brand Mentions.
Sometimes these unlinked mentions are intentional, as the website owner may have a policy prohibiting backlinking, this is very common with news websites. So because of that it is best to check with each website owner to see if the unlinked brand mention can be claimed – and if a link to your website can be placed.
In a 2018 study conducted by Andrew Dennis, he reported that he was able to get 64 backlinks for a client by using a combination of reclaiming brand mentions and competitive linking tactics.
This study by Dennis highlights the effectiveness of this link-building tactic, but as we mentioned, this tactic can only work if the unlinked mentions are unintentional.
Also, this method is best for large, popular businesses, so if you are a local business or small business there may not be enough unlinked mentions to make this tactic effective.
Last Words About Off-Page SEO
Off-Page SEO is all about building more authority for your website, and web pages by gaining more backlinks. This is a great way to build more notoriety, and authority in your industry.