How to Use Off-Page SEO to Build Your Traffic

Off-page SEO graphics plus image of woman using laptop

SEO can be confusing. Many terms can be thrown around that make it sound like business owners need to hire a data scientist to make sense of it, but really SEO is simple and is composed of three main parts. 

  1. On-page SEO: This is all about your content and your metadata.
  2. Off-page SEO: This helps you grow your presence in the wider online world. 
  3. Technical SEO: This has to do with how well your website runs and meets the user’s expectations. 

In this post, we are focusing on item 2, which is more or less how your website shows up on the worldwide web. 

You have more control over this than you think! 

Why is off-page SEO important to search engines? 

Humans have things called mental shortcuts. For example, we might think the expert who spent a lot on their website is more qualified than the one who has had the same website since 2005, even if the second expert has more experience and clients. 

Like us, the search engines have limited power available to assess the usefulness of your website. Therefore, they have web crawlers and algorithms. Like the human brain, algorithms look for short cuts. One of these short-cuts is, “Do other useful sites think this site is good enough to link to?” 

This is kind of like your best friend recommending a dentist. Suddenly, the logo, copywriting and photo gallery the dentist has paid for and agonized over means very little. You trust your friend and your friend trusts dentist B. The Internet also has trusted friends. This includes sites that have been known to be useful in the past. 

It’s your job to get your link on sites that are already recognized as legit by Google, Bing and other search engines. However, these sites should be related to your business. 

This is called “off-page SEO.” 

How Do You Do “Off-Page” SEO?

Off-page SEO involves raising the visibility of your business – something you should be doing already. Unless you are brand new or you have only been doing business offline, this means you probably already have a lot of links that have grown naturally over the years through your marketing efforts and engagement with your industry and community. You can take a look at your current links using a tool like SEMRush.

The problem with this strategy is that waiting for links to appear takes time and lacks consistency. You’ll see better results if you focus on getting results on a regular basis.

Here are a few ways you can get off-site links to boost your SEO: 

  • Social media marketing
  • Active directories like Yelp and Trip Advisor
  • Media features
  • Guest blogs
  • Podcast or vlog guest appearances
  • Valuable free resources such as reports, infographics or videos
  • Influencer marketing
  • Wikis and social bookmarking

When you get opportunities to collaborate with other people online, make sure you provide a bio and relevant link. 

Focus on Link Quality to Build Credibility

Where you get links is important. There are sites out there that exist just to host links from a variety of websites. No actual humans are visiting these sites and Google considers them to be low quality. Sometimes these are directories that no one uses. Sometimes they are blog sites that use AI to generate generic-sounding content and charge businesses to add their links. Getting a link on one of these sites will not do much good for your SEO. Avoid any scheme that asks you to pay for a link with some exceptions. For example, influencer marketing is often paid, but any credible influencer will mark the post or link as sponsored in some way.  

Ideally, you should think of your user first. Even without considering Google, any link you place on a third-party site should result in traffic. If the users of that site don’t care enough to click on the link, the likelihood is that Google will discount your link as irrelevant and you will lose any SEO juice you may have had. Only post your link on sites where it is useful to the site’s audience. 

Find Out Where Your Competitors Get Links

There are various SEO tools, such as SEMRush, that will help you identify where your competitors have backlinks. Consider getting your link on these sites or sites like it. For example, I once worked for a legal service firm and I noticed that a competitor was listed on a police website as a respected resource. 

Why Positive Reviews Are Essential

The whole point of off-page SEO is to help the search engines understand the reputation of your company. This means that if people are saying positive things about you, Google’s algorithm will assume that you are a trustworthy source. 

The downside is negative experiences can reflect poorly on you and cause the search engines to penalize your site. Many businesses have neglected reviews over the years and it has harmed them. This is especially a problem for small independent businesses. 

People are more likely to complain when something is going wrong than they are to say something positive when everything works as expected. Let’s say Bob buys his ink cartridges at the office supply store every month and every month the ink is there and the cashier rings him through without any friction at all. The store has created a expectation. This is the place that Bob gets his ink. Then one day, Bob makes his regular visit. The ink is not there and when he goes to the cashier and asks, “Do you have any in the back?”, the cashier shrugs and says “Everything we have is on the floor.” Out of years of trips to the office supply store, which visit do you think will get Bob’s review?

This means you don’t need to optimize only for links, but you also need to optimize for reviews and the overall tone of the feedback. One negative review is not a problem if you have many positive reviews, but if you don’t have any, it can seriously impact your reputation not only among humans, but also in the universe of web crawlers and algorithms. 

How Do You Get Good Reviews?

Optimizing your reviews requires consistency to avoid the appearance of anything that violates a platform’s terms of service (such as buying reviews). Here are a few tips:

  • Whenever a customer thanks you, sends a Christmas card or initiates any other positive interaction, request a review or make a note to request a review later. 
  • Respond to negative reviews. If you provide contact information people with a similar problem will be more likely to contact you than to leave a review. 
  • Ask for reviews in your emails, feedback forms and other interactions. The more you ask, the more people will respond. 
  • Think about all the places that people leave reviews: Google, Yelp, Trip Advisor, Facebook, etc. A poor reputation on one outlet can create a perception that you orchestrated the positive reviews you received elsewhere. 
  • Create a survey. Once you receive results, ask the positive people for a review and attempt to resolve the problems mentioned by the negative people. Reaching out personally can go a long way to create goodwill. Also, your survey can be timed to reach the people who had negative experiences before they post that “fly-in-my-soup” pic to Yelp. Sharing the experience with someone who cares enough to respond is more satisfying than posting to random strangers on the web.

Get Involved in Collaborations

Make yourself available as a guest contributor on things like:

  • Blog posts
  • Vlogs
  • Livestreams
  • Podcasts
  • Live events and conferences

The host’s promotions, show notes and descriptions will help to build your brand. Other people looking for guests will take notice and begin to contact you. 

Get Into Quality Directories 

As mentioned earlier, there are a lot of spammy directories out there. It does not create any SEO impact to be in a directory that isn’t used by actual humans. Instead consider:

  • Local business directories
  • Industry directories
  • Professional associations
  • Popular review directories like Yelp and Trip Advisor

Create a consistent brand across these sites and monitor review sentiment. 

Develop Shareable Content

The content machine is always hungry. Nobody knows this better than you and every other website owner or manager. It’s hard for one business owner to be all things to all people. When you provide quality content in your field of expertise, many other businesses will want to link to it. 

Some types of shareable content that you can provide, include:

Complete guides: This can be the whole strategy for completing an important task step-by-step. For example, if you tell people everything they need to know about publishing a book on Kindle, there are many different sites that might be interested in linking to your guide, including make money online sites and self-publishing sites. 

A proprietary framework: In the SEO world, there is something called the Skyscraper technique. This wasn’t invented by Google. It was actually coined by Brian Dean of Backlinko, an expert in off-page SEO. Do you have a special framework for helping your clients that you could outline? If you don’t have a name for your framework, brainstorm some ideas. 

Ebooks, white papers, reports: Long-form content helps to establish you as the expert in your industry. Original research is especially valuable because it can’t be found elsewhere online forcing those who want to cite it to link to your resource. 

Resource guides: Curate a list of resources that would be helpful to your ideal client. For example, a hotel might have a list of attractions in their town. Make sure that you let the businesses on your list know about it so they can link to it. 

Infographic: Create a useful infographic. Contact complementary, non-competing websites and ask them if they would like to publish your infographic in exchange for a link. 

Replace Other Websites’ Broken Links

A broken link on your website is a hassle. A broken link on someone else’s website is an opportunity. Broken links are bad for SEO, so if you find one it’s good to fix the problem quickly. 

However, any website that has been in business for any length of time will likely have broken links. They may have had a collaboration with a company that has gone out of business. Maybe they took part in an event that no longer exists.

Here’s what the broken link strategy looks like:

  • Find a website where you would like to get a link. 
  • Run their URL through a broken link checker like Ahrefs. 
  • Web masters want to replace broken links quickly because they are bad for their SEO. Send them an email to let them know about the problem and offer them a valuable resource on your website that they could use in place of the broken link. 

Get Featured in the Media

Media websites have high domain authority because they have built audiences and trust over years. Nevertheless, in the world of link-building, media relations is controversial. Why? The traditional media tends to keep advertising and editorial separate. This means that if a reporter agrees to interview you about your business, they might not agree to include your link in the article as this could be seen as advertising or lacking in objectivity. 

However, this all depends on the platform. New media can be more flexible on this point, so it never hurts to ask. 

Another concern people have is that, if you do get a link, it might be a no-follow link. No-follow links used to be relevant, but today search engines take their cues from context and don’t really care that the web master clicked the no-follow switch. If you are an expert being interviewed in the media, Google is going to perceive that you are an authoritative source no matter what kind of link leads back to your website. 

Speaking of context, Google may not even care if you got a link at all. If they see your name and your business name cited in the New York Times, they are going to realize that you are kind of a big deal. This means that you may see your website traffic grow even without a link. 

Plus, a media interview can have a huge impact regardless of SEO. You’ll be surprised at how many people are paying attention. I used to work in an office where I helped executives get media interviews. In particular, local talk radio stations are always looking for guests. As soon as the interview finished airing, the phone would start to ring. 

In other words, the old saying “All publicity is good publicity” could also be re-written as “All publicity is good SEO.” 

Do you want to build your brand through off-page SEO tactics? Our strategy includes high-authority content, media and targeting quality domains. Book a call today for a free consultation.