Off page SEO: What is it, and how to get it right?

by Will Hawkins

When we think of SEO, we usually think of writing good content, and focusing on keywords that our target customers are likely to use. The truth is, that in an ever-growing database of websites, Google has to take other considerations for the ranking process. This is where the distinction of on-page and off-page SEO come in.

On-page SEO


Your on-page SEO is everything that you can manage within your website. This includes the content, the Meta title / description, H1 tags, and keywords. On-page SEO is the basic building block for SEO, and it’s essential to ensure that you’re ranking for the right terms. But, let’s say (for example) that two equally competent barbershops are both focusing on the keyword ‘barbershop’ – how does Google know which barbershop deserves to sit at the top of the SERPs?


Well, this brings us onto…


Off-page SEO


Contrary to on-page SEO, off-page SEO refers to actions performed outside of your website. The most important aspect of off-page SEO is backlinks, however it also encompasses factors such as brand mentions, Google My Business and Reviews.


Due to off-page SEO being outside of your direct control, it’s naturally harder to get it right.




Returning to our earlier analogy, if barbershop 1 gets mentioned online by a leading barbershop blog, then they’re likely to receive link juice in the process; putting them ahead of barbershop 2 in Google’s search engine results.


In simple terms, links from other websites can help to put your website in good stead. However, it’s important to consider that not all links are equal.


A truly effective backlink has to provide the following:


·      Relevance

·      A ‘high authority’ linking domain

·      A ‘dofollow’ tag

·      Good anchor text


Building relevant links


Picture the scene. You’re a barber, and your best friend is a reputable dog walker. Your friend decides to link to your website from their website, with the aim of boosting your SEO practices. Unfortunately, Google is quite smart. It knows the various distinctions between dog walkers and barbers.

Now, if you were a dog groomer, it’d be a different story.


Ensuring a backlink is relevant is the most vital piece of the puzzle, but it can be difficult to achieve. Many SEO professionals get around this challenge by writing guest blogs for other relevant websites, where they can receive a backlink to their own site.


Others opt for the ‘broken link building’ method. This involves the process of finding broken links on other relevant websites, contacting them, and suggesting they replacing them with your content.


There are many strategies out there for building relevant links. But, in my experience, the best method is to simply network. Use LinkedIn to find industry professionals in similar circles to yourself, and discuss writing guest blogs for one another. Sometimes, a direct approach is the best.


Ensuring ‘high authority’ backlinks


Hierarchy exists in all walks of life, and sadly, that’s translated into the World Wide Web. Google ranks domains out of 100 based on their authority, creating a Domain Authority for each domain, and a Page Authority for each page.


When it comes to SEO, you essentially need an endorsement from one of the cool kids if you want to be invited to the party.


Free tools like Moz can give you an indication of your current domain / page authority. Moz can also tell you the authority score of other websites, including those already linking back to you.


When you’re building out your backlink strategy, try and focus on relevant sites that have a higher authority. This will build your website's authority and allow you to rank for terms more effectively.


Understanding ‘dofollow’ and ‘nofollow’


Just to make things even more difficult. Not every link back to your domain will provide that vital ‘link juice’. To put it simply, ‘dofollow’ links will allow the websites referring you to pass on SEO benefits, whereas ‘nofollow’ links won’t.


This is important to consider when building your off-page SEO strategy. Make sure that you’re not focusing on receiving backlinks from websites that tend to use ‘nofollow’ tags.


One example is Wikipedia. Due to its open source nature, all links are set to ‘nofollow’ to ensure that marketers can’t write content and reference themselves in Wikipedia entries.


Despite this, ‘nofollow’ links are also important. Google analyses the balance of ‘dofollow’ and ‘nofollow’ links to a domain. A website which contains only ‘dofollow’ links could be an indication of blackhat SEO practices, and could result in penalties.


Good anchor text


Anchor text.


Did you see what I did there?


I just anchor-texted the words ‘anchor text’ to an article about, anchor text.


Anchor text refers to the hyperlinked text coming from an external domain to your website. If you have a webpage focused on graphic design, and another relevant, high-authority domain hyperlinks the words ‘graphic design’ to your site, then it’ll help to support the relevance of the link.


As is the way with most off-page SEO practices, it can be hard to know what anchor text other domains will use when linking back. As usual, it’s vital to ensure you build top quality content which is worthy of achieving top quality backlinks and relevant anchor text.


Google My Business and Reviews


Moving away from the backlinks area now. Make sure that you have a Google My Business profile set up which links to all of your relevant social channels and your website.


Google My Business will massively support your local SEO strategy by enabling you to rank for local search terms. Reviews will also help you to stand out amongst your competition in these rankings.



Google My Business showcasing our trusty local barbershops.

In summary


Off-page SEO is an area of marketing that has long had marketers scratching their heads. It can be one of the hardest areas to get started in, and can often leave you feeling deflated and beat down.


However, always remember that off-page SEO activities tend to have a snowball effect. As your domain authority grows, you will start to rank higher on Google results, and naturally receive traffic and backlinks from other sites in the process.


If you would like to discuss your backlink strategy with us, please don’t hesitate to do so today.