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Off-Page SEO: A Guide to Improving Rankings

Off-Page SEO: A Guide to Improving Rankings

Off-page SEO refers to all the actions and strategies that can improve a website's rankings that don't directly relate to the website. While on-page optimisation focuses on elements like content, site speed, schema markup, etc., off-page factors look outward at how a site can better connect with users and appear valuable to search engines like Google.

An effective off-page SEO strategy can help skyrocket your search traffic and improve visibility and authority. This guide will explore leveraging off-page SEO factors to take your search engine marketing to the next level.

Table of Contents

Understanding the Basics: What is Off-Page SEO?

Off-Page Seo Vs On-Page Seo

Let's start with the fundamentals – what exactly is off-page SEO?

In simple terms, off-page SEO encompasses all the external signals and cues that search engines use to evaluate a website's relevance and importance. This includes factors like:

  • Backlinks – The number and quality of other sites linking back to your content
  • Social signals – Likes, shares, and mentions on social media platforms
  • Brand mentions – References to your brand on third-party sites and publications
  • Reviews and citations – Listings and reviews on relevant directories and review sites

While on-page SEO focuses inward on optimising individual web pages, off-page SEO optimises an entire site's external perception and ranking potential.

Some key advantages of off-page SEO include:

  • Increases referral traffic from other sites
  • Boosts rankings and visibility in organic search
  • Improves brand credibility and awareness
  • Helps content get discovered by more users
  • Positively reinforces on-page optimisation efforts

Why is Off-Page SEO Important?

There are several vital reasons why off-page SEO is critically important:

Directly Impacts Rankings

Google and other search engines use links as votes of confidence and relevance. The more quality backlinks earned, the more authority and trust are built in the eyes of search bots.

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This means off-page SEO has a direct influence over search rankings. It’s challenging to rank for competitive terms without a thoughtful link-building strategy.

Drives Targeted Organic Traffic

By improving search rankings, off-page optimisation helps websites attract more relevant organic search traffic. This traffic converts better because visitors clearly intend to search for specific topics and keywords.

In many cases, the economic value of incremental organic traffic outweighs the costs associated with link-building outreach and content promotion.

Builds Domain Authority

Off-page SEO helps strengthen domain authority scores. Metrics like Moz’s Domain Authority and Ahref's Domain Rating reflect the power and trust built through external signals.

Higher DA and DR scores correlate with better rankings and more organic search visibility.

Amplifies and Promotes Content

Relevant backlinks help amplify content, driving more eyeballs to high-quality assets. Guest posting and influencer partnerships promote content to new audiences.

This expands the brand reach and awareness beyond owned channels alone. More visibility and amplification lead to downstream opportunities.

In summary, excelling at off-page SEO is required to compete in many online spaces. The branded and economic value certainly warrants the effort involved.

The King of Off-Page SEO: Building Backlinks

Ahrefs Backlinks

If off-page SEO were a kingdom, backlinks would surely be its king.

Backlinks remain among the most substantial ranking signals that Google and other search engines use in their algorithms. At a basic level, backlinks indicate:

  • Popularity – More sites linking to you signal the importance
  • Relevance – Sites link to content they find valuable and relevant
  • Trust – High-quality sites are selective with links, lending their credibility

In short: More backlinks = higher rankings (usually).

However, not all backlinks are created equal. Let's explore some best practices for building backlinks effectively:

Focus on Quality Over Quantity

A single New York Times or Wikipedia backlink is more potent than 100s from spammy or irrelevant sites.

When building links, prioritise quality sites with authority in your niche. Relevant blogs, educational sites (.edu domains), directories, and publications are great targets.

Diversify Your Backlink Profile

Strive for backlinks from diverse quality sites rather than an overload from a single domain.

Diversity helps appear natural and protects against volatility if some links disappear. A mix of editorial links plus references in directories, aggregators, and local citation sources is ideal.

Earn Links Naturally Where Possible

The best links result from sites genuinely referencing your content because they find it useful. While outreach has its place (more below), striving for natural links, when possible, adheres best to Google guidelines.

Ways to earn links without outreach include:

  • Creating genuinely helpful, exceptional content
  • Becoming an authoritative source that sites want to reference
  • Publishing research, data, tools, or resources that others find helpful
  • Following and engaging with influencers and websites in your space

The key is adding value instead of seeking links. Do that consistently, and high-quality references will come in time.

Okay, let's talk about link-building strategies.

Link-Building Strategies to Lock Down Backlinks

What Are Backlinks Seo

There are several core link-building tactics and assets to focus on:

1. Guest Posting

Publishing articles and guest posts on popular sites in your industry remains one of the most effective ways to earn excellent links: contact site owners and editors about contributing posts around topics and keywords relevant to both audiences.

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Best practices:

  • Target sites that get good traffic and have influence/authority
  • Make sure guest posts are helpful and engaging
  • Include natural anchor text links back to relevant landing pages
  • Promote guest posts across social media channels

2. Link Insertions

Link insertions mean proactively contacting site owners and writers directly, asking them to link back from relevant pieces of content. This is outreach pitching focused specifically on earning backlinks.

For example, seeing a recently updated piece on “content marketing strategies” presents an opportunity to pitch adding your posts as a helpful recommendation in the roundup.

3. Branded Link Mentions

Like link insertions, this focuses on brand name mentions and links rather than broader topic insertion. Monitoring new publications and trends around your brand, product, and keywords presents regular opportunities to request backlinks from relevant brand callouts.

4. Resource Pages

Creating link-worthy content assets like ultimate guides, ebooks, templates, checklists, case studies, and other resources has become ubiquitous. But it remains an effective tactic because it works. These dedicated resources present branding opportunities, attracting natural and solicited links over time.

5. Business Listings

As highlighted above, properly claiming and optimising online profiles, directories, and citations is hugely impactful. Completing key platforms presents a reasonably easy link-building opportunity that improves local SEO visibility.

While guest posting and resource hubs tend to move the needle most for link volume and referral traffic gains, don’t underestimate the value of leveraging brand mentions and optimising online listings. A balanced and diversified approach across each helps avoid over-optimization risks.

Link Building Outreach

What Is Image Link Building

Contacting site owners directly and asking for links remains the most widely used tactic to accelerate link acquisition. But cold outreach is challenging, and response rates vary significantly based on factors like:

  • Website relevance
  • Outreach professionalism
  • Clear value exchange
  • Relationship strength

Follow this framework when conducting link outreach campaigns:

Research and Identify Targets

Leverage tools like Ahrefs, SEMRush and Majestic to analyse competitors’ backlink profiles and identify viable targets. Prioritise relevant, trusted sites with good domain authority/traffic levels.

Personalise Pitches

Copy-pasting generic pitches is a non-starter. Craft unique value propositions explaining why linking benefits the target site and its audience.

Provide Link-Worthy Assets

Don’t make asks without offering something in return. Provide guest post drafts, data assets or links to compelling resources that deserve amplification.

Follow-Up Respectfully

Don’t harass people with multiple follow-ups in a week. But do circle back periodically if you don’t receive an initial response. Use phone or LinkedIn to make more personal outreach if email goes cold.

Establish Long-Term Relationships

Getting links should not be a one-time transaction. Nurture relationships by sharing content, providing data or giving backlinks yourself. These connections can foster ongoing amplification opportunities.

Outreach takes time and effort but pays dividends through high-quality backlinks, referral traffic and brand visibility lifts.

Link Building Tools

Ahrefs Seo Tools

While manual outreach and relationship building are ideal for earning strong links, leveraging tools helps streamline research and identify more opportunities.


Ahrefs provides detailed backlink analysis, metrics tracking, rival identification and promising targets via Site Explorer. Useful for auditing profiles and spying on competitors.

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BuzzSumo analyses content performance and influencer reach to spot amplification opportunities. Helpful for guest post research and outreach prioritisation.


Mailshake helps organise outbound email campaigns with automation, templates and tracking. It enables more scalable link-building and follow-up workflows.


Pitchbox is a CRM and mailbox manager focused on simplifying link-building outreach, follow-ups and relationship management at scale.

Google Search Console

Google Search Console provides data on existing link profiles and new backlinks earned over time. It helps track link velocity and monitoring sources.

The tools above help streamline initial research workflows but ultimately come second to crafting personalised, value-driven outreach. The software supports the process, but relationship-building closes deals.

Measuring Link Building Success

Top Ranking Pages Have More Backlinks Than Lower Ranking Page

Tracking key metrics to quantify link-building progress and ROI is essential. This helps spot what’s working well and identify areas needing improvement.

Backlink Growth

Monitor total backlinks and new monthly links earned via Ahrefs, Moz and Google Search Console. Set goals for monthly link velocity based on historical rates and industry benchmarks.

Referral Traffic

Backlinks should drive referral visits over time. Review top content assets, landing pages, and the monthly referral traffic generated via Google Analytics. Healthy and growing referral levels indicate value creation.

Rankings Lift

The proof is in the pudding regarding moving search rankings, especially for priority target keywords. Track mobile and desktop rankings monthly via tools like SEMRush, Searchmetrics or Advanced Web Rankings.

Domain Rating Increases

As mentioned earlier, metrics like Domain Authority and Domain Rating reflect link equity and trust built over the long term. Review changes month-over-month as a benchmark for overall domain strength improvements.

Link Diversity

Keep tabs on backlink diversity and avoid over-optimizing just a handful of domains. Maintain a healthy spread of links across different sites and pages via Ahrefs and Majestic.

Consistent growth across these areas indicates an effective link-building strategy bearing fruit, ultimately driving more organic traffic and visibility.

Harnessing Social Signals for SEO Value

Buzzsumo Social Tool

Beyond backlinks, fostering brand mentions, likes, shares, and engagement on social media also provides value.

Google and Bing take social signals into account as ranking factors.

While social should support your strategy rather than fully drive it, nurturing an audience on networks like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn can boost SEO.

Tips for improving social signals:

  • Cross-promote new posts – Share blog content across social channels to maximise visibility
  • Use relevant hashtags – Where appropriate, include popular hashtags to appear in more feeds
  • Follow influencers – Engage with leaders in your space to get on their radar
  • Spark engagement – Run contests/giveaways, ask questions, etc., to fuel shares and likes
  • Embed social follow links – Include call-to-actions to follow your brand's social profiles onsite

The more quality engagement your brand earns, the more signals get passed, indicating popularity and relevance.

Reviews and Citations – Influence Local Perception

User-generated reviews on sites like Yelp and Google and formal citations in directories represent other critical local ranking factors.

Although management has cracked down on fakes, authentic positive reviews still provide credibility signals. Plus, they build trust and social proof!

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Proactively claiming listings on sites like:

  • Yelp
  • Facebook
  • Apple Maps
  • ThreeBestRated
  • Manta
  • BBB
  • Yellow Pages
  • CitySearch

Keeping information consistent helps cement your brand. Enable customers to discover basic details like opening hours alongside reviews reinforcing quality perception.

Boosting Authority for Higher Rankings

Domain Authority Pagerank

Beyond specific optimisation tactics, authority broadly plays a crucial role in off-page SEO.

Authoritative sites are deemed more trustworthy and tend to rank better. While Google guards exact authority metrics, signals likely include:

  • Backlink volume/quality
  • Organic traffic
  • Domain history/age
  • Social media metrics
  • Brand mentions

So alongside directly earning backlinks and social signals, focus indirectly on becoming an outlet readers, and industry peers recognise as an authority.

Ways to Build Authority

  • Create routinely helpful, extremely shareable content
  • Publish your original research and data
  • Build relationships with influencers and journalists
  • Speak at industry conferences and events
  • Pitch expert quotes to reporters for news articles
  • Conduct user surveys and interviews highlighting your expertise
  • Develop tools/calculators that provide unique value for your niche
  • Earn featured placements in relevant publications

Position yourself alongside top brands and earn trust through problem-solving rather than self-promotion. As neutral third parties increasingly reference you, authority grows.

Authority Site Examples

Some examples of established authoritative sites include:

Study consistently helpful resources that rank well. Model their strategies balancing self-promotion with providing extreme value. Recognition follows.

Leveraging Data Analytics for Insights

Incorporating data represents another opportunity area for off-page SEO.

Monitoring metrics offers tangible insights to calibrate efforts for better results.

Critical areas for attention include:

Backlink Analysis

Using link analysis tools helps assess competitor sites that are outranking you to identify link-building targets.

For example, Ahrefs, SEMRush, and Moz all provide data on:

  • Top pages/posts earning links
  • Specific domains linking out to rivals
  • Anchor text patterns
  • Link growth over time

Reverse engineer what's working via data to emulate and fuel your link campaigns.

Referral Traffic Tracking

Dive into Google Analytics to view your top referral sources sending visits.

Monitor which link-building wins drove the most new users to optimise resource allocation better.

Rank Tracking

Of course, regularly check actual Google ranking movements for core pages/posts.

While rankings technically measure on-page strength, off-page signals impact them significantly.

Use automated rank trackers like SERPBot or Search Console to assess how link building and social engagement lift keywords over time.

Social Monitoring

Keep tabs on critical social performance markers via free tools like:

  • Twitter – Follower growth, engagement rates
  • Facebook – Likes, shares, clicks
  • Pinterest – Impressions, clicks, repins
  • Instagram – Followers, likes, comments

Ensure social referral numbers align with platform growth.

Best Practices for Off-Page SEO

What Is The Best Seo Agency Belfast

There are several essential best practices to follow for effective off-page optimisation:

Quality Over Quantity

Search algorithms have become highly sophisticated. While backlink volume used to hold more weight, Google now prioritises quality over quantity.

  • Focus on building genuine earned links from reputable sites rather than lower-quality directories or networks.
  • Spotlight content: don’t build links just for the sake of links.
  • Be selective with outreach and make sure target sites are relevant.
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Create Link-Worthy Assets

Unique, compelling content that adds value deserves to rank highly and attract links naturally. Regularly assess content gaps and opportunities to create resources that get referenced.

Focus on Domain Diversity

Links from a diverse set of domains signal more widespread trust. Avoid over-optimizing and getting too many links from just a handful of sites.

Capture Business Listings

Claiming and optimising online profiles and directories remains an essential but overlooked aspect. This includes platforms like Google My Business, Facebook, and industry-specific databases—complete profiles with keywords in descriptions, images, services and contact info.

Promote Widely

Don’t just earn links and then stop. Continuously promote new content across social channels, relevant online communities, email newsletters and owned assets. Expand reach through guest posting and strategic partnerships with influencers in your space.

Core Off-Page SEO Checklist

Let's summarise with an off-page SEO checklist covering the essentials:

✔️ Leverage blogger outreach to land strategic guest posts

✔️ Build relationships with industry influencers

✔️ Prioritize link insertions within contributed posts

✔️ Claim and optimise all citations pointing to your website

✔️ Publish your unique research and data

✔️ Curate tools or resources that add value to your niche

✔️ Cross-promote content across social media

✔️ Monitor backlinks, rankings, traffic referral sources, and social metrics to calibrate efforts

Conclusion and Key Takeaways

We covered a lot of ground exploring effective off-page SEO and link building.

To wrap up, here are the core strategies to remember:

  • Backlinks remain the #1 off-page ranking factor – earn links from quality sites by creating valuable resources
  • Social signals influence perceived popularity – curate social followings with great content
  • Reviews and citations establish local authority – actively manage key listings and directory profiles
  • Build overall site and personal authority – become a recognised leader instead of seeking links outright
  • Use analytics for insights – track rankings, links, traffic sources, and social analytics to optimise

Focus on adding genuine value with exceptional content and resources instead of quick wins or shortcuts. Establish trust and authority. By sticking to the fundamentals, influencer sites and broader audiences will receive recognition over time.

Now you have a blueprint for off-page SEO – leverage your new knowledge to boost website visibility!

I'm confident this thorough guide provided immense value in answering common questions about improving SEO through external signals and off-site authority building. But drop any additional questions in the comments below!

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to see results from off-page SEO?

Results timelines vary drastically. Suppose publishing truly viral content, shares and links can accumulate rapidly. But for sustained efforts with blogger outreach and resource building, allow 6-12 months before evaluating.

Should I disavow poor-quality links?

Possibly. If hit with an unnatural links penalty, buying links, or disavowing spammy signals, Google your corrected practices. But generally, focus on building new quality links rather than disavowing them.

Are paid links okay for SEO?

Some paid placements in legitimate publications can be acceptable. But buyers beware – purchasing links runs the risk of Google penalties if discovered. Stick to earning links naturally through quality content.

Should my off-page and on-page SEO efforts align?

Yes! Off-page signals the relevance and importance of what you're publishing onsite. So, optimise pages targeting buyers, build links from websites in your customer's journey, etc. Efforts should sync up.

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Stuart Crawford

Stuart Crawford is an award-winning creative director and brand strategist with over 15 years of experience building memorable and influential brands. As Creative Director at Inkbot Design, a leading branding agency, Stuart oversees all creative projects and ensures each client receives a customised brand strategy and visual identity.

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