The battle for awesome organic rankings is waged on two distinct fronts: what Google finds on your pages (on page SEO), and what it hears other websites “say” about your page (off page SEO).
On page factors are typically the easiest to affect, because they’re driven by your pages’ content and behavior.
These ranking signals include the length of your content, its relevance for certain keyword phrases, how many people click on your page in search results, how long people spend on your page, and searchers’ behavior after they’ve visited your page.
Off page ranking, however, often requires more creativity, ingenuity, and technical prowess to do well.
To parse off page rankings, Google looks primarily at the websites that are linking back to a page. If these sites are high quality and authoritative, it stands to reason that your page is valuable.
So, how do we make an impact on what happens on websites operated by complete strangers?
These five techniques for off page SEO (that marketers can tackle on their own) will give you the most return on your investment of time and effort.
Off Page Technique #1: Guest Posting
Guest blogging is ranked number one on this list because it’s such a versatile strategy. It gets you very high quality backlinks, but it also increases your site’s exposure and authority to a wider audience.
As a bonus, guest posts can also drive referral traffic to your own articles or landing pages, which means they can be a lead generation source in addition to these other great outcomes.
The downside to guest posting is that it can be time consuming.
Brian Dean of Backlinko offers five detailed steps in his Definitive Guide to Guest Blogging, most of which have sub-steps involved:
- Find Guest Post Targets. This first step include eight different ways that you can identify places you might want to offer yourself to as a guest author.
- Research Your Targets. Four more steps within this one to help you determine which potential targets are a good fit for you and your goals.
- The Pitch. Brian offers a very nice template for outreach, which I recommend checking out and using. As the editor of MarketerGizmo, I get a lot of very, very bad emails from people asking to write for us. If your email is poorly constructed, a busy editor is not going to assume that your article will be better.
- The Post. It’s sad but true, but we can’t provide a top-notch 3,000 word masterpiece for every single site in the world. You’ve got to pick your backlink battles and prioritize your work.
- Follow Up. No posting and running; you’ve got to be a good digital citizen and engage with your content’s host and audience.
As you can see, guest posting doesn’t provide all those great SEO bonuses without demanding a corresponding level of effort.
Off Page Technique #2: Broken Link Building
This is kind of like guest posting’s little brother. You get similar outcomes in terms of SEO benefit because you’re working to create backlinks on relevant, authoritative sites, but you’re usually not creating something from scratch to earn each new link.
The idea behind this off page SEO technique is that there are broken links littering the internet, and you’re going to be the good Samaritan who offers to help fix them.
All you ask in exchange is that those broken links be replaced with a link to some of your content. Seems fair, right?
But, like its big brother guest posting, this technique requires you to invest time to get the SEO payoff. The steps are also similar:
- Identify Relevant Sites with Broken Links. Neil Patel’s Step by Step Guide to Modern Broken Link Building offers many great tools to help with this complicated process.
- Find Your Content that Fits the Broken Links. You may be able to use existing content for some broken links, but in other cases you’ll have to make something from scratch.
- Reach Out With Your Correction Offer. Again, use Neil’s email template to contact webmasters or editors. Bad emails will make your earlier efforts useless because no one will take you seriously.
- Track Your Results. Not everyone will let you know they’ve used your link, so you want to keep track of which sites take you up on your offer and which ones don’t. You’ll also need to keep an eye on ROI to make sure this technique is paying off.
I recommend this off page SEO technique if you’ve got an existing stock of great content you can offer links to, or you’re a highly prolific content team that can create useful resources on the fly. Otherwise, you’ll need to plan pretty far in advance to create the resources needed to offer replacements for broken links and this strategy becomes harder to execute effectively.
Off Page Technique #3: Unique Research Results
A single piece of original research produced by the Content Marketing Institute has produced over 6,200 backlinks in just over six months. Wouldn’t it be great if you could earn that kind of coverage?
Well, you can. All you need is a survey and some people to take it.
Ok, it’s a little bit more complicated than that, but compared to the previous two off page SEO techniques, the payoff time can be shorter and the project easier to complete.
- Determine Survey’s Goals and Audience. You want to make sure your results are interesting to the people you’re hoping to reach, so pick a goal and audience before you write a single question.
- Find People to Take Your Survey. Whether it’s through email, social media, or a paid panel, get a group of respondents together to answer your questions.
- Design the Survey. Be considerate of your audience’s time and balance their needs with your desire to collect data.
- Distribute and Monitor Results. Keep an eye on your responses in real time. You don’t want to collect a ton of data only to realize some questions weren’t set up correctly.
- Create Unique Content. The authority PDF is the ultimate piece of research content, but you can easily produce infographics, slide shares, and guest posts (see technique #1) with your results.
- Amplify the Reach. As with all content marketing, you should be prepared to spend as much time and money on distribution and amplification as you do on the content itself.
Off Page Technique #4: Infographics
As with unique research, infographics represent the intersection between visual interest, helpful information, and novelty that makes them prime link targets.
Unbounce reported that the volume of searches related to infographics went up 800% in just two years, and they will continue to be a hugely successful content type as visual social media like Instagram and Pinterest explode.
The problem with infographics is that it’s very easy to get them wrong.
Many marketers have design skills that they can tap into the make infographics on their own, but others will want to consider outsourcing this type of content production. You definitely don’t want to invest time and resources into visual content that nobody links to. Ever.
Off Page Technique #5: On Page Optimization
It may seem a little bit like cheating to include on page optimization in a list of off page SEO techniques, but the harsh reality is that if your site isn’t user-friendly and mobile-optimized, all the back links in the world won’t save you from SEO destruction.
By some estimates, as much as 30% of your on page “score” comes from usability factors, such as the design and quality of your page as measured by user engagement.
Give your back links the best chance of having an impact by creating a nice, friendly site for them to link to.
Vote for Your Favorite Off Page SEO Technique
Which of these tactics has brought you the most success? Or do you have another go-to method that we’ve left off our list?
Let us know in the comments!
Looking for even more SEO to-dos? Checkout this extensive infographic checklist:
Killer SEO Checklist [Infographic] by the team at Capsicum Mediaworks, LLP
Other Articles You Might Be Interested In:
- SEO/SEM A Marketer's Guide to HTML Markup for SEO
- SEO/SEM Comprehensive Guide to On Page and Off Page SEO Techniques
- SEO/SEM Differences Between On and Off Page SEO Factors
- SEO/SEM The Evolution of SEO/SEM and What It Means For Your Website
- Content Marketing What the Moz SEO Ranking Report Means for Content and Social Media