This off page seo checklist along with examples can be used for new and existing websites planning growth. Download the checklist and guide.
What is Off Page SEO ?
Off Page SEO is the activity you or your team do outwith your website to boost your positions in the search engines (SERPS).
On Page and Off Page SEO
On-page SEO vs. off-page SEO
With on page SEO you can edit and control the activity; such as edit the page speed, page titles and descriptions.
With off page SEO you are relying on other activity of another website.
You can’t control or order a journalist to write about you or link to you.
SEO Ranking Factors and Domain Authority
Look at this chart showing the relationship between organic search traffic and referring domains.
What it means; those who are proactive with off page SEO and earn referring domains (links from other websites) will earn more traffic.
Why Off Page SEO is vital to organic traffic growth
Imagine you need help with your website and search for a freelance seo expert.
There’s 7 million pages Google has indexed about that query.
A search engine needs a way to put the most relevant and trustworthy results on the first page.
Let’s assume you and I both write a page about hiring an SEO expert.
Google is more likely to rank me on page 1 than you because of off page seo factors.
I was able to break into page 1 because :
- My website has been around for over 10 years.
- I have built “a brand” other people mention
- I have links to my website from any industry relevant websites
- I write about seo topics on my website
To simplify this, various seo tools use a metric such as domain rating or domain authority to rank the trustworthiness of websites between 1 and 100.
My website has a 47 or 48 DR score and I’m in position 7 without any links to my page.
Sign up for a free Ahrefs Webmaster Tools audit.
You will get a website scoreboard like this.
- Domain Rating – a domain score out of 100
- Referring Domains – number of external websites that link to you
- Organic Traffic – estimated traffic from Google
- Look at the number of referring domains. Do you have any ? YES/NO
- Click the referring domains link. Do you recognise industry websites in the links ? YES/NO
- Click the anchors link. In the anchor text column, is your name or company mentioned ? YES/NO
Check competitor backlinks
Now scroll down to the competing domains tab to see a list of your nearest competitors.
Click the little arrow after their name to reveal their domain rating, referring domains and organic traffic.
- Look at their domain rating. Is it higher than yours ? YES/NO
- Look at referring domains. Are they higher than yours ? YES/NO
- Look at organic traffic. Is it higher than yours ? YES/NO
It’s not a great experience if links are broken.
- Click Backlinks > Broken. Are there any broken links ? YES/NO
- Click Backlinks > Lost. Are there any lost links ? YES/NO
That’s our link checks done.
There is a relationship between your organic traffic and referring domains acquired through off page SEO work.
Why people link to other websites
Knowing why people link to other websites will give you a better understanding of your next step.
You don’t “get” or buy links; it’s frowned upon by Google and could get your website deindexed.
You earn links when you can provide useful and linkable assets that other websites can use on their website.
Here’s a seo guide for small business owners I wrote.
During my research for the article I need to include information about the number of small businesses in the UK and USA for page relevancy.
I searched and found 2 different websites with statistics.
I added these statistics on my pages and did the courteous thing and linked to their statistics.
That’s how these other 2 websites earned a link.
- Data Studies
- Industry Studies such as salary guides
- Statistics and quotes
- Graphs, charts, infographics
Let me run you through a menu of link building options.
Link building options
No one likes or wants to invest in link building especially considering the average link will set you back about $352.
I’ve never paid for a link myself; I have earned links through my own efforts for my website or clients.
But it’s hard to overlook the relationship between traffic and referring domains.
You need a budget.
Start putting funds away or reduce expenditure in other areas and divert to off page SEO.
Local citations and directories for local businesses
Local citations are mentions of your business online and every local business needs these before doing any kind of off page SEO.
Use BrightLocal or WhiteSpark to add your website where they will recommend local citations for your website.
Clients of mine will typically pay between $75 and $100 as a one off cost.
A guest post is an article you write on another website that includes a link back to your website.
Sounds simple in practice but this tactic is used by every seo, marketer and their granny.
If I were to write a guest post then it would be an industry relevant website, a website that knew me and had traffic.
HARO and PR Hunter
There are 2 websites that help you connect with journalists and editors who are writing articles and need to quote sources.
Both have free and low cost subscription services and you can pick up a few links if you religiously read every email alert they send you.
Broken Link Building
They say the old ones are the best ones; yes, I’m a huge broken link building fan and have gained more links from this tactic than any other.
It can be difficult for a beginner or business owner to get their head around this.
It can be difficult to replicate competitors’ links.
I tend to look for link trends amongst competitors.
What content format earns them links.
- Brian is earning many links by producing data studies.
- Adam is earning links producing tip guides.
Studying the format people in an industry link to makes the link strategy you use that much easier.
If I link to your website, will you link to a friend’s website?
That’s how a 3 way link exchange works.
Yes, this tactic would be construed against Google’s guidelines but you’ll find many link exchange private groups on Facebook.
It takes time to build up relationships and it’s not really a scalable link strategy but won’t really cost you any more.
Sponsorship of a local sports team is popular amongst many local businesses.
Podcasts and Interviews
Links from podcasts were definitely in vogue in 2020 and will be a stable diet of many website owners.
This is a really time consuming and potentially expensive tactic but the benefits are greater than a link from a high authority industry website.
I guess I’m not interesting enough yet to be featured within the seo industry; but I’ve done a few podcast type interviews with web design platforms.
You grab the latest news of the week or month in your industry from other websites and create a page summarising the news; that’s how the other sites get their links.
You need to build up a list of people in your industry who produce regular roundup posts and introduce them to topics or subjects you’ve written about that they could link to.
You’ve seen plenty of list posts when you search Google.
When you’re looking for the best shoes, the best gaming chair or the best headphones Google will display list posts that websites have created.
In fact, Moz research found that list posts earn the most links and shares.
You link to me, I link to you.
This happens if you’re doing any kind of outreach.
Don’t rely on this approach.
Assets such as images, photographs and infographics are considered visual content.
Other websites use these assets on their website but don’t link to the original source.
Reach out and ask them to reach out to our resource.
Or describe your images and add ALT Text when uploading to your website.
People search images when planning content and could use your image as part of their article.
Statistics and Data Driven Content
An old recruitment client of mine created an industry salary guide; 14 other websites link to it.
Statistics and data driven content are good at earning links because quotes and data within these pages are used by other authors writing about a related subject.
This can be really expensive content to produce; typically it should be original.
How to guides
In this study of link intent, I wanted to discover how you could earn more than 30 links to an article.
How to guides appeared to have the most success.
This makes a lot of common sense considering a how to guide addresses the question or query users search for.
Use “keyword” AND “how” in Ahrefs content explorer tool to discover the how to pages that earn the most links.
Then you need to create better “how to” guides if you’re going to reach out and earn links to your page.
Resource Link Building
This is where you find and reach websites that have resource pages on their website.
Like a university website having a jobs resource page for students finishing their degree.
Many sites write posts like “23 Resources to Help X” where they link to many different products, services and solutions.
The aim is to reach out to the managers of these resources to get them to include your page (as a resource).
Scholarship link building
Many companies offer small scholarships to students or potential customers.
- Create a page
- A scholarship fund
- An application process
- And a reward
Beatport, the music website, just did this type of campaign offering up equipment and subscriptions to those who produced a “mix tape”.
Expensive for a small business owner but less expensive than the £3 million a year my old employer paid two sponsor 2 football teams.
Let’s say you publish a blog post and then put that blog post content onto LinkedIn article and Medium.com
That’s content syndication.
Your blog post is the original post and will have a do follow link.
But since LinkedIn and Medium aren’t the original authors of the article they will be marked no follow; thus little link value.
So you could earn links to your post from all 3 sources; but only the link from your post would be of value.
So why do this ?
Your article could be read by more people on these syndications than via your article.
What’s your best tip for ?
Ask a bunch of experts in your industry for their best tip about a subject.
- Collect the answers
- Collect their name, photo and details
- Produce an expert roundup article.
I’ve used this approach 3 times; earned a few links but nothing special.
Simple; find the websites that used to link to you but no longer do.
- Go to Ahrefs backlink report
- Select Lost
- Select Dropped
See which websites you would want to reclaim a link from; as not all dropped links you want back.
Find and buy a website domain name that has a good link profile and that has expired.
Then redirect the relevant pages of the expired website to the relevant pages on your website.
Alternatively find other websites that link to pages or resources on expired domains and offer your page as a replacement; similar to broken link building.
Let’s say your name or something you quote was mentioned on other websites and there’s no link back to you.
That’s an unlinked mention.
This tactic will only work for bigger, more established brands.
Yes you can post content to social media channels and potentially people who share the content may prompt others to link to it.
Most studies show no correlation between sharing and link earning.
I do have a secret weapon in my link building armoury, and for clients, where shares can result in links.
Digital PR Agency
To hire a link builder down in London will cost you around £4,000 a month with a minimum guarantee of 10 links.
That’s the model most link builders pursue.
But if you want to go up a level there are some incredible digital PR agencies that have relationships with industry journalists or who can generate and scale link ideas and campaigns.