What is Off-page SEO?
Off-page SEO is basically anything that you do to improve your search engine rankings that doesn’t directly take place on your website.
Improving your website’s ability to rank well in search engine result pages (SERP) involves intentional work both on and off your website, and this article is here to help you better understand what you can do to help your SEO in addition to on-page SEO.
If you don’t already know about on-page SEO, in a nutshell, it’s improving your rankings in search by working on your actual website (i.e. content, keywords, code, etc).
Off-page SEO Matters for Small Businesses
If you’re an owner of a local business, you are more than likely aware that SEO can help your business. But did you know that you need to split your time between on-page and off-page SEO practices?
The more you work on your off-page SEO, the more authoritative your website appears to Google, and naturally that’s ideal. You want Google to acknowledge that your website is a great resource for people who are searching for the types of things that you offer.
Okay. Off-page SEO matters, but what do you do? Well, there are a handful of things that help, but the primary way to increase your website’s domain authority (i.e. how highly Google views your website) through earning a high volume of quality backlinks to your website.
Building a Backlink Profile
Backlinking for SEO
Backlinks are when another website links back to yours. Think of these like a vote of confidence.
The more votes your website gets, the higher authority you’re website will have in the eyes of search engines.
It doesn’t stop there, though. The website that link back to you matters, also! If the website linking to yours has high domain authority, that link will carry more weight. Relevance also matters.
Your goal as a small business leader should not be how to get as many backlinks as possible (this could easily lead to methods that are penalized). A better goal is to get relevant backlinks for your industry and customers.
For example, if you are an HVAC service provider, and your are already creating great content on your website, why not share that blog article with your vendors, local news sources, etc. to give them helpful content to share with their customers. Also, you could request to get listed as a formal partner on your vendor’s websites, with a link to your HVAC business. When they link to it on their website, that benefits your overall SEO.
Domain Authority: What is it?
Domain Authority (DA) is a score that was developed by Moz in order to give a tangible metric to a website that predicts how well it will perform in search engine result pages (SERPs). Your score will range from 0 to 100, and the higher the better.
If you use Google Chrome, Moz provides a free extension that will show you the domain authority on a given page.
Just as Google’s search algorithm considers a wide range of factors when putting SERPs together, Moz considers a lot of factors when scoring your DA. It’s a good practice though, to track your DA as you work on improving your overall SEO. Backlinking included.
As you increase the volume and quality of backlinks to your website, your DA should be increasing too.
Earning backlinks is best practice
Definitely take advantage of the low hanging fruit first, like vendors and partners. Contact their marketing team or webmaster and request for your website or content to be linked. However, don’t assume that because you’re requesting backlinks from relevant website and partners that you’ll get them. Nor should it be your only long-term way of building links.
Earning your backlinks by creating awesome content that gets shared is the best way in the long run to build a strong backlink profile. This one way that on-page and off-page work side by side. You create awesome improvements to your website and its content, and it naturally should drive users to share that content.
A perfect example of a company earning their backlinks by creating great content is Moz and the article on DA I shared above.
Other Off-page Ranking Factors
Customer reviews of your business
There are multiple benefits for encouraging customers to post a review about their experience with your product or service.
A clear pro that most business owners are aware of is that customers want to see honest reviews and ratings before they buy something. I know I do! Before buying pretty much anything, whether it’s on a major retailer’s website, Amazon, or even in brick and mortar stores, I check for online reviews to see what people think.
Did you know that 97% of consumers take into account reviews of a product or service before buying?
It’s not surprising really, but if Google wants to give the best customer experience possible, then it’s pretty understandable that they would also consider a business’ ratings and reviews when putting together SERPs.
Reviews help communicate trustworthiness and authority to Google.
This is especially important for smaller businesses that are serving a local market. Complimenting the on-page SEO work you’re doing, Reviews on your Google My Business profile are a great way to generate new leads in your city through local SEO.
Reviews can be on any relevant online platform, but a few examples are Google My Business (Google Maps), Yelp, Trip Advisor, Facebook, Amazon, etc.
Google My Business: Should a small business create a profile?
“You can improve your business’s local ranking by using Google My Business.” This is straight from Google, and probably all the reason you need to set up your profile!
Setting up a Google My Business profile is basically creating another social media profile for your business. It’s totally free to do this, and it definitely can help your off-page SEO and local SEO efforts.
In addition to improving local SEO ranking, it’s a great place to communicate with your customers about what your business is doing, hours of operation, and important postings and links.
Small businesses need to set this up and start sharing the page with customers, so that reviews will start coming in and Google will start listing your website in relevant local searches.
It’s likely that you’ve already setup social media accounts for your business. But how are you using it? Are you responding to direct messages and comments on posts? Are users engaging with the content you’re sharing?
If not, it’s time to revisit which social channels make sense for your business and creating a plan for frequent postings of high quality content.
Studies have shown that there is a correlation between your SEO and social media shares.
The main reason for this is thought to be that content that is share-worthy on social media, is also likely to earn a high number of backlinks.
Let’s take a moment here and revisit something… Earning backlinks comes from getting very high quality and relevant content out to the right audience.
That means that when it comes to off-page SEO and social, your takeaway should not be to spam people with your content every day, but rather to create content that people care enough about to share when you post it on your social profiles.
Pretty much everything comes back to great on-page SEO and high quality content!
Brand mentions are also known as linkless mentions. This is when your company is simply talked about, but not actually linked back to.
This one is a bit more obscure and hard to affect, but it has been shown to impact SEO.
Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes said that even when your high quality content is cited but not linked to, then you’re doing well.
The Google algorithm has evolved over the years. And while backlinks at one time were the main, if not only, off-page SEO factor to worry about, today the algorithm is much more sophisticated, and takes into account a company’s authority and relevance for a given search based on 200+ factors, including being mentioned but not backlinked.
So to recap, what should a small business do to rank well for a local audience?
- Take care of your on-page SEO first
- Share your high quality content on social channels
- Track and improve Domain Authority
- Setup a Google My Business profile
- Earn honest customer reviews
If you have questions feel free to message us. We’ll hop on a call and help answer any questions you may have.