We may not know all of Google’s ranking factors, but we know the top three: links, content, and RankBrain.
Content is all about on-page SEO. RankBrain is focused on user experience. Links: that’s 100% off-page SEO.
But off-page SEO is tricky because you have less control over it. You can update your content as often as you want, making it better and more comprehensive. You can fix every technical SEO issue that exists on your site.
Getting other sites, people, and publications to link to or mention your brand—on the other hand—is a different beast altogether.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t succeed with off-page SEO. Many marketers do off-page SEO exceptionally well.
To find out how, we spoke with 98 SEO experts to find out what off-page SEO techniques they use to build their domain authority, earn more backlinks, and drive increasing amounts of traffic to their sites.
Here’s what we learned.
What Is Off-Page SEO?
Off-page SEO refers to any search optimization tactics that occur outside of your own website. It’s perhaps best explained in contrast with on-page and technical SEO (the two other facets of search engine optimization) that both cover tactics you employ on your own website.
Link building is the most well-known off-page SEO tactic, but it can refer to other tactics as well, such as social media marketing and affiliate marketing.
Why Is Off-Page SEO Important?
When it comes to ranking on search engines, many factors come into play, but among one of the most important are off-page attributes such as your website’s authority and trustworthiness.
Your website gains authority through different types of backlinks. In order to improve your website’s authority, websites that link back to you or reference your product and services should be from the same niche.
Each backlink counts to search engines as a positive vote, especially if these websites have high domain authority.
What’s the Difference Between On-Page SEO and Off-Page SEO?
Well, this one is simple––on-page SEO refers to factors that are within your control from the confines of your website and any of its web pages.
Basically, this means that you and your team can influence on-page SEO by optimizing for specific keywords, writing title tags, meta descriptions, and image alt text that leverage those keywords, etc.
Some of the more common on-page SEO factors include:
For comparison, the most common off-page SEO factors revolve around improving your DA or DR (domain authority or domain ranking through backlinks. Some of the ways you can earn backlinks are:
- Guest blogging
- Brand mentions
- Influencer outreach
- Broken link building
- Social networking
- Forum discussions (such as on Quora or Reddit)
Off-page SEO is sort to say, less in your control, because it refers to the page ranking factors that occur off your website. Both on-page and off-page SEO are crucial for ranking your website, and you have to equally practice both.
What are the Most Effective Off-Page SEO Tactics Overall?
To find out which off-page SEO tactics have been the most effective for our respondents, we asked them to rate a handful of popular techniques from most to least effective. Acquiring backlinks—or link building—was voted as the most effective tactic:
“Links play a major role in your website’s authority and rankings in Google,” says Best Company’s Alice Stevens. “Having a good link-building practice, especially for target pages, will help Google recognize your site as an authority in your niche, which will boost your rankings.”
Matt Diggity of Diggity Marketing agrees: “Link building is absolutely essential for getting ranked in Google in 2019.”
“You should have a solid backlink strategy to get at least a few links from high authority websites a week,” says Daniela Andreevska of Mashvisor. “Search engines are paying more and more attention to how others interact with you, so you should really put some effort into your backlink strategy.”
COFORGE’s Eric Melillo says there are three types of backlinks:
- “Natural links where people discover your content on their own and link to it within their content.”
- “Manual links where you collaborate with bloggers and influencers and they link to your content.”
- “Self-created links that are created from a blog comment signature, Quora, Reddit, etc.”
And Tom Mortimer of Adzooma says that backlinks drive three major benefits: they improve your domain authority, provide more brand exposure, and drive the right types of traffic to your site.
Sam White of Truck Driver Academy expands on that last point in more detail:
“Getting backlinks from relevant pages gets your content in front of users who will find it helpful and reward it with high engagement. And high engagement along with quality backlinks both send powerful signals to Google that your page and content are both helpful and authoritative.”
“In my opinion,” says Daniel Ashton of BrainSpin, “earning backlinks is more beneficial than other tactics like PPC campaigns, influencer marketing, and referrals because the results are long-lasting and don’t end when the campaign does.”
35 Highly Effective Ways to Improve Your Off-Page SEO Strategy
In addition to finding out what broad techniques our respondents have found the most helpful, we also wanted to know what specific tactics they use to earn backlinks, build brand awareness, and drive traffic to their sites from other sources.
So we asked them to tell us more about the specific off-page SEO techniques they rely on the most. The result: 35 tactics you can adopt to create and refine your own off-page SEO strategy.
- Write Guest Post on Other Websites’ Blogs
- Engage in Social Media Marketing
- Conduct Influencer Outreach
- Participate in Video and Podcast Interviews
- Conduct PR Outreach
- Respond to HARO Requests
- Respond to Questions On Q&A Websites
- Participate in Forums
- Address Unlinked Brand Mentions
- Request Attribution from Sites Using Your Original Images
- Run a Broken Link Building Campaign
- Target Competitors Links
- Create Content on YouTube
- Post-High-Quality Images on Pinterest
- Publish Content On Medium
- Write Content on Web 2.0 Websites
- Trade Custom Images for Links
- Try Multimedia Distribution
- Write and Submit Op-Ed Content
- Create Expert RoundUps
- Ask Experts for Feedback
- Participate in Link Exchanges
- Form Co-Marketing Partnerships
- Establish a Referral Program
- Hold Contests and Fundraisers
- Comment on Relevant Blogs
- Conduct Email Outreach
- Highlight Your Content in Email Newsletters
- Participate in Industry Events
- Host and Participate in Local Offline Events
- Publish Google Posts
- Encourage Customers to Write Reviews
- Update and Manage Your Directory Listings
- Pursue Accreditation
- Make OffPage SEO a Community Effort
PRO TIP: How to Monitor and Evaluate Your SEO Performance
If you want to understand how your visitors are behaving on your landing pages, there are several on-page events and metrics you can track from Google Analytics and Google Search Console that will help:
- Organic sessions by landing page. Which landing pages receive the most organic traffic and generate signups?
- Organic goal completions by landing page. Which landing pages reach your conversion goals and which need to be updated or optimized?
- Organic clicks by queries. Which search queries generate the most clicks to your website?
- Organic clicks by page. Which pages receive the most clicks from search results pages?
- Organic sessions. How many organic search sessions does your website receive?
Now you can benefit from the experience of our SEO and website conversion experts, who have put together a plug-and-play Databox template showing the most important metrics for monitoring your landing page performance. It’s simple to implement and start using as a standalone dashboard or in marketing reports, and best of all, it’s free!
You can easily set it up in just a few clicks – no coding required.
To set up the dashboard, follow these 3 simple steps:
Step 1: Get the template
Step 2: Connect your Google Analytics and Google Search Console accounts with Databox.
Step 3: Watch your dashboard populate in seconds.
1. Write Guest Posts for Other Websites’ Blogs
“Although it’s been around for a very long time, there’s no better off-page SEO tactic than guest posting,” says Beth Noll of Gift Observer. “It’s a simple trade of quality content for a quality link from a highly relevant website.”
“Guest posting has many advantages. Not only do you get a link from a relevant website, but it can also attract referral traffic to your site from the link. Combine this with the fact that there are millions of sites out there that accept guest posts, and it’s really a great strategy for any website,” Noll says.
So how do you find ideal guest posting opportunities? Growth Hackers’ Jonathan Aufray explains:
- “Find authority blogs in your niche and industry.”
- “Analyze their content and find a few topic ideas they’re missing.”
- “Reach out to them via their online contact form, cold email, or even through Twitter to check if they’re interested in receiving content from new contributors.”
- “Show them your previous work and propose a few topics.”
- “Write, publish, and promote.”
Ironpaper’s Brian Casey also recommends “seeing if the website has any formalized guest contribution program. Often, this will tell you what types of backlinks they allow in guest posts. Aim for those that allow you to include 1-2 links back to your site. This will ensure you’ll see an ROI on the time invested in writing the post.”
Flow SEO’s Angela Ash says to use the links you get to create contextual links: “Many writers make the mistake of only linking to the company’s main page. Instead, your links should point to data to support the statement that is used as the anchor text.”
“Consider linking to posts on your own blog, infographics, or other bits of information that actually supply information related to the article itself,” Ash says.
And if a site you’re interested in contributing to doesn’t allow for in-post links, Rob Heywood of Audana NW LTD recommends “asking if they will allow a link to your website as part of an author bio. While it’s not as good as a contextual link, the opportunity should not be passed up.”
But ClearPivot’s Chantelle Stevenson says that even if you don’t get a link, there’s still value in guest posting: “It’s time to quit guest blogging for the sole purpose of links. Guest blog because you are interested in nurturing a relationship with another company, influencer, or partner, and the links will come.”
“If you do it solely because you want links, it comes across as prioritizing a transactional relationship only. Add value for your influencers, and guest blog about a true interest,” Stevenson says.
2. Engage in Social Media Marketing
“One effective off-page SEO tactic that every marketer should use is creating meaningful content and sharing it on all social media platforms,” says Lisamarie Monaco of PinnacleQuote Life Insurance Specialists. “You’ll be surprised at how many people are looking for your product. Find them by sharing!”
“Social media can link many off-page SEO tactics together,” says Emma Cavalier of RateYourSeats.com. “For example, if you write a guest post, the perfect way to let people know about it is by posting it on social media. Same goes for being mentioned in a Q&A, creating a new video, partnering with influencers, etc.”
Additionally, as Lisa Chu of Black N Bianco says, “social media has the ability to create real relationships with influencers that will build your credibility, leading to connections with high-ranking websites that will further build your online presence.”
“Influencers also tend to be very connected with each other, so once you are in their circle, it becomes very easy to gain more influencers to promote your website or brand,” Chu says.
Our respondents offered several tips for succeeding with off-page SEO on social media:
- “Focus on connecting with your social media audience by providing quality, shareable content and using a more humanized voice.” (Alayna Okerlund, Best Company)
- “Weave social media and SEO together, and make sure that the two are working in harmony.” (Katherine Rowland, YourParkingSpace)
- “Optimise your social channels, ensuring that all include relevant and consistent keywords in their bio sections.” (Katherine Rowland, YourParkingSpace)
- “Include imagery in your content. This will encourage people to click on your posts.” (Katherine Rowland, YourParkingSpace)
- “Consider following social listening trends to discover new keyword opportunities for SEO.” (Katherine Rowland, YourParkingSpace)
- “Don’t neglect any of the large social media sites: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. It takes a lot of time, but with the help of a content calendar, you can scale your tasks and social media publishing.” (Muhammad Roohan, DME Of America Inc.)
- “By posting content on social media sites, it gets your content indexed by Google faster.” (Becky Beach, Mom Beach)
“There’s nothing worse than looking up a company on social media and seeing unloved channels that haven’t been updated in months,” says Holly Callender of Pro-Sapien Software. “Your audience is checking social media more often than they’re checking your website, so go where they’re present.”
Editor’s note: Want a quick way to see how your efforts on social media are contributing to your site’s traffic? Grab this free Overarching Social Media Analytics dashboard to get a consolidated view of your most important metrics from Google Analytics, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
3. Conduct Influencer Outreach
“The most effective off-page SEO tactic is influencer outreach,” says Anjana Wickramaratne of Inspirenix. “Influencer outreach is when you reach out to well-known businesses or individuals and ask them to share your content if they think it provides value to their audiences.”
“Influencers usually have a large following, so when they share your content, you will gain a huge amount of traffic. Additionally, the traffic will all be people who are interested in your niche and are more likely to engage with you,” Wickramaratne says.
And as John Hinds of Lojix says, “Influencer sites tend to have high domain authority, so any backlink to your site will be seen as high-quality by search engines.”
So how do you conduct influencer marketing? Ryan Underwood of YourParkingSpace explains: “Create killer content, reach out to well-established and authoritative influencers within your industry, and ask for a link.”
“Not only does this increase the visibility of your blog post,” says Jennilyn Adefuin of CanIRank, “but it also strengthens your website’s SEO.”
4. Participate in Video and Podcast Interviews
“My favorite tactic is to be a guest on other companies’ podcasts or video interview series,” says Nextiva’s Yaniv Masjedi.
Blake Stockton of Stockton Marketing Agency agrees: “Consider getting a company subject-matter expert interviewed on blogs, podcasts, and videos. This is similar to link building, but it provides more concrete value.”
5. Conduct PR Outreach
“The number-one off-page SEO tactic for us is PR outreach,” says John Donnachie of ClydeBank Media. “Google and other search engines rely on authority, and news sites often have high domain authority.”
“Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes confirmed in an interview that if a high profile news outlet writes about you, then that’s a good thing,” says Luke Budka of TopLine Comms.
“Therefore, every marketer should engage in PR outreach: get brand mentions associated with what you do in authoritative and contextually relevant publications. PR-led SEO is the future,” Budka says.
As far as tactics for PR outreach, Alistair Dodds of Ever Increasing Circles recommends “building great relationships with journalists and publishers. Be the go-to reference point in your industry when journalists are looking for comments.”
“Those kinds of relationships are invaluable and will win you the high-quality backlinks that make all the difference,” Dodds says.
Tom Baker of FordeBaker says to “invest in digital PR to produce creative campaigns that journalists will be interested in. Don’t treat this as a one-off either. Treat this as a consistent part of your marketing activity to ensure there’s a regular flow of good links.”
And William Jepma of Market Veep recommends using good old press releases. “Whenever you release a new product, update an existing product or service, or have an exciting company development to share, then create a press release.”
“Not only are press releases more affordable than other forms of advertising, but when you optimize them with strong, industry-specific keywords, they will also produce the kind of backlinks and domain authority that expose new audiences to your brand and generate actionable leads.”
“By releasing press releases on a semi-regular basis, you’ll be able to build interest in your brand, shine a spotlight on your industry expertise, and connect with the right audience at the right time,” Jepma says.
6. Respond to HARO Requests
“One of the best ways to get natural links from high-authority domains is to use HARO (Help A Reporter Out),” says Marc Andre of Vital Dollar. “You can subscribe to get three emails per day from HARO, and each email will list opportunities to offer quotes or feedback to reporters who are writing articles.”
“You can then respond to applicable inquiries, and most of the reporters will include a link to your site if they use your response in the final article,” Andre says.
Trickle’s Chris Davis agrees: “HARO is a great free resource that connects industry experts with reporters and columnists looking for insights on a certain topic.”
“The platform takes the busy work out of finding quality resources to contribute to, thus leaving productive time to provide expert advice and opinions to writers in need of great content,” says Danny Peavey of One Week Website.
Plus, as Nigel Wright Group’s Fiona Kay says, “respondents usually only have to write 100-200 words on a subject, and in return, journalists often link back to the respondent’s website to credit the contribution.”
Quincy Smith of ESL Authority says that the key to successfully building backlinks with HARO is to contribute regularly:
“Make it a part of your morning routine to check their emails, and try and submit one response per day. It takes five minutes to scan the emails and craft a response, which I’m more than happy to do if I land an awesome link one out of every 10 or 20 responses.”
“Last year, I generated approximately 90 mentions, primarily via HARO pitches,” says Kent Lewis of Anvil Media. “It’s led to press coverage and mentions in publications like Business News Daily, Entrepreneur, Forbes, Fast Company, The New York Times, and Reader’s Digest.”
Our respondents also offered a few HARO alternatives. Quentin Aisbett of OnQ Marketing recommends SourceBottle, and Katie Eldred of Vistaprint recommends following the #journorequest hashtag on Twitter.
7. Reply to Questions on Q&A Websites
“Replying to questions on Q&A sites is one of the hottest trends in SEO right now because Google seems to love these websites,” says Daniela McVicker of Top Writers Review.
“They dominate most non-commercial SERPs and gain a lot of traffic for commercial queries. Plus, people tend to trust the information on the Q&A websites more than on a brand’s homepage or blog. Thus, you can not only grow your website traffic but also improve your brand image and gain audience loyalty,” McVicker says.
Austin Shong of Blip Billboards agrees: “Be active on Quora. It’s a great way to engage with customers in your industry and helps you become more of an authority.”
“I follow questions and topics relative to our company. I try to focus on the most relevant questions and on topics that we are most likely to become top-viewed writers in. When there is a relevant question to answer, I’ll occasionally also promote the answer.”
“I try to include relevant links to content on our site in the answers. It actually has generated a good amount of traffic to our site. I’ve been active on Quora for a few months, and this last month it was one of our top referrers,” Shong says.
“Q&A sites are a goldmine when someone is specifically asking a question related to or looking for the product/service you offer,” says Hamza Karim of The Artistic Designers. “Many marketers don’t value it, but you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to showcase your site in those situations.”
“It’s quick and easy to jump in and answer questions and establish yourself as knowledgeable,” says Ellen Sluder of RingBoost. “Keep it up, and you’ll eventually build enough of a profile to get requests for answers—and it becomes a reinforcing cycle.”
8. Participate in Forums
“One effective off-page SEO tactic that every marketer should leverage is contributing meaningfully in community discussions that surround your topic/area of expertise,” says Lauren Petermeyer of Veg Kitchen.
“For example, if you run a vegetarian blog, join and become an active participant in vegetarian community forums and discussions across the web and social media. But the goal is not to just register for these sites and spam with backlinks. Rather, position yourself and/or your brand as a subject-matter expert.”
“Then, over time, find appropriate and relevant ways to integrate highly-relevant content and backlinks into the conversation in a way that feels natural and respects the communities of which you’re a member/participant,” Petermeyer says.
Simon Rodgers of WebSitePulse agrees: “Be very active in high-quality, high-traffic, niche-specific forums. But don’t advertise there; be helpful to the community. In time, they will ask for recommendations, and that is the time when you mention your product/service.”
9. Address Unlinked Brand Mentions
“Instead of chasing cold backlink leads, find unlinked mentions that already have your business or a client’s business mentioned on the website,” says 9Sail’s Kyle Kasharian. “The next step is to simply reach out to a point of contact at that site and ask that the mention include a link to your—or your client’s—website.”
“If your company/client has a presence in its industry, there’s a good chance someone creating content in that industry has mentioned your company without a link,” says Chris Steele of Knowmad Digital Marketing. “It’s simple and low-effort to reach out to the publisher and ask them to add a link back to your site.”
So how do you find unlinked mentions? Loud Digital’s Daniel Young recommends “setting up a Google Alert for your brand name, or do a Google search for your brand and exclude your website. Then, go through the links and find any unlinked brand mentions.”
And in addition to searching for your brand name, Best Company’s McCall Robison also recommends “searching for other products/services/taglines that are related to your business.”
CoSchedule’s Ben Sailer recommends another approach: BuzzSumo. “BuzzSumo is much more effective than Google Alerts because it can provide you with email updates that specifically call out mentions that don’t include a link.”
“A simple email asking for a mention link is usually well-received and will help you build a healthy backlink profile,” says Paul Lovell of Always Evolving SEO.
10. Request Attribution from Sites Using Your Original Images
“One underrated off-page SEO tactic is acquiring backlinks via image attribution,” says Joe Flanagan of Tacuna Systems.
“Use a reverse-image search tool such as TinEye or Google Reverse Image Search to find any other websites that are using images from your website, and then reach out to them to request a backlink as attribution.”
11. Run a Broken Link Building Campaign
“Use Ahrefs to identify broken links that point to competitor websites,” says Kristine Thorndyke of Test Prep Nerds. “If you currently have similar content, you can ask the websites pointing to the broken link to link to your content instead.”
“It is in every website’s best interest to not have broken links on their pages, so they should be more than willing to make this change.”
12. Target Competitors’ Links
“The most impactful off-page SEO strategy is hunting for competitors’ links that you can acquire for yourself,” says Jacob Landis-Eigsti of Jacob LE Video Production.
“You can use a tool like SEMrush or Ahrefs to see all of the backlinks that your competitors are getting. Look to find their do-follow backlinks. Often, there are various directories or profiles that you can create for your business.”
“I created more than 20 do-follow links by building profiles on sites where my competitors had profiles. Using this tactic, I increased my website’s authority. As a result of this, my website visitors have more than doubled,” Landis-Eigsti says.
Ronald D’souza of Angel Jackets recommends another tool for this activity—Backlink Watch—and says to “contact the sites that are linking to your competitors and show them what you’re offering they’re most likely to link to.”
Editor’s note: SEMrush users who want a quick way to view how their link-building efforts are paying off can get a big-picture view of their total number of inbound links using this free Link Analysis Dashboard.
13. Create Content on YouTube
“One major off-page SEO tactic every digital marketer should employ is to create a YouTube channel and upload some informative videos about your products and/or services,” says David Hepplewhite of Hepplewhite Markedsføring.
“YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, running on the Google-backbone. This is, without a doubt, the fastest and most efficient way to get a linked website on the map with free, high-quality backlinks and a steady flow of fresh traffic,” Hepplewhite says.
Brooke Logan of Sagefrog Marketing Group agrees: “Having YouTube videos that pertain to your business—services, products, testimonials, etc.—are beneficial as these can be optimized with keywords and tags to perform in the SERPs as well.”
“YouTube is one of the biggest content platforms, and with rich content, you can not only drive traffic to your site but influence sales as well,” says Rex Pereira of Shrex Design.
14. Post High-Quality Images on Pinterest
“We help people create ebooks from their blog and video-to-text transcriptions,” says Paul Bannister of Designer. “So focusing on creating beautiful, catchy featured images helps us promote our blog on Pinterest. The better your design, the better your traffic gets.”
15. Publish Content on Medium
“We create our content using Medium—versus publishing it on our site—to do more of our outreach,” says Ilya Polokhin of Hubneo Virtual Reality Lab NYC. “The blog on our site is more for our brand story, versus our Medium site where we write about topics like ‘top 10 cool things to do in Manhattan NY.’”
“We generate referral traffic from our Medium site, but we’ve seen a significant increase in our domain authority by referencing our site on Medium.”
16. Write Content on Web 2.0 Sites
“This a gem that some know about—and some don’t—but every marketer should be using,” says Rio Rocket of Rio Rocket Digital Marketing. “Creating accounts on Web 2.0 sites that allow for content creation and posting content on those sites is invaluable.”
“It’s a simple—but powerful—method to create hundreds of articles about your topic on other websites with links back to your own website.”
17. Trade Custom Images for Links
“I have a lot of local, small business clients that benefit the most from locally-relevant links from other local businesses,” says David Kranker of David Kranker Creative.
“There are a lot of local nonprofits and businesses that don’t have the resources they’d like to produce good design assets. I use an unlimited design service called Design Pickle, and I offer nonprofits and small businesses design services in exchange for a partnership link to my client’s site. The business is ecstatic, and I get a link.”
“The work on my end is minimal because Design Pickle handles the creation of the business’ design assets—whether that’s infographics, powerpoints, flyers, etc.—and it’s scalable because Design Pickle has the bandwidth to tackle a lot of design jobs in a month,” Kranker says.
18. Try Multimedia Distribution
“One link-building strategy that I don’t see being implemented or talked about enough is the power of media distribution,” says Paul Teitelman of Paul Teitelman SEO Consulting.
“Take a long-form blog post, turn it into a video, infographic, PowerPoint presentation, and/or a quick podcast. Then, build out profiles on the top sites for videos/infographics, and start distributing your different types of content on each platform.”
“It’s a great way to amplify your reach and also build tons of high-quality links at scale without spending too much extra money.”
Related: 11 Creative Ways to Repurpose Your Existing Content & Drive More Traffic
19. Write and Submit Op-Ed Content
“Generating media coverage about your company in reputable media outlets and contributing op-ed content to influential industry news outlets are fantastic ways to boost your off-page SEO,” says Rafe Gomez of VC Inc. Marketing.
“Once this content is posted/published online, the backlink to your site within the story (or in the bio about you if you’re the author of a submitted op-ed piece) will quickly and dramatically elevate your site’s off-page SEO and domain authority.”
“It will also organically ramp up your organization’s credibility, validity, and trustworthiness among prospective customers/clients.”
“This approach has been hugely effective for both my own clients and my company.”
20. Create Expert Roundups
“We do a lot of roundups where we reach out to experts who are willing to share their thoughts and experiences,” says Referral Rock’s Jay Kang.
“The ratio of these types of posts being shared is more than enough for us to continue with this approach, and the amount of backlinks for one roundup is a lot easier and more effective to generate than reaching out to hundreds of people or doing guest posts for each link,” Kang says.
Alex Tran of Schimiggy Reviews agrees: “I collaborate with bloggers in my niche to grow off-site SEO. I find bloggers who have ‘featured on’ or ‘press’ pages and interview them in a roundup for my blog.”
“I end up getting 10 backlinks using this method. I ask them to add my link to their press page, and they usually oblige. I also join niche Facebook groups to request roundup queries as well,” Tran says.
21. Ask Experts for Feedback
“Ask for feedback on your content rather than asking directly for a link,” says Patrick Ward of High Speed Experts. “Thought leaders and industry peers want to be seen as experts and will be more favorable to your brand if you reach out to them with a soft ask or offer of exposure rather than simply begging for a link.”
“If you’re providing them with an opportunity to add value—and are adding value for them as well—they will be more receptive to providing a link rather than feeling like they’re being sold to.”
22. Participate in Link Exchanges
“If you have a blog with numerous posts, a great SEO strategy can be to exchange links with other companies who are in the same niche,” says Mailbird’s Andrea Loubier.
“Doing a little research on blogs that can support your claims or add more data to your statements can pay off, especially when you discover a post on a site that could benefit from a link to one of your own articles for additional information.”
“This can quickly set you up as an expert on a variety of topics, as well as help you creep a little closer to that coveted page one on Google search.”
23. Form Co-Marketing Partnerships
“The best tactic you can use is co-marketing,” says Chanty’s Olga Mykhoparkina. “Since directly exchanging links can be considered a black-hat tactic by Google, you can go one step further.”
“At Chanty, we have co-marketing partnerships with several influential websites. The way it works is simple:”
- “We write a guest post and mention company A.”
- “Company A writes a guest post and mentions us.”
“It’s a really easy and effective tactic that can win you a few easy backlinks every month.”
“The key to making this strategy work is finding reliable and trustworthy partners that do a decent amount of guest posting.”
24. Establish a Referral Program
“Referral marketing can manifest in a number of different ways, but the goal is to get confirmed customers to attract potential customers,” says Nate Masterson of Maple Holistics.
“You can give cash rewards, significant discounts, or even product giveaways: the point is to encourage your customers to become brand advocates on social media and divert traffic to your site. The key is that a referral should be rewarded, and with incentives, you’ll get a lot more referrals than you will without one.”
“Make sure your referral program rewards customers who refer more than one person. Better yet, make the second or third referral earn bigger dividends. A repeat referral customer should be rewarded for that kind of exceptional loyalty.”
25. Hold Contests and Fundraisers
“Hold contests and fundraisers,” says Best Company’s Rochelle Burnside. “When you post about your contests on social media—and invite your social media followers to share your content as part of a contest—you’ll get people talking about your company.”
“It’s one of the best ways to increase social sharing and build a social media following that will see your content in the future.”
26. Comment on Relevant Blogs
“Comment on blog posts that are relevant to your niche,” says Marc Bromhall of Contentellect. “Blog commenting is one of the most underrated off-page SEO methods.”
“Although blog comments almost always result in no-follow links, you’ll still get some link juice from Google for these backlinks. In aggregate, these no-follow links can certainly move the SEO needle.”
27. Conduct Email Outreach
“An effective off-page SEO tactic that every marketer should use to grow website traffic is email outreach,” says Johnny Santiago of Social Catfish. “Now, I’m not suggesting that you should mass email a generic template to 1,000 people begging for a link back to your website. Your email will get deleted for sure.”
“The goal is to send them a personalized message and to build a relationship with the person—not spam them. It is also essential to pitch them with a unique angle to have a better chance of getting a link back to your website,” Santiago says.
Sure Oak’s Franco Colomba recommends ScrapeBox for email outreach: “Use automation tools such as ScrapeBox to streamline the link building process.”
“ScrapeBox is a highly powerful tool, but it’s underrated, partly because its user interface has a steep learning curve and because you need proxies to begin using the tool in the first place.”
“Once you have proxies out of the way, I utilize this tool daily as it helps me search on Google for certain keywords with link building-intent, and it takes out the burdensome work of using one search query modifier at a time. Instead, I can do literally dozens or hundreds if I wanted too.”
“Nevertheless, my job is made 90% easier because of this tool. I simply then vet each site, filter by domain authority, relevancy, and quality, and then proceed to do outreach in order to build a relationship and high-quality links that otherwise would take countless hours to manually find,” Colomba says.
Related: How to Get Double-Digit Response Rates to Your Prospecting Emails
28. Highlight Your Content in Email Newsletters
“Establish an email newsletter to promote your content and grow your website traffic,” says Shelby Liu of Brand Buddha. “Then, send new emails on a regular basis. Notify people of your latest work, newest blog posts, or something that happened on your team that could humanize your brand.”
“A delicately designed email is absolutely key to the number of visitors you’ll drive to your site. So make good decisions on choosing headlines, email body text, and images,” Liu says.
But Paige Arnof-Fenn of Mavens & Moguls says, “instead of trying to start your own blog or newsletter, try contributing regularly to existing well-trafficked blogs in your industry—or newsletters of like-minded organizations reaching the same target audience like you.”
“Make sure you include your URL or contact info on it so they can find you and follow up,” Arnof-Fenn says.
Editor’s note: Want an easy way to see how much traffic your email newsletters are driving to your site? Mailchimp users can download this free, shareable Mailchimp dashboard to monitor opens, clicks, list growth, subscribes and unsubscribes, and more.
Not a Mailchimp user? We have similar dashboards for several other popular email marketing providers like Seventh Sense, HubSpot, Marketo, and SendGrid.
29. Participate in Industry Events
“Participating in industry-related events is a great way to positively impact off-page SEO,” says Miva’s Luke Wester. “Attendees are likely to mention you on social media, and publications may even include you in their coverage of the event.”
30. Host and Participate in Local Offline Events
“Part of local SEO is actually being local,” says Dan Christensen of Morningdove Marketing. “Encouraging your clients to take part in city events and networking groups can help them acquire local backlinks, which can be a major offsite boost.”
Ian Cogswell of Superior Honda agrees: “As a Honda dealership, we often do promotional events and other off-the-net activities that generate interest in our business. Apart from seasonal discounts and specials, this mostly involves charitable giving.”
“Giving to charities and other public outreach organizations is great for PR, keeps our company’s morals in check, and also generates attention from various media outlets across all channels (web, TV news, and radio).”
“In terms of SEO, this exposure helps us get high-authority backlinks to our relevant web pages that help us rank higher and increase our domain authority. Off-page SEO methods like these are largely overlooked, and our success goes to show that there’s still great value in the grass-roots marketing methods,” Cogswell says.
31. Publish Google Posts
“One effective off-page SEO tactic that every marketer should use to reach new customers is Google Posts,” says Antonella Weidman of WebTek. “Google Posts are a great way to share new website content, promote sales, and feature new products or events.”
32. Encourage Customers to Write Reviews
“One lesser-known tactic that advances your overall off-page SEO strategy is to acquire positive customer reviews on Google, Facebook, and Yelp,” says Michael Anderson of Passport Explored. “This helps signal to Google that you are actively engaging your customers and that your business is still relevant in any given field.”
“If you go too long without generating any new reviews, Google may think that you’re not active online, and your rankings may drop accordingly in due time,” Anderson says.
Richard O’Connor of First Mats agrees: “Reviews are something that should not be overlooked, especially in the ecommerce industry where buyers often want to see what others have thought of the product and experience before making their purchase.”
“Review pages like Trustpilot can be a source of good traffic, and with Google’s current emphasis on E-A-T (experience, authority, and trust), it may become a ranking factor (assuming it isn’t already),” O’Connor says.
33. Update and Manage Your Directory Listings
“One of the best—but often overlooked—pieces of off-page SEO strategy includes cleaning up, building, and claiming citations,” says Kimberly Scholten of Odd Dog Media.
“Developing a thorough and accurate citation management strategy can be a quick way to comply with search engine algorithms and give your website the best shot for a bump in rankings.”
“What are citations? Citations are mentions of you or your client’s business on internet directories (i.e. Google My Business, Yelp, Bing Places, SuperPages, etc.). Citations typically include the standard name, address, phone (NAP) information, but also often include a company’s website.”
“Hello, backlinks! Hello, domain authority. By claiming as many citations from quality directories as you can, you’ve doubled-down your off-page SEO strategy to include backlink building.”
“Pro tip: if a business has moved recently and noticed a drop in organic traffic, rankings, or local traffic, there are probably inaccurate citations floating around the web directories. This can be easily avoided by updating your citations pre-move.”
“Accuracy is key to this SEO strategy. When citations list accurate information across many directories, it sends a signal to search engines that a business is legit and trustworthy. So claim and update them often,” Scholten says.
John Locke of Lockedown Design & SEO also recommends “making sure your business is in the correct business categories on satellite sites like Google My Business, Yelp, Facebook, YP.com and others. This seems to have a big effect on local SEO because business categories are often inconsistent.”
“By putting a company in the same, relevant categories on a multitude of sites, Google has more confidence that the company is in a specific category.”
“We usually look at the top-ranking sites for a search query and make a note of which business categories the top sites are in on specific third-party sites. When we move businesses into the correct categories, it seems to help with their organic SEO as well as their visibility on piggyback SEO sites like Yelp,” Locke says.
34. Pursue Accreditation
“One tactic that we have found to be effective is working with clients on getting accreditations and mentions within their particular niche, ensuring they have the correct brand profiles with as many accreditation organizations in their industry as possible,” says Jack Wilkinson of AtomicMedia.
“This not only creates backlinks and brand mentions, but it also creates a signal of trust and safety—both in the eyes of Google and the consumer. It’s one tactic that solves two problems.”
35. Make Off-Page SEO a Community Effort
“Off-page SEO is all about relationship building,” says SyncShow’s Jasz Joseph.
“As digital marketers, we often spend too much time heads-down on our computers looking for backlinks and not enough time out in the world meeting people who could give us backlinks.”
“Educate everyone in your company/organization about off-page SEO and its importance. That way, when they are out in the field making connections, they will be thinking about backlink opportunities.”
“Companies can get backlinks from associations they are a part of, suppliers, vendors, mentions in industry publications, charitable organizations they work with, and more. If your whole team is on board with the off-page strategy, they will always have link building in the back of their minds.”
How to Approach Link Building Correctly
Now that you have lots of new ideas for ways to build links, let’s take a few moments to review 5 general link building best practices you should keep in mind as you create or add to your off-page SEO strategy, including:
- Aim for Acquiring Topically Relevant Links
- Target High-Quality Domain Authority Sites
- Create Quality Content
- Monitor Harmful Links
- Focus on Quality Over Quantity
1. Aim for Acquiring Topically Relevant Links
“Focus on earning topically relevant backlinks,” says Brooks Manley of Engenius. “Everyone knows backlinks are a huge ranking factor, but one link on a hyper-relevant URL will carry more weight than three or four links on sites unrelated to your topic.”
2. Target High Domain Authority Sites
“Get the highest domain authority (DA) backlinks you can,” says Ben Walker of Transcription Outsourcing, LLC. “The higher the DA, the more effective it is for your off-page SEO. This has been proven many times over.”
3. Create Quality Content
“Creating quality content is key,” says Yakira Cohen of FORTVISION.
Tom Beck of TopLine Comms agrees: “If you’re publishing great content, there’s every chance that another website will want to link back to your page. So keep posting worthwhile content that is SEO-ready for other people to find and link to.”
“You must follow white-hat techniques when building links to your site,” says Robert Trif of SEO4U. “Getting Google-approved links isn’t hard if you create quality content and collaborate with other websites and influencers.”
“If you create high-value content, users will create backlinks to your site themselves,” says Irena Zobniow of Insightland. “You only need to help them to find your content.”
4. Monitor for Harmful Links
“It’s important to keep track of the links that are pointing at your site,” says Blue Digital’s Jordon Goodman. “Some can be harmful and need to be placed into a disavow file.”
5. Focus on Quality Over Quantity
“While it used to be more of a numbers game, the reality of backlinking today is that quality matters infinitely more than quantity,” says Colibri Digital Marketing’s Andrew McLoughlin.
“A single high-value, high authority backlink can dramatically boost your rankings, while having too many low-value links can actually get your site penalized,” McLoughlin says.
“Google and other search engines know when backlinks are low-quality, spammy, or paid for, and it is considered black-hat SEO,” says Gabrielle Piloto of Hancock Injury Attorneys.
“Focus your link building efforts on links that provide value,” says Will King of Eastside Co. “Editorial links from contextually relevant pages that refer real traffic should be the objective.”
And Alexander Shockley of TheraNest leaves us with this advice: “A great rule of thumb to keep in mind when building links is something the late Eric Ward (LinkMoses) called the golden rule of link building: ‘Would I want this link if Google didn’t exist?’”