SEO Process

Off-Page SEO: Craft a Powerful Plan That Builds More Than Just Backlinks

Ian Howells
Last Updated: Dec. 19, 2023
Off page seo

Off-page SEO is a critical element in the recipe for online success, and it’s just as important as optimizing the individual pages of your site so you can build relevant backlinks that drive traffic.

Mixing the right ingredients for an effective off-page SEO strategy is the key to your success.

But if you’re unsure what the “right ingredients” are, you’ve landed in the perfect spot.

In this article, I’ll give you a deep dive into strategies for off-page SEO that can help improve your website’s reputation, visibility, and influence in the online ecosystem. 

What Is Off-Page SEO?

Off-page SEO includes the optimization efforts taken outside of your website to improve its search engine rankings. It includes strategies like link building, encouraging social media engagement, and seeking out reviews.

In a nutshell, off-page SEO is everything you do off of your own pages that helps you convince search engines your content is reliable and authoritative.

The five most critical elements of off-page SEO include:

1. Backlinks

Backlinks are votes of confidence from other websites. When another site links to yours, it’s saying, “Hey, this site has valuable information!” 

Search engines see backlinks as endorsements of your site’s quality, relevancy, and authority. 

However, as an SEO professional, you know that not all backlinks are created equal. That’s why a good backlink audit tool is always good to have.

Links from reputable, high-authority sites are more valuable than ones from lesser-known or low-quality sites (that you might need to eventually disavow). With your off-page SEO strategy, you won’t just be hoping to gain backlinks – you’ll aim for links from high-quality, authoritative sites.

2. Brand Mentions

When other sites talk about your company or website in their content, that’s a brand mention. And whether mentions are linked or unlinked, they can contribute to your off-page SEO strategy.

When your brand gets acknowledged by another site, it indicates to search engines that your site is noteworthy and relevant within your industry, which can help you rank higher in the SERPs.

3. Social Media Presence

Though social media links are typically “nofollow” and don’t directly contribute to SEO ranking, having a robust social media presence can indirectly influence your off-page SEO efforts. Active engagement on social media platforms can expand your brand’s reach and drive traffic your way.

If you need to work on growing your social media presence, Semrush’s Social Media Management Tools can simplify your campaigns.

grow your brands visibility

If you hit the jackpot and your content goes viral on social media, your brand will get plenty of online mentions, and you’ll attract more backlinks as more people share and talk about your content. 

monitor incoming messages

4. Third-Party Reviews

Positive reviews on third-party sites that you uncover during a backlink analysis can boost your site’s reputation. And having a solid online reputation convinces search engines that you’re reliable and trustworthy. 

Reviews can also lead to user-generated content about your brand, so search engines have more context for understanding the purpose of your site. Encouraging customers to leave reviews (then managing and responding to those reviews) can have a significant impact on your off-page SEO.

5. Local SEO

Local SEO is optimizing your online presence to attract visitors from local searches. This includes managing your business’s Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business), ensuring your business information (NAP – Name, Address, Phone number) is consistent across different platforms, and asking for reviews on local sites.

These activities can help search engines determine your local relevance, which lets them know how to rank your site. Listing management from Semrush makes this process easy.

stay visible with business listings

Why Is Off-Page SEO Important?

Off-page SEO is about building your site’s E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness) through backlinks, mentions, reviews, and recommendations.

Here are some of the top reasons off-page SEO is essential for your site.

Enhances the SEO Power of Your Website

Off-page SEO strategies help your site stand out in crowded online spaces. If high domain authority and top-notch backlinks support your website, it has a better shot at popping up in search engine results for the queries you’re targeting.

Inspires Brand Searches

Off-page SEO techniques can spark interest and inspire people to actively search for your brand. Whether it’s a shoutout from an influencer, a mention on a well-regarded blog, or an engaging social media post. Off-page SEO can stir curiosity and lead potential customers to search for the name of your website or company. 

This uptick in searches signals that your brand is becoming more popular and relevant for your audience.

Leads to Direct, Targeted Traffic

While the primary goal of off-page SEO is improving your search engine ranking, it also serves another purpose: driving targeted traffic to your site. 

Effective off-page SEO tactics can attract a highly targeted new audience through shared blog posts or reviews on niche sites. The new visitors who come to your site are genuinely interested in what you offer, leading to higher engagement and better conversion rates.

Boosts Website Authority

Off-page SEO plays a crucial role in enhancing your website’s authority. The goal of search engines is to provide their users with reliable, trustworthy sources of information. 

By accumulating quality backlinks, positive reviews, and consistent brand mentions, off-page SEO sends a strong signal to search engines about your site’s credibility and authority. The result? A potential improvement in your search engine rankings.

Off-Page SEO Techniques

As I mentioned above, off-page SEO techniques are your ticket to increased website visibility. 

Off-page SEO techniques form an interconnected web that signals to search engines that your site is worth noticing. 

Take a look at the five options below and get started with the one that makes the most sense for your site.

1. Host Popular Online Giveaways

Hosting giveaways is straightforward: You offer your audience a valuable prize, and in exchange, they promote your brand on social media platforms. 

The buzz and incoming links you generate from the giveaway content can significantly improve your SEO performance if you play your cards right. 

And here’s a step-by-step guide to running giveaways that contribute to your off-page SEO.

Step #1: Choose Your Prize

Pick your giveaway prize carefully. Do you want to attract potential customers who could eventually convert? Or is it okay if you get people seeking freebies? Evaluate whether your potential prize has broad appeal, and whether it will still be relevant in the near future.

Choose a prize in the $150–$300 range to generate maximum buzz for your contest.

Step #2: Figure Out What You Want in Return

Remember that giveaways are not entirely altruistic. Your participants need to do something in return for an entry to the contest.

This could be things like:

  • Liking or forwarding a social media post
  • Referring friends to your brand page
  • Following you on a social platform
  • Signing up for your email list

Determine what’s easy for them that also contributes to the growth of your site.

Step #3: Build Your Giveaway Machine

Several tools can help automate your giveaway process so you don’t need to manage everything manually. Rafflecopter and Second Street are popular giveaway management tools. 

Build a dedicated contest entry page on your website with content for SEO to improve its rankings. I recommend a 30-day giveaway period to maintain user interest while still giving people enough time to enter.

Step #4: Promote Your Giveaway

Make a plan to promote your giveaway consistently (starting right from launch day), so you get maximum exposure.

Try these promotion techniques to draw attention to the contest:

  • Collaborative giveaways, join forces with another brand that complements yours
  • Content marketing (including blog posts or videos related to the contest)
  • Personalized chatbot or Messenger marketing
  • Community forums and social media groups
  • Podcasts and live streams
  • Social media advertising
  • SMS push notifications
  • Influencer partnerships
  • Email marketing

Remember to track your promotion’s performance across different platforms to understand what works best for your audience. This can help refine your strategy for future giveaways.

Step #5: Choose Your Winner

Announce your winner on the big day, and make sure you deliver their prize promptly. Afterward, follow up and mention to the winner how much you’d appreciate them acknowledging their win on social media.

2. Create Content Based on Original Data

As marketers and content creators, we often use and share information and stats generated by others. But creating content with our own original data has significant off-page SEO benefits.

Why? Because publishing content based on original data and focused on search intent creates buzz, which leads to engagement and backlinks.

Use these steps to generate original data and craft online content around it:

  • Outline the purpose and goals of your study. Whether you’re analyzing user behaviors on your website or assessing market trends, you need a clear vision of what you hope to achieve with your data.
  • Collect your own data by conducting surveys, using analytics tools, or performing experiments. This step might be challenging, but it can pay big dividends.
  • Analyze and interpret your data to draw conclusions. Use statistical analysis to find patterns, correlations, and insights.
  • Craft your content around the data. Once you have original data and insights, weave it into compelling content. Remember, data alone can be monotonous. Your job is to turn it into a narrative your audience can understand and relate to.
  • Visualize your data. Use charts, diagrams, or infographics to present your data in an easy-to-understand way.

Creating content with original data is more than just crunching numbers. It’s about telling a unique story that resonates with your readers and provides them with valuable insights they can’t find elsewhere. 

3. Incentivize People to Leave Honest Reviews

Incentivizing reviews is a great way to promote audience engagement and improve your site’s E-E-A-T. Having a lot of reviews can significantly boost your site’s visibility and reputation. 

But how can you ethically incentivize your customers to leave reviews? Here are a few ideas to consider:

  • Make it easy: Leaving a review should be a seamless, simple process for your audience. When explaining how to leave a review, use plain language, provide direct links to review pages, and ensure the review form is intuitive and mobile-friendly.
  • Request reviews: Politely ask your customers for reviews after they make a purchase. Maintain a professional and appreciative tone and always reassure people that you’re not just asking for positive feedback. You want them to share their honest experiences.
  • Respond to all feedback: Reviews are a two-way conversation, so acknowledge each review. Responding to reviews builds trust and shows customers you value their input. Be polite, professional, and solution-focused when handling negative reviews.
  • Provide ethical incentives: While it’s against Google’s guidelines to offer money for reviews, ethical incentives are acceptable. Try offering discounts on future purchases or letting people enter a contest when they leave a review. Remember, the incentive should be offered for leaving any kind of review — not just a positive one.

4. Host or Sponsor Events in your Niche

Hosting or sponsoring events within your niche or industry can contribute to your off-page SEO strategy. 

Events can help you generate buzz, earn brand mentions and links, attract traffic, gain PR coverage, and build relationships with influencers, experts, and potential customers in your industry. These connections can result in collaborations, partnerships, or endorsements, which can continually improve your off-page SEO.

Start by identifying your objectives. Do you want to drive brand awareness, generate backlinks, increase social media engagement, or build relationships? Clear goals will help you decide on your event’s theme, size, structure, and promotion strategy.

Consider Your Audience

Who can bring the most value to you, in terms of SEO? This could be industry influencers who can create content about your event, attendees who are likely to share it within their networks, or partners who might link to you on their websites.

Create an engaging, SEO-optimized landing page for your event that includes key logistical details, speaker bios, FAQs, and other relevant information. This page is an opportunity to attract organic traffic, so it should provide a great user experience and be well-optimized.

Inviting influencers or industry experts to participate in your event increases the likelihood of getting valuable brand mentions, social shares, and backlinks. Their endorsement could also lend your event credibility, driving more interest and attendance.

Use email marketing, social media, press releases, blog posts, and your network to spread the word about your event. Encourage your speakers, partners, and early registrants to share the event with their networks, too. 

Event-related user-generated content (UGC) can be a treasure trove of organic backlinks and social shares. Encourage attendees to share their experiences on their blogs or social media platforms, or even offer incentives like a contest for the best event summary post.

Follow up after the event to maximize your off-page SEO efforts and build more links. Share a roundup post, send a thank you email to attendees, and encourage people to share their feedback.

And here’s a key thing to remember: While aiming to create an event that benefits your off-page SEO, you should also ensure it provides real value to your attendees. If your event is insightful, engaging, and enjoyable, it will inspire attendees to organically share, discuss, and link back to it.

5. Write Guest Posts

Writing and publishing guest posts on well-respected websites within your industry is a time-tested and proven off-page SEO strategy. 

Guest posting positions you as a thought leader in your field and introduces your brand to a wider audience, which can lead to increased brand mentions and quality backlinks.

Start by identifying suitable sites that accept guest contributions. You’ll want to target respected websites that have a substantial audience.

Find guest blogging opportunities by searching for your keyword on Google with operators like these:

  • “your target keyword” + “this is a guest contribution”
  • “your target keyword” + “this is a guest post by”
  • “your target keyword” + “contributing author”
  • “your target keyword” + “contributing writer”
  • “your target keyword” + “guest column”
  • “your target keyword” + “guest post”

Once you identify guest posting target sites, familiarize yourself with their content to ensure your proposed topic aligns with their audience’s interests.

Lead with a Persuasive Pitch

Approach the site owners or editors with content ideas that offer genuine value to their audience. Your pitch needs to be well-written and original. Highlight your unique perspective, potential benefits for their audience, and how your content complements their existing body of work.

If the host site allows it, incorporate a limited number of relevant links back to your website into your guest post. This could be to a specific blog post, a service page, or your homepage. The more natural the link placement, the better the user experience (and the more likely the host site will allow it).

Once the site publishes the post, monitor its performance. Look at metrics like referral traffic and social shares to measure the effectiveness of your guest posting strategy. 

Use your performance data to fine-tune your guest posting strategy. Identify the topics, content types, and host sites that generate the most engagement and target your efforts in those areas.

You can check out Semrush’s definitive guide to guest blogging for a deep dive into this strategy.

6. Build Relationships with Influencers

Developing relationships with influencers gives you the opportunity to extend your reach, amplify your content, and tap into new audience segments. The trick is to partner with influencers who have already cultivated large online followings and share your brand’s values and target audience.

It’s not just about follower numbers; relevance and audience engagement are equally crucial.

Focus on nurturing long-term relationships with influencers, rather than doing one-time collaborations. 

Both parties should bring value to the table. Consider offering influencers exclusive access to products, opportunities to co-create content, or other perks that make the partnership worthwhile for them.

Once you’ve established relationships with influencers, they can help you promote your content by sharing your latest blog post, reviewing your products, or participating in your brand’s events. 

Their endorsement can boost your site’s visibility and credibility. Influencers’ followers trust their opinions, which makes it easier for those followers to make the leap to checking out your site or buying from you.

Monitor the results of your influencer marketing efforts, just like you would with other online promotion strategies. Use social listening tools and analytics to assess the effectiveness of your partnerships and make adjustments as you go. 

Keep in mind that influencer marketing is not a one-size-fits-all approach. What works with one influencer or audience may not work with another, so always be ready to tweak your strategy when necessary.

Off-Page Insights From Experienced SEOs

Since there’s no substitute for first-hand tips from experienced SEOs, we asked our TTT Academy community:

  • Have you ever turned a mention into a backlink? If so, how?
  • What’s one unique or interesting strategy you’ve used to get backlinks?
  • What’s the most effective strategy you’ve used to get a backlink?

Here’s what they had to share!

“We do highly targeted HARO outreach with a focus on our client’s expertise.

“Often when doing HARO we get many unlinked mentions. My best method for reclaiming these is to check our inbox to see if the journalist who wrote the article had reached out with any questions or shared the URL, that way we have easy access to their inbox. We then reach out, thanking them for the inclusion in the article and ask them to ‘Ask their editor’ to update our mention.

“We’ve also created ‘statistics’ or ‘trends’ articles for the current year and get them to rank #1 in Google. Then we wait for journalists to quote the article when writing about the niche.”

Isaac Hammelburger, Founder, Search Pros

“Email or call the site in question to change the mention to a link.

“One strategy that worked well for an accommodation site we worked with in the past was: We reached out to small festivals and concerts in each local city and did custom outreach to each one, offering to promote their event on our social media channels in exchange for a link. 

“This worked well as it gave concert goers in each city a place to stay and it also offered free promotion; it was hard to say no. We secured over 200 high-quality referring domains in this campaign, which also generated a large amount of bookings for the client.”

James Norquay, Director, Prosperity Media

“Our client is a high-end fashion designer, and he was exhibiting at Lakme Fashion Week. His clothes and fashion line received coverage from all the well-known media outlets, which we were able to track using the Brand Mentions tool.

“We compiled a list of websites that featured the story, identified their contact details, and reached out to them to request a link back to our client’s website. Thankfully, the majority of them accepted the request and added a link back.

“This proactive approach has proven fruitful in boosting our client’s online presence and driving traffic to their website.

“I consider HARO (Help a Reporter Out) to be one of the most effective link-building strategies.”

Boni Satani, Co-Founder, Zestard Technologies

“I have successfully turned mentions into backlinks. I use various tracking tools to identify unlinked brand mentions across the web. Once these are identified, I utilize a customized email template to professionally reach out to website owners. This makes it more likely for them to convert the mention into a backlink.

“Two unique strategies that I’ve used to acquire backlinks are ABC link exchange and creating infographics. Both are highly effective.

“The most effective strategy I’ve used to acquire backlinks is ABC link exchange. This method involves a three-way partnership where each of the three websites link to the other, creating a strong, mutually beneficial linking structure. This approach has consistently shown a high success rate in gaining quality backlinks.”

Zeeshan Yaseen, Rankviz

“Building real relationships has been highly effective for getting backlinks for our clients overall.

“One method we had some success with was reaching out to the top websites in our industry and asking to pay them for consulting time. This helped us get tons of calls booked, and 90% of the people did not want any money for the call.

“We would ask them questions about the industry and were able to coordinate podcast and webinar appearances, which reinforced the relationship and led to backlinks.

“This isn’t the most scalable method, but it can lead to gaining partners who you can collaborate with multiple times and with various clients.

“Our best strategy has been publishing original data and research for our clients. This type of content can rank directly for keywords like ‘industry + data’ or ‘industry + statistics’ and many journalists will cite you as a source, which can lead to high authority backlinks that would be expensive to build otherwise.”

John Reinesch, Founder, Exponential Growth

The Driving Force Behind Your Success in the SERPs

Off-page SEO goes beyond just building links. Doing it well requires a holistic approach that includes creating high-quality content, developing genuine relationships, and maintaining a robust presence across multiple platforms. 

With off-page SEO, you’re weaving a network of connections that expands your online credibility, and those efforts can pay off for many years to come.

Did you know Semrush can help with both prospecting and building an authoritative backlink profile?

Click here to learn more about getting started with powerful tools that supercharge your off-page strategy.