Everything you need to know about off-page optimisation

SEO is a fundamental part of any website marketing strategy. A poorly-optimised site will result in fewer visitors, reduced opportunities for conversions and lower return on investment for your marketing.

Beyond your website

While many businesses have a good understanding of what they need to do to get their own website fighting fit and as appealing as possible to Google through on-page search engine optimisation, they often fail to realise that this is only half the battle.

Your website will never reach the higher ranks of SERPs if it stands all by itself. A page which is isolated from the rest of the internet will be regarded by Google and its competitors as poorer quality, and it will be penalised accordingly. 

To be successful, you therefore need links to – and, just as importantly, from – the wider web. This is where off-page optimisation comes in.

There are many things you can do to boost your website’s visibility across the internet. Backlinks, guest content, social media marketing and local SEO all have a role to play in improving your brand through off-site optimisation.

What is off-page optimisation?

Making sure you have a clear idea of what off-page optimisation involves is the first step in ensuring your search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy is delivering a strong return on investment. Once armed with this knowledge, you’ll be ready to head out into the greater internet and spread the word about your brand far and wide, and in the process make Google fall in love with you.

What is off-page SEO and how does it work?

Off-page optimisation, also known as off-site SEO, is one of the three main branches of SEO, along with on-page SEO and technical SEO. Essentially, it refers to any activity you do to increase your website’s ranking in SERPs that doesn’t take place on the site itself. This may seem counterintuitive to some people. After all, Google and other search engines work by crawling your pages with robots looking for relevant content, so why would actions you take elsewhere have an impact?

The answer is that it’s all about domain authority. There are a huge number of factors that go into the algorithms that determine page rank, and one of the major ones is how respected your website is to other users.

If a lot of people are posting and commenting on your content marketing on their social media pages, or linking to you within their own content, this tells search engines that other people find your website valuable. This is exactly what the likes of Google are looking for when deciding what to serve up its own users. 

However, just because you have lots of links pointing back to your site, this doesn’t mean you’ll automatically see success. Off-page optimisation must be a multi-faceted approach, and quality backlinks are just one ranking factor you need to take into account.

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There are a lot of things you can do that fall under the banner of off-page SEO, but some of the most common are:

  • Backlinks
  • Social media
  • Influencer marketing
  • Guest content
  • Forum posts
  • Podcasts
  • Product reviews
  • Content syndication
  • Local SEO

What is the difference between off-page and on-page SEO?

While they both have the same goal – to increase your web pages’ SERP rankings – off-page and on-page SEO are very different techniques, each requiring their own expertise and approach.

On-page SEO covers everything you have direct control over on your website’s own pages, while off-page optimisation covers how your brand is seen elsewhere. But is there more to it than this?

Well, yes actually. Because they have unique purposes, they affect different ranking factors when Google is determining where to place your web page in its SERPs. While on-page optimisation is focused on ensuring you have content such as relevant keywords, metadata and rich media elements that match what users will be searching for, off-page is about demonstrating how valuable that content is to visitors.

In other words, on-page SEO can make sure Google is ranking your web pages for the right terms. But it is off-page optimisation that tells the search engine how high to rank them.

Which is better to use: on-page or off-page SEO?

There’s no either/or when it comes to on-page vs off-page optimisation. You need to be doing both. Focusing only on one side of the equation is like building half a house – you can’t choose between the foundations and the roof, as while they may serve different purposes, both are equally important.

If you put all your attention into activities such as keywording, and metadata such as the title tag, Google is likely to have a very good idea whether or not your content is related to what its users are looking for, but not how useful it actually is.

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On the other hand, strong off-page optimisation activities that aren’t backed up by good on-page efforts will mean search engines will struggle to recognise your web pages as relevant, no matter how much authority they have.

As such, it’s vital that you carry out both activities in tandem. Understanding how on-page and off-page optimisation complement each other – and how they differ – is crucial in building a comprehensive digital marketing strategy that can help you rise to the top of Google’s SERPs.

How does off-page optimisation benefit SEO?

Off-page optimisation needs to play a central role in any brand’s SEO strategy. But unlike on-page efforts, it’s not always immediately obvious where the benefits lie, or how your actions will have an impact.

How is off-page SEO calculated?

The primary way off-page SEO helps your business is by boosting the ranking for your primary keywords. While Google is understandably cagey about exactly how its algorithms work, one analysis by Moz suggests SEO-related factors account for more than half of a page’s ranking calculations. Off-page efforts play a major role in this by increasing the trustworthiness and authority of your website.

However, it’s not just a case of the more links you have, the more favourably Google search looks on your site. It also considers the quality of those links. If it decides the sites your backlinks are coming from are spammy or have been built just for SEO purposes, it may downgrade you, so it’s important to favour quality over quantity when pursuing an off-site strategy.

How can off-page SEO boost your traffic?

In addition to the boost to your search engine results page ranking off-page SEO provides, it can also help increase direct traffic through these activities. Backlinks to your site on trusted domains can help connect you with curious clickers, while every brand mention of you on social media will also boost awareness and draw visitors to your site. Eye-catching social graphics, intriguing questions and surprising stats all help bring potential customers to your content, while simultaneously improving your SEO, so this is a win-win.

Despite the wide range of other activities that can be used to benefit your off-page optimisation, using tried and trusted backlinks is still the cornerstone of many strategies. This can provide a very healthy boost to your SEO activities, but it does require you to put in some time and effort in order to ensure you’re getting your name in the right places – or team up with an expert partner to do it for you.

Put simply, a backlink is a link to one of your pages on someone else’s website. While services like listings directories and social media posts are sometimes considered a part of this, the real value comes from links that appear organically within other pages.

Google regards these types of links as a vote of popularity for your content. For example, if you’re running a food business, links from known recipe bloggers or reviewers are a hugely precious commodity.

Earning backlinks from credible sources can be difficult and time-consuming. But this is where strategies such as guest content, affiliate and influencer marketing and thought leadership content can be very useful. If you can create content marketing materials such as an informative blog post, white paper or infographic, people will share it on social media and link to it on their own sites, feeding into your domain authority for search, as well as giving you direct traffic.

What are off-page strategies?

In the early days of the web, off-site optimisation was more or less used interchangeably with ‘link building’. Back then, they were much the same thing, as the only way to really build up your domain authority was to create backlinks to your site from other high-quality, trusted sources.

These days, however, off-page SEO is much more sophisticated. The rise of social media, for instance, means you now have much greater control over how your brand is talked about online. Taking advantage of other services like local SEO and influencer marketing is also key to a strong off-page performance.

We talked above about the impact that high-quality backlink connections can have on your brand’s off-page SEO performance, but it’s important to remember that this is not the be-all and end-all of off-page optimization.

A well-planned off-page optimisation strategy offers more than just the prospect of higher rankings when people are searching for your main keywords. It’s closely tied in with elements such as social media marketing, brand awareness and thought leadership.

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By helping spread your name across the right parts of the internet, you can increase your brand mentions and build your reputation through more than just a high Google ranking.

What’s more, Google will actively penalise backlinks from what it judges to be poor-quality sites and those where it looks like you’re simply trading links with each other. Therefore, it’s important to actively watch out for these links and use the appropriate meta tags to disavow links from sources you don’t want to be associated with.

How many types of off-page SEO activities are there?

As we listed above, there are a wide range of actions you can take to boost your off-page SEO. While opinions differ as to exact numbers, there’s broad agreement over a few of the major and emerging techniques that should be a part of every strategy in addition to backlinking. We mentioned some of them above, but here’s what they involve.

Social media

Social media marketing should be a part of any brand’s awareness and engagement strategy, but it also counts as a core part of off-site SEO. Content that links back to your site across social channels gives you another platform where searchers can find you. This can also be used as a customer service strategy, and users impressed with your response here will spread the word about your brand.

Influencer marketing

Using influencer marketing helps you gain both brand mentions and backlinks. Sponsored content and product reviews are some of the ways you can use this to gain authority away from your site. Make sure to choose your partners carefully though – you don’t always have to target those with the biggest reach, as it’s the quality and relevance of their audiences that matter.


Running your own podcast may not be the most obvious choice for off-page marketing, but you might be surprised at the effect it can have. As well as helping showcase your knowledge and thought leadership on a topic, podcasts often feel like less intrusive marketing methods to listeners and also gain you visibility on search engines beyond Google.

Guest posting

This technique, also known as guest blogging, involves posting your content to someone else’s site and can be a great way to offer thought leadership. This is similar to – but distinct from – content syndication, where you repost existing content to third-party sites. Both help you benefit from the authority and reputation of your hosting partners, but guest posting can be more powerful and attractive as it offers sites unique content.

How to build your Google local listings

Another aspect of your off-page SEO strategy to consider is your performance in local SEO. Having a presence on listings directories and other resources to help people find businesses near to them is an SEO discipline in its own right, but it also plays an important role in boosting your off-site optimisation.

Local SEO services are more important than ever in an age where more than half of all browsing is done via mobile devices. Therefore, making sure you’ve fully filled out your Google business profile with your location is essential if you’re to be found by searchers on the move. 

This can also help with other aspects of off-site SEO, such as reviews. Brand mentions and good feedback about your products or services on local directories can also help boost your rankings and drive traffic, while improving your overall reputation at the same time.

What are some key dos and don’ts for off-page optimisation?

As you can see, there are a wide range of options for approaching off-site SEO – to the extent that it can be difficult to know where to start with off-page optimisation. Getting it right takes time, effort and no little expertise, so it may be a challenge for marketing teams with lower budgets. 

Getting this wrong can also risk sending you the wrong way down search engine results pages if your efforts come across as spammy. With this in mind, keep these key dos and don’ts in mind to make sure your efforts stand the best chance of success.


  • Use a broad range of tactics
  • Engage directly with responses on social media and forums
  • Partner with respected sites and influencers for backlinks and guest content
  • Complete your Google My Business profile
  • Work with an expert digital marketing agency that can help you best direct your resources
  • Check that inbound links to your site are working
  • Disavow low-quality links
  • Put your users first – compelling content is vital


  • Rely solely on link building
  • Focus on quantity over quality
  • Automatically link back to sites that link to you
  • Ignore negative social media comments or reviews
  • Pay attention solely to Google – social media sites count as search engines too

Hopefully you’ve now got a much better idea of what off-page optimisation involves and why it needs to be a critical part of your digital marketing strategy. If you have any questions about how to go about this, or what working with an expert partner can do for you, get in touch with Axonn Media today to find out more.