Off-Page SEO in 2013 and beyond

by Jason Acidre on June 13, 2013 · 59 comments · Search


A decade ago, off-site SEO has been all about links. But it’s expected for search to progress, given that there’s a continuous evolution in web usage – which also has an effect on web marketing best practices.

These changes allowed search engines to accumulate far deeper understanding of how people make use of the web, and in turn a better ability for them to assess websites worth and deserving of higher rankings.

Off-site SEO factors have been transforming its filters to become more reliant in data that are outcomes from pure marketing efforts (off-page SEO is pure marketing).

off-page SEO

Links

Links will always be a valuable signal for search engines (and users as well), even though many are still abusing this factor to achieve better search rankings.

Google has been strict with link spam detection for the past few years (Penguin and unnatural link penalties), and will certainly continue with it, since the role of links in helping search engines understand web documents is still crucial.

It’s also helpful as a metric in indicating quality, authority and relevance, making links a strong factor in evaluating the overall importance of a website.

Some of the off-page factors that links can help with in influencing a website/webpage’s ranking power:

  • Topical relevance of linking page/domain and context of the link.
  • Authority and quality of the linking page/domain.
  • Position of the link in the page.
  • Number of unique linking root domains to the site/page.
  • Diversity of link types as well as anchor texts pointing to the site/page.
  • Links’ ability to send click-through visitors.
  • In-content links from verified authors/publishers (authorship).

You can also check out some of my older posts on how you can get more links to your site:

Social Data

Social signals” is another trust and popularity indicator that search engines can use by obtaining available data from known social media networks/websites.

User behaviors, in terms of web usage, have been more exposed in social platforms, which is why this ranking factor has been somehow more relevant in determining popular content, personalities and brands.

Although it’s not applicable to every industry, and not really a factor that Google will most likely focus on, it’s still a signal worth pursuing (diversified traffic sources is always good).

Off-page SEO factors that social signals can help in affecting search rankings:

  • Amount and quality of social shares of the page.
  • Authority of the social users/accounts sharing the content/URL.
  • Site-level social signals (total social shares/mentions the domain has).
  • Following, activity and interactions in the site’s social brand pages.

How to get more social shares:

  • Align content strategy with your social campaigns, by producing more content that will most likely be shared by your target audience.
  • Make social buttons very visible in the site’s pages (serving as a secondary call-to-action).
  • Building a strong following base and growing your network – through consistent content development, curation and interactions.
  • Reaching out and connecting with industry influencers.
  • Using paid social services directing to your shareable content (like sponsored tweets, FB stories, paid discovery on Stumbleupon, Reddit’s sponsored links, etc…).

Michael Martinez also wrote a great piece that also explains how search engines could be using social data in their search ranking algorithms.

Brand Signals

It’s obvious that Google is favoring brands more and more, as they update how they rank webpages in their search results. The answer is simple, because well-established brands are more credible and trusted by people.

“The Internet is fast becoming a cesspool of misinformation… Brands are the answer. – Eric Schmidt”

There are several factors in which search engines can gather data that relates and pertains to the strength of a brand’s presence over the web, such as:

  • Amount of brand (linked or unlinked) mentions from external content sources. Phrase-based indexing helps search engines better understand what a brand is about through co-occurrence.

co-occurrence

  • Brand mentions from authority news sites or having the story of a brand covered by a-list media sites.

brand coverage

  • Have employees listed the company/brand in Linkedin as their employers. It’s another signal that search engines can use to verify if the company/brand is real.

linkedin

  • Branded web properties. This may include your social brand pages as well as branded microniche sites under your brand. Think of Moz’s other niche sites (which they have developed and acquired in the past) like Open Site Explorer, Followerwonk and GetListed.org.
  • Branded search. This is definitely one of the most robust data that search engines can count in determining a brand’s strength and the demand for the information, products or services it provides.

branded search

How to improve your online brand presence:

  • Embrace, implement and be consistent in content marketing.
  • Use social media to push the brand out in your market. Connect and build relationships with other known entities in your industry, as these connections will help you get your brand out to your peers’ networks/followers.
  • Launching a display ad campaign can also help get your brand noticed, especially if they are aimed toward your target audience – which can also improve branded searches.
  • Organize events and other offline marketing efforts (like a t-shirt project), which are all effective in terms of branding.
  • Making sure that your product/service stands out in the market (USP).

SERP Performance

Given that Panda is now being integrated to Google’s search ranking algorithm, the performance of your site/pages’ listings in the search result pages will be more important than ever – as an off-page factor.

The data that they can retrieve through search results help them assess relevance (of the page to the search query), usability as well as the engagement rate of the page.

Some of the viable factors that search engines can use to evaluate a ranking webpage’s SERP performance are:

  • The click-through rate of the page from search results.
  • The duration of time the visitor stayed on the page coming from the search result (long-click).
  • If the site’s listings display rich snippets (for videos, authorship, structured data, in-depth, etc…).

How to improve your site’s search listings performance (for CTR and long-click):

  • Optimize meta tags (title tags and meta descriptions) for users and clicks. Make these areas more appealing and enticing to searchers.
  • Make sure that the title of the page is accurate and matches with its content – this can help improve visitor engagement and in making search-driven visitors stay longer on the site.
  • Deindex poor-content, duplicates and pages that won’t be useful to searchers.
  • Implement authorship or publisher markup.

authorship

video snippet

Relationships

Relationship is a strong indicator of trust. The people and brands that you’re associated with speak a lot about your own brand. And which is why social connectivity is a good off-page signal for search engines in determining a brand/content’s value.

social graph

Few ways that this factor may be used by search engines to identify brands with authoritative relationships:

  • Having multiple links/mentions from industry peers from their content.
  • Connectivity on various social networks.
  • Blogroll links.
  • Reciprocity of links (in-content mentions, social sharing, etc…) from the two domains/brands.

On how to build strong online relationships, you can check out some of my old posts that tackle this aspect of online marketing:

Authorship

Building a solid author portfolio doesn’t just occur within your site, as you can also improve authorship through establishing yourself as an expert author on other industry-related sites (and by also implementing the rel=”author” tag on your content contributions).

contributor to

How to prepare for and improve your AuthorRank:

  • Regularly contribute content to or become a columnist on high-domain authority publications in your industry (and implement authorship markup).
  • Grow your network and build authority on Google+.
  • Associate yourself with other reputable authors and publishers in your industry’s online space (getting your brand or works mentioned by them may have a direct impact to your AuthorRank scores in the future).

Information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. – Eric Schmidt

Reviews and Sentiments

People’s sentiments about the brand’s site/products/services are also one of the most significant data that search engines can draw to assess credibility, popularity and market value.

Google is already using sentiment analysis within their algorithm, which is why getting more voluntary and authentic user reviews of your brand will more likely affect your site’s overall ranking power.

How to get more reviews for your site, product and/or services (I’ve already shared the following three pointers on a post I’ve written few months ago):

  • Blogger outreach on a personal level – to actually get experiential reviews. Dan Cristo wrote an excellent post on how to get more reviews of your products 2 years ago, and you might want to check that one out.
  • Create an affiliate program or a referral commission system to attract more bloggers in reviewing your product or services. Offer this as a value proposition when reaching out to bloggers (give higher commission rates to authority bloggers in your industry).
  • Provide great products and services, or be exceptionally great with customer service (think Zappos). This can extremely help you get voluntary online reviews of your products/services. You can also offer freebies (promo codes, discounts, etc…) to customers who own blogs or have strong following on social networks. That might also increase the chances of getting links from them.
  • Consistently provide actionable and useful content to build a strong readership. Avid readers (especially if they’re active online) will almost always recommend your works and share positive things about your brand.

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Citations

Building citations is a practice that is more known for Local SEO – as it mainly helps in improving a site’s search rankings in a certain location.

Since citations mostly include NAP (business name, business address and phone number), it can then be a strong indicator that the business is real – given that it has the necessary details wherein people can actually find their office/stores.

How to build citations (below is a list of the top local business directories, which was originally curated by Andrew Shotland):

If you liked this post, you can subscribe to my feed and follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre.

Jason Acidre

Jason Acidre is Co-Founder and CEO of Xight Interactive, marketing consultant for Affilorama and Traffic Travis, and also the sole author of this SEO blog. You can follow him on Twitter @jasonacidre and on Google+.

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{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

Abdi Mohammed June 13, 2013 at 3:35 am

Thanks for the write up Jason – as a recent reader of your blog I’m impressed by the comprehensive nature. I didn’t realise the bit about search engines’ using LinkedIn (employees listing company as their employer) as a way of verifying the brand is for real – makes sense.
The question is how to weight resources on the 7 broad factors you’ve mentioned – yes I realise that each industry/website is different but broadly speaking would it be right to say something like X% of resources should be devoted on gaining links/social etc?

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Sahil June 22, 2013 at 1:27 pm

Off page SEO in search engine’s point of view is definitely evolving rapidly over time. It has definitely become more of a relationship building, gaining users trust, maintaining good brand reputation, being socially active and interactive etc. The ranking signals of search engines tend to have come up with ways to provide the most relevant result to the user with great metrics mainly related to usability, engagement and user experience.

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hiren June 29, 2013 at 12:31 am

Nice post and Thanks for sharing these useful SEO tips with us. I am sure I increased my knowledge and theoretical skills by reading this post. thanks for sharing..

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Louie Sison @ Make Money Online Philippines June 13, 2013 at 3:59 am

Hi Jason,

All seo changes leads only to one room. That’s search engine user experience to relevant search. I glad there are blogs such as yours that provides quality updates for us newbies.

God bless you,
Louie Sison

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Daniel Law June 13, 2013 at 4:12 am

Great post Jason and thanks for the list of citations!

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Sean June 13, 2013 at 4:56 am

Nice one Jason – perhaps you should also include user SE queries as an off-site factor. I find it quite true. Although it is intricately tied with branding. Queries such as ‘Coleman waterjug’ will consequently increase coleman’s SE rankings for the keyword ‘waterjug’. But don’t take my word for it. Test it out.

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Aris Llanto June 13, 2013 at 7:30 am

I’ve been following KAISERtheSage for more than 2 years since i have first read a blog about SEO and i would like to say that this is one of the most interesting posts that I’ve read so far. I’ve seen so many changes in doing seo works before compared today in terms of search algorithm. I agree with you Jayson regarding the topic posted here especially about Brand Signals, SEO should focus more in building trust and good reputation as they help and guide by sharing thoughts and quality information.

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Breno June 13, 2013 at 7:44 am

Good points Jason. All internet marketing campaigns really turned upside down from the recent Google updates but the good thing is that all those with clean slate have been uplifted. So let’s just continue to create meaningful work to get away with Google’s radar.

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Chris @ Faux Wood Blinds June 13, 2013 at 8:44 am

What a great post Jason!

I think sentiment analysis has an opportunity to be a huge factor in assessing links pointing to a site. No longer will you be rewarded for having a bunch of bad reviews online. If all your reviews are coming from Pissed Consumer and such, then you definitely shouldn’t get positive value from those links.

Just my 2 cents.

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Paul Baguley June 13, 2013 at 9:04 am

Another great post. This post is ideal for new people in the industry learning the trade.

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SEO by Ydeveloper June 14, 2013 at 2:12 am

Short post but says a lot. The factor you have explained are perfects for any website to rank well on search engine. I think you missed an important factor “content” – it isn’t only an onpage factor, it’s also serves as an off page factor. Content is in central-point of all activities you performed on social media, for links, for branding, relationship building, to get reviews and so on.

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John June 14, 2013 at 2:21 am

Hi Jason,
Very useful information provided by you, it is important to put them into practice.

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Mikk June 14, 2013 at 2:26 am

Hey Jason,

Let’s say my site doesn’t have an office nor actual store or place where you can meet in person. Furthermore, I don’t have any US telephone nr.

What can I do in such situations?

I can get US nr for $20 a year. However, I can’t use any address. Should I avoid NAP listings or use some sort of fake address?

Thanks in advance.

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brittny June 14, 2013 at 4:08 am

It really took a long time to read it Jason, but all the way this information that you shared is very useful, we have to move according to you suggestions and actually they are very nice, and get off-line-seo more meaningful at our end by following this topics.Your view about SERP performance and brand signals is really nice. Thanks for sharing this.

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Stefano Romero June 14, 2013 at 9:52 am

Excellent post, very well broken down. Great to see someone take the time to express all that is in our heads in writing.

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Christopher June 14, 2013 at 3:17 pm

All these updates and SEO changes make my head spin. I know it’s for good cause and I’m definitely in support of it, but it sure gets tough to keep up with at times. Thanks for your insights, and saving us from some of the headaches that are still to come. :)

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Cartermiller June 24, 2013 at 6:34 am

Yes Christopher you are quite right, these are hard to get but very much helpful too.

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Gurwinder Singh Bhinder June 15, 2013 at 12:37 am

Interesting article Jason!
I am sure that this article is gonna help me a lot in future :)

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Louie Sison @ Make Money Online Philippines June 15, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Jason, question please.
On the list of the top local business directories, are those directories possible to use regardless of the local/country?

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Ben Edgson June 16, 2013 at 3:45 pm

Awesome! a blogroll is something I will definatly be adding to my site after this and looking to be added to others once I build enough value on my site :)! Thank you so much!

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kidakaka@The Big Fat Geek June 17, 2013 at 6:02 am

Jason, you might as well include the G+ Pages for business and how this is helping protect the brand advantage in local SEO.

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James June 17, 2013 at 11:27 pm

Good Read, Nice and brief and almost covering all important information regarding off page seo, I appreciate your writing. Thanks!

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Jackson June 21, 2013 at 7:51 am

Jason, Well Done! The exclusive features about Off page seo are really looking promising and knowledge. I am highly impressed to see your writing and concept. Thanks for sharing some of most inspiring feature in this source. Really Great job.

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merlin June 22, 2013 at 10:13 am

i tired a lot to get good traffic to my site but not succeeding, even i do seo your suggestion will be highly appreciated.

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Freddy June 22, 2013 at 11:43 am

GREAT Article on Off Page SEO!

WOW! you have really delivered a lot of value here!

I am currently working on branding myself as an Experience Author in different Internet Marketing Areas. Especially SEO ;)

I am kind of an SEO Geek and I am still learning about it but so far so good.

Now I know how to get free traffic to my site by applying simple SEO tips and this article has over-delivered on SEO information!

Thanks man!

Much success!

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Jamal Uddin June 22, 2013 at 12:41 pm

A very good article i appreciate your hard work.But i a more focusing on twitter and facebook because i can find almost a huge audience there with minimal budget of marketing.

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Xavier D June 22, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Very useful article on SEO techniques, with great information and tips. Indeed, I agree times are changing as far as SEO, and will likely continue to progress.

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juliacora June 24, 2013 at 6:32 am

This is a very useful article for every SEO. There are new challenges coming in the future related to SEO, and this is a good addition to help to tackle those.

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Doc Truyen June 24, 2013 at 7:36 am

I think Google will focus on Social Network more and more in the future! So we need to promote our site on Facebook or Twitter.

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Biily June 26, 2013 at 8:04 am

Great post Jason and thanks for sharing !!

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Nick Stamoulis of Brick Marketing July 1, 2013 at 7:08 am

Off page SEO is really all about relevancy today. Relevant links, relevant social connections, relevant online community involvement, etc. Think of SEO as any other marketing tactic. Your site should have a presence wherever your target audience is hanging out on the web.

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Jennifer July 2, 2013 at 2:04 am

I would only say that Off-Page is right hand for SEO, its really more valuable for SEO.

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Rajkumar Jonnala July 4, 2013 at 7:07 am

Consider the rise in spamming, I could suggest that on page seo, off page seo and SMO are only the best practices left for us. These are good enough to prevent penguin or panda updates.

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charles Leahy July 7, 2013 at 5:29 am

Thanks! Great info about on page and off page SEO. Although recently I have began concentrating less on SEO an more on making sure I update my website at least 3 times daily, which so far has worked really well! I was getting 150 visitors per day when doing lots of SEO work, now I am updating my site 3 times daily, I am getting 800 visitors per day!!! Great tips! Thanks!

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Mallesh July 9, 2013 at 4:40 pm

I have been trying to form good links in different ways but nothing worked out for me. Also I have one question on what are the disadvantages I will face if I enable dofollow comments on my blog?

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Robin July 10, 2013 at 4:36 am

Nice and brief and almost covering all important and informative tips regarding off page SEO, I appreciate your writing. Thanks for this.

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Darin July 14, 2013 at 1:39 am

Thanks for an interesting blog, difficult working out the correct strategy for websites.

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Daniel Bastida | Consultor SEO LOCAL July 15, 2013 at 2:39 am

Great article!

It’s so important teach local bussines owners about how local seo and off-page-seo can improve their sales with a constant effort.
Usually local bussines websites are static content boxes and so many times they don’t renew or upload new content. And, of course, their Social Graph is so poor.

We hope, all that tips your article are stressing come to local bussines world.

Un saludo!

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Manu July 15, 2013 at 5:51 pm

I would like to thank your effort and also thank for this huge citation Lists.

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Christopher August 6, 2013 at 12:19 am

Thanks for your site. I think I found a new source for learning the most valuable subject in internet marketing, SEO! Thanks

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Andrea William August 13, 2013 at 5:25 am

It is very valuable post on SEO techniques, it will be very helpful for all..
Thank you jason

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Jitendra Vaswani August 29, 2013 at 5:24 am

A Best way to increase blog traffic from Google is organically. If we want to build a great blog then we have to focus on readers who want to read, talk about, and share our blog. it helps our search engine rankings to grow naturally. This type of growth is a powerful thing and increases the traffic that will never lose for a very long time.

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Atanu Das September 3, 2013 at 12:16 am

Hello Jason, I have found your blog while touring via blogland. I must appreciate your effort to present such type of informative article in front of the readers. More over I am thankful to you that you have mentioned the long list of Citation Sites. Those are really helpful. Now-a-days citations, authorship, social signals are really very very very important for the SEO. So as per my point of view, Be Steady but Slow and By doing real QUALITY works we can achieve the desired position on the Search Results. Thanks mate for sharing this lovely article. Looking for some more article from you. Keep it up!

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Tanvir September 11, 2013 at 2:58 am

Thanks Jason, Really worth reading article. Totally agree with you. Off page SEO is pure Marketing.

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ian September 22, 2013 at 7:33 pm

Another great post as always. I found your website by chance and it seems i can not leave soon :). Thank you so much !

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eva jasmine November 13, 2013 at 11:31 pm

Bookmarked your Blog!! Great Post about Offpage SEO!!

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Anoop December 9, 2013 at 11:03 pm

Jason

Local Listing, posting and sharing high quality content, these are activity play a major role in 2013 SEO. It help in generating leads and branding.

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