SEO is essential to get your online shop’s URL to the top of Google's rankings. Higher rankings of course lead to a boost in visibility, traffic, and sales. When it comes to Search Engine Optimization, we distinguish between on-page and off-page SEO, but what's the difference? And why is off-page SEO so important? Keep reading this article to find out!
Search engine algorithms and ranking factors are constantly evolving and changing. In this sea of change, SEO is a lifesaver, a constant for all those who wish to improve the ranking of their website in search engine results pages (SERPs).
If you run your own online shop, you will certainly already be familiar with SEO, at least in concept.
However, you may not know that there are actually two types of Search Engine Optimization: on-page SEO and off-page SEO.
In this article, we’ll talk about the following topics:
4.1. Link building
4.2. Social media
4.3. Online forums
4.4. Customer reviews
Off-page SEO (aka off-site SEO), as the name suggests, refers to a set of actions taken outside of a website with the aim of improving the website’s ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs).
In order to understand what off-page SEO is about, it’s quite useful to first talk about the differences it has with on-page SEO.
On-page SEO combines all the actions that you can perform on your website that affect Google's perception of your page and, consequently, your positioning in the SERPs. Some of these actions are:
On the contrary, off-page SEO is based on actions that are performed outside your website. Your influence with off-page SEO is much weaker compared to on-page actions. In the case of off-page SEO, search engines rely on signals coming from outside your site to influence the positioning of your page in the SERPs. Some examples of off-page SEO actions are:
links on other sites that redirect users to your online shop
social media interactions with your brand's account
In order to improve the ranking of your online shop, it’s important to optimize on-page and off-page ranking factors equally.
Always remember that search engines like Google want to provide their users with the best possible results for keywords that have been entered in Search.
External signals are important when it comes to crawling and ranking processes because they indicate what the users' perception of a certain website is.
In other words:
Off-page SEO helps to increase the pertinence, reliability and authority of a website.
Domain Authority: How It Can Improve Your Google Ranking
Think about it; it actually makes a lot of sense! If an external website refers to your brand or even praises it by recommending your products (and this source is considered reliable and neutral), Google and other search engines are most likely to regard this as a positive ranking factor and your online shop will rank higher!
This especially applies if the other page and the recommendation it offers, doesn’t come from someone who has a direct interest in your website’s performance in search engines.
The following tips and strategies will help you improve your online reputation and increase visibility and organic traffic:
Link building is an SEO technique that aims to increase the number of links on external websites that lead back to your site/page.
Link building should really be at the centre and focus of your off-page optimization strategy: the more links others send to your online shop, the better your domain authority will be.
Always keep in mind that quality is more important than quantity! A link from an authoritative site has more value than multiple links from less authoritative sites.
But we've already mentioned that off-page SEO is something you can't directly influence yourself. So what is it that you can do to make sure you’re increasing the number of links to your page?
Guest posting basically consists of writing an article for an external page (e.g. for the blog of that other website) in which you can insert one or more links that refer to your page. In this case, these links are called backlinks.
This is the most popular and frequently used link building strategy.
It’s important to choose a website that has about the same target audience as yours and that deals with similar topics and themes. This way the backlinks will have a bigger impact on your ranking.
Remember that in order for the backlinks to have the most value, the link must be marked as follow-links (aka dofollow links). For context, a no-follow link signals to search engines not to count a link as a backlink, thereby not boosting that website's ranking.
The advantages of guest posting are, in addition to backlinks, the possibility of reaching new audiences and affirming your position as an expert in your industry.
Broken links are links that direct users to a webpage that is no longer available (page 404).
If you find a page related to the market sector in which you and your online shop are active in that contains a broken link (for example because the page no longer exists or because the URL has changed), contact the website’s operator and propose including an appropriate link that refers to yours site.
Since 404 pages are a negative ranking factor and in many cases cause a down-ranking of the website the link belongs to, the operator of the webpage will most likely accept your proposal.
Finally, the easiest way to make sure other sites link to yours is to create quality content.
In fact, if your content is useful, you’ll increase the likelihood that other pages will spontaneously insert a backlink to your website without you requesting it. This is the ultimate goal of any content creator.
In 2021, the presence of brands will have an even greater impact on public opinion and potential customers.
It is undeniable that social media has now become a channel that consumers consult in order to access information on a brand or a product, before finalizing a purchase.
Make sure you create a social media business profile on the platforms where you know your target group is active, and take care of your brand’s image.
Answer the questions of your (potential) customers and regularly monitor everything that is said about your brand, so that you can react quickly to any criticism.
The Big Branding Guide: Logos, Social Media and Much More!
Online shoppers trust other online shoppers! Apart from customer reviews in your shop, they want to know what other customers think of an online shop or a past purchase they made there.
That’s why you should make sure your reputation on social media is flawless as well!
While a page ranking isn’t particularly affected by the interactions taken place on social media, a post that is clicked, commented on or shared increases the reach of the post in terms of visibility, audience and traffic for your online shop.
One strategy to expand your audience and boost your brand image on social media is to partner with influencers.
However, we advise you to choose the channel not based on popularity, but rather based on where your target group is active.
The effectiveness of this strategy is also confirmed by Statista research:
The global influencer market size (on Instagram) and ,therefore, the popularity of influencers has significantly grown in the last couple of years.
In the past, online forums have been a rather negative ranking factor in search engines as many websites have abused them in order to rank higher. However, forums offer a great opportunity to influence the perception of a brand on the web and therefore present a good channel in terms of off-page SEO optimization.
In fact, while it’s not recommended to use this channel as a channel to post links to your online shop, forums can help you build and improve your reputation as an expert in your branch.
Recommended Reading: Improve Your E-Reputation with SEO
Find forums where questions about your market or niche are asked, and engage in these conversations in a non-intrusive and "non-markety" way.
Connect with the community and your brand will positively benefit from it!
Customer reviews are not only a great marketing tool, they are also a key element when it comes to building up and maintaining a positive online reputation.
In addition to improving your click-through rate and visibility, customer reviews or, for example, the Google star-ratings, help search engines to better understand your website's content.
In general, the more reviews you collect on Google My Business or on third-party sites (such as Trusted Shops), the more your business will establish itself as a trustworthy online brand.
Off-page SEO optimization is all about building and establishing a good and positive image for your online shop and your entire brand.
Several factors are important to search engines and users: the former take them into account when determining the ranking of your webpages in the SERPs; the latter when deciding whether or not your brand is trustworthy and whether or not they should buy something from your shop.
Since the global pandemic caused by the coronavirus, the number of online shops has increased incredibly. That’s why standing out from your competitors and making a good name for yourself is the key to a successful business in an increasingly competitive market.
This article was originally published on our Italian blog: SEO Off-Page: definizione e strategie