If you’re just beginning to learn SEO, knowing the difference between on page and off page SEO is crucial. And while both could be transformed into large articles on their own, it helps to know the basics beforehand. Not only will it give you context when you move on to greater things, but it will provide you with a solid foundation for doing your own SEO in the future.
While on page SEO optimisation is all about what happens on your website, off page is directly the opposite. At its core, off page optimisation is all about obtaining links (backlinks) and referrals from outside your website and from external sources. It refers to all the possible things you can do to improve your online visibility and search rankings outside of your website. In fact, you can do off-page optimisation without ever having to touch your website.
When Google ranks your site using off page factors, it looks at authority in your industry, show many people reference your name online, link back to your content, share and engage with you on social media and more. Think of it like a measure of reputation, trustworthiness, and popularity. The more people are linking to your site and talking about you, the better Google will rank your site, as it’s clear that people are looking for you and like what you have to say.
While obtaining basic backlinks can be simple enough, by entering your website information and domain name in online directories and bookmarking sites, these links are considered low quality and low value, and won’t get you very far. You need to be aiming for high quality backlinks for your website, and developing a backlink campaign or strategy for your website that’s going to net you high quality links from sites with high domain authority, reputation, web traffic and similar things.
To be more specific, when it comes to how much impact a backlink has on your website’s rankings, Google looks at domain, keyword, naked URL and others anchor texts ; link velocity ; link placement ; link diversity ; link & niche relevance ; trust flow ; domain and page authority score. If these words sound like another language to you, don’t panic! They’re not as complicated as they sound, and you’ll learn them all in time.
So, Where Do I Start?
Great question! If you’re just getting started with SEO for your website, you should aim at obtaining “natural” links from reputable sources. Online phone and address directories such as the Yellow pages (if you’re in Australia), local business listings if you’re a small business, and social media links and signals are all great places to start. Once you’ve hit those points you can start moving onto the big leagues, and aim to get links from press releases, blog articles, Q&A sites (Quora, Reddit, etc.) and similar, to build up a site reputation and start getting some decent backlinks from high authority sites. There are a thousand ways you can generate backlinks from these kinds of strategies, so getting creative with your content and outreach really helps. Just remember, the quality of the source is always more important than the number of backlinks you get!
Not All Backlinks Are Equal
It’s extremely important to know how to build links naturally. While this includes generating links that appear as if they were built naturally, it’s important create an overall backlink profile for your website that looks natural. Contrary to what many SEOs do, it’s actually against Google’s guidelines to create any links manually. Of course, Google knows that people are doing this, but making your links too obviously fake or spammy can get your site penalised instead. As a final note, it’s useful to know the difference between follow and nofollow backlinks. Follow backlinks pass on link authority to your site from the linking website, and nofollow do not, meaning you don’t get any rankings boost from these links. No follow links are great for stopping link spam (on blogs, in comments and other spam friendly formats), but not so great if you’re looking to get a high-quality backlink. Make sure you’re getting the kind of link you want before following through with an off-page optimisation and link building strategy, whether you’re paying for it or doing it yourself.