What Is Off-Page SEO and Why Is It Important

Despite putting your heart and soul into your content, you’re having trouble ranking on Google? It’s possible that your off-page SEO—or lack thereof—is to blame.
On-page SEO and off-page SEO are the two categories of SEO.

Many people associate link building with off-page SEO, but is this true?

In this article, we’ll look at:

  • What does off-page SEO entail?
  • What makes off-page SEO different from on-page SEO and why it’s essential
  • Off-page considerations relating to links
  • Off-page variables that aren’t connected to links

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

Any efforts made outside of a website to boost its search engine results are referred to as off-page SEO.

Building links is an important element of this, but it extends well beyond that.

SEO on-page vs SEO off-page

On-page SEO is something over which you have total control, but off-page SEO isn’t always the case.

Off-page SEO, for example, is when I go out to someone and ask them to link to me. Why? Because I didn’t make any changes to my website as a result of the procedure. On the other hand, if I enhance the performance of my website by optimizing certain pictures, it is on-page SEO because the change was done directly on my website.

If you’re ever unsure which “bucket” an SEO strategy belongs in, consider if it’s completely under your control. If you said no, it’s almost certainly an off-page SEO strategy.

What is the significance of off-page SEO?

When choosing whether or not to rank websites, Google considers a variety of off-page criteria. One of these variables is links, although there are many more.

As a result, ranking just on the basis of your content is difficult.

Here’s an example that supports my point:

This page from The Times now ranks #1 in the UK for “excellent places to live”:

At first view, it appears to be an excellent piece of material. As a result, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to conclude that it is highly ranked for that reason. You will, however, encounter a content barrier as soon as you click on any of the locations.

As a result, most visitors will find the page to be of little use… It has no right to be in the first place, and it definitely does not deserve to be there.

This website, which displays the results of a survey of 1,000 individuals on the greatest places to live, is far more deserved.

Returning to off-page SEO, the reason the former outranks the latter is most likely due to off-page variables rather than better content.

Off-page considerations relating to links

Backlinks are one of the most important aspects of off-page SEO.

Why? Because Google’s search engine is based on PageRank, an algorithm that considers the amount and quality of hyperlinks leading to a website. Although some SEO experts consider PageRank as an out-of-date idea. Google just acknowledging that it is still a ranking component last year.

That’s probably why the number of referring domains (unique websites) connecting to a web page and its ranks are so closely.

The total number of referring domains is

More connections from distinct websites (referring domains) not only equals greater ranks but also more organic search traffic.

Paste your domain into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer or our free backlink checker to see how many backlinks your website has.

Ahrefs.com has 4.11 million backlinks from 31.2 thousand referring domains, as you can see.

However, the goal isn’t so much to increase the number of backlinks to your website as it is to increase the number of backlinks to the pages you want to rank in search engines.

We provide a plethora of articles and videos on how to increase your link count.

The authority of the link

All hyperlinks are not created equal. It’s all about the quality.

This is a truth that is integrated into the PageRank algorithm. The higher the connecting page’s “authority,” the more authority it transfers to the pages it links to. A link from a high-authority page, in other words, is more valuable than one from a low authority website.

So, how do you determine a web page’s “authority“?

Google used to provide publicly available PageRank ratings, however, they stopped doing so in 2016. While there is no identical duplicate of PageRank, there are a few metrics that are close, one of which being Ahrefs’ URL Rating (UR).

On a scale of 0 to 100, UR indicates the strength of a target URL’s backlink profile.

In the “Backlinks” report, you can also view the URL Rating of all linking pages.

When looking for backlink chances, this helps determine the quality and authority of a linked page.

UR also has a positive correlation with organic traffic, according to our analysis of 14 million site pages.

The terms “dofollow” and “nofollow” are used interchangeably

Because nofollowed links (those with a rel=”nofollow” tag) don’t pass PageRank, it’s important to focus on establishing followed (“dofollow“) connections.

Although the majority of links on the internet are following certain websites. Such as Forbes, “nofollow” nearly all outbound links. Whether you’re actively developing or chasing connections from a certain website, it’s worth checking to see if their outbound links are being followed.

Install the nofollow Chrome extension, which emphasizes nofollow links on the page, to do this.

Many of the reports in Ahrefs Site Explorer may also be filtered to show just “dofollow” links. This is helpful when studying and prioritising backlink chances once again.

Of course, nofollowed links are still valuable. They can increase referral traffic, which can help with SEO indirectly. However, if you’re investing a significant amount of time and effort into link building, it’s important to focus your efforts.

The text that serves as an anchor

The clickable words used to link one online page to another are referred to as anchor text.

In their initial PageRank patent, Google states:

“Google employs a number of techniques to improve search quality including page rank, anchor text, and proximity information.”

In other words, backlinks with anchor text related to the general theme of your website are likely to have some impact on rankings.

This is something we looked into, and we discovered a modest link between exact, phrase, and partial match anchors.

Unfortunately, you won’t have much influence over the anchors of the links you acquire if you use white-hat tactics to create connections (with the exception of guest blogging).

Even if you had complete control over the anchor text of external inbound links, too much of a good thing may be bad. Penguin, which is now part of Google’s core algorithm, penalises websites that try to game the system by creating connections with keyword-rich anchors.

Fortunately, most individuals connect in natural and relevant ways. If your content is about x, there’s a good possibility someone will link to it using anchor text relevant to x.


Backlinks are like to votes. When a website links to you, it is endorsing the quality of your material or service. However, not all votes are created equal. It is also important to consider the relevancy of the connecting website and web page.

Let me use an analogy to illustrate why.

Assume you’re planning a wedding and need to find a caterer. Two of your friends have recommended two separate businesses to you. You enjoy both of your pals equally, but one is a chef and the other is an accountant. Who are you going to put your faith in? The chef is a no-brainer.

On the internet, things function in a similar way. If you’re a catering firm, a link from a food blog will almost certainly be more valuable than a link from a financial site.

Is “authority” more essential than “relevance?”

To attempt to find a solution, we asked a few SEO experts a basic question:

“All else being equal, would you rather have a high-authority link with low topical relevance or a low-authority link with high topical relevance?”

The following are their responses:

“I like relevance better than authority, but I would say that my answer would depend on what the goal is. If it’s to get better rankings quickly, I’d probably go with high-authority/low topical relevance. If sustained rankings/traffic/conversions were my goal, I’d go for lower-authority high topical relevance. Julie Joyce, Founder Link Fish Media

“I go back and forth on this, and I think context matters a lot (i.e., the competitiveness of the space, the authority of the site, etc.). That said, most of the time I’d go with the authoritative link. Particularly in competitive markets, it’s tough to rank without authority (regardless of how relevant my other links are). I can make up for some of the relevance issues by optimizing keywords, internal links, etc. Paul May, Co-founder Buzzstream
“If a client needs to drive some juice into a money page, I have found the larger DR links (even if not super topically relevant) tend to move the rankings more. That said, if traffic is equal and the campaign goal is targeted referral traffic and conversions, then I’d lean towards the lower authority topically relevant link. Robbie Richards, Founder RobbieRichards.com

Some others are also there to explain it:

“I would rather have the link that my competitors will find harder to get.
If the high-authority link with low topical relevance comes from an article in a newspaper or magazine, then I’ll take it. There is an editorial decision being made, so I trust the judgment of the journalist or editor, and I’m confident that the link has been added because they considered that it would offer value to their readers.
That being said, I would not publish irrelevant content on my site in the hopes of attracting high-authority links from media outlets. It might work once or twice but eventually, journalists start asking, ‘why did [brand] release content about [irrelevant topic]?’
In short, low-authority links with high topical relevance will be easier to land, so I pick the high-authority link.
Gisele Navarro, Operations Director NeoMam Studios


We looked at the top ten results for 44,589 non-branded keywords and discovered a strong link between the top-ranking pages and the total amount of organic traffic they sent to their referring links.
This implies that connections from pages with high organic traffic have more weight than links from pages with low or no organic traffic.

In Ahrefs Site Explorer, you can view the projected organic traffic to any webpage.

You may easily arrange the report by organic traffic to prioritise and chase links from the most high-value pages if you’re attempting to duplicate your rivals’ backlinks or are following a link building technique like the Skyscraper Technique.

While it’s understandable to favour connections from pages with high traffic, there’s no proof that links from pages with little or no traffic are worthless. You should continue to seek the linked pages if they are relevant and have some amount of “authority.”


Given that PageRank is over two decades old, you might be asking why links are still so important in 2019.

The reason for this is simple: they are still one of the most difficult animals to control.

While there are some dubious methods for obtaining backlinks (such as purchasing them), obtaining high-quality links is typically tough. People seldom link to anything unless they believe it will be useful to their visitors.

Off-page variables that aren’t connected to links

Anything done outside of your website that has the potential to impact search engine results is referred to as off-page SEO. The most apparent example is link building, but there are several additional off-page elements to consider.

If you’re a local business looking to rank locally, this section is very important because many of the variables listed below are unique to local SEO. These variables are denoted by an asterisk (*).

NAP citations*

NAP citations are internet references of your company that include your company’s name, address, and phone number (also known as NAP) (Name, Address, Phone).

Citation signals are one of the top local off-page ranking variables, according to Moz.

That implies citations are critical if you’re a local business looking to rank locally, whether in Google’s “snack pack” or standard organic search results.

Many of the citations you already have may be found by Googling something like this:

You may easily locate more sites on which to construct citations if you do the same for your rivals and then cross-reference the websites that show in the search results. However, this is inconvenient, and determining which citations are likely to tip the needle in terms of rankings is difficult.

One option is to utilise a specific citation search tool (e.g., Whitespark). Another option is to utilise a service like Ahrefs’ Connect Intersect, which searches for websites that link to several rivals but don’t link to you. Because many NAP citations include links, even if they are nofollowed, this generally shows the citations that your rivals have but you don’t.

Mentions of the brand

Brand references might be connected or unconnected. For obvious reasons, connected mentions have SEO value, but what about unlinked brand mentions?

In one of its patents, Google alluded to unlinked brand mentions by mentioning a technique for efficiently collecting explicit connections (linked mentions) and implied links (linkless mentions).

An extract from the patent is as follows:

“An express link, e.g., a hyperlink, is a link that is included in a source resource that a user can follow to navigate to a target resource. An implied link is a reference to a target resource, e.g., a citation to the target resource, which is included in a source resource but is not an express link to the target resource.”

Google is basically stating, “Hey, we know that individuals frequently quote companies and content without linking, and we believe that such mentions, like linked mentions, deserve to be factored into our ranking system.”

This makes sense from a logical standpoint. The only significant difference between an unlinked and a linked mention is that a connected mention can be clicked on, perhaps resulting in greater referral traffic.

So, since brand mentions are most likely a ranking influence off-page, how can you obtain more of them?

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Publish guest posts
  • Participate in podcasts as a guest.
  • Make contact with bloggers.
  • Become well-known (easier said than done)

You may also follow new rival mentions with tools like Google Alerts or Ahrefs Alerts, and then get in on the conversion if it’s suitable. If you worked for MailChimp, for instance, you might set up notifications for new mentions of competitors like as ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign.

My Business on Google

Google My Company (GMB) is a Google service that allows you to create a free business profile.

These profiles appear in Google’s “snack pack” results, which appear at the top of the search results for local search searches.

However, claiming your GMB profile isn’t sufficient.

According to Moz, the most significant ranking criteria for ranking in “snack pack” results is a well-optimized Google My Business profile, while the fourth most important factor for normal local organic search is a well-optimized Google My Business profile.

To summarise, claiming and improving your GMB profile is the most important component of your off-page SEO efforts if you want to rank for queries with local intent (e.g., “plumber near me”).


According to Moz, review signals are the third most significant element in Google’s “snack pack” results, and the fifth most important factor in normal local organic search results.

In general, the higher you rank in the “snack pack,” the more favourable and authentic reviews you have on your Google My Business profile and on trustworthy third-party sites. Negative feedback has the exact opposite impact.

The “authority of third-party sites on which reviews are available” was also found to impact regular local organic rankings in the same study.

Signs of social interaction

The official Google position is that social signals are not a ranking component.

Some individuals, however, do not accept this, owing to older research such as this one, which indicate a link between ranks and social shares.

The major reason is that social signals are simple to manipulate. On services like Fiverr, you can purchase thousands of social shares for a few bucks. Things that are thus simple to alter, in general, do not make for credible ranking criteria.

However, there’s no denying that real social sharing have a beneficial impact on rankings, albeit an indirect one. Why? Because genuine social shares result in more eyes on your content. And more eyes result in more links. Mentioning here and all of the other off-page SEO variables that we know affect rankings.


Because many off-page elements aren’t fully within your control. Off-page SEO may appear to be more difficult than on-page SEO. But that’s the purpose. The more difficult it is to get something, the more dependable it is as a ranking factor.

It’s also worth noting that many of the characteristics listed above. It is influencing indirectly by traditional online and offline marketing operations.

When Tesla sent a car into space in 2018. For example, there was a significant increase in the number of articles publishing online referencing Tesla.

While sending an automobile into space is unlikely to be a profitable marketing gimmick for most companies, it isn’t necessary. Smaller offline marketing efforts work effectively for smaller firms. Since you don’t need thousands of links or brand mentions to rank.

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