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On Page vs Off Page SEO: What It Is and Why It’s Important

Despite pouring your heart and soul into your content, struggling to rank on Google? The culprit could be your Off Page SEO or lack thereof.
SEO can be split into two buckets: SEO on-page and SEO off-page.

Table of Content:

What is Off Page SEO?
Link-related off-page SEO Factors
Non-link-related Off Page SEO Factors

opp-page seo

What is Off Page SEO?

Off Page SEO embodies every attempt to boost the search engine rankings outside of a website.
The creation of ties is a major part of this, but it goes far deeper than that.

Why Off Page SEO is So Important:

What is the most important SEO activity off-page?

Backlinks are the most essential off-page SEO aspect for the majority of SEOs, content marketers, and bloggers.

On-page SEO vs Off Page SEO

On-page SEO is something that you have full and complete power over, while Off Page SEO is not always the case.

For instance, if I reach out and ask someone to contact me, it’s Off Page SEO. Why? Because I haven’t changed anything about my website in the process.

Conversely, if I improve the speed of my page by improving some images, it is on-page SEO because I made this change directly to my website.

If you’ve ever been confused about what “bucket” an SEO strategy falls into, ask yourself, is it entirely up to you? If the answer is no, then this SEO is probably a one-page SEO ploy.

On-page SEO vs. off-page SEO: which is more important?

Attention to Local SEO initiatives is more crucial than ever for smaller, local businesses. Bing and Google both have SEO user manuals that explain how their respective services rank web pages. On-page SEO pertains to your website’s structure (how it’s constructed) as well as how well you utilize it.

Why is Off Page SEO Important?

Google takes many off-page factors into account when deciding where to place web pages. Links are one of those factors, but there are many more.

For this reason, it is difficult to rank only on the merits of your content.

1. Link-related Off Page SEO Factors:

  1. Number of referring domains
  2. Link authority
  3. “Dofollow” vs. nofollow
  4. Anchor text
  5. Relevance
  6. Traffic

Perhaps the most important component of Off Page SEO is backlinks.
About why? Since Google search is based on something called PageRank: an algorithm that looks at backlinks pointing to a web page in quantity and quality.

That’s probably why we see such a strong link between the number and ranking of referring domains (unique websites) that point to a web page.

off-page seo

That places us neatly on our list of off-page link-related variables:

1. Number of referring domains in Off Page SEO:

Not only does it translate to higher rankings to have more connections from specific websites (referring domains), but also more organic search traffic.


Paste your domain into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer – a free backlink checker to check how many backlinks your website has.

reffering domain

The goal, however, is not so much to create more backlinks to your website overall, but rather to build them directly to the pages in search engines that you want to rank.

2. Link authority in Off Page SEO

Not all relations are made equally. Matters of consistency.

The way PageRank works are built into this reality.

The higher the “authority” of the landing page, the more authority comes to the pages to which it links. In other words, a link from a high authority page is worth more than one link from a low authority page.

3. “Dofollow” vs. nofollow

Google does not pass PageRank by nofollowed links (i.e. links with a rel= “nofollow” tag), so it pays to prioritize the creation of links that are followed (“do follow”).

Most of the links are followed on the web, but some websites like Forbes “Noflow” are almost like all outbound links. Therefore, if you are actively building or following links from a particular website, make sure that their outbound links are followed.

4. Anchor text


In other words, backlinks with anchor text related to the overall title of your web page may have some effect on ranking.

Unfortunately, if you’re building links through white hat methods, you won’t have much control over the anchors of the links you’re earning (with the exception of guest blogging).

But even if you had control over the anchor text of external inbound links, there could be a lot of good stuff. Penguin – now part of Google’s core algorithm – penalizes sites that try to manipulate rankings by linking to keyword-rich anchors.

Fortunately, most people connect naturally and in a natural way. If your article is about X, then chances are high that someone will link to the X-related anchor text.

But even if you had power over the anchor text of external inbound links, too much of a good thing might be possible. Penguin penalizes sites that try to influence rankings by creating links with keyword-rich anchors, which is now part of Google’s core algorithm.

5. Relevance in Off Page SEO:

Backlinks are effective votes. If a site links to you, they guarantee the quality of your content or business. But not all votes are equal. LinkedIn website and web page compatibility are also important.

With an example, let me explain why.
Say you’re looking to employ a wedding catering company. Two of your mates are suggesting two separate firms. You like your two mates equally, but one is an accountant, and the other is a chef. Who can you trust? It’s a no-brainer… the chef.

That’s how things work online. If you are a catering company and you have a link to a food blog, it may carry more weight than a link to a finance blog.

But, is relevance more important than “authority?”
We asked a few SEO professionals a basic question to try to address the question.

like value better than authority, but would suggest that my response depends on what the goal is.

I’d probably go for high-authority/low topical relevance if it is to get better rankings quickly.

If sustained Rankings/traffic/conversions were my target, I would go for high topical relevance of lower authority”.

In short, it would be easier to land low-authority links with elevated topical significance, so I choose the high-authority link.

6. Traffic

A study says that 44,589 non-branded keywords are in the top 10 rankings and found a strong link between the top-ranking pages and the amount of organic traffic to their referring pages.

You can easily filter the report by organic traffic to prioritize and follow links from the most high-value pages if you are trying to duplicate the backlinks of your rivals, or are attempting a link-building strategy like the Skyscraper Technique.

Nevertheless, though prioritizing links from pages with traffic makes sense, there is no evidence to indicate that links from pages with little to no traffic are useless. If the link pages are relevant and have some degree of “authority,” then you should always obey them fully.

NAP off-page

2. Non-link-related Off Page SEO Factors

Leading links are the clearest example of this, but there are many other off-page factors besides links. If you are a local business that wants to rank locally, you should pay special attention to this section as many of the factors below are specific to local SEO. These factors are marked with an (*)

  1. NAP citations*
  2. Brand mentions
  3. Google My Business*
  4. Reviews*
  5.  Social signals

NAP citations*

NAP references are online mentions of your business, which also show your business name, address, and phone number – collectively known as KNEP (name, address, phone).

According to Moze, referral signals are one of the top off-page ranking factors. That means that citations are essential if you are a local company and want to rank locally, whether in the results of Google’s “snack pack” or the daily organic search results.

By Googling anything like this, you will find all of the citations 
you already have.


If you do the same with your rivals, then you can easily find more pages on which to create citations by cross-referencing the websites that appear in the search results.

However, this is a bit of a hassle, and it’s also tricky to judge. One alternative is to use a dedicated citation-finding tool (e.g., Whitespark). Another is to use something like the Link Intersect tool from Ahrefs, which searches for websites that, but not you, link to multiple competitors.

It is also important that your NAP information is as consistent as possible between references, as this allows Google to effectively link those references as part of your online profile.

2. Brand mentions in Off Page SEO:

It is possible to either connect or unlink brand mentions. In one of its patents, Google indirectly refers to unlinked brand citations, referring to the system for efficiently compiling express links (linked citations) and implicit links (linkless citations).

Google knows that without linking, people sometimes cite brands and content, and we agree that such mentions deserve to be considered along with linked mentions in our ranking algorithm.

So, if brand mentions are probably a ranking factor off-page, how do you get more of them?
Here are a few ways:

  • Write guest posts
  • Be a guest on podcasts
  • Do blogger outreach
  • Go viral (easier said than done)

You can also use software such as Google Alerts or Ahrefs Alerts to monitor new mentions of competitors, then, if possible, jump into the conversion.

3. Google My Business*

Google My Business (GMB) is a free business profile from Google. It is these profiles that you see at the top of the search results for queries with local search purposes that rank in Google’s “snack pack” results

nack-pack 1

Moz found that the most critical ranking factor for ranking in “snack pack” results is an optimized Google My Business profile, and the fourth most significant factor for daily local organic search.

In short, if you want to rank for local purpose queries (e.g., “plumber near me”), the most critical component of your Off Page SEO efforts is to assert and optimize your GMB profile.

4. Reviews*

In general, the more constructive and honest feedback you have on your Google My Company profile and on reputable third-party sites, the higher the “snack pack” you are likely to rank. The opposite impact is had by negative reviews.

In Google’s “snack pack” results, Moz found that review signals are the third most important factor for ranking and the fifth most important factor for ranking in daily local organic search.

5. Social signals in Off Page SEO:

The official stance of Google is that social signals are not a direct factor in ranking. But some people do not believe this, perhaps because of obsolete research such as this one that suggests a link between rankings and social shares.

So, who is correct? Our verdict: Probably Google – The key explanation is that social signals are easy to control. On platforms like Fiverr, you can purchase thousands of social shares for a few dollars. Generally speaking, items that are too simple to manipulate do not establish accurate factors for ranking.

Real social shares have a positive impact on rankings. About why? Since more eyeballs on your content lead to real social shares, and more eyeballs lead to more ties, mentions, and all those other Off Page SEO variables we know to have a direct impact on rankings.

Since many off-page variables are not completely under your influence, Off Page SEO may seem harder than on-page SEO, but that’s the whole point. The more difficult it is to earn something, the more reliable it is as a ranking factor.

It’s also important to remember that all of the above variables can be indirectly influenced by conventional online and offline marketing activities.

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