December 1

Episode 117 – Off Page SEO – It’s Not Just Links

In this episode, we’ll discuss off-page SEO, what it is, and how to improve it.

Paul Barthel: All right. Hello. Thanks for joining us for this episode of The Marketing Guides for Small Businesses Podcast. I’m Paul and joined by Jen and Ian, who’s currently traveling, but he recorded his answer for us, and Ken. And today we’re gonna talk about Off-Page SEO, what it is, what it’s not. We always seem to go over our allotted time. We like to keep the podcast under an hour, we never seem to do that. So, hopefully we’ll do that today. All that being said, Ken, I’m gonna start with you. So usually, when we talk about SEO, we’re referring to  On-Page SEO. We’ve talked a lot about that in previous podcasts. Today we’re talking about Off-Page SEO. So what is that and why is it important, and why should a small business care about it? 

Ken Tucker: Simplistically, it’s everything that you can do to improve your rankings that’s not done through your own website. There are a lot of different things that you can do.

Getting links historically has always been one of the most important things, but there are more things than that. Getting brand mentions, building citations, which aren’t the same as links, but they’re super important. Continuing to create content through multiple channels, including social media and other things.

Just think of it as, you wanna look and you wanna see where all of this stuff is coming from outside your website, because every one of these links, citation. Whatever classification it is in Off-Page that sends a signal to Google or the other search engines. It’s a little vote of confidence in your website. If they feel it’s important enough to mention your website, if they provide a link to your website. If your business is listed on a directory, it’s just a little vote of confidence. And, so it’s really the cumulative set of things that you do there, and you can monitor how all of this works. And I think ultimately, if you’re trying to, especially when it comes to local SEO, but even national SEO, you gotta be looking at your competitors as well.

And you need to be closing that gap because if they’re out ranking you, it’s probably because they’ve done a better job of Off-Page SEO than you have with your website. Could be a whole variety of reasons why. They may have more products or services and blog posts that offer an opportunity for links.

They may have owned their domain name for a lot longer than you. They’re a whole lot out of the reasons, but you wanna look at what they’re doing and you wanna close the gap. You wanna find ways. If you’re using any credible tool set, it’s gonna give you really good ideas about what the links are and what the other factors are from Off-Page for your competitor’s websites.

If you’re the member of the same association and they’ve got a link and you don’t, go get that link. It’s easy to do. We’ll get into some more of the details about what all that means here throughout the rest of the episode, but simplistically, it’s On-Page SEO or all of the things that you can do to your website to improve its search engine optimization. Off-Page literally is everything that’s not on your website that you can do to improve your rank. 

Paul Barthel: That was a good intro into my question for Ian. Which he recorded for us. So a lot of people use Off-Page SEO and link building interchangeably, but there’s, Ken touched on some of this, there’s more to it.

So one thing that comes in mind and Ken mentioned is brand building. So Ian has recorded a video that talks about that a little bit. 

Ian Cantle: Yeah, that’s true. A lot of people do when they’re thinking of SEO, they’re thinking about On-Page SEO for the most part. Part of that is because marketers often talk about that more often than they do about Off-Page SEO.

But Off-Page SEO is super important. And brand building is all about creating brand recognition and an affinity for your brand. So that when people see your brand or they hear about it, they think positively towards it. Think about some of the brands that you care about that you like. Whenever you see that car with that logo on it, or see a commercial, or a video or a post by one of the brands you love. You feel an affinity towards it. And in the same way, brands can be very powerful. We’ve all experienced it. We all love brands. We all trust certain brands, and Google realizes this and rewards brands for this authority that they’ve built up over time.

Brand building all comes down to building online authority for both the users and search engines like Google. So how does brand building help with SEO? It’s all about brand searches. When people increasingly search for your brand name or the name of your specific products or services, or even your domain name. Google is watching all of this and it values that.

Why does Google care about brand searches? You have to remember that Google results are all about providing the best results to searchers so that they’ll continue to use the search engine. So when Google sees a growing number of people searching for the brand, your brand, it will introduce this into the results because it sees that people value this.

And of course, this can give your brand a real leg up over the competition if you can get your brand showing up in searches more often. The other reason Google cares about brand searches is that it shows credibility. When you build a brand that people look for, you are credible in their eyes and in the eyes of Google. And when you build a brand, you will find that you naturally earn links and mentions across the web to your website and your brand. 

Paul Barthel: So Jen, what about press releases and guest posting? Can those be part of an Off-Page SEO strategy? 

Jen Kelly: In short, yes, they can. I’ll talk a little bit about guest posting, but then I’ll spend most of my time on the press releases because the press releases can be, I was gonna use the word controversial.

I’m not sure it’s that dramatic, but I’ll get into that and explain that as well. So yes, guest posting can be used. Prop page SEO. What guest posting means for those of you that aren’t aware of it, it would be you’re producing a blog on someone else’s website. And the neat thing about that is you and your ideas and your company ideas are exposed to different audience.

And then typically you have your byline either at the top or the bottom, which would give one or two sentence introduction about yourself, your company, and then typically a link back to your website. So that’s how that would help. With press release, I guess the controversy or the drama around press releases is how they were intended or how they were used in the past by journalist, reporters, the press is not the same way that they’re used today or have been used for a long time. Back in the day, it would be you put out a press release to the wire, which was this major distribution center where reporters and journalists would look for the news coming in each day, each hour on a certain topic.

Obviously we don’t need to do that anymore, but press releases and the press release companies and the wire, and putting a press release out onto the wire that still exists. People will happily take their money to have that done for you. And there’s nothing negative about that, but just in your expectation of, if we do a press release because we’re launching a product or we brought on a new executive or something interesting has happened within our company and we want to let the public know, or if we’re public and we have to let the public know the press release, just be aware that the setting up press release out isn’t gonna garner you the press attention.

You may think it would or it may have done decades ago. What it does help with, it being a piece of content that would have information about your company, links back to your website, perhaps pictures, videos. Just by the nature of it being called a news release, it is timely information about changes happening in your business.

That kind of information would go out. So what you would do for that is put it out to the wire. That is a paid thing that you do, and depending how far you want it distributed, either within an industry or within regions of the world, you would pay more or less for that. However, what is neat about that is those links in the distribution of wherever your press  release does end up, even if it gets picked up by publications that may not be save the A-list or may not be the exact journalist of your industry that you want to cover it. There will still be a pickup on it, and that still counts for Google. So press releases do work in that way.

Just be very careful that you’re not using them just hoping you’re gonna get a whole bunch of press inquiries as a result of using that press release. 

Ken Tucker: I think it also dovetails into what Ian was just talking about too with brand mentions. He was talking more about brand building. A press release, even though it doesn’t give you the link attribution from an SEO perspective in Google with most press release systems, especially traditional press release systems, gives them the SEO benefit, not your business. But it does still help because there are mentions of your business because there’s content, as you said, that includes references to your business. And so from that perspective, it definitely sends some signals.

It’s just not nearly what it used to be if you’re using a traditional press release system, you’re absolutely right. 

Paul Barthel: Ken even though I call this Off-Page SEO, it’s not just links. It’s links or you can’t ignore ’em there’s still a very important part of Off-Page SEO. So can you talk about what link billing is?

Cause it’s not an easy thing to do. It takes time, it takes effort. It can be expensive. So can you address that a little bit? 

Ken Tucker: Yeah, absolutely. Link building is probably the workhorse of many Off-Page SEO strategies still to this day. And I think a lot of people still think that having a link building strategy is what’s gonna give you the most bang for the buck in terms of uplift for your search engine optimization. I mentioned before that whenever somebody links from their website and they link back to your website, that’s a little vote of confidence on the eyes of the search engines. Here’s the reality. Not every vote is equal. Having a bunch of votes doesn’t necessarily make the difference for you.

You need to think about things like the authority of the website that is linking to you. Every website is assigned an authority factor in the eyes of the search engines based on the traffic that’s going to the website, the number of links that they have. The number of unique links that they have, the authority of the websites that are linking to them, whether or not some of those links or follows or no follows.

All of these things are rolled in and every website is assigned a domain authority or some kind of authority score. You really wanna work on getting authority websites to link to your content, and there are some ways that you can do that. If you’re focused on a niche or you work in a specific industry, let’s use painters for example. There’s the Painting Contractor Association. If you’re a member of the Painting Contractor Association, the Painting Contractor Association website, because it’s an association probably is  gonna carry strong domain authority in the eyes of the search engines because they see that it’s a trusted site because it is an authority, it is a policing and an organizing association that is geared toward a specific industry.

So having a link from an association website like that is gonna carry more weight than a friend’s business across the street. And they’re like, Cool, I’m an auto mechanic. I’m gonna link to your website on my website. Maybe you’ll do the same thing for me. And it’s, yeah, you can do that, but they probably don’t have a very high domain authority.

Most local businesses, unless they’ve really invested a lot in local search engine optimization, just don’t carry the authority and the weight. Think of authority as a way to weight the vote. The other thing that you want to think about is the number of unique domains. So you could have that one authoritative domain, in this case, an association that you’re a member of.

You could have dozens of links from them. But if those are where all of your links are coming from and you don’t have other unique domains that are linking to you from other bloggers that find your blog posts interesting and they decide that they want to reference it and then link to it when they’re writing their blog posts.

Local chambers of commerce, if you’re not listed with them and they’re not linking back to your website. The topical relevance I think is also important to factor in, like I mentioned, just because somebody across the street that you happen to know, decides that they wanna link to your website from their website.

That’s a nice gesture. But again, don’t think that’s gonna be the big difference maker here. You really want to think about authority, unique domains and topical relevance. The more you can get that, the better. Now, also, an easy way to think and look about authority is your local newspapers. If they write an article about you and they link to your website.

That’s gonna carry a lot of authority. Its local and news sources typically are rated  higher with authority scores in the eyes of the search engines than many other websites. Partly because they create a massive amount of content, and if they’re providing trustworthy content in the eyes of the search engines, it’s gonna be valuable.

Anything that is a .gov, or , or .edu for educations or even some orgs, charities, for example, and things like that. They tend to be trusted and assigned higher domain authorities or authority scores, I should say than maybe the typical website. Until they prove to the search engines otherwise really.

So if they’re doing bad behavior and doing pinky things, of course they’re gonna get knocked down. And I can’t just make a general statement, but those are good places to sniff out those types of opportunities. You wanna work hard to get authority. Authority doesn’t necessarily have to be topical.

It can be local. So authority can come, like I mentioned, from a local chamber of commerce. If in your city having them link to you maybe every bit as important, maybe even more important than the industry that you work in as somebody linking to you from that industry. So you need to monitor and analyze this stuff, and this is where a lot of business owners might be able to do a reasonably good job with several elements of the On-Page SEO. They’re gonna have to invest time and effort. They’re gonna have to study it. They’re gonna have to learn best practices and implement all of those kinds of things. Off-Page SEO is a lot harder and it’s more technical, and it’s probably something that the average person is not gonna easily be able to do.

Paul Barthel: Couple things if I could add. Google’s become very clear about buying links in the past that’s been a tactic and they’ve gotten very good about figuring that out and link farms and things like that. It won’t go into it. But the other thing is the way Google waits these links. Let’s say if you’re in the finance industry and you get a link from Forbes, getting 15 links from Forbes isn’t necessarily gonna help you much more than getting one link from Forbes because Google links, they weight that first link very heavily. And the ones that follow they, they give it a lot less weight. So that’s why unique links are important. 

Ken Tucker: Yeah. We call it the web for a reason, right? 

Ian Cantle: Correct. 

Ken Tucker: Google and the search engines love the interconnectedness of things.

And if your website is worthy of being interconnected with a lot of other properties across the web, then you’re doing a good job on Off-Page SEO. 

Paul Barthel: Yes. It’s, you’re the interconnectedness of the web. No, that’s very true. It’s a good point. 

Back to Ian’s recorded answer. So when we think about, and we talk about content marketing, most of us immediately think of On-Page SEO, content marketing, On-Page SEO, but content marketing can also be used for Off-Page SEO, and Ian can talk about that a little bit.

Ian Cantle: Yeah, that’s so true. When we think about content marketing, our thinking gravitates towards thinking about our own website because that’s the property that we have the most control over. But when it comes to content marketing, you need to take a more holistic view and look at On-Page and Off-Page tactics.

Publishing great content on your website is absolutely vital and shouldn’t be overlooked. But any content you publish across the internet is still content marketing and it’s valuable. Creating good quality, engaging content will make other people want it. So some common Off-Page content that you can leverage are infographics, guest posts, where you post an article on another website. Especially a website that has a higher authority than yours. White papers, eBooks, even links from real books. So if you publish a real book and link back to your website, super powerful. Surveys, studies, research papers, even quizzes, calculators, all of those kind of things that people find of value, they’ll link back to you.

Videos can also be a powerful type of content that links back to your site and provides you with greater authority. It also makes sense that content marketing is a powerful contribution to the success of your other Off-Page techniques like link building, pr, social media, and advertising. Content is the fuel that powers those tactics.

And when you have great content, people will look for it and you need to tell everyone about it everywhere you possibly can, and it will result in increased SEO results and increased authority for you on search engine. 

Paul Barthel: Very concise answer. 

Ken Tucker: Yeah. One thing that I was surprised, cause I know Ian’s talked about this in the past are infographics.

Infographics are great pieces of content that you can create if you design them correctly they’re on bed codes. So when  somebody takes that infographic and they put that on the website, it actually is naturally building a link back to the source that created the infographic. That can be a valuable strategy. And infographics are those pieces of content. Again, anything that summarizes and provides a resource to people is generally quality and usually trusted content until you prove otherwise. So again, if you’re doing hanky stuff, it’s the kind of stuff that Google picks up on and they realize that you’re trying to game the system, they’re gonna whack you down, right?

It’s a pretty good strategy to do, and these are not simple, easy to create. You definitely have to put a lot of work into creating a quality infographic, but that’s another great strategy I think.

Paul Barthel: One thing about infographics to keep in mind when you’re designing them, make sure and look at them on mobile.

Back when infographics were a huge thing and a lot of people were doing it. They were designing for desktop. Most searches now are done on mobile, and sometimes those infographics might look  great on desktop, maybe even a tablet. But you look at them on your phone and they’re basically useless. So infographics can be very powerful. Just make sure you look at them on mobile, because if you don’t, they might not work that good. 

Jen, we’re sitting here doing our podcast, which we do every week. So can that be part of your Off-Page SEO strategy?

In short, yes, it can. Yeah, absolutely it can. There’s a couple things about podcasts.

So as we’re recording this in 2022, even though podcasts are very popular, not every business is using them. And so there’s a huge opportunity there as a piece of content to get using and doing a podcast for your own business and making it part of your marketing strategy. With podcasts, so what happens here, as we’re going today, we’re recording this for audio purposes, we upload it to a podcast network and it goes out.

We also are recording live and with each of our different businesses, we were able to link to one live. I think for you, Ken, you’re broadcasting this live on LinkedIn, is that right? Because we’re doing, or you’re doing YouTube or Ian and firm is doing YouTube? We’re doing Facebook. So right now for the video, it is live and of course available on recording, or on replay there.

But with the podcast, they’re a very good way reach a new audience because there will be people searching for and looking through and, trying out different podcasts that may not know yet about your company. Ken, I know you do a lot, you do another podcast as well where you’re hosting and interviewing other businesses.

Ken Tucker: Yeah. 

Jen Kelly: And giving them exposure to an audience that they previously didn’t have exposure to. And that’s a great way to expose and expand your business and your offering to new audiences. As a piece of content that will be posted elsewhere besides Google and discoverable and almost discoverable and entirely new audience than maybe searching for you on Google. It’s a fabulous piece of content to do that with. Nevertheless, not only having the podcast, but we have talked about this before we have the podcast. Then we’re able to chop it up so we can chop it up into different soundbites, put that out on social. The deal that we have here on our podcast, as whoever hosts it that week, gets the transcript and is able to put the transcript, formulate that into a written blog, and put that on their website for that week as their piece of content.

Besides having it go off your website, plus you can chop it up and drive content and drive traffic back to your website. It’s a fabulous way to do Off-Page SEO. 

Ken Tucker: Can I add to that a little bit? 

Jen Kelly: Yeah, please do. 

Ken Tucker: From a guest podcasting perspective, it’s also a huge benefit. Because if you’re a guest on another popular podcast, you have the ability to work with that host to determine where you want to have them linked to back to your website. Maybe the homepage, if you do three or four different  services. But you’re being interviewed by a host or you’re a guest of a podcast, that’s only one of those four services, for example, then it can go to that service page specifically. So it’s a great way to build your own links from leveraging the power of a website that is already podcasting websites. Again, they’re gonna rank pretty well and they’re getting you in front of all of their audience. So that’s gonna drive some traffic back to your website as well as building some lengths. 

Paul Barthel: That’s a good point. And so what Ken’s saying is that as a small business owner, you don’t have to host a podcast. You can just be a guest on other podcasts and that will help your Off-Page SEO.

And as I was putting this together, I tend to go down into the technical rabbit hole sometimes. Some people may have noticed that, but one of the things about all this Off-Page SEO is Google’s concept of entities, and I promise I won’t go into that. But Google has moved  from what’s called Lexi search into semantic search, which means that Google is trying to understand search intent, and this goes back to the branding.

What Google considers an entity. This is where your Off-Page SEO really comes into play because nothing exists in a silo. Lexical search was back where Google tried to say, Okay, they use this keyword, so this is what they’re looking for. Now they’re looking at things as a relationship. Is this a navigational search? Is this a brand search? Is this a buyer intent search? So they’re using semantic queries to try and figure out what people are looking for and return the best search result. Yet, this goes back to the local search pack. Yes, what business or entity is closest to you and can best serve your query. That’s where this whole entity and branding really comes into play from an  Off-Page SEO, and I probably just confused the hell out of everybody, but it’s important to understand. Google’s algorithm changes every day, and sometimes they release these huge updates that really screw things up, but every day they make minor tweaks to their algorithms. It’s an ongoing process and I just think that’s important to understand. I don’t know if anyone has anything to add, but look at that, we kept it to about a half hour so far. 

Ken Tucker: Yeah, I will just jump in and add a little bit. A lot of people tend to think that social media is the silver bullet, that if they post on social media and they provide links back to their website, that they’re getting links to their website. Those links aren’t the same as a link from another website because social media sites, they’re no follow links and jump in and correct me Paul, if I’m misstating something. So they send signals which are very important, just like Paul talked about, but they are not links. If I linked a  blog post that I wrote referencing Jen who had written an article on her website about how do you write a white paper, If I link to her website, then that’s a true link.

But if I share a link on a social media site to the article that Jen wrote that’s not the same as a link from a website because it’s coming from social media. And social media doesn’t provide the full sharing and the full benefit. But there are all these different properties that are out there. Still that doesn’t mean you don’t want to do it.

 Again, it’s the cumulative omnichannel thing that we’ve always talked about. A citation is not a full blown link. Being listed on a directory sends a signal to the search engines to say, Hey, this business is on this directory. This directory is somebody that I tend to trust the business information about.

Okay. You gotta think about the, all of this stuff is cumulative and that’s why the web is this giant interconnectedness of stuff, and you gotta think about it that way. 

Paul Barthel: Yeah, that’s a good point.  It goes back to nothing exists in a silo. You’re right a directory or social media may not be a direct link, but Google’s algorithm has gotten so sophisticated that they roll all this back into this as an entity. It all comes back to this entity. An entity is a complicated thing and it’s not a complicated thing. So your business is an entity, an actor, a popular person, an influencer is an entity. And Google rolls all of these things in. If someone does a video on YouTube and they mention you. Okay. That’s not a direct link, but Google will pick up on that.

That’s how sophisticated the algorithm is. It’s gotten so sophisticated that they screw things up. Unless anyone has anything more to add, I think this is probably a good place to wrap up and thanks everyone for joining us and we’ll be back next week. Don’t know what we’re talking about, but we’ll be back next week.


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