You’re probably familiar with the term “link building” by now, especially since it was a pretty hot SEO topic a few years ago. But for those new to the scene, link building is a pretty self-explanatory process that basically involves getting other websites to link back to your website. Because links are, essentially, the bridges that search engines use to crawl the web, they’re far more important than textual credit or mentions. Gathering high-quality offpage backlinks is an aspect of link building that can boost your SERP rankings immensely—as long as you understand what you’re doing.
Link Building SEO Tactics: A Brief Overview
As mentioned earlier, link building shot up in popularity a couple Google algorithms back, especially since online marketers realized it was perhaps one of the easiest and most effective SEO strategies to improve their search engine ranking.
Unfortunately, black hat link building tactics soon sprouted up: fake websites created for the sole purpose of backlinking to the original site, buying and selling backlinks, and repeating the same link multiple times on one website—just to name a few examples of bad link building practices that Google penalized.
They’ve recently adjusted their algorithm (what else is new?) to crack down a little harder on link building strategies. Some practices that are considered white hat SEO can still get your site in trouble if they go against Google’s parameters.
Regardless, backlinking is not something you should give up on. As long as your offpage backlinks are from high-ranking websites and you understand when—and where—to use them, your site should stay safe.
Understanding Offpage Backlinks
To understand what offpage backlinks are, you’ll need to know what “off-site SEO” is as well. Off-site SEO (also called off-page SEO) refers to actions that can heavily impact your websites SERP ranking despite the fact that they’re done outside of your actual website. They are, quite literally, SEO for your page done off-page.
Following this explanation and the definition of link building, offpage backlinks basically refer to links found on other websites that link back to your site.
The Three (3) Main Links
There are three different ways to acquire offpage backlinks: natural, manual, and self-created.
Natural Links are freely given and don’t need any action from the website owner. For instance, think of the Reference section in Wikipedia entries. They link to the original source of information without being prompted or paid to.
Manually-Built Links are links attained deliberately by the site master via link building activities. Popular examples include prompting customers to link back to your website to be eligible for a contest or giveaway or explicitly requesting content creators/influencers to share your content.
Self-Created Links are backlinks formatted with optimized anchor text and added to online directories, forum signatures, or press releases. Although still technically considered a white hat SEO tactic, the fact that the link’s source is not very organic tends to put this in the gray SEO category. We recommend treading with extreme caution when it comes to this type of backlink.
Offpage Backlinks: Why They Matter
Despite the fact that marketers put a lot of time, energy, and resources into on-page SEO, off-site SEO is just as important and can have just as huge an impact on traffic, lead generation, and overall ranking. Unfortunately, because of Google’s ever-changing algorithms, we can never really come up with exact percentages. In other words, we can never really tell how much offpage backlinks—or any other form of SEO strategy, for that matter—affect a website’s Google ranking. We just know that they do.
See, the consensus is that websites that are considered relevant, trustworthy, and authoritative will always rank higher than websites that aren’t. What determines these factors?
If a website gets hundreds of thousands of visits every day, then obviously that website has something worthwhile to offer its visitors. If visitors are actively interacting with that website, it means they consider it relevant, and a trustworthy source for content.
If they’re constantly quoting, referring, recommending, or mentioning that website, then it must mean they consider it an authority.
The more quality offpage backlinks that link back to your page via acceptable forms of links, the more you appear relevant, trustworthy, and authoritative in the eyes of search engines. These offpage backlinks are basically vouching for your website’s quality. And as with reviews, ratings, and testimonials, the more there are, the better.