When most people ask if Off-Page SEO is still effective, they are doing so because they have heard of all of the spammy techniques that used to work 10 to 12 years ago that don’t any longer. But the fact that some are still using spammy, outdated techniques does not invalidate actual Off-Page signals search engines want to see.
Off-page SEO is not just effective but essential for local businesses because it provides the verification that search engines look for so that they can tell the quality of legitimate businesses from less reputable ones.
To answer this question a bit further, let’s look at the types of Off-Page things the search engines want to see and why.
Briefly, before we get into this article, I would like to recommend three related articles you might be interested in. They are called “Can I Do Local SEO Without A Website?“, “What Is Off-Page Local SEO?” and “How To Do Local SEO – An In-Depth Overview!“
What Types Of Off-Page Info Do Search Engines Look For?
When you understand the things search engines, especially Google, look for, all of a sudden, it will all make sense. You won’t wonder any longer if these legitimate Off-Page things work, especially if you focus on the most important factors in Off-page Local SEO.
Okay, for local businesses, there are three main things search engines look for. These are: 1. Is the business legitimate? 2. Does the business do what is typical for their industry? and 3. Who recommends the business? Let’s go over them now briefly so you understand what I mean.
Is The Business Legitimate?
When a person creates a website for a local business, search engines don’t necessarily believe they are legitimate just because they have a website. They might be a scam.
So, the first thing search engines do is scan websites on the internet that they believe might have the business’s name, address, and phone number (NAP). They do this because they want to verify that the NAP info the business listed on their website is correct.
The types of websites search engines use to verify a business’s NAP information are sites like Yelp.com, YellowPages.com, and other business directories and social media sites that they trust. The logic is that if the business is legitimate, they will have their information listed in the main business directories and probably will have set up a few social media profiles for their business.
So, setting up profiles for your business in the most trusted online directories and social media platforms is step one in Off-Page SEO. And it must be done correctly. To learn more on this, see our article “How to Build Local Citations – A Complete Guide!“
Does The Business Do What Is Typical For Their Industry?
Since search engines scan the whole internet on a regular basis, they are familiar with the typical online behaviors of the various common types of local businesses out there. So when they come across your website, they scan the internet to see if your business follows similar online patterns as others in your area and industry.
For example, most local businesses in most industries set up at least a couple of social media pages for their company. This is for more than verifying the NAP information, as discussed above. The search engines look at your overall internet behavior to see if it is similar to those of your competitors.
To learn more about what I call “Creating An Authoritative Digital Footprint,” see my article “How To Create An Authoritative Digital Footprint!“
Who Recommends The Business?
When one website links to an article on another, search engines view this as the first website recommending the article it is linking to. It is as though they are saying we feel like the information in this article is trustworthy and worth reading.
The websites that link to the articles on your website are referred to as your “backlinks.”
There are lots of spammy ways to get websites to link to your website, such as paying fake websites (ones created only to sell links) to link to your website. Stay away from this as the search engines know how to tell these kinds of sites, and if they link to your site, it may cause your website to be penalized and put on a search engine refuse to show list.
On the other hand, genuine, authentic links from real, trusted sites to your site can benefit, especially if they are in your same industry or town. Getting high-authority websites from your industry or town to link to your website can make you credible in search engine eyes and pass on a lot of authority to your website.
This can make your website outrank your competitors more than just about anything else. To learn more about how to do this, I recommend my article “How Do I Acquire High Authority Backlinks?“
Why This Type Of Off-Page Local SEO Is Effective
If you think about the business model of a search engine, how do they make money? Ads, right? Well, the more people they can get to use their search engines, the more money they will make from them clicking on their ads.
How do search engines attract people to their search engine? By finding for the searcher exactly what they were searching for when they typed in their search query. The better search engines are at doing this, the more people will use their search engines.
So, all of the research that search engines do on local businesses that we talked about in the last section, they do because they want to find searchers the most credible, best-suited business for what the searcher is looking for.
If Google, for example, served up a scam plumbing company when people were searching for a plumber, people would stop using Google to search for local businesses.
Real Off Page Local SEO is not about gaming the system or scamming the search engines. Quite the opposite. It is all about creating the resources out on the internet, in the places that the search engines look, to show them that your business is actually the one they want to show the searcher. Hopefully, you followed that logic, and it all made sense.