Off Page SEO: 3 Quick Fixes and 3 Long Term Strategies

off page seo

What is SEO? When you think about it, it’s a relationship. Not a nice-old-couple-celebrating-their-50th-wedding-anniversary kind of relationship, but a messy, complicated, and constantly changing one (sound familiar?). Worse still, it’s a love triangle between your clients, their customers, and Google. 

Just like any relationship, there are things you can do to make it stronger—dress smarter, get a new haircut, buy gifts. In SEO terms, this would be on page SEO. These are the aspects of your client’s site that you can control and measure to improve its SEO performance: keywords, page load speeds, URLs. There are plenty of great guides to optimizing your on page SEO available (and be sure to learn about what a canonical URL is and why they're so important). 

However, there are a whole range of factors that really depend on outside forces. While there are plenty of things you can do to influence these things, they are ultimately kind of out of your control. 

This is off page SEO, and it matters a lot. In fact, some experts believe off page SEO accounts for 75 percent of a whole site’s overall SEO.

In this article, we look at three off site SEO quick wins, and three long-term strategies you can use to help your clients craft to improve their overall organic performance.

Grow your business with the Shopify Partner Program

Whether you offer marketing, customization, or web design and development services, the Shopify Partner Program will set you up for success. Join for free and access revenue share opportunities, tools to grow your business, and a passionate commerce community.

Sign up

How to start with off page SEO

Judging the effectiveness of any single SEO strategy is notoriously difficult. Google uses 200 different factors to determine a site’s ranking for a search term. Worse still, the weight given to any one factor is constantly changing as Google adapts its algorithm.

So, how do you know if an SEO technique is worth trying? The best way is to ask the experts. Though there’s no way to test the individual impact of any one change, SEO marketers can learn through experience what strategies have moved the dial the most. 

So, what do the experts say? According to research by Databox, the 5 most effective off page strategies are (in order of importance):

  1. Backlinks
  2. Guest blogging
  3. Social media engagement
  4. Influencer marketing
  5. Video, podcasts, and/or webinars

Great! So you just get started on these, right?

Not so fast. 

These are all long-term, high investment strategies. And I’ve never heard a Shopify merchant say to me, “We have a whole year to improve our SEO, and budget is not an issue.” This just isn’t reality. You also need some quick fixes that can give your client’s off page SEO a boost right here, right now. 

That’s why we’re sharing this strategy. It combines three of the most effective long term strategies for off page SEO with three great short term strategies you can start implementing today. 

We’ll first go through the long term ones, where we’ll spend a bit of time to be sure we get them right, then go on to the short term, which will be a quick breeze through. Then finally, we’ll think about how you can tailor these to suit your client’s store. 

Let’s go.

You might also like: 4 Common SEO Myths and Tips to Avoid Them.

Long term strategy #1: Backlinks

Building backlinks is the most common, popular, and—according to industry experts—effective off page SEO strategy, so we’re going to spend a bit of time on this one. 

What is a backlink?

A backlink is a link from another (external) website to your client’s. Backlinks matter to Google because they show that a page is credible and reliable. Basically, instead of taking your word for it that your client’s page is a good place to send people for a specific search, Google also factors in other opinions on the web. 

This leads us to the idea of domain authority. Google doesn’t rate all backlinks equally. It gives more weight to domains (which means sites) with better reputations. In other words, it will give more weight to a backlink from TechCrunch or Business Insider than it will to one from your friend’s blog about cats.

But don’t worry. International media outlets are not the only source of credible backlinks. Links from niche websites with good reputations can be just as valuable, and are a lot easier to gain.

Thankfully, checking domain authority is easy. There are loads of tools for this, like this one by Moz.

off page seo: moz
Moz's Link Explorer lets you check the domain authority of any site.

Why are backlinks so effective? 

Backlinks are so effective because they have a double impact on SEO. First, you get links from external sites, which Google interprets as a sign that your client’s site is credible and relevant. Second, backlinks drive quality traffic to your client’s site. How does this work? 

Your backlinks should be coming from external sites that are related to your client’s product area. Say your client sells fishing tackle, and they get a backlink on a well respected angler’s blog. The people who click the link on that blog are likely to be highly interested in your client’s product, so they’ll spend time on their website. In other words, it drives quality traffic.

Why does this matter for SEO?

Google looks at what people who click a backlink do once they have clicked, especially how long they spend on a site. 

Imagine 20 people click a link on that fishing blog with the text “great tackle for trout fishing” (this text is called anchor text, though it has nothing to do with fishing—more on that later). The link leads to your client’s website, and each of those 20 people spend a couple of minutes browsing their store. From this, Google learns that your client’s site is relevant and credible for people searching for trout fishing tackle.

But the opposite also applies. If you try desperately to get links, any links, anywhere, it will backfire. If the backlinks you collect for a client are irrelevant, Google will learn that their site is not credible, and will punish them with a lower search ranking. No hacks allowed.

"If you try desperately to get links, any links, anywhere, it will backfire."

3 steps to backlink success

Now that you understand what backlinks are, we can look at how to practically build a backlink strategy for your clients.

1. Customer and partner links

This is the low hanging fruit. Here you identify partners your client collaborates with regularly and their most loyal customers, and encourage them to link back to your client’s site. You may sometimes be able to offer something in return, such as testimonials for partners that they work with, for example. 

You can start by identifying a list of people to contact with your client, and then emailing them to ask.

2. Content creation

The next step is to begin collecting links from outside organizations that your client doesn’t work directly with. And the best way to do so is through content—quality content.

To do this well, your client should have a regular blog, plus some occasional high quality resources that feature unique insights, such as reports, survey results, ebooks, quality infographics, or articles that are location or season specific.

The idea with this strategy is that the quality of the content you provide encourages other content creators to link back to your page. If you generate a report with useful insights on abandoned cart rates, for example, other content marketers writing about abandoned carts will want to use these insights, and in doing so will link back to your page. Be warned that this strategy can be hard to measure and control—make sure you fully optimize any blogs or landing pages for search to give your content the best chance of being discovered.

3. Public relations 

This is part of a larger communications strategy that you can craft for your client, but investing time in public relations can help you client further establish themselves and grow their off page SEO.

This involves spreading the word about your client’s brand with people who have a voice, like journalists or industry experts. This might involve sending out press releases, or simply working on building relationships. 

One effective approach is to work with one or two people at your client’s company to help them build up their own reputation as a voice of authority. You could coach them on writing compelling LinkedIn posts or personal blogs, or help them formulate an individual strategy for increasing their personal following on their social accounts. The aim here is for these individuals to be perceived as experts who can offer a valuable opinion if something newsworthy happens in their field.

You might also like: Finding a Balance Between SEO and Amazing Website Design.

Long term strategy #2: Guest blogs

This is a much simpler strategy, so we don’t need to go into so much detail here. We’ve already established how important backlinks from other websites can be for your client’s SEO. So what could be better than you writing on someone else’s blog with links back to their site? 

With this approach, the main consideration is factoring in the time to find sites to guest blog on, and then creating valuable content for that page. 

3 steps to guest blogging success

Crafting a guest blogging strategy will help you find better success for your client.

1. Find a site.

Remember domain authority? Don’t forget this factor when looking for sites to guest blog on. Do some scouting to find authoritative voices in your client’s sector. Once you have found a site, look through its existing content and make a list of subjects it hasn’t covered before, especially those that you and your client could cover well. Doing some research beforehand will help you with the next step.

off page seo: guest blog
You can find lists of blogs and sites that accept guest pitches, such as this one from Website Hosting Rating.

2. Contact them with a compelling proposal

Use email, messenger, online contact forms, or other available channels to get in touch with your chosen site and propose guesting on their blog. Spend time thinking about and crafting a compelling proposal. Remember, they need regular content that their audience will find engaging. So demonstrate in your proposal that you can provide quality content that will resonate with their audience.

3. Write and publish your blog 

Once you have been given the green light, it’s time to get writing. Keep the audience in mind and aim to provide either inspiration or practical guidance. If you can do both, even better. 

If possible, don’t forget to add links to a relevant page on your client’s site if the publisher will allow it. Think carefully about the anchor text you use for links. Google will use that text to help it understand what your client’s site is about. So instead of generic phrases like “click here,” be specific about what your site offers.

Once your article is live, don’t forget to ensure it gets promoted via your client’s social channels.

Long term strategy #3: Social content and influencers

If your client generates a lot of social content or uses influencer marketing extensively, this is a great opportunity to capitalize on what they are already doing to boost SEO. 

First up, ensure that you share extensively on your client’s social media. So, if your client has been mentioned in a forum or on a Q&A page, been featured in the press, or published on another website, make sure it’s shared to maximize the potential number of clicks you’ll get.

Then there’s influencers. Influencers are great for off page SEO because:

  1. They are open to collaboration. Influencers are looking for opportunities to promote brands they value and that fit with their audience. If you approach them with a request to share a link, there’s a good chance they will show interest.
  2. Influencers tend to move in small circles. Once you have one influencer on board, others will follow. And that means more people creating more links to your client’s pages. 
  3. Their sites usually have high domain authority. Especially in niche markets, influencers can be very well-regarded by Google.

3 steps to influencer SEO success

Influencers run businesses, so being prepared to support their business is the best way, in turn, to have them help support your client’s.

  1. Create some fantastic content and make sure that it looks great. Most social channels, and especially Instagram and Facebook, need compelling images to make the content stand out.
  2. Start following influencers in your client’s industry, and get a feel for who would be a good match for their brand.
  3. Reach out to them with some great content and ask them to share a link. This could be the start of a beautiful friendship.

You might also like: 10 Technical SEO Tips to Get the Most from an Ecommerce Website.

3 off page SEO quick fixes you can try today

As you’ve probably noticed from how much I’ve written about the strategies above, each of them will require time and effort. Think back to our relationship metaphor—building lasting, trusting relationships takes time and focus. Off page SEO is the same.

But what about the here and now? To help you get started growing your client’s off page SEO today, we have three quick fixes. Let’s take a look.

1. Writing on forums and Q&A sites and including links

This strategy will help build both your client’s SEO and their brand recognition.

Find forums relevant to your client’s industry, or search popular Q&A sites like for questions related to your client’s products. Then engage with audiences there, answering questions and providing insights. Where it is relevant, you can then add links to your client’s site, which will count as backlinks.

For best results, be sure you: 

  1. Don’t engage in every topic related to your client’s product. Target those where you have a chance of becoming a top viewed writer—this will get you the most exposure relative to the time you put in.
  2. Aim to build your client’s reputation first. If people see them as a trusted authority in their field, they will naturally ask for recommendations. Then you can provide your link.
  3. Don’t over link. People will quickly see you are just there for links. Offer education, guidance, and insight first.
off page seo: quora
Quora is an excellent resource for finding questions related to your client's industry to answer.

Why it’s great

This approach is reliable because:

  1. You’re in control. Unlike many off page SEO strategies, forums and Q&As will deliver traction if you put the time in. 
  2. It will keep you on top of the latest trends in your client’s field, and help you understand their customers’ needs better.
  3. People trust content on Q&A sites more than on your client’s website, especially when it comes to comparisons with competitor products.

We recommend getting started with Quora, the most popular internet Q&A site, though there are plenty of others out there, too. Another great tool is Boardreader, which allows you to search for topics being discussed in forums.

2. Getting links for image attribution

From sourcing quality photos through to ensuring they don’t slow down load time, your clients do a lot to create great images for their pages. You can make the most of this effort by leveraging shares of those images for their SEO.

Start by tracking down images your client’s visuals around the web using the reverse image search on Google.

This will help you to identify down any websites where your client’s images are being used. Then you can check that those sites have attributed the image to your client and have added a link back to their page. If they haven’t, get in touch with them and ask them to add a link.

Why it’s great

This approach has a couple big benefits.

  1. Instead of having to find new sites for a link, you can simply find the places that are already using your client’s content and get a link added.
  2. This can be a great way to find potential partners for link exchanges or guest blogging.

3. Link exchange (sometimes called co-marketing)

A slightly more controversial approach, done right this can be a quick and effective way to boost off page SEO. 

The approach is simple. Find companies in your client’s industry and approach them with an offer. This could be that you will include links to their site in your client’s blogs, and in return they add links to your client’s site in theirs.

For best results, consider these tips:

  1. Find companies selling complementary products. If your client sells ecological cleaning products, look for companies selling energy efficient washing machines.
  2. Don’t get greedy. Google themselves advise against “excessive” link exchange, and your client’s audiences will become suspicious too. Once you have agreed to exchange links, only do it a couple of times.

Why it’s great

There are a couple strengths to link exchanging:

  1. It’s another opportunity to build relationships and partnerships. 
  2. It’s relatively low effort, and can boost the volume of backlinks.

It’s best to do your own research into where to start with link exchanges, but sites such as The Link Exchange offer a directory of sites currently engaged in it. 

Grow your business with the Shopify Partner Program

Whether you offer marketing, customization, or web design and development services, the Shopify Partner Program will set you up for success. Join for free and access revenue share opportunities, tools to grow your business, and a passionate commerce community.

Sign up

Transforming your client’s off page SEO

Now you’re armed with 3 industry verified long term strategies, plus 3 quick fixes, all of which will turbo power your client’s off page SEO.

I advise picking one long term strategy and 2 short term strategies for starters. The ones you pick might depend on your client’s store type. For example, if they’re a fashion or cookery store, your best option might be this combination:

  • Long term strategy: Social content and influencer marketing
  • Short term strategy: Writing on forums and Q&A sites with links
  • Short term strategy: Getting links for image attribution

However, if they’re selling tech products or specialist apparel, the following might suit better:

  • Long term strategy: Guest blogs
  • Short term strategy: Writing on forums and Q&A sites with links
  • Short term strategy: Link exchanges

Whichever you choose, remember off page SEO is all about building relationships—so take your time and value every new partner or connection.

What is your best advice for off page SEO? Share your thoughts below.

Grow your business with the Shopify Partner Program

Learn more