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On-Page vs. Off-Page SEO: Different but Equally Important



On-Page vs. Off-Page SEO: Different but Equally Important

The difference between on-page SEO and off-page SEO is that they aim at two different sets of SEO factors. The first one focuses on impacting SEO factors occurring on a page, while the latter focuses on factors outside of a page.

Infographic illustrating differences between on-page and off-page SEO

How to know which one your website needs more? Read on to learn:

On-page SEO (also called on-site SEO) is the practice of optimizing webpages to rank higher on search engines. It includes optimizations to visible content and the HTML source code.

Example tactic – Finding relevant subtopics

If your page struggles to rank in the top 10, one of the reasons may be that it lacks the information that searchers are looking for. To find out if that is the case, you’ll need to compare topics covered by top-ranking pages against topics covered by you.

You can automate this process using Ahrefs’ Content Gap tool. This tool shows you keywords that target pages rank for but you don’t.

Content Gap tool to find guest blogging-related keywords Ahrefs' competitors rank for but the Ahrefs blog doesn't Content Gap tool to find guest blogging-related keywords Ahrefs' competitors rank for but the Ahrefs blog doesn't

Step 1. Insert URLs of the pages you want to compare and hit “Show keywords.”

List of keywords with corresponding data like volume, KD, etcList of keywords with corresponding data like volume, KD, etc

Step 2. Find topics that your content lacks. In our example, that can be definitions of guest blogging and guest post.

Off-page SEO embodies any efforts implemented outside of a website to improve its search engine rankings.

Example tactic – Finding link building prospects

Backlinks are one of the most important ranking factors (more on this later). You can earn them organically, and you can also “build” them.

There are many link building tactics out there. One of them is looking for linking patterns among your competition so that you can get links from the same websites. For that, you will need a backlink checking tool.

Since links from new websites are likely to move the ranking needle the most (i.e., sites that don’t link to you yet), the best way to see linking patterns is to find websites that link to your competitors but not to you. You can do that easily with Ahrefs’ Link Intersect tool.

Link Intersect tool to find websites that link to Ahrefs' competitors but not to Ahrefs Link Intersect tool to find websites that link to Ahrefs' competitors but not to Ahrefs

Step 1. Plug in URLs you want to compare.

Link Intersect report resultsLink Intersect report results

Step 2. Browse through domains in the results. Click on the number of backlinks to pages with links to your competitors.

Why are on-page SEO and off-page SEO important?

On-page SEO and off-page SEO are basically two sides of the same coin. SEO is most effective when practiced with both because Google uses ranking factors that occur on your pages and outside of them. 

Depending on your needs, you can sometimes focus more on one of those SEO types. But you probably shouldn’t focus on only one of them all of the time.

What factors impact on-page SEO?

In this section, I will cover some of the most important things you should look after to rank higher on the SERPs (search engine results pages) and attract more clicks to your content.

Note: I’ll talk about known ranking factors and factors that can increase your SERP visibility and, consequently, attract more site visitors.

See On-Page SEO: The Beginner’s Guide for more about on-page SEO. 

Search intent

Search intent refers to the reason behind the search. It’s one of the strongest ranking factors.

Utilizing search intent in SEO is about discovering what searchers want to get when they plug in a search query and then providing that information.

Search intent is arguably the most important factor for on-page SEO. After all, providing searchers with relevant and useful information is what search engines need to do every second.

Line graph showing organic traffic spike once one of our pages was updated to match search intentLine graph showing organic traffic spike once one of our pages was updated to match search intent

Organic traffic to one of our pages before matching search intent and after.

Optimizing your content for search intent comes down to looking at the search result pages for a particular query and identifying the three Cs of search intent:

  • Content type – What is the dominating type of content? Is it a blog post, product page, video, or something else?
  • Content format – Some common formats include how-to guides, list posts, reviews, comparisons, etc.
  • Content angle – The unique selling point of the content piece, e.g., “best,” “cheapest,” and “for beginners.”

Once you identify the three Cs of search intent, you should have a pretty good idea of what type of content Google “recommends” to its users for particular search queries.

Recommended reading: Searcher Intent: The Overlooked ‘Ranking Factor’ You Should Be Optimizing For 

Content quality

Search intent is critical, but utilizing it won’t be enough to create “useful and compelling content.” You also need to take care of your content’s quality. Here’s what Google has to say about what it looks for in content:

Except of article stating Google's emphasis on content qualityExcept of article stating Google's emphasis on content quality

It seems as though Google aims to embed the same attributes that readers value in any piece of content in its algorithms. And according to Google, it’s content that’s:

  • Easy to read.
  • Clearly organized.
  • Fresh.
  • Unique.
  • Aligned with E-A-T guidelines.
  • Focused on providing essential information to solve a searcher’s problem.

But in practice, you also need to create better content than your competition. And we’ve got an entire video that explains how to increase your chances of achieving that:


URLs are a small ranking factor. They bear so little weight in ranking websites that Google’s John Mueller said they are overrated in SEO and that people shouldn’t worry about them.

However, Google’s SEO guidelines mention URLs as something you should optimize. But you should do it for the user and not for Google.

This is because the user can see the URL both in the address bar and on the SERPs. And based on that information, users a) can choose to click on some results over the others and b) know where they are on the website.

So basically, this is what an unfriendly URL looks like:

As you can see, the example website doesn’t use HTTPS; also, the URL has an overly nested structure and doesn’t really indicate what the page is about:

And here is its user-friendly alternative:

To learn more about the use of URLs in SEO, check out our guide: How to Create SEO-Friendly URLs (Step-by-Step).

Page titles

Page titles are another small ranking factor. Google uses them to understand what your page is about to better match the intent behind a given search query.

Except of a Google SERP showing title "Keyword Difficulty: How to Estimate Your Chances to Rank"Except of a Google SERP showing title "Keyword Difficulty: How to Estimate Your Chances to Rank"

This title is attractive and descriptive at the same time. Wouldn’t you agree?

Naturally, searches use page titles for similar reasons: to understand what they can expect from a page. And so to “satisfy” both parties, you can consider these good practices:

  • Make the title eye-catching and accurate – Write a line that piques users’ interest and accurately describes what’s unique about your offer.
  • Insert the target keyword in your title – But you should remember to make it sound natural.
  • Fit within 60 characters – Otherwise, your description may get truncated, and you’ll increase the chances of Google rewriting your title.

Recommended reading: How to Craft the Perfect SEO Title Tag (Our 4-Step Process)

Meta description

Meta descriptions are not a ranking factor. But they do appear on the SERPs (right below the title of the page), so they can impact the click-through rate (CTR).

Example of meta description on a Google SERPExample of meta description on a Google SERP

Probably the most logical choice of meta description for such a recognizable product. Apple just highlights what has changed in the latest generation of its product. Not what a MacBook Air is.

Hence, the way to optimize meta descriptions is to focus solely on the searcher. Here are some good SEO practices that matter:

  • Make the description compelling enough to entice the user to click, as long as it’s not clickbait (your reputation matters)
  • Don’t make the description longer than 920 px (try SERPSim)
  • Keep the description relevant to the title of the page (and vice versa)
  • Use a unique description for every page

Recommended reading: How to Write the Perfect Meta Description 

Outbound links

An outbound link is a link that points to a page that is not on your website.

Example of outbound links shown in Ahrefs' SEO ToolbarExample of outbound links shown in Ahrefs' SEO Toolbar

You can view external (outbound) links on any page with Ahrefs’ SEO Toolbar.

Outbound links are most probably not a ranking signal. This means that you probably shouldn’t try to shoehorn outbound links in your content in hopes of ranking higher.

What you may want to do instead is to use outbound links to cite your sources. This will help to establish the legitimacy, transparency, and accuracy of your content. In other words, by citing your sources, you’ll be aligning with the E-A-T search quality guidelines.

Schema markup

Schema markup is a code that helps search engines to understand your content and better represent it in the search results.

Example of schema markupExample of schema markup

HubSpot uses schema markup to show FAQs on the SERPs.

Example of FAQs on a Google SERPExample of FAQs on a Google SERP

Schema markup is not a ranking factor, but applying it can help your content stand out on the SERPs.

Schema markup looks like programming, but it’s nowhere near the learning curve. Adding schema markup to a page is comparable to filling out meta tags. You can use a tool like the Schema Builder extension to help you with that.

Recommended reading: What Is Schema Markup? How to Use It for SEO 

Internal links

An internal link is a link from another page on the same website.

Internal links are a ranking factor. Google utilizes internal links in a number of ways:

  • To discover new pages – Internal links provide a crawl path to target pages.
  • To pass link equity between your pages – Internal linking can boost other pages you own.
  • To understand what a page is about – Understanding the content of your pages helps Google rank them. That’s why the anchor text of the internal link matters too.

And let’s not forget internal links help users discover content and navigate your website.

For all of the reasons above, you shouldn’t neglect internal linking. It’s best if you add internal links as you create new content or even strategically plan them through a content hub. And remember, it’s never too late to add internal links to your existing content.

Recommended reading: Here’s Why You Should Prioritize Internal Linking in 2022 

Page UX

The user experience (UX) of a website can mean different things to different people. To UX designers, it means the overall impression of a website. But in SEO, the UX of a page or website refers especially to its usability. It basically means maintaining a clutter-free, distraction-free, and easy-to-use user interface.

Usually, UX improvements should be applied to the entire website, not just webpages. However, if you want to keep pages with unique layouts, keep in mind that a different design means a different experience.

So here’s what to look out for:

  • Avoid intrusive pop-ups – These include sign-up forms, exit forms, etc. Do the same for any banners that shift the layout (refer to Google’s guidelines on interstitials).
  • Make sure your important pages aren’t sluggish – You should optimize for Core Web Vitals.
  • Make sure your website’s layout is clear, consistent, and usable – Try your best not to overload the user’s cognitive capacity.
  • Optimize your website for mobile devices – Website traffic coming from mobile devices accounts for slightly more than 50%. On top of that, Google indexes and ranks content based on mobile versions of the websites (mobile-first indexing).

Is UX a ranking factor? It seems that there are two factors that can impact your rankings here: Core Web Vitals and mobile-friendliness.

When pages have similar content, Google can use page experience signals to rank them—but those won’t be drastic ranking changes. Pages not optimized for mobile or slow pages can still rank.

Recommended reading: How Page Experience Ranking Factors Actually Work 

What factors impact off-page SEO?

As with on-page SEO, I will talk about factors that are known to impact rankings directly and factors that don’t but otherwise can get you more visibility and organic clicks. 

For a detailed guide about off-page SEO, see Off-Page SEO: What It Is and Why It’s Important.  


Backlinks are the foundation of Google’s PageRank, a mathematical formula that judges the “value of a page” by looking at the quantity and quality of other pages that link to the said page. Along with search intent, backlinks are one of the most critical ranking factors.

Generally speaking, the more backlinks (from unique websites) a page has, the higher its chances of outranking its competitors on the SERPs.

Line graph showing the more a page's backlinks, the more keywords the page has that rank in the top 100Line graph showing the more a page's backlinks, the more keywords the page has that rank in the top 100

And also, the more backlinks a page has, the more the amount of organic search traffic that lands on that page:

Line graph showing the more backlinks a page has, the more the amount of organic traffic it hasLine graph showing the more backlinks a page has, the more the amount of organic traffic it has

But not all backlinks will impact your rankings equally. You can judge a backlink by these six traits:

Infographic showing linked chains with the six traits that indicate a good backlinkInfographic showing linked chains with the six traits that indicate a good backlink
  1. Authority – If we think of links as votes, then pages with more votes will pass a stronger vote to other pages.
  2. Relevance – Here’s how Google puts it: “If other prominent websites on the subject link to the page, that’s a good sign that the information is of high quality.”
  3. Anchor text – Like internal links, the anchor texts of backlinks help Google understand the context of the target page.
  4. Follow vs. nofollow – “Nofollow” is an attribute that tells Google not to take a link into account for ranking purposes. The “follow” attribute is its opposite. Generally, the “followed” links will have more impact. All links are “follow” by default unless specified differently.
  5. Placement – Links that have a higher chance of being clicked (e.g., links in the content, links placed higher on a page) will likely pass more authority.
  6. Destination – Links can increase the ranking of the specific page that they link to. But you can pass some of that link equity to other pages through internal linking.

NAP citations

NAP (name, address, phone) citations are online mentions of your business that display your business name, address, and phone number.

Example of NAP citations for Trader Joe's Example of NAP citations for Trader Joe's

NAP citations are probably a ranking factor that counts for localized organic search results (learn more here and here). However, they may not carry a lot of weight:

Bar graph showing percentage of SEOs who think citations are most important ranking factor for "map pack" and "regular" results, respectivelyBar graph showing percentage of SEOs who think citations are most important ranking factor for "map pack" and "regular" results, respectively

Apart from the possibility of helping you rank on the SERPs, NAP citations will definitely help users find your local business. So here’s a quick list of good practices you can follow:

  • Get listed with big data aggregators – For example, Foursquare. That’s where a lot of local data providers get their data.
  • Submit to the big players – These are Apple Maps, Yelp, Bing Places, Facebook, etc.
  • Submit to other popular directories in your local area and industry 
  • Keep your citations consistent – You should also align them with the guidelines (like this one from Google).

Google Business Profile (previously Google My Business)

Whether a Google Business Profile (GBP) is a ranking factor is not even the right question here. The GBP is simply the requirement for getting featured in Google’s map pack.

For the record, a map pack shows GBPs close to the area relating to your search query (or based on your location). Search results located below the map pack are called localized organic results.

Example of a map pack and local organic searches on GoogleExample of a map pack and local organic searches on Google

Map pack showing GBPs of vets in Mountain View.

Does a GBP affect rankings of the results found below the map pack? Most SEO professionals say “no.”

Bar graph showing percentage of SEOs who think GBP is most important ranking factor for "map pack" and "regular" results, respectivelyBar graph showing percentage of SEOs who think GBP is most important ranking factor for "map pack" and "regular" results, respectively

But on the whole, if your business operates locally, you will definitely want to get a GBP. It allows Google to display your business in the map pack, and it makes it easier for customers to find you and get in touch.

On top of that, a GBP helps with getting reviews from customers, which is next on our list.

Recommended reading: How to Optimize Your Google My Business Listing in 30 Minutes 

Reviews (and ratings)

Let’s look at another factor that impacts the map pack: customer reviews.

Here’s probably the most accurate way of explaining this: Customer reviews are a ranking factor impacting the order of results in the map pack, but they probably bear little importance for localized organic results.

Bar graph showing percentage of SEOs who think reviews are most important ranking factor for "map pack" and "regular" results, respectivelyBar graph showing percentage of SEOs who think reviews are most important ranking factor for "map pack" and "regular" results, respectively

Does Google take into account every piece of customer feedback on a business? Hard to say. Your best bet here is to pay special attention to reviews on your GBP and trusted third-party sites (G2, Capterra, Yelp, etc.).

As in life, positive reviews will have a positive effect, and negative reviews will have a negative effect on your ranking.

Let’s not forget that rankings and ratings are clearly visible on the SERPs and will definitely leave an impression on the searchers.


You can add rating markup to your schema so that Google may (or may not—it’s up to the search engine) show it in the organic search results.

Example of ratings under a result on Google SERPExample of ratings under a result on Google SERP

Final thoughts

On-page SEO and off-page SEO already seem like a lot to take in, but it’s not the entire landscape of SEO. You will probably come across other types or subdisciplines of SEO, such as technical SEO, local SEO, multilingual SEO, etc.

How not to get lost in all that? Try our SEO guide for beginners or our beloved YouTube channel.

Got questions? Ping me on Twitter.

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4 Tactics for High-Quality Backlinks That Move the Needle [+ Examples]



Many popular link building tactics produce low-quality links that don’t improve SEO performance.

Even if these techniques make an impact, it’s often for a short time, and Google can easily devalue them down the line. 

Here are four tactics for building high-quality links that help you stay ahead of your competition, expose your brand to new audiences, and are less likely to be devalued in future algorithm updates. 

Digital PR is the process of creating content that appeals to journalists and promoting it to them. 

If they like the content, they’ll write a feature about it or include it in a piece they’re writing. This can land you many high-quality backlinks from big sites and news publications for free.


In the months following ChatGPT’s release, Fery Kaszoni and his team at Search Intelligence compiled statistics about Open AI’s popularity since launching ChatGPT and compared it to other popular platforms like Instagram and TikTok. 

The result? 60+ free link placements, including mentions on Yahoo News (DR 92), The Wrap (DR 84), and Time magazine (DR 92). 

A few examples of backlinks earned by a piece of content about Open AI’s popularity since launching ChatGPT

In another campaign, Fery and his team calculated how much money beloved video characters would earn in real life. This campaign earned 20+ free links including a DR89 link from British newspaper, The Daily Express. 

Example of a high-DR like from Daily ExpressExample of a high-DR like from Daily Express

How to do it 

Successful Digital PR requires some creativity, but this is the process in a nutshell: 

  1. Find a trending topic 
  2. Create relevant newsworthy content around that topic 
  3. Tell journalists about it 

For example, AI has been a major topic of conversation in all industries since it launched. Any new data or insights about it would go well in news cycles while it remains a topic of interest. 

Once you have a topic, you need to come up with interesting content ideas that are relevant to your business.

The best topics for digital PRThe best topics for digital PR

This is the hard part. It’s really a case of brainstorming ideas until you land on something you think could be interesting. 

For example, here are a few random content ideas for a company that sells furniture online: 

  • Have AI refurnish rooms from popular TV shows in new styles. 
  • Have AI design a new item of furniture, create it, and sell it. 
  • Ask 100 interior designers if they’re worried about AI taking their jobs, share the data. 

After you find your winning idea, create the content, give it an attention-grabbing headline, and write a press release about the most interesting insights. 

Then, promote your content to journalists. You can try services like Roxhill or Muck Rack to find journalists who might be interested in your content. 

You can also use a tool like Ahrefs’ Content Explorer to find sites that have recently published content about your topic and reach out to them. 

Here’s how to do that: 

  1. Enter your topic into Content Explorer 
  2. Filter for pages published in the last 90 days 
  3. Filter for pages on DR70+ websites (big sites that you probably want links from) 

For example, if we do this for the topic of “chatgpt,” we see thousands of well-known websites that have recently published about ChatGPT including Business Insider, Tech Republic, and Wired. 

Finding websites that recently published about a topic with Content ExplorerFinding websites that recently published about a topic with Content Explorer

Data journalism is a way of enhancing or creating newsworthy content by analyzing unique data sets. It can fall under digital PR, though it typically requires more detailed research. 

This technique works because reporters love a good statistic they can either quote or write an opinion piece about. Be the source of such data, and you can earn many high-quality links anytime your data becomes relevant to trending news topics. 


Data journalism can be quite simple. For example, in another case study from Search Intelligence, Fery’s team used Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer as a data source for a cybersecurity PR campaign. 

The study reveals the top UK banks where customers seek help with fraud, allowing journalists to report on which banks are more secure than others. 

The data fuelling these insights is keyword search volume. That’s it. 

Ahrefs' data that fuelled a cybersecurity PR campaignAhrefs' data that fuelled a cybersecurity PR campaign

This method doesn’t take very long, doesn’t need a data scientist and can very easily be replicated in other industries where search popularity can unearth interesting insights. 

In another example (and perhaps one of our all time favorites), marketing firm Yard created a data study comparing the CO2 emissions of various celebrities and ranking the worst offenders. 

Data study on the C02 emissions of celebritiesData study on the C02 emissions of celebrities

If you follow celebrity news, there’s no way you missed reports of Taylor Swift’s private jet emissions being among the highest compared to other celebrities. 

Just a few of the thousands of posts about Taylor Swift's jet emissions following a successful data journalism campaignJust a few of the thousands of posts about Taylor Swift's jet emissions following a successful data journalism campaign

Every single one of these news stories originated from the data study. 

When the study was first released, it went viral and earned links from almost 2,000 referring domains within the first month. 

But that’s not all. 

This topic trended in news cycles again when rumours spread that Taylor Swift attended a Jets game to bury the original negative publicity about her private jet usage, earning Yard a well-deserved second round of links. 

Google Trends data for "taylor swift jet" Google Trends data for "taylor swift jet"

Today, this post has 1,861 links from 1,155 referring domains, 77% of them are dofollow, and 38.4% are higher than DR 60. 

DR distribution of backlinks to the celebrity C02 emissions content pieceDR distribution of backlinks to the celebrity C02 emissions content piece

Talk about drool-worthy results! That’s high-quality link building done right. 

How to do it 

Successful data journalism is similar to digital PR but relies on the intriguing, data-backed insights you can unearth. 

In a nutshell, the process looks like this: 

  1. Find a data-driven content angle that gets links and media attention 
  2. Gather data to provide new or updated insights on the topic 
  3. Tell journalists about your findings 

Start by considering “your money or your life” content angles that everyday folk care about. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking too narrow or pitching ideas only a small demographic may understand. 

For instance, cybersecurity is not a sexy topic journalists or their readers will likely care about. There’s also not a high degree of literacy about the topic among the general population. 

But everyone cares about whether their bank is secure and how safe their money is. 

This concept needs no explanation and that’s exactly why data that helps answer the question “how safe is your bank?” worked exceptionally well as a link building tactic in the example above. 

You can also use Content Explorer to gather more ideas like: 

  • Evergreen yet stale topics that you can update with more recent data 
  • Data you can visualize better or repurpose into a different content format 
  • Trending angles in other industries you can apply to your industry 

For example, on the topic of ChatGPT, we found Rand Fishkin’s post claiming usage has declined 29% between May and August 2023 and that 30% of its usage is by programmers. 

Finding content ideas in Content ExplorerFinding content ideas in Content Explorer

You don’t need original ideas to succeed. If you’ve got the data to back it up, you can easily take the angles of a “useage patterns” or “most popular audience segments” and apply them to popular tools in your industry. 

Some decent data sources you can start with include: 

  • Search data: Like Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer for uncovering interesting search patterns. 
  • Historical data: Like Google Trends for highlighting growth or decline patterns over time. 
  • Scientific research: Like on Google Scholar or in specific research journals. 
  • Public niche data: For instance, Yard’s study used the CelebrityJets Twitter page. 
  • Proprietary data: From within your (or your client’s) organization. 

When you find an interesting insight or pattern worth sharing, write a press release about it and share it with journalists who frequently report on the topic. 

Statistics pages are curated lists of facts and figures in a particular industry. These pages attract evergreen links for as long as the statistics remain relevant. 

It’s one of our favorite link building tactics. Here’s how we’ve used it quite successfully over the years. 


We first launched a detailed list of SEO statistics in 2020 and it has been naturally earning high-quality links ever since. 

Backlinks over time to our SEO statistics pageBacklinks over time to our SEO statistics page

Currently, the page has: 

  • 5,787 backlinks
  • 2,282 referring domains 
  • 82% “dofollow” links 
  • 37.7% from DR 60+ websites

While we used some outreach techniques in the early days, most of the success has come from the page’s ability to maintain top position rankings for competitive keywords.

Rankings for our SEO statistics pageRankings for our SEO statistics page

Do it right, and this tactic remains wildly effective for earning links naturally for many years. 

How to do it 

Start by entering a few broad topics related to your website into Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer. For example, we might enter the following for Ahrefs: 

  • SEO
  • Content marketing
  • Link building

Then navigate to the Matching Terms report and apply the inclusion filter for things like stats, statistics, facts, or figures. Make sure your filter is set to include any of these phrases. 

Then it’s just a matter of checking out the results to find a relevant topic you want to write about. 

We went for “SEO statistics”: 

Finding statistics keywords in Ahrefs' Keywords ExplorerFinding statistics keywords in Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

Once you pick your topic, it’s a just matter of curating linkworthy stats and publishing them on a page. 

While you can earn some seed links with early outreach efforts, long term success comes down to keeping your content updated with the latest data. That’s the best way to compound performance year on year, earning many high-quality links with no ongoing outreach needed. 

Relationship-based link building prioritizes long-term relationships with journalists, writers, and editors. 

It is an effective addition to digital PR campaigns as you can shortcut the time it takes to find the right people to distribute your content. 

Better yet, you can be a journalist’s first point of call when they write a story on topics you or your clients are experts in. 


Imagine having journalists contact you asking to feature your clients in upcoming stories. That’s exactly what growth marketing firm, EngineRoom, has achieved.

A journalist from Mamamia (DR 78) made a call out on Sourcebottle, the Australian equivalent of HARO, seeking expert advice on immigration law. EngineRoom’s link building expert, Don Milne, responded and won the story along with a high-quality link. 

Example of a backlink built with relationship-based link buildingExample of a backlink built with relationship-based link building

Then, the real magic started. 

Instead of ending things there, Don also shared a client list with the journalist in case they ever wanted to collaborate on future stories again. 

Sure enough, a few weeks later, the journalist reached out, asking to connect with another client in the drug rehab space to develop a story on heroin addiction. The client is featured in about 30% of the completed article with detailed quotes from the founder and (of course) a link back to their website. 

Example of a backlink built with relationship-based link buildingExample of a backlink built with relationship-based link building

No pitching. No outreach. Just a genuine partnership and collaboration now earning multiple high-quality links for their clients. 

How to do it 

This technique is all about the follow-up after you collaborate on your first story with a journalist. 

If getting the first foot in the door is where you’re stuck, you can check out our detailed guide on relationship-based link building by Irina Maltseva, the former Head of Marketing at Hunter. 

Once you get that first story, make sure you keep the relationship going. 

If you have a list of websites or clients you represent, create a professional document with a mini bio about each client. Make sure it’s also easily searchable for writers in a hurry and makes your contact details clear and easy to access. 

Then, share it with journalists, writers, and editors you collaborate with so they can refer to it in the future if they need an expert on a specific topic for their content. 

Final thoughts

Earning high-quality backlinks can be much easier than many people realize and cheaper too! All the examples shared in this post earned free link placements on high-authority websites and with minimal outreach. 

These techniques have more staying power. They are also far less likely to be seen as “link manipulation” or devalued in future Google updates. 

And, if you get your content angle just right, they also have the potential to be earning links many months, if not years, down the track! 

Got questions? Ping me on LinkedIn.

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Google To Curb Microtargeting In Consumer Finance Ads




Google To Curb Microtargeting In Consumer Finance Ads

Google is updating its policy limiting personalized advertising to include more restrictions on ads related to consumer financial products and services.

Google’s personalized ads policy prohibits targeting users based on sensitive categories like race, religion, or sexual orientation.

Over the years, Google has continued updating the policy to introduce new limitations. The latest update to restrict consumer finance ads is part of Google’s ongoing efforts to refine its ad targeting practices.

What’s Changing?

Google will update its personalized ads policy in February 2024 to prevent advertisers from targeting audiences for credit and banking ads based on sensitive factors like gender, age, parental status, marital status, or zip code.

Google’s current policy prohibiting “Credit in personalized ads” will be renamed “Consumer finance in personalized ads” under the changes.

Google’s new policy will state:

“In the United States and Canada, the following sensitive interest categories cannot be targeted to audiences based on gender, age, parental status, marital status, or ZIP code.

Offers relating to credit or products or services related to credit lending, banking products and services, or certain financial planning and management services.”

Google provided examples, including “credit cards and loans including home loans, car loans, appliance loans, short-term loans,” as well as “banking and checking accounts” and “debt management products.”

When Does The New Policy Take Effect?

The updated limitations on personalized advertising will take effect on February 28, 2024, with full enforcement expected within six weeks.

Google said advertisers in violation will receive a warning at least seven days before any account suspension.

According to Google, the policy change aims to protect users’ privacy better and prevent discrimination in financial services advertising.

However, the company will still allow generalized ads for credit and banking products that do not use sensitive personal data for targeting.

What Do Advertisers Need To Do?

Google will begin enforcing the updated restrictions in late February 2024 but advises advertisers to review their campaigns for compliance issues sooner.

Advertisers should carefully check their ad targeting settings, remove improper personalization based on sensitive categories, and adhere to the revised policy requirements.

Failure to follow the rules could lead to account suspension after an initial warning. Google will work with advertisers to ensure a smooth transition during the ramp-up period over the next six months.

Featured Image: SurfsUp/Shutterstock

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Google Discusses Fixing 404 Errors From Inbound Links




Google Discusses Fixing 404 Errors From Inbound Links

Google’s John Mueller responded to a thread in Reddit about finding and fixing inbound broken links, offering a nuanced insight that some broken links are worth finding and fixing and others are not.

Reddit Question About Inbound Broken Links

Someone asked on Reddit if there’s a way to find broken links for free.

This is the question:

“Is it possible to locate broken links in a similar manner to identifying expired domain names?”

The person asking the question clarified if this was a question about an inbound broken link from an external site.

John Mueller Explains How To Find 404 Errors To Fix

John Mueller responded:

“If you want to see which links to your website are broken & “relevant”, you can look at the analytics of your 404 page and check the referrers there, filtering out your domain.

This brings up those which actually get traffic, which is probably a good proxy.

If you have access to your server logs, you could get it in a bit more detail + see which ones search engine bots crawl.

It’s a bit of technical work, but no external tools needed, and likely a better estimation of what’s useful to fix/redirect.”

In his response, John Mueller answers the question on how to find 404 responses caused by broken inbound links and identify what’s “useful to fix” or to “redirect.”

Mueller Advises On When Not To “Fix” 404 Pages

John Mueller next offered advice on when it doesn’t make sense to not fix a 404 page.

Mueller explained:

“Keep in mind that you don’t have to fix 404 pages, having things go away is normal & fine.

The SEO ‘value’ of bringing a 404 back is probably less than the work you put into it.”

Some 404s Should Be Fixed And Some Don’t Need Fixing

John Mueller said that there are situations where a 404 error generated from an inbound link is easy to fix and suggested ways to find those errors and fix them.

Mueller also said that there are some cases where it’s basically a waste of time.

What wasn’t mentioned was what the difference was between the two and this may have caused some confusion.

Inbound Broken Links To Existing Webpages

There are times when another sites links into your site but uses the wrong URL. Traffic from the broken link on the outside site will generate a 404 response code on your site.

These kinds of links are easy to find and useful to fix.

There are other situations when an outside site will link to the correct webpage but the webpage URL changed and the 301 redirect is missing.

Those kinds of inbound broken links are also easy to find and useful to fix. If in doubt, read our guide on when to redirect URLs.

In both of those cases the inbound broken links to the existing webpages will generate a 404 response and this will show up in server logs, Google Search Console and in plugins like the Redirection WordPress plugin.

If the site is on WordPress and it’s using the Redirection plugin, identifying the problem is easy because the Redirection plugin offers a report of all 404 responses with all the necessary information for diagnosing and fixing the problem.

In the case where the Redirection plugin isn’t used one can also hand code an .htaccess rule for handling the redirect.

Lastly, one can contact the other website that’s generating the broken link and ask them to fix it. There’s always a small chance that the other site might decide to remove the link altogether. So it might be easier and faster to just fix it on your side.

Whichever approach is taken to fix the external inbound broken link, finding and fixing these issues is relatively simple.

Inbound Broken Links To Removed Pages

There are other situations where an old webpage was removed for a legitimate reason, like an event passed or a service is no longer offered.

In that case it makes sense to just show a 404 response code because that’s one of the reasons why a 404 response should be shown. It’s not a bad thing to show a 404 response.

Some people might want to get some value from the inbound link and create a new webpage to stand in for the missing page.

But that might not be useful because the link is for something that is irrelevant and of no use because the reason for the page no longer exists.

Even if you create a new reason, it’s possible that some of that link equity might flow to the page but it’s useless because the topic of that inbound link is totally irrelevant to anyting but the expired reason.

Redirecting the missing page to the home page is a strategy that some people use to benefit from the link to a page that no longer exists. But Google treats those links as Soft 404s, which then passes no benefit.

These are the cases that John Mueller was probably referring to when he said:

“…you don’t have to fix 404 pages, having things go away is normal & fine.

The SEO ‘value’ of bringing a 404 back is probably less than the work you put into it.”

Mueller is right, there are some pages that should be gone and totally removed from a website and the proper server response for those pages should be a 404 error response.

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