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Ranking Factors: Offsite


Not all search engine ranking factors are based on the content on a brand’s own website. Offsite ranking factors can influence a brand’s rankings within search engine results pages (SERPs) as well. Google’s ranking algorithms are always changing, but generally speaking, brands should be integrating both onsite and offsite search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to boost their rankings on SERPs.


Search engines like Google and Bing will take multiple factors into consideration as they determine a website’s popularity, relevance, and authority. Most of those factors come from your own website, which we refer to as onsite ranking factors. Offsite ranking factors come into play when search engines look at other reputable sources of information outside your own website to help determine how you should rank.


Offsite ranking factors also refer to the factors that help your business rank as an entity on properties like Google Maps and Yelp. Here, it isn’t a question of your website’s rank in relation to other websites, but rather your business’s rank in a list of similar businesses.


Backlinks from reputable websites have long been one of the most popular and effective offsite SEO practices. You should encourage people to share your content and link to your brand elsewhere on the web. A few of the most common resources that search algorithms take into account as they determine how websites will rank for certain keywords are local listings, social media platforms, and other authoritative websites.


Which Offsite Ranking Factors Matter the Most?


The most common offsite ranking factors are:


  • Inbound links
  • Social signals
  • Online reputation


Trustworthiness, relevance, and page authority all play a role in determining how much weight search engines places on off-page factors for SERPs. The more backlinks a brand has from high-quality websites, the higher the brand’s own webpages will usually rank on Google.


Search algorithms use backlinks to indicate the quality of the website that’s being linked to. The three main types of backlinks are:


  • Natural links
  • Manually-built links
  • Citations


Citations are created when you add your business to a local listings directory or when you include a link to your business in a forum or blog post. These are the easiest links to accumulate, and as a result, they aren’t given as much weight in search algorithms as natural links that are editorially given or manually-built links, which are acquired through link-building activities like asking influencers to share content on their own websites. Be cautious about manually built links, since they must be created according to Google’s guidelines in order to avoid being viewed as spam. Never pay for links.


The trustworthiness and the popularity of the linking website matter a great deal. The more authority the linking domain and page have, the more weight Google and other search engines will give to the website.


In addition to building backlinks on reputable websites, brands can use social signals, guest blogging, and influencer marketing to improve their search ranking positions. Social signals include likes and shares on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.



Online reputation, which includes reviews on popular websites like Yelp and word-of-mouth referrals, will influence a brand’s SERP performance as well.


What About Local Ranking?


The factors that influence the ranking of your business within local search tools like Google Maps, Apple Maps, Yelp, Bing Local, and others are significantly different from the factors that influence website ranking. At a basic level, local ranking (especially on Google) is determined by three factors:


  • Proximity
  • Relevance
  • Prominence


Proximity means how close your business is to the physical location of the searcher. With the growth of mobile search, proximity has become the most important ranking factor in local searches, but it’s also the hardest factor to rank for. The other two factors are more under the business’s control.


Relevance relates to whether your business fits whatever the user is looking for. Business name and category matches are the primary drivers of relevance, but Google is also looking more and more at secondary signals such as popular phrases in reviews, products and services mentioned on your website, or products you sell through Local Inventory Ads. Photos are indicators of relevance too, since Google is now returning photo content from listings for relevant product searches.


Prominence refers to indications that your business might be the best choice for a particular search. Number of reviews and average rating are some of the most important indicators of prominence.



To maximize your brand’s use of offsite ranking factors, you can work with a company like SOCi.


Learn how SOCi can help take your
localized marketing to the next level.