Off Page Optimizations - SEO Tutorial

Off page optimizations consist entirely of link building strategies. Because it entails third parties, you will often be limited in how much control you can exert. However, knowing what the search engines are looking for can assist you to optimize those opportunities where you do have control.

Search engines evaluate pages that link to yours for relevance. Having a link from a page discussing widget training services will be more helpful to a widget storefront than a link from "Joe Bob's Land of a Million Free Links". In addition to relevance that search engines will appreciate, links from topically related sites can and will drive traffic to your site in their own right.

General Advice for Maximizing the Value of Links

Every link is a good link, but some links are better than others. When soliciting links from link partners, directories or other venues, you should keep the following in mind:

  • Always link to your home page using your domain name root. Do not link to the page name of the default home page. For example, all home page links on this site link to and not Of course, the filename should be included when linking to pages other than the home page.
  • Maintain consistency in using the www. prefix in the URL. Search engines treat and as two different sites.
  • Use your keywords/keyphrases as/in the anchor text for all links whenever appropriate. You usually do not have much control over 3rd party links to your site, but you can control the anchor text for all links within your site and from any 3rd party links that you can define/edit.

Link Building Campaigns

With a new site, it can be helpful to engage in a link building campaign to get your site some immediate exposure. As your site matures and develops more content, you will find that other sites will start linking to it without solicitations.

There are several avenues you can pursue to expand your link building campaign:

  • free directories - Crawling search engines use these human edited directories to find (and categorize) websites. Be sure you get listings for all directories that are applicable:
    • DMOZ - largest free directory. Used by Google to power the Google directory. It can take a long time (months in some cases) for an application to be processed, so patience is golden when applying to DMOZ.
    • WebSavvy
    • JoeAnt - You must apply to become an editor if you do not want to pay for inclusion.
    • Gimpsy - Only accepts sites that offer some interactive features. Be sure to check their guidelines before applying.
    • Zeal - Only accepts non-commercial sites.
    When applying to these directories, comply with their instructions and make it as easy as possible for their editors to approve your submission(s). Consider becoming an editor for some directories and you might get the ability to fast-track your own submissions.
  • themed portals - Look for magazines, discussion forums, targeted vertical directories, etc. that pertain to your niche. Request listings where appropriate.
  • press releases / articles - Many websites will be happy to publish a press release or content article and include a link back to your site.
  • industry organizations - Many non-profit organizations offer directories of their membership with links to their websites. Join as many as make sense for your venture.
  • participate in discussion forums - Many internet discussion forums allow hyperlinks in "signature files". Participate in discussions and offer advice and wisdom. Do not spam forums with blatant advertising. This will reflect poorly on you as well as possibly get you banned from the forum.
  • set up a search engine friendly affiliate program - offer commissions on sales of your product(s) for others to advertise your wares and link to your site.
  • RSS news feeds - publish company news though RSS syndication. Other websites pick up the RSS feed and publish your news story (which can include a link back to your site, of course).
  • paid advertising - There are many directories (like Yahoo), portals and websites that offer paid advertising options from text links to banners.

Find more link building ideas.

Reciprocal Links

You can use the search engines to find websites that might link to you. Search on your keywords and your competitors' backlinks to find sites that link out to websites in your industry. Visit those sites and try to determine the owner's name (or a manager as appropriate). Send them a personalized e-mail introducing them to your site. Request consideration for a listing on their links page (and include the URL for that page) where your website would be of value to their audience.

Many owners/managers/webmasters will be happy to link to your site if it is germane, quality and useful to their audience. Some might request reciprocation. If their site is useful for visitors to your site, you should consider reciprocating. We do not recommend trading links with websites that have no topical connection to your site. It looks unprofessional and some search engines may be starting to penalize sites for it.

When you solicit a link from another site, be sure to format your requested link to conform to the format published on the target link page. Be sure to use your keyphrases whenever descriptions are published next to links.

As you generate backlinks with keyword rich anchor text or from related authority sites, you will be maximizing your off page optimizations.

Outsourcing Link Building Campaigns

Measuring Up now offers very reasonable link building services for website designers, SEO/SEM consultants, and "do-it-yourself" webmasters.