In-depth SEO Off-Site Optimization Tutorial

So, you’ve taken your time and have come up with a concrete, effective on-site optimization strategy for your website. After implementing all of the important SEO-related techniques – and using them continually, day after day – it is time to really maximize the potential of a full-fledged SEO campaign. If you think that the work is done once you craft an efficient on-site optimization process, think again: you have to turn to off-site optimization to get the most bang for your buck. In this article, we will take a look at the most important things to keep in mind when undertaking an off-site optimization strategy. Step by step, we will take an in depth look into the various ways to execute off-site optimization successfully.

Backlinks: The Cornerstone of any Successful Off-Site Optimization Strategy

Anyone who is familiar with executing a successful off-site optimization strategy knows that nothing matters more than backlinks. Backlinks – or links around the Internet that refer people directly to your website – can improve and enhance your search engine rankings to a remarkable degree. To search engines, the more backlinks a site has, the more reputable it appears to be. Any search engine that hopes to be a success must direct people to sites that will help them find what they’re looking for; backlinks serve as excellent endorsements of a site’s reputation.

Not all backlinks are created equal, though. To achieve the best off-site optimization possible, you need to work towards receiving backlinks from certain kinds of sites. Search engines place more credibility on some sites over others. For example:

  • Similarly Themed Websites – Backlinks from sites that contain similar information and contain to your own shows the search engines that it’s a legitimate link. Search engines are wary of backlinks from “link mills,” or sites that offer backlinks to the highest bidder. When you have a backlink from a site that is similar to your own, it enhances your own site’s credibility. For example, if you run a website about vegetable gardens, backlinks from sites about similar themes – like about how to set up a vegetable garden – will be given more weight in the search engines than backlinks from a site about car repair would be.
  • Highly Ranked Sites – Optimally, the majority of the backlinks that your site receives should be from sites that are decently ranked on popular search engines like Google. Major search engines place more credence on backlinks from sites that are considered reputable and popular. If the majority of your backlinks come from little-known, poorly ranked sites, then they aren’t going to help you very much in terms of your off-site optimization goals.
  • Extensions Matter – A good way to to gauge whether or not a site will be a good candidate for providing a backlink to you site is what kind of extension its URL has. Usually, backlinks from sites with URL extensions like .com, .edu and .gov are given much more credibility from the search engines than backlinks on sites with URL extensions like .info or .biz. Aim for backlinks from sites with optimal URL extensions, and your off-site optimization will go much more smoothly.

How Can you Increase your Site’s Number Of Backlinks?
With all of that said, you’re probably itching to know precisely how to increase the number of backlinks your site has. That’s good, because increasing your number of backlinks is the nucleus of any successful off-site optimization strategy – and the focus of this article. In each section, we will highlight different areas that will help you to increase the number of backlinks to your site – and show you how to achieve them in the most beneficial way possible.


Backlinking Strategy #1: Directory Submissions

Although they may not be quite as important as they once were, website directories continue to be excellent places to increase the number of backlinks to your website. Back in the earliest days of the Internet, the most popular search engines were geared around the concept of the website directory. Search engines like Yahoo! were organized by category, and they didn’t “crawl” the Internet for information about websites like they do today. Instead, the top search engines relied on site submissions by regular Internet users. Today, this concept has largely been replaced by “spiders” that crawl the Internet for data about various sites. However, you can still submit your site to numerous directories to increase the number of backlinks it has.

For off-site optimization purposes, you should consider the following hints, tips and tricks when using directory submissions to increase the number of backlinks to your website.

  • Choose Directories Of Similarly-Themed Sites – As mentioned previously, having as many backlinks as possible from sites with similar themes to your own can dramatically enhance your off-site optimization campaign. Therefore, you should track down as many directories that are geared toward your specific kind of website as possible. Taking our earlier example, if you run a website about vegetable gardens then you should seek out directories that list gardening-related websites. First of all, those directories are much likelier to happily include a link to your site; secondly, the backlinks that are generated will be more credible – and they’ll benefit your site much more.
  • Select Reputable, High Quality Directories – When choosing directories to submit your website to, it pays to be at least a little bit choosy. Simply submitting your site to every single directory you stumble across is not only inefficient – it can hurt your backlinking campaign by raising red flags with the major search engines. Work toward submitting your site only to high quality, reputable directories; for example, choose directories that have a decent rank in the search engines themselves. The backlinks that are generated will be far more beneficial to your off-site optimization campaign in the long run.
  • Watch Out For “NOFOLLOW” Directories – In an attempt to keep search engines from marking them as spam, some directories use a little snippet of code that can render your backlinking attempts completely useless. It’s known as “NOFOLLOW,” and it essentially directs the search engines that crawl these directories not to include or consider the outgoing links on the site. In other words, even if you receive a decent backlink on such a site, it won’t do you any favors with the search engines. You can quickly determine whether a directory works this way by checking their source code for the string “rel=nofollow.”
  • Manual Submissions Versus Automated Submissions – Depending on how much time you have – and how much control you prefer to have over submitting your site to various directories – you may choose to either manually submit it or pay for software or an online service that will automate the process for you. Manually submitting your site obviously involves more time, but it allows you to more carefully pick and choose where your site is submitted. For off-site optimization purposes – and for the best backlinks – manual submissions are probably the best way to go.
  • Fine Tune Your Submissions For Maximum Impact – Every website directory is different, but most allow you to specify a description for your site, as well as the anchor text that will be used for the backlink. Take this opportunity to use a finely honed description that includes as many appropriate keywords as possible. Similarly, choose anchor text that really packs a wallop and that will enhance your off-site optimization goals to the utmost degree.


Backlinking Strategy #2: Article Directory Submissions

Article directories are excellent places to work on improving the number of backlinks to your site – and for improving your overall off-site optimization strategy, as well. The basic idea behind these directories is that people submit articles that they have written on topics that they are familiar with. In return, many of these directories allow the author to include links to their own personal or business website. There are hundreds of different article directories to choose from; the advice concerning which ones to use is very similar to the advice about website directories: select article directories that are reputable, highly ranked and relevant to the subject and theme of your website.

The key to achieving excellent backlinks via article directory submissions lies in the quality of the articles that you choose to submit. You’ll either have to write these articles yourself, or hire someone else to do it for you. If you choose to do it yourself, there are a handful of very important tips that can help you write an article that will be successful in the article directories; by successful, we mean that it may even be republished elsewhere, and that it will generate direct traffic and additional backlinks, too. Read on below to learn a few tips about getting the most out of the articles that you submit for your off-site optimization strategy.

  • Choose A Catchy Title – The title of your article can be the thing that determines whether or not people choose to read it. By selecting a catchy, keyword-friendly title, you can increase your article’s chances of enhancing your backlinking campaign. Try looking through other articles on popular directories to get a feel for what a well-worded, catchy title looks like.
  • Make It Easy To Read – Online content needs to be easy to read in order to catch on and generate interest. Large, uninterrupted blocks of text should be considered your worst enemy. As such, create articles that include a lot of subheadings and bulleted lists that will break it up and make it easier to scan and read. Again, familiarize yourself with the way that popular articles are written by perusing the article directories for top rated examples.
  • Never Plagiarize – The number one worst thing that you could do to make your backlink campaign – and your overall off-site optimization strategy – backfire is to plagiarize. If search engines detect plagiarism, they will drop you to the bottom of the rankings. Take care when writing articles to submit to article directories to ensure that you aren’t inadvertently copying anyone else’s work.
  • Watch Your Length – Similar to making your content easy to read, you should also keep it concise. Long, drawn out articles don’t make for good Internet copy. They do little – if anything – to enhance your SEO campaign, either. Try to keep your articles to between 200 and 800 words for maximum effect.

A Note About Resource Boxes
Most article directories also allow you to include a “resource box” with the articles you submit. Within this resource box, you can include a link back to your website – the entire point of submitting the article in the first place! Take care to come up with keyword-friendly anchor text for the link back to your site. The more care you take when crafting your resource box, the higher the likelihood will be for backlinks from credible, highly ranked sources. One well-written, well designed article – with a well-executed resource box – can work wonders for your backlinking goals and really take your off-site optimization to a whole other level.


Backlinking Strategy #3: Press Release Submissions

The press release – once reserved for major businesses and strictly sent out to a handful of the most prominent, popular media giants – has become a major tool in the world of search engine optimization. Anyone who is working on a full-fledged SEO campaign for their website absolutely must include press releases as a part of their well-crafted strategy. The benefits of using press releases are enormous: they can generate a substantial number of backlinks for you, draw people directly to your site and spur media interest in your product or service. Thanks to the many popular press release sites available today, it’s easy to include press releases as a part of your overall off-site optimization campaign.

What Is A Press Release?
Basically, a press release is a short notice that announces or calls attention to a new product, service or other noteworthy bit of news. It is used to alert the media – and the Internet – to the presence of something that they may want to investigate further. Unlike articles, press releases are always very short and concise. They also follow a very specific, set format that should generally be adhered to in order to be accepted on most press release directories. When done correctly, a press release can – and should – include a link to your website where interested readers can learn more.

Designing A Press Release With Off-Site Optimization In Mind
It is important to bear in mind that any press release you write should adhere to the specific format of a professional press release. Therefore, we are going to outline the basic parts of a press release for you below so that you can get the most benefits out of the ones that you submit to directories on the Internet.

  • Make It Newsworthy – Always write your press release around a truly newsworthy topic; never submit a general press release that brings nothing new to the table. For example, you could write a press release about a brand new product or service that your company will be offering. Alternatively, you could write one about the launch of a new or revamped website. The key is to make it interesting so it will be passed along.
  • Design The Body Of Your Press Release The Right Way – Ideally, the body – or main part – of your press release should include two to four paragraphs. It should be written from a third-person point of view. In other words, it should sound like an article you would read in a newspaper. Your press release should never be written in the first person, where you promote your product, service or blog from your own point of view.
  • Create A Worthwhile Boilerplate – Any well designed press release will include a boilerplate. A boilerplate is, basically, a spot on the press release that contains general information about you and your company (if applicable). You provide your contact information here, so that interested parties can contact you for more information. Also, it is where the link back to your site – and its accompanying anchor text – will be located. Please note that many press release directories charge a premium if you want to include your own anchor text. However, it is well worth the small fee because the backlinks that are generated are exceptionally conducive to an effective off-site optimization strategy.
  • Submit Your Press Release Multiple Places – For the best chances of generating a lot of really good backlinks, submit your press release to multiple directories. This increases your chances of increasing traffic to your site – and helps boost your rankings with the search engines.


Backlinking Strategy #4: Commenting On Blogs And Online Forums

Thanks to the proliferation of blogs and online forums these days, there are many great opportunities for spreading the word about your website – and for generating excellent backlinks. No successful off-site optimization campaign is complete without at least a little bit of participation in focused blogs and online forums. By making it a habit to contribute a comment or two to a handful of carefully selected forums and blogs every day, you can build up an impressive roster of backlinks in a natural, organic way. But how do you go about posting the right kinds of comments – and how do you know which blogs and forums to participate in? Read on.

Finding The Right Forum
Ideally, you want to find a forum that revolves around the topic or theme of the website that you’re looking to promote. If you own and run a site about vegetable gardening, then, it makes sense to track down forums that discuss that topic. The best way to find forums that you can participate in – and be welcome at – is by searching for the topic in question and the word “forum” in one of the major search engines. Compile a list of the top three to five results, then take a closer look at each one. You’ll need to choose one or two that will really help you achieve the best off-site optimization possible.

The right forum will, first of all, not use the “NOFOLLOW” tag. Search for it within the page source code by looking for “rel=nofollow.” That way, you don’t waste your time with a site that won’t generate any usable backlinks. Second of all, choose forums that are very active and that have a lot of current discussions and a decent number of participants. You can get a feel for how popular a forum is by looking around for a bit. There’s no point in participating on a forum that no one reads!

Using The Forum To Generate Backlinks
Most reputable forums have very strict rules about “spam,” or people who blatantly advertise their site, product or service. Therefore, you should only put a link to your site within the signature file that gets attached to each of your posted comments. As for the comments you write, make them thoughtful, informative and germane to the topic at hand. By building up a good reputation on a popular forum, you can see the number of backlinks to your site explode.

What About Blogs?
Like forums, you need to track down blogs that are based around your particular niche. Again, look for blogs that are popular – you can usually track down statistics for them quite easily, plus you can get an idea based on how many others comment regularly. Sign up for an RSS feed to blogs that you want to comment, then keep up with them. Read each entry thoughtfully, then post interesting or even thought provoking comments, along with a link to your site. With any luck, these comments will be well received and will go on to generate a lot of backlinks for you – and your off-site optimization strategy will be fleshed out even more as a result.


Backlinking Strategy #5: Social Bookmarking Sites

Since they first became popular a couple of years ago, social bookmarking sites have become an important part of any well designed and well executed off-site optimization campaign. In case you are unaware of what social bookmarking sites are, think of them simply as places where you can share your bookmarks to sites that you find interesting, informative or entertaining around the Internet. Much as you would bookmark a page that you’d like to refer back to later on in your web browser, you use a social bookmarking site to do the same thing – except at the same time, you let others know about it. When enough people on a social bookmarking site bookmark a website, blog or article, it grows in popularity – and more and more people check it out.

Social Bookmarking Site:
The undisputed “big daddy” of social bookmarking sites is The premise for the site is simple: users “digg” a site by clicking on a link. The more “diggs” a site receives, the higher it is pushed up on the rankings at Considering that is currently the 123rd most visited site on the Internet, any site that receives a favorable Digg rating receives a lot of attention. You can sign up for then submit your site to it for consideration by its users. You can include links to specific pages of your site, along with appropriate anchor text. You can also add buttons to your site that prompt people to “Digg” your site, increasing its rankings on the popular social bookmarking website. You simply can’t ignore if you want to execute an effective off-site optimization campaign.

Social Bookmarking Site:
Like, you can sign up for an account on and submit your site to it. The twist on this site, though, is that it generates recommendations for users based on what they like. Therefore, getting your site on its radar can prompt it to recommend your site to people around the Internet. It is a very powerful tool for enhancing your off-site optimization goals, and the popularity of your site can snowball based on just a handful of people “liking” it.

Social Bookmarking Site: is a much less structured kind of social bookmarking site. Instead of categorizing specific web pages, it simply allows users to classify them based on tags. Then, people browsing the site can click on tags that interest them and look through the top recommended sites. If your site is about vegetable gardening, then, getting it tagged with things like “gardening” and “planting vegetables” will help increase its visibility – and it is a very useful way of enhancing your off-site optimization and backlinking strategies.

Get In On The Social Bookmarking Game
In addition to the examples highlighted above, there are hundreds – or even thousands – of different social bookmarking sites on the Internet today. Some of them are geared toward specific niches or genres, so you should explore around and see if there are any active, popular social bookmarking pages specific to the theme of your website. If so, getting a recommendation on such a site can make a major difference in the success of your off-site optimization performance – and it can held tremendously with your backlinking goals, too.


Backlinking Strategy #6: A Note about Buying Links

A relatively new phenomenon that is sweeping the world of SEO and off-site optimization strategy is called “buying links.” When many people first hear about this, they think it sounds like a marvelous idea: for a small amount of money, you can pay certain sites to put up links to your own site. It’s marketed as a quick, easy way to increase the number of backlinks to your website – without having to put in all of the “dirty work” outlined in previous section of this guide. However, buying links can backfire on you just as surely as plagiarism can; Google has already made it clear that they can – and do – penalize sites that engage in this shady practice.

As attractive as the notion of buying links may sound to you, keep in mind that nothing works better than doing things the “old fashioned” way: through sound backlinking strategies. By using article directories, site directories, social bookmarking sites, press releases and participating in online forums and blogs, you can generate buzz for your site the natural way. Your backlinks won’t be considered “shady,” and you won’t be penalized by the major search engines, either.

Like anything else, creating and executing a successful off-site optimization plan takes time, hard work and persistence. The phenomenon of buying links highlights why taking shortcuts just isn’t very smart practice. Although working through the tried-and-true methods highlighted in previous sections of this guide might seem tiresome, it’s important to bear in mind that with every article you submit, every press release you send out and every forum you participate in, you are planting the seeds that will one day grow into legitimate, reputable backlinks. Today’s search engines recognize legitimacy when they see it, and they reward you with higher rankings as a result.

Avoid Buying Links, Promote Your Off-Site Optimization Goals The Right Way

By getting into the habit of promoting your backlinking efforts the right way, you can enhance the reputation of your site and increase your search engine rankings in a straightforward, natural way. All of the hard work that you put in right now – all of the social bookmarking that you engage in, and all of the advice you give on various blogs and forums, for example – will come back and be handsomely rewarded. Getting the ball rolling on any off-site optimization campaign is the hard part; once you’ve got it going, you’ll find that keeping it up is easier than expected.

In fact, once you become a “natural” at off-site optimization, the benefits it generates will compel you to keep moving ever onward with it. Between your off-site optimization techniques, your successful backlinking campaign and your well-designed on-site optimization and other SEO practices, your website will be a true force to be reckoned with in terms of search engine rankings. In the end, you will have a site that draws in a ton of traffic for you – and the increasing popularity of your site will enhance its rankings even more. It’s a snow ball effect of the very best kind – one that benefits you and your ultimate SEO goals.


Integrate On-Site Optimization With Off-Site Optimization

Now that you’ve successfully conducted both on-site and off-site optimization, you’re sure to find that your rankings with the search engines have skyrocketed. Remember that one of the most important things about using SEO successfully is to keep up with it; always work on fine tuning your site for the best possible on-site optimization. At the same time, keep up with all of the off-site optimization techniques highlighted above in order to keep your backlinks rolling in. After all, keeping up with a well-executed off-site optimization strategy is much easier than coming up with a new one all over again.

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