Off-Page Optimization is what your search marketing efforts consist of away from your website domain. Generally this involves obtaining links to your website from other websites, and can be done in a number of different ways, some more effectively than others.
Like most things in business, nothing good is free. There is always a cost in link-building. Sometimes it is a monetary cost and sometimes it is a resource cost, like your time. Here is a quick overview of some of the common linking practices and which are useful and which may be otherwise avoided. 1. Manual link building. This is high value activity, and difficult, and time consuming. In it's simplest form, this is seeking out websites with complimentary content to yours and asking them to link to you. 2. Link exchanges. Some companies offer a link exchange program where you submit your URL and description and they place on one or several of their client sites in exchange for you linking to their clients. This can be problematic, if you end up with link to your site, and links from your site, that are not well related to your site content. Always insist on knowing what sites you will be required to link to and who will be linking to you. 3. Link farms. In summary, this is a bad practice. Link farms are sites set up primarily for the purpose of linking to other sites. They have little if any original content. In the past days of SEO, these were questionable practices as the links had little value to human users of the Internet. With Google's Penguin update, sites connected to link farms have been heavily penalized. Best advice, just don't get involved. 4. Article directories, can be a good marketing tool, if they have editorial standards that are enforced and original content is involved. Like many thing, some are good, some are bad. Article submissions also are highly labor intensive, but the results can be very rewarding. 5. Blogs. Blogs are no longer the linking powerhouse they once were, but are still a good place to get your name spread farther and wider. Best practice for this is to monitor some blogs in your industry and submit posts and comments, with a tag line or a byline, linking back to your website. Stick to your industry. Don't look at the entire blogosphere as your linking playground. 6. Social media is the new buzz of the link building community, ever since Matt Cutts of Google "admitted" that Google does use links in social media as ranking signals. Follow the same guidelines here as blogs, which really are a form of social media, and comment where you have some value to add. Get involved in conversations for the purpose of the conversation, and, if appropriate, offer up a link to your pages. When pursuing an inbound link objective, link to relevant pages within your website. Don't assume that people will find the related content your home page. Links to pages deeper in your site help those pages rank better on search engines. Try to follow this simple guideline, ask yourself, "would you click this link if you found it here?". If the link to your site link seems out of place, then you should not post/ask for a link.