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November 12, 2013

Is Off-Site Search Engine Optimization Worth Doing?

In my opinion, on-site SEO is essential for every page of your site and should be something that you or your techie do by default. But off-site SEO is completely different. Google’s seemingly perpetual search engine algorithm changes make off-site search engine optimization a moving target and you need to be aware that some of the things that are fine to use today may not be fine tomorrow. No-one has a crystal ball so you just have to use common sense to decide what to do and what to avoid.

Off-site SEO falls into various categories but, in essence, it’s the practice of getting links from other sites that point back to your site.

The categories can be ranked in different ways but I think the easiest way to categorize these links is by the difficulty involved in getting them.

Easy Links

These are links that are easy to get because you’re in control of them.

Which means that articles like this one qualify as easy links – so long as the quality of the article meets the standards of the site, the link is permitted.

The same goes for links from YouTube. Once you’ve set up a channel then you can include a link in the description of the video.

Press releases are cheap to get written if you don’t care too much about the quality of the writing and they can be cheap to get distributed. So, at the low end, they qualify as easy. Real news links in real sites such as the online version of newspapers are, of course, more difficult.

Fairly Easy Links

Directories fall into this category.

In theory, they’re easy to get but in practice most of the free directories have a long waiting time before your listing is approved unless you pay some money (not often worth doing) or give them a reciprocal link back from your site.

Blog comment links are fairly easy to get – you just have to post a good, relevant, comment and then wait for it to be approved by the webmaster. The good, relevant, comment part should be second nature. It’s whether or not the webmaster approves comments at all or on a regular basis that makes this not as easy as it sounds, but it can be worth spending a bit of time on.

Medium Difficulty Links

Reciprocal links used to be easy a few years ago but nowadays finding someone who still operates with reciprocal links means they’re getting harder to find and harder to get.

Guest posts offer the option of getting a link back to your site but as well as writing the article for the other site, you have to find sites that are prepared to accept this type of post and also get your post approved for publication.

Infographics are another medium difficulty link because the construction of the image itself isn’t particularly easy. You have to do the research for the content of the graphic and then find a designer who is capable of turning it into a good quality visual.

Hard Links

In theory, these are the most valuable backlinks to obtain in your off-site SEO campaign.

Anything that isn’t available “off the shelf” qualifies here.

Which means it could be a link from a page that’s hand compiled or a mention on a popular site where it’s up to the reporter to determine what to include. You would probably have to cultivate the relationship over a number of weeks or months before you could expect anything to happen, if it ever did.

It’s up to you to decide which – if any – of these methods best fits with the aim you have for your website.

They all work but they all take time, so you need to measure the results you get over a period of time before deciding which methods to continue with.


Article by Trevor Dumbleton. Find out more about how to do SEO for your website. And check this out if you'd like a SEO mentor to help you navigate through the SEO maze.