LESSON #78: Off Page SEO (Link Building)

By | December 8, 2010

In the previous lesson we discussed On Page SEO, and covered over a dozen optimization factors that you can implement on your website.

Today we’re going to learn about Off Page SEO.

(Watch this video…)

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Main points:

  • In most cases, Off Page SEO contributes more to your search engine rank than On Page SEO. (The exception is when there is little or no competition)

  • For practical purposes, Off Page SEO can be boiled down to one thing: link building.

  • Some links are more valuable thank others. To outrank a competitor, the combined value of your inbound links should outweigh the combined value of their inbound links.

  • Factors that may determine the value of a link:

    – The PageRank of the page linking to your site
    – Was the “No Follow” attribute used?
    – Is it a reciprocal link?
    – The anchor text in the link to your site
    – The page title of the page linking to your site
    – The number of outbound links on the page linking to your site
    – The quality/reputation of the sites being linked to by the site linking to your site
    – How the link was created (self created?)
    – The age of the link to your site (how long ago was it created)
    – The placement of the link on the page linking to your site
    – The keyword relevancy of the page linking to your site

  • Ways to get links:

    1) Spam link building

    -Automated tools
    -Black Hat

    2) Conventional link building

    – Directories
    – Blog comments (that don’t use “no follow”)
    – Trackback Links (Linking to other blogs from within your blog posts)
    – Free blogs
    – Guest books
    – Social media profiles (List of social sites)
    – Social media posts
    – Forums (in posts, signatures, and profiles)
    – Q&A Sites and Wikis (Yahoo Answers, Google Groups, Wikipedia, etc.)
    – RSS feeds (submit to aggregators)
    – Bookmarking (List of social bookmarking sites)
    – Free classified ad sites, FFA pages, etc. (spam)

    – Article Marketing (See Lesson #79)
    – Asking for Links

    Strategy to get links to outrank competitors:

    1) Identify the top 3 sites on Google for your targeted keyword.

    2) Find out all the places that THEY are getting links from. (See Lesson #76. UPDATE: Yahoo Site Explorer is no longer in business. Instead, try ahrefs.com, opensiteexplorer.org, Traffic Travis, or SEO Elite)

    3) If a self-created link is possible from any of those sites, do it.

    4) For all other sites… Look for contact information on them. (If no contact info on site, check whois on domaintools.com)

    5) Send a personalized email or phone call to each of those website owners (free email template)

    – Note: links from .gov and .edu sites are great!
    – Make friends


    Not allowed by Google, but these methods are widely accepted by the marketing community as being acceptable and ethical.

    – Buying links
    – Building your own link network (free idea: jigglingtheweb.com)
    – Joining a link network

    Recommended Link Networks:
    Backlinks Ninja from Jeff Alderson & Charles Kirkland
    SEOLinkVine from Brad and Matt Callen
    1WayLinks from Jonathan Leger

    3) Natural link accumulation

    -Content is king
    -People link to you without being solicited

    “Link baiting” ideas
    – Blog posts including “lists”
    – Blog posts that are aggregations of resources
    – Highly controversial blog posts
    – Pictures of kittens (etc)
    – A tool
    – Free software download
    – Free web application
    – Free ebook
    – Games
    – Quizzes
    – WordPress theme
    – Firefox extension
    – Collection of public domain pictures
    – A contest

    Ways to get your links built…

    1) Do it yourself
    2) Hire an SEO firm
    3) Join an SEO Outsourcing service
    4) Hire your own workers (see Replace Myself)

    Final tips:
    – Content is king
    – Google does look at activity on your site (ie. traffic).
    – Positive traffic growth trend affects SEO.

    To learn more about SEO, I recommend the Professional SEO Training Course, which is used to train SEO industry professionals around the world.

    Action steps:

    1) If you’re doing SEO, choose one or more link-building methods to start with.
    (Assuming you’ve completed the previous two lessons)

    2) Get links!

    We’ll be looking at Article Marketing in the next lesson.

    As always, you are welcome to post your questions and comments below 🙂

    Have a great day!

  • 93 thoughts on “LESSON #78: Off Page SEO (Link Building)

    1. spy store

      eric, i’m not quite sure why you mention Google does not accept grey hat methods, or even so called black hat methods for that matter. It’s a proven fact that Google can’t detect whether a link is a paid link or not. Infact, the only recent thing i’ve been informed about is that google is devaluing sidebar and footer links and putting a higher value in contextual links, as you may know that anyone could blackhat a competitors site with links from bad neighborhoods.

    2. home security products

      eric, got a question regarding you site, you’ve got damn near 20,000 links built, almost 5 years old domain, and only a PR1 – do you feel cheated by google?


      p.s. no sitemap — what’s up with that!

    3. Eric Post author

      That may have been true at one point, but Google definitely can detect a wide variety of linking schemes, including some paid links.

      Here are some direct quotes from Google:

      “Don’t participate in link schemes designed to increase your site’s ranking or PageRank” (see quality guidelines)

      “Examples of link schemes can include:

      – Links intended to manipulate PageRank

      – Links to web spammers or bad neighborhoods on the web

      – Excessive reciprocal links or excessive link exchanging (“Link to me and I’ll link to you.”)

      – Buying or selling links that pass PageRank” (see link schemes)

      “Buying or selling links that pass PageRank is in violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and can negatively impact a site’s ranking in search results.” (See paid links)

      As I mentioned in the video, it is unlikely that you would get dropped by Google for being on the buyer end of a link network. However, it’s still clearly against Google policy, which makes it grey hat.

    4. Krishna

      Hi Eric,

      Good overview on off-page SEO and some very useful tips.


    5. Eric Post author

      This site has been PR4 for the past several years… I just tried checking and Google’s public PR server wasn’t working. So the PR1 you’re seeing might be an error OR else my site is under penalty, which would not surprise me at all. The reason my site would be a prime candidate for a penalty is…

      1) I do not use “no follow”. Therefore I have 1000’s of links to all sorts of sites that I haven’t verified. Some of these may be bad neighborhoods and I don’t even know it.

      2) Loads of affiliate links… again, not using no follow.

      3) Tons of meta-refresh and php redirects to cloak affiliate links.

      4) The topic of my site is how to make money. Google does not like the “internet marketing” business model, and sites they perceive to be in the “get rich quick” genre. From discussions with AdWords rep, I know they have already classified my site as such, even though I would never consider myself to be a get rich quick site.

      Regarding the PR, no I don’t really feel cheated. As I’ve stated in other lessons, SEO has never been one of my primary traffic methods, and I’ve invested very little time into it. I’ve done virtually no link building for this site, so those are mostly natural. No sitemap because again, I don’t care that much. I might add one though.

    6. Vince

      Link building is one of the most fundamental things that one should be doing if he really wants to have a good search engine standing. And this is where you will out do any other competition. Why? Simply because building links is never easy. And only a few and the real marketers are doing it.

      Thanks a lot for the list Eric. I think I will need to take down notes of the links and check them out so that I can build a good “PR Rank” 🙂

    7. cctv kits

      Yes i’m familiar with those guidelines and so called warnings from dumb google. But may i reiterate my statement above, Google can figure out linking schemes from networks but not a paid sidebar or footer link, impossible and proven to be impossible, quoted from jery west actually. Also, they can devalue the network and the links you may have from that network will inturn be gone when they and your site will lose all those links you thought were of value, but again they can’t penalize the individual sites because that would create total chaos. why? – you may ask, well as i stated anybody can sabotage a competitors site with bad links. Think also about this, Googles algo’s really aren’t that smart yet, otherwise they wouldn’t give preference to emd’s (exact match domains) over a site with real relevance with good info that it’s searchers are looking for. That’s why i’m actually chuckling inside when all these emd’s will be dashed out of 1st page rankings when they soon ( i believe) figure this out. I will stick to putting the keyword i’m going after in the url string and provide relevant info for that page. Doesn’t that sound logical – yet they still give preference to emd’s that are chitty!

    8. Maartin


      I need some advice. I built a website and outsourced natural link building (not automated). My site was indexed and reached position 13 within 2 days and then I started with the outsourced linkbuilding. Apparently too may links lead to my site being slapped after 3 weeks to position 512. During the last 2 weeks the it went up to nr 385…

      What would you suggest, to keep building links? (Albeit more slowly?) Or should I just leave the site as is and wait out the time for Google to improve the ranking naturally?


    9. Eric Post author

      I do agree with those statements, which is why I did not hesitate to recommend three link networks, and why I said that paid links and networks are considered to be “accepted” by the marketing community in spite of being against Google’s policy. That said, as a teacher I also feel a responsibility to make sure my readers are aware of where Google stands on these issues, in case of possible ramifications in the future. I hope you’re right about the exact match domains, although I think it will still be a part of the ranking equation. Thanks for the comments!

    10. spy cameras for home

      yes, you are a fair minded individual with your provided info to your readers, i appreciate the replies to my comments. Question about the networks you mentioned. I believe backlinks ninja is similiar to linxboss, which is spendy in my opinion. Have you tried backlinks ninja, and if you have what results if any?

      By the way i hope your not offended if i may say you’ve got a beautiful wife – congrats on that catch!

    11. Eric Post author

      It sounds to me like you’re in the sandbox, which is a tough place to be.

      The thing you need to determine, is whether you’re just in the sandbox, or whether you’ve been penalized.

      If you’re in the sandbox, IMO then you should keep building links, but make sure they’re not spammy, and don’t focus as much on your top keywords. At the same time, make sure you post fresh content and prove that you’re truly a good site. And eventually, you should come out of the sandbox.

      If, on the other hand, Google has penalized you for violating their policies, you may need to take other action. If you want to stick with that site and try to resurrect it, then you would need to “change your ways” and submit a reconsideration request to google.

    12. Eric Post author

      I have not used it personally, but I’ve talked with Jeff about it a lot, and I can verify that it is working for many of their customers.

      I would agree 🙂

    13. mitch

      maatin, sounds like your site is new for one thing, and you might just be experiencing a google dance and not a sandbox. If the site in question is the site associated with your name in this comment then your not in the sandbox, because you have 6 pages showing indexed in google. If it were sandboxed, i don’t believe you would have any pages still indexed!

    14. mitch

      Would like to add, if the site you are referring to is the site in your sig, i see you are on page two for your main keyword, not bad!

    15. Peter Owen

      Great Info Eric,

      It certainly is great that you tell it how it is, and if we are concerned about SEO that ultimately we have to do it Googles way like it or not.

      We have to remember that they are the ones that provide us with the visitors! if we are reliant on the SERPS for our website survival that is.

      Keep up the great work.

      All the best….Peter

    16. stephen strydom

      I never stop wondering how you manage to supply your fantastic tips for free. I don’t know about anyone else but if I ever need any advice the 1st place I look is ericstip.com
      To be honest I’ve become very disillusioned with the entire I’m and affiliate marketing business but when I read your tips I always feel inspired (at least a little more each time)
      Thanks again!
      Stephen strydom

    17. What is Cyber Security

      Thanks Eric, nice lesson and you are right on the money with your instructions. Most everything you do on the net leaves a foot print that can be followed. But here is what I belive, just take your time and go for quality links not so much quantity. 15 to 25 links from real high page rank, related content sites will do a lot more for your SEO than thousands of links from a blog network. Thanks again Eric, keep up the great work.

    18. Nahid

      Thanks Eric. Your free lessons have thought me more than the products I’ve spent thousands on! Your presentation is fantastic and I love the way you speak, not too fast, not too slow and not at all boring like some others’ I’ve tried before. It keeps you interested instead of sending you to sleep or compelling you to switch off! Keep them coming.

    19. Dave

      Hi Eric,
      Thanks again for your lessons! Definitely filling in a lot of blanks.

      Question- how would you go about promoting a site that uses a job board in a specialized niche? I guess some of the strategies you suggest can apply, I’m not sure how to connect the dots.


    20. Eric Post author

      A job board is well suited for SEO. First I would make sure the On Page SEO is very good. For example each job post should be it’s own page, and with good Title tag, H1 tag, friendly URL, etc.

      You might want to leave old posts up permanently, even after the jobs have been filled. (just make it clear on the page that its been filled, and direct visitors to current jobs).

      I would think most of your link building efforts should be focused on building authority to your home page, which will then trickle down to the listings. However you could build links to the listings themselves also. It would make sense to go to other sites in your niche and ask them to post a link to a particular job listing that would be most applicable to the readers of their site. That is a good way to get a link while truly adding value to the other person’s site. There are so many people looking for jobs, those readers of other sites would be grateful for the recommendation to your site.

    21. Ray

      Hi Eric,

      Great lesson. I’ve been using Backlinks Ninja for a few months and seen some great results for some keywords. What I’m wondering is whether it is wise to use them for my best keywords, secondary or whether it doesn’t really matter? Also can you advise if there’s a likelihood that my sites will end up in the sandbox if I continue to use them?

    22. sell property fast


      The link baiting ideas are great! Its certainly the most ethical and natural way of LB. However, the success rate is a bit too low and results are seen in LT, when that Jackpot post is made that goes Viral!

    23. zoe software

      Eric, thank very much for this lesson. In fact it is worth paying for. How unique should an article be from each other in other to avoid the duplicate content issue? Most article spinners calculate the % uniqueness from the original article but I donot know the optimal level of uniqueness (% uniqueness) to choose.

    24. Eric Post author

      That’s a good question. I’ve heard 20-40%, but I honestly have no idea what specific % Google is looking at, or if it works that way. If anyone else knows, feel free to chime in.

    25. Eric Post author

      That’s a good question. My inclination would be that you might as well use it for your best keywords if it’s working. You might ask Jeff and Charles and see what they say. No I don’t think it would lead to sandbox. If Google decided that you were using a linking scheme, they would place a penalty on your domain, which is different from the sandbox. However, as discussed toward the top of these comments, I think the likelihood of being penalized for participating in a private link network is slim. Otherwise it would be too easy to sabotage your competitors.

    26. Dave

      Thanks Eric,

      I appreciate your time. Ok, now for the hard question. If you were me how would you go about getting people to post job ads? Seems like the issue is two fold- getting traffic and getting ads….

      My thought is to low ball everyone. Personally I’m not a fan of free job boards. Reason being they lack something, credibility, for lack of a better term, comes to mind. Follow?

    27. donald

      Hello Eric,
      Thank you for all of your thought provoking advice and now on to my question/s. Just like the duplicate content “MYTH” that Google seemingly penalizes a website for- do you think that Google will banned or pimp slap a website for back-link farming? I know you mentioned at the top of the comment section about your PR level BUT is there anyway of a website owner actually knowing that his/her site is being castigated? It is quite possible that yours and other similar websites are just being out ranked. As you know the competition on the www is growing at a phenomenal rate which is why I put the word -myth- in quotations. Are affiliate websites not duplicate content in a generalized scheme? And lastly, I rewrite my PLR articles at least 50% if not more beginning with the TITLE, believe it or not I recently had an article rejected form a site claiming “duplicate content” which was rewritten and viewed on that particular site for several months…go figure!
      I’d like to wish a Happy Holiday to you and your family. Thanks again for your valuable time.

    28. stepjen strydom

      I recentlty read this email from George Brown: “The original Google Sniper was CB #1
      for 5 weeks straight and has sold over
      10,000 copies…It was one of the best converting and
      highest quality products to ever hit CB..”

      I don’t know what to make of Georges’ statement. 10000 sales in 12 months? I wonder how many thousands of affiliates were promoting this product? 10000 sales are obviously great for the product owner but would I be justified in concluding that if this was indeed the “best converting” product on clickbank, there must be thousands of affiliates who are not making any money at all promoting other peoples products!!
      Is there any way at all of getting stats on how many affiliates are actually making a living promoting other peoples products?

    29. Dez Futak

      The important thing to realize about article spinners, is that for the most part, they’re not really creating sufficiently unique articles IMO, if all the spinner is doing is replacing keywords with synonyms.

      Google’s ability to get the semantics from your content implies that using a spinner is potentially redundant.

      Now, I’ll qualify that by saying it is possible to fool the Google bot responsible for LSI; I’ve seen it done, because it’s easy to spot spun articles as their human readability is often trash.

      Here’s my take on “blending” copies to create sufficiently new variants that will be more likely to qualify as unique content:

      1. Choose a strategy for backlinking that only requires a relatively small number of authoritative backlinks. (I won’t say more here otherwise I’ll be giving too much away to potential competitors)

      2. By all means crste spun content, limited to a handful of variants required for the number of backlinks you estimate as necessary for 1.

      3. Once your spun articles are complete, manually read through as many of them as you have time for, and make changes so they feel genuinely unique to you.

      4. Proceed as ‘normal’ with the subsequent generated content.

      I *know* there is big debate about quantity vs quality, but looking from the outside in, if I was a Google “SEO quality monitor”, I would have sufficient aggregate data to *know* pretty much what was real and what was artificial in terms of backlinks.

      When it comes to the backlink game, if it’s to be as effective as possible, I believe that it has to be created as closely as possible to the way a natural trending topic will appear to the big G.

      …so the strategy has to be paramount, and the techniques should fit accordingly.

      sorry if this is a bit of an impractical comment, but some of this is untested opinion (I’m currently in the process of designing my own off-page SEO strategy based on a number of independent SEO reports I’ve recently garnered which form the basis of the above. Much of what I’ve written here results from synthesizing the best of each of the different reports’ strategies).

      If you have any insights, questions or comments, feel free to ask them here…


    30. Umashankar

      Hi Eric,

      Thanks for the nice video on Link Building. I have a community website http://www.kaggadasapura.com for my locality kaggadasapura in Bangalore, India. The problem is I don’t find any websites of similar type (locality websites) to get links to my website. Can you please tell me how to go about it. Should I ask the visitors to link my website on their social bookmarking website pages like Facebook, Orkut etc?

    31. john@Los Angeles Wedding Photographer

      hi Eric, maybe you can help answer a few questions regarding below services:::
      I’m a wedding photographer, which one of this would benefits me most?

      Backlinks Ninja… do I need to a blog? Do I need to write and submit articles?

      SEOLinkVine: This require a blog and need articles?

      1WayLinks from Jonathan Leger… this require a blog?

      On all above… if you stop using their service,,, will your link disappear?


    32. zoe software

      One thing that always confuse me is the idea that Google place emphasis on on-topic related link. For example site A is a geology related site and site B is a software site. If site A link to site B with “software” as anchor text why should Google place less value on this link? Site A is a Geology site and cannot therefore explain “software” and therefore links to site B where you can get a better explanation. Why should Google devalue such link. To me there is no need for one software site linking to another software site since they are all dealing with the same issue, but if I am writing on Dog training and the word computer comes in and I link that to a computer site for my readers to get more explanation on computers if they wish, this should rather be the most valuable link. Why is Google not interested in such links? Any idea, Eric?

    33. Rita

      I was directed to leave my comments on the blog.here we go:
      Hi Eric,

      Thank God!
      You kept your wits about you. Your concern was for your son, firstly.
      You were alert enough to realize the seriousness of your situation and abandoned your gear.
      ….and now you even got your stuff back!!

      LOTS to be thankful for!!!

      My best wishes to you and your family…for Christmas….2011… and all the future.
      Take care!

      And here something special for Christmas:


    34. Andres

      By the way, you have good products too. I bought push button marketer and is a very good software but there is no manual, so it is difficult to get the most out of it (even being a programmer myself!).

      Also bought the covert conversion pro, although has some tracking errors and had to modify the PHP code to make it work in WordPress (adding session variables) it is already discovering a lot of buying keywords for me.

      I bought also some source code (web traffic machines) but I didn’t even knew what this software was about because there was no manual so I had to request a refund for that as I will do for the firesale of the traffic equalizer (support is still ingoring me, maybe Jeff Alderson is dead or Santa kidnapped him)

    35. Eric Post author

      Push Button Marketer does have a manual, and built-in help files in the software. Please submit a ticket at my helpdesk if you need it.
      Also Jeff’s support dept will reply to you, they are just a little behind due to the launch, and his head support tech is on his honeymoon right now 🙂

    36. Eric Post author

      If site A is a geology site, their “vote” of confidence for the software site (B) is not as valuable, because they are not an authority on the topic of software. It’s not a matter of devaluing the link, or not being interested in it. The link is still a vote, and therefore has value. But it’s not as valuable as a vote coming from a site of similar overall authority (PR) that is more relevant to the topic.

    37. Eric Post author

      You may just needd to look a little broader (ie. related to Bangalore, not just kaggadasapura). There are plenty of sites related to Bangalore. Look for blogs that mention it, and travel sites, etc. It doesn’t have to be exactly the same type of site as yours. Beyond that, yes you can have visitors link to you from their social sites.

    38. Eric Post author

      Backlinks Ninja- no you don’t. There is a video demo you can watch.

      SEO Link Vine- You do need articles, as it’s bascially an article marketing service. But I don’t think you need a blog.

      1WayLinks- Yes you need a blog to add to their network.

      As far as I know, you do not lose your links if you quit.

    39. Eric Post author

      I have no doubt at all that it sold that many copies. Whether it was one of the highest converting products ever to hit CB… I doubt it, but it probably converted very well for a product of its genre.

      Keep in mind that not all CB affiliates are promoting every product. Even though there are tens of thousands fo CB affiliates, you might only have 10, or 100, or 1000 promoting your product.

      Experienced affiliate marketers who promoted George’s product probably made money. The ones who didn’t make money are mostly inexperienced or unsuccessful marketers who don’t know how to send qualified traffic.

      I don’t know of any way of getting the kind of stats that you mention, other than to do a broad survey. Just taking a stab at it… I would estimate that the 80/20 principle applies here. 20% of the affiliates are making most of the money, while 80% aren’t making much. And among the 20%, the 80/20 rule would apply also. 20% of the 20% are really making a good living. (just my guess)

    40. Eric Post author

      I think Google will increasingly penalize duplicate content, link farming, AND affiliate sites. They really don’t like any of those things!

    41. Eric Post author

      You have to believe in your product, and use your sales skills (this is where thinking like a marketer comes in– lesson #12). For a site like this to gain traction, I think you may need to get on the phone and do some relationship building with HR directors or hiring managers in your target market. Maybe you could start free, but all posts would be screened. Therefore the job board won’t be littered, and it won’t lose credibility. As soon as you get a couple jobs posted, use the piggyback tactic. Go to all their competitors and make them feel like they’re losing out if they don’t do the same. Once it catches on, hopefully the job board would be self sustaining and grow naturally. I’m no expert on job boards, but that’s how I see it from a sales/marketing standpoint.

    42. Widodo

      Hi, Eric. I am really a newbie on IM. Referring to your sentence above, what would qualify for a duplicate content? For instance if you type Photoshop Actions as your search term, Google will return with three different blogs with basically identical post. Would that be classified as a duplicate content? If it does, how come those sites still appear on the first page of Google. The second question, if I have a blog and put links to Amazon, CJ, or clickbank, would that lead my blog to being banned or sandboxed by Google? Thanks for the reply and happy holiday.

    43. David

      Hi Eric,

      I have a feeling, that in time, the grey hat and black hat methods of gaining links are going to be ‘adjusted’ for in SE results. That time may be further down the road, but it can be too far away.

      Maybe it is best to do it right from the start and not have to worry about it later?


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