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1. Create compelling, relevant, and original content, written for the people reading it not just for search engines.
2. Everything else.
Regarding link building, again if it is relevant and from sources that actually bring value then yes, if it is just from a load of random spammy link directories then no, that ship has sailed long ago.
Off-page SEO activities are mainly useful to generate backlinks for your website, and as per current SEO trends, quality backlinks building is better than quantity backlinks building.
So, It is advisable to promote your website on various best relevant and high DA websites for generating quality backlinks.
The off-page optimization technique is important while working in SEO. You need to implement the following off-page activities to improve the overall performance of your website.
Blog Post (Blogger & Wordpress)
Web 2.0 Submission
Press Release Submissions
RSS feed generation and submissions
Business Profile Creation
Q & A Submissions
Classified Ads Submission
Video Submission & Promotion
Photo Submission & Promotion
Local Business Listing (Google, Bing @ Local Listing Sites)