Off-Page SEO Checklist: Our Top 8 Tips

Ajdin Perco

Dec 05, 202314 min read
Off-Page SEO Checklist

TABLE OF CONTENTS

What Is Off-Page SEO?

Off-page SEO refers to the actions taken outside a website to improve its search engine rankings. These can include link building, local SEO, influencer marketing, and more.

In contrast, on-page SEO involves optimizing elements on a website to get more search engine traffic. This includes improving on-page content, internal links, page speed, and other aspects.

A comparison of On-Page and Off-Page SEO

Off-Page SEO Checklist

Off-page SEO techniques can provide you with an edge over your competition. Your site gets to be more authoritative by acquiring more backlinks and mentions around the web. All of which can result in more organic traffic. 

That’s why we created an eight-step off-page SEO checklist. 

Follow these steps to get the most from your off-page SEO efforts. 

Off-Page SEO checklist

A backlink profile refers to the collection of backlinks that point to your website. 

Google considers backlinks an important factor when ranking content. So, you want to maintain a healthy backlink profile that consists of high-quality backlinks from reputable sites.

Conduct a backlink audit to understand how strong your backlink profile is. One way to do that is to use Semrush’s Backlinks Analytics.

Here’s how: 

Head to the tool, enter the domain or URL, and press “Analyze.” 

Backlinks Analytics tool search bar

You’ll reach a dashboard that contains a variety of data points. 

Backlinks Analytics overview dashboard with "Authority Score," "Referring Domains," and "Backlinks" sections highlighted

Here’s what those data points tell you about your backlink profile:

  • Referring Domains and Backlinks figures: Generally, higher numbers indicate a stronger backlink profile, assuming backlinks are from reputable sites 
  • Referring Domains and Backlinks time charts: Ideally, you want your site to grow domains and backlinks gradually and consistently over time 
  • Authority Score: Semrush’s proprietary metric that measures the domain’s reputability. A higher number indicates a better domain quality. 
  • Referring Domains by Authority Score: The more domains with a high Authority Score that point to your site, the better 
"Referring Domains by Authority Score" section of the report
  • Anchor Text: The visible, clickable text in a hyperlink that leads to your domain. You want to maintain a natural variety of anchor texts over excessive use of the same anchor text. You’ll find this data in the lower part of the dashboard. 
  • Link Attributes: Show the division between follow and nofollow backlinks. “Follow” links endorse your site and pass authority. So, you want to prioritize growing them. 
"Link Attributes" section of the report

A backlink analysis will help you uncover strengths and weaknesses in your backlink profile.

For instance, you may notice a decline in the number of referring domains. 

Maybe the sites that linked to you removed those links or link to other pages instead. You can then deploy link building strategies to reverse this trend. (We’ll cover this later.) 

Your site competes against other sites that cover similar topics and keywords. Identify and analyze these competitors’ link profiles to discover websites that link to them but not you. 

Then, you can reach out to these sites and offer them to link to your high-quality content instead.

One way to do this is to use Semrush’s Organic Research to discover content competitors.

Head to the tool, enter your domain, and press “Search.” 

Organic Research tool search bar

Once on the main dashboard, head to the “Competitors” tab. 

A table with "Organic Competitors" in Organic Research tool

Make a note of your top four organic competitors. 

Now, head to the Backlink Gap tool. Enter your domain, up to four competing sites, and press “Find prospects.” 

Backlink Gap tool search bar

Once on the dashboard, click the “Charts” drop-down. To see how your Authority Score and referring domains compare to your competitors over the past 12 months. 

"Authority Score," and "Referring Domains" charts on Backlink Gap dashboard

For instance, your competitors might have a significantly higher Authority Score than you. This might be partially explained by them getting backlinks from more reputable domains.

Below that is the “Prospects for” section. 

Click “Best” (while making sure your domain is selected) to list the domains that link to competing sites but not yours. 

Click on figures in competitor columns to see which pages attract backlinks from a specific domain. 

Like this: 

A competitor's row in the "Prospects" table highlighted

You can also check the boxes next to each domain. Then, click “Export” to download the data. 

Or press the “+ Start outreach” button to move referring domains to the Link Building Tool.

“+ Start outreach” and "Export" buttons highlighted in the upper right corner

You can now analyze competitor pages to understand why other sites link to them. And this can inform your link-building efforts.

For instance, you might produce a better piece of content than your competitors and ask those sites to link to your page instead.

Discovering your competitors’ backlinks might have already provided you with link building ideas. 

But there are various link building strategies to consider when working through your off-page SEO checklist.

A visual listing the six link building strategies

Here are some of the strategies to explore:

  • Guest posting: Write a useful piece of content for a reputable site in your niche. This can result in a backlink to your site. 
  • Reclaiming broken links: Find broken external links on target websites and offer an alternative page with relevant content from your site 
  • Skyscraper technique: Identify competitive content other websites link to, craft an improved version, and encourage those websites to link to your content instead 
  • Unlinked brand mentions: Find websites that mention your brand name without linking to your website and ask them to add a link 
  • Linkable assets: Create a type of content that grows backlinks naturally—such as original research, studies, infographics, free tools, in-depth guides, and more 
  • Expert advice: Share your expert advice through interviews, podcasts, and Help a Reporter Out (HARO) media requests so writers and journalists add a link to your website when they cite you

Prioritize strategies you have the expertise for that can bring results faster. 

For instance, if your brand is well-known and is mentioned throughout the web, then pursuing the “unlinked brand mentions” strategy makes sense. 

Or, if your company employs leading industry experts, then sharing their expertise with writers and journalists is a sensible approach for acquiring backlinks. 

Semrush’s Link Building Tool can help you implement these strategies.

First, head to the tool and add your domain. 

Then, click “Start Link Building” to set up your campaign where you’ll add your competitors and the keywords you want to rank for. 

Link Building Tool search bar

Once on the main dashboard, go to the “Prospects” tab. 

"Prospects" tab selected in the Link Building Tool

Here, you’ll find a list of websites sending the most links to your competitors.

You may want to prioritize websites with a high Authority Score, as listed in the “AS” column. Because these reputable sites can pass more authority to you.

Once you determine the link building approach for a particular website, select it and click the drop-down menu next to the “To In Progress” field. 

"To In Progress" drop-down menu

Click on an individual outreach strategy to send that prospect to the “In Progress” tab. 

"In Progress" tab in the Link Building Tool

Click “Contact” if you want to email the prospect from within Semrush’s tool. Available emails will be automatically added.

Once you acquire a backlink from a prospect, move that website to the “Monitor” tab. This way, you can track if you lose that backlink or if a referring domain is no longer live. 

Further reading: Email outreach is a vital part of link building. Read more about it in this guide.

4. Optimize for Local SEO

If yours is a local business, optimize your local SEO efforts to improve your online presence. Local SEO is the process of improving your digital footprint to better reach people in your geographical area via search engines.

It is vital for brands that serve specific places or have a physical location. It helps you show up on Google Maps and search results for keywords with local search intent.

Like “hairdresser Brooklyn Heights”:

Google local pack results for “hairdresser Brooklyn Heights” query

These search results display reviews, opening times, and other useful information. These are known as the “local pack” results. 

Your local SEO efforts should start with signing up for Google Business Profile (GBP), a free business listing by Google. 

It’s a simple process:

  • Create an account
  • Select attributes that describe your company
  • Set open hours for your branch(es)
  • Consistently upload images and videos
  • Respond to customer comments in the review section

But don’t stop there. Try to get your business listed in other directories. 

Yelp is one option. But you can also look for relevant local directories. Like Brooklyn Business Directory, which lists companies from the New York City borough.

Encourage customers to leave online reviews. These can improve your online reputation, provide social proof, and show Google your site is trustworthy. 

An example of a positive customer review on Google

Google encourages businesses to reply to both positive and negative reviews. 

You can respond to Google reviews using your Google Business Profile account. 

Or use Semrush’s Review Management tool to respond to Google reviews. And get notified about reviews on other directories. 

Head to the tool, find your business, and sign up for a service. 

Once on the main dashboard, click “Review Management.”

“Review Management" selected from the Semrush main dashboard

Then, check the reviews and start replying. You can even use AI-generated responses for inspiration. 

Replying directly to a review from the "Reviews" section

Press “Reply” once you’re ready to post your comment.

Further reading: Beginner’s Guide to Online Reputation Management

5. Earn Brand Mentions 

Brand mentions across the web help your company maintain brand visibility.

Here are some of the campaigns and activities you can carry out to earn brand mentions:

A visual listing six ways to earn brand mentions
  • Influencer collaborations: Partner with influencers in your industry to create content that showcases your brand. This can be product reviews, unboxings, tutorials, or any content relevant to your business. 

Like in this example where influencer @ellenbrockygirl holds her cat and talks about a specific cat food brand:

An Instagram post by @ellenbrockygirl with a cat, talking about Purina cat food
  • User-generated content (UGC) campaigns: Encourage your customers to share their experiences with your products/services on their social media platforms. Offer incentives such as contests, giveaways, or features on your official channels to motivate them.
  • Press releases: Whenever you have something newsworthy, like a new product launch or company milestone, draft a press release and distribute it to media outlets
  • Podcast & webinar appearances: Either host your own or be a guest on popular industry podcasts or webinars
  • Affiliate marketing: Start an affiliate program where bloggers, influencers, and websites can promote your brand and earn a commission on sales
  • Free education: Offer free workshops, seminars, or courses related to your industry, positioning your brand as an authority

You also want a way to monitor whether these efforts are increasing your brand mentions. This is where Semrush’s Brand Monitoring app can help.

Head to the app, configure it, and enter the main dashboard. 

You’ll then see a report that lists various mentions of your brand name. Like here:

"Mentions" tab in the Brand Monitoring app

You can also get daily, weekly, or monthly email updates on new brand mentions. Or set up custom alerts on unusual brand mention spikes. 

For instance, maybe a popular site or influencer recommended your brand. You can then work on further boosting this mention and reach out to form a partnership.

For each brand mention, the app offers details on sentiment, backlinks, country, language, and more. 

Further reading: How to Measure Brand Awareness

6. Share Content on Social Media

Share and promote your content on social media to increase its reach and engagement. You’ll also drive traffic and enable more people to discover and link to your content.

Here are several tips on how to do it effectively:

  • Choose the right platform. Evaluate your target audience, product, and marketing strategy to decide which social media platforms to focus on. For instance, you may be a home decor expert. So, Instagram and Pinterest might be the right choice since they focus on high-quality visuals.
  • Create platform-specific content. Tailor your content creation to suit the unique characteristics of each platform. A long-form video might work best on YouTube, while a short, catchy clip or image might get more traction on TikTok.
  • Focus on quality over quantity. Create high-quality content that resonates with your audience. Instead of frequently posting mediocre content.
  • Engage with your audience: Respond to comments, ask questions, and encourage interaction. Users who see a brand actively engaging are more likely to interact and share the content themselves. 

Like in this example:

Semrush responding to a comment under its LinkedIn post
  • Optimize for mobile. Ensure your content looks good and loads quickly on mobile devices. Since a significant portion of social media users access platforms via mobile. 
  • Invest in social media advertising. Allocate a budget for promoting high-performing posts. Even a small budget can boost reach significantly on platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

But how do these efforts help your off-page SEO?

For one, social engagement in itself doesn’t impact Google search rankings. But it does drive traffic and makes it more likely that someone will discover and link to your content. 

And some social media pages can get served in search results. 

Like in this example for Andreessen Horowitz’s newsletter:

Andreessen Horowitz’s newsletter:on Google SERP

Social media engagement can also build brand awareness. Which can translate into branded organic traffic.

Planning and posting content across platforms takes time, though. Semrush’s Social Poster tool can make things easier.

It allows you to schedule and publish posts across different platforms.

Social media profiles highlighted in the Social Poster tool

It also gives you an interactive calendar you can use to plan months of social content in advance. 

A social media calendar in the Social Poster tool

7. Collaborate with Influencers

Partner with individuals who have a large and engaged online following. These influencers can promote your products and services to their audience. But also provide backlinks from their sites.

Here are some broad steps to follow when considering to collaborate with influencers:

  • Determine your goals. Decide whether you want to increase brand awareness, make sales, grow backlinks, or something else. 
  • Research influencers. Find influencers in your niche with sizable and engaged followers while being mindful of influencer marketing costs and your budget.
img-semblog
  • Reach out. Send a personalized pitch that communicates your objectives and what you’re offering to an influencer.

Here’s a template email:

Subject: Let’s Collaborate?

Hey [Influencer’s Name],

I hope this finds you well. I’m [Your Name] over at [Your Brand Name]. I’ve been genuinely enjoying your content on [Platform—e.g., Instagram/YouTube/Blog], especially your take on [specific topic or post that caught your attention]. You have a knack for connecting with your audience in a real and genuine way.

I’m reaching out because I think we could create something cool together. Here’s a quick overview:

Our Goal: [Brief description of the collaboration’s purpose. For example, "We’re looking to introduce our new eco-friendly range and feel your voice could make a real difference."]

For You: [Describe what they get in return. For example, "In appreciation, we’d love to offer you some exclusive samples and a commission on any sales."]

Let me know your thoughts and if this sounds interesting to you. I’m looking forward to potentially teaming up!

Best,

[Your Name]

  • Measure performance. Once you collaborate with an influencer, track sales, website traffic, backlink acquisition, engagement metrics, and anything else relevant. To assess the success and ROI of that project.

Finding the right influencers for your brand takes some effort. But tools like Influencer Analytics can make this process much easier.

Head to the tool and set up an account. Let’s assume you are looking for YouTube influencers.

Go to “Influence Discovery” and select “YouTube.” 

“YouTube" selected under "Influence Discovery” drop-down menu

Click “Filters” in the top-right corner. 

"Filters" button highlighted in the top-right corner

You can then set your preferences for country, subscriber count, price, and more. 

Setting up filters in Influencer Analytics tool

The tool will provide a list of influencers based on your criteria. 

A list of influencers based on the set filters in Influencer Analytics

Click on an individual influencer’s profile to get contact information and additional information.

Carli Bybel's individual influencer’s profile

Work through the list and click “Add to lists” for each influencer that fits your criteria. 

“Add to lists” highlighted next to Carli Bybel's influencer’s profile

Once you identify enough influencers, review their social pages more thoroughly. 

Look for top-performing content and audience comments. To better understand what campaigns may generate engagement and help you achieve your goals. And whether it’s worth partnering with specific influencers. 

8. Be Active in Forums

Contribute to relevant forums and online communities with valuable comments.

Engage in relevant threads for which you have expertise. And try to respond to other comments to form a deeper connection with your audience. 

Like in this case on Warrior Forum where a user replies to a question from another user and shares helpful SEO resources:

A question about SEO on Warrior Forum

Your forum or community profile may contain a link to your website. But avoid posting overly promotional links about your product or brand unless it adds real value to the topic. 

Also, posting on forums in itself won’t skyrocket your search rankings. But it’s part of a holistic off-page SEO strategy that can amplify your online visibility, authority, and organic search performance.

A visual listing the benefits of being active in online forums and communities

You get to boost brand awareness. And other people may visit your site and explore your product or services. 

Posting high-value comments establishes your authority in your field. Not to mention that reviewing forum users’ questions provides you with topics you can write about and rank for. 

Tracking Off-Page SEO Success

Use an off-page SEO audit checklist to monitor various metrics and ensure your efforts are delivering results. 

  • Backlinks: Watch the total number of backlinks, referring domains, and the authority score of referring domains 
  • Brand searches: Monitor the volume of brand search queries over time, the regions where the searches are prevalent, and any seasonality or event-driven spikes 
  • Social engagement: Keep an eye on likes, shares, comments, and mentions. These metrics not only indicate engagement but also the virality of your content.
  • Local rankings: Track your position in local packs, user reviews, and search queries leading to your business listing 

You can track backlinks using Semrush’s Backlink Analytics tool. 

Head to the tool, add your domain, and click “Analyze.” 

Backlink Analytics tool search bar

Once on the “Overview” dashboard, scroll down to get a historical view of your backlinks and referring domain data. 

Backlink Analytics's overview dashboard

Your domains and backlinks may have been growing steadily. In which case, your off-page SEO efforts are paying off. 

Or you might notice a drop in the number of referring domains and backlinks. 

In this case, you can analyze your backlink profile to get to the root of this problem. 

The dashboard also contains useful details on authority scores of referring domains. 

"Referring Domains by Authority Score" section of the report

Ideally, you want to have referring domains whose authority score is higher than your site’s. Which can help improve your own site’s authority score.

Improve Your Off-Page SEO Today

Robust data and advanced tools are vital for your off-page SEO success. 

Sign up for Semrush to access all the data and tools you need to execute this off-page SEO checklist. 

Then, use Backlink Analytics, Organic Research, and the Link Building Tool to take your off-page SEO to the next level. 

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Ajdin Perco is a senior content marketer with nearly ten years of in-house and agency experience. From producing content and developing strategies to leading marketers and advising executives, his experience spans across multiple roles, industries, and content channels.
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