I've built 1000s of niche edit backlinks over the past decade.
So do they work, especially today?
The answer, like most things in SEO, is it depends.
Find out what niche edits are and how you can avoid wasting money whilst getting real results in this step-by-step guide.
What are niche edits?
Niche edits, sometimes called link insertions, are links that are placed in an existing piece of content that is already published on the web.
In other words, it is a link building method that involves requesting a link from an old piece of content on another website.
Niche edits are distinct from guest posting where one writes a new article and get's published with a link back to one's website.
Do niche edit backlinks work?
The answer is, it's SEO.
Sometimes niche edits work. Sometimes they don't.
I know, it's not the most helpful answer, but I would be lying if I said I knew that niche edits work every time.
Should they be part of your SEO strategy then?
Almost certainly, yes.
For the simple reason that to win in SEO you need backlinks, and niche edits are some of the most relevant and affordable links you can get.
The trick to increasing the probability of success with niche edits is focusing on a simple formula I call RAD:
- Due Diligence
Let's briefly look at this acronym.
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When placing a niche edit you want to do so on a website / webpage that is as relevant as possible to the site that your niche edit link is pointing too.
Generally, the more relevant the website or webpage, the better the niche edit.
For example, if you have a golf website and you want to get a link to your page about golf drivers, then getting a link from a relevant site like Golf Span from their best golf driver article meets the relevance criteria.
It goes without saying that the more authority a website has, the more likely your niche edit will generate results.
Authority is often measured by Domain Rating (Ahrefs metric) or Domain Authority (Moz metric). Other proxies for authority exist, like the Trust Flow and Citation Flow metrics from Majestic.
Continuing the example above, Golf Span has a Domain Rating (DR) of 38, which is respectable.
When placing a niche edit you should consider the overall domain authority, as well as the webpage authority.
I like to measure the latter by looking at the backlink profile of the webpage.
As you can see the best golf driver page from Golf Span has 74 referring domains, so lots of good backlinks.
By getting a niche edit on this page you're not only getting the authority signal from Golf Span, but you're also getting the link juice from the sites linking to this page.
If a site has a good domain authority, and the page you're considering has some good backlinks, then this makes for a great niche edit target.
Assuming a website passes the relevance and authority tests, the final hurdle is to do a little due diligence to make sure the site is not toxic.
You don't want to create niche edits that actually end up hurting your website!
I like to check a few things when doing due diligence on a niche edit target:
When assessing a website for a niche edit, I'll check the most recent articles, the homepage, contact page and footer.
I'll ask questions like:
- Are all articles guest posts? Does the website scream Private Blog Network (PBN) / link farm? If you don't know what a PBN or link farm is, you really shouldn't be doing niche edits? Instead outsource it to a link building company.
- Is there a level of editorial control? Or are the article topics all over the show? (i.e. one article on yacht travel in the Caribbean and the next article on roofing solutions).
- Are links on the website using aggressive anchor texts? This is a dead giveaway that they have been paid for? I'm looking at you: trading forex online, how to buy bitcoin, etc. Usually links that seem forced into the copy or are exact anchor matches, are paid for links.
- Is the contact page or other pages referencing guest posts, advertising etc? This can be a little concerning, especially when coupled with some of the points mentioned above.
- Is there a real person behind the site? Site ownership usually means reasonable editorial control.
Answering these questions will help inform you on the quality of a website.
For example, here is a seemingly normal website called Knnit.
But as you can see from the homepage screenshot below the editorial control on topics is batshit crazy, and if you dug around on the site you'd see almost all articles are paid guest posts.
Note: If a site is selling niche edits / guest posts, then they aren't going to pass all the questions above with flying colours. The trick is to find sites that at least have a level of editorial control and don't sell links indiscriminately.
Once I've completed a manual check, I like to run a website through some software tools to identify any warning signs.
The few tools I use and the things are look for are:
- Traffic: Does the site get any organic traffic? Is this traffic consistent, increasing, decreasing or has it suddenly dropped to near zero? I use Ahrefs organic traffic metric for this data. Sites with no or very little traffic (less than a few hundred visitors) are a warning sign, as are sites with sudden traffic decreases (most likely due to a penalty).
- Site History: If I'm still uncertain about the quality of a website, I'll use Archive.org to look at it's history. I usually do this if a site has a very high domain authority but poor editorial control and not much traffic. This often means a website had a previous life, was dropped by its original owner and then picked up by a savvy marketer to use as a link farm / PBN.
Looking at Knnit again, although they have a respectable Domain Rating of 48, it's clear they get almost no organic traffic, and they had a sudden and massive drop in traffic around mid 2020.
I wouldn't touch this site with a barge pole.
Niche Edits (A Case Study)
A few month's ago we decided we wanted to do some link building for our blog writing service page.
Here's the exact process we followed to build insanely good niche edits.
Step 1: Identify Relevant Targets
Take the keyword of the page you want to build niche edits for and insert it into Ahrefs to identify the top ranking pages.
Don't have Ahrefs? Just insert the keyword into Google to pull up the top 100 results.
In our case the keyword was: blog writing services.
Here are the top 8 results as shown by Ahrefs, but this list can be expanded to 100 results.
Systematically work through the list of ranking pages to identify which would be good targets for niche edit requests.
In our case, many of the ranking pages are competitors who are obviously not going to link to us.
But some of the results are bloggers who've written "Best Of" round-ups for content writing services.
These are great targets.
Qualify the targets using the RAD methodology above.
Step 2: Find target emails
Usually contact emails can be found on the contact page, but if you're struggling to find an email use a free email scraper tool like Hunter.io.
As a last resort use the contact form. I don't like using contact forms as they aren't as personal as email.
Step 3: Draft a compelling pitch
This is where many marketers go wrong.
They want something for nothing. Or they make the pitch all about them, instead of about the target.
My top tips when pitching for niche edits or guest posts is to:
- keep it short
- get straight to the point
- if possible, find a creative way to add value
That last point can be difficult to execute as requesting a niche edit is often very transactional (i.e. I pay you $100, you insert my link).
But in our case we wanted to add more value for these bloggers, so instead of offering them money we came up with a pitch that included:
- discount coupons for their readers
- discounts for them to use our service
- and lifetime commissions on any referred sales
Here's the exact email template I used.
If you're doing eCommerce link building, this is a great way to get links. Offer free products for article reviews that include a link. And sweeten the deal with affiliate commissions.
Offering this much value often doesn't make sense when you're doing basic transactional niche edits.
But for hyper-relevant and authoritative niche edits like the ones in this case study, they do.
Not only were we requesting links on pages targeting the same keyword, but these sites get real traffic and can generate targeted referral business.
When a niche edit has GOLD written all over it, make it hard for a webmaster to say no.
Step 4: Follow-up
Many webmasters (or people in general), ignore the first pitch.
We set an auto-follow-up sequence of two emails spread 5 days apart.
At least 30% of people we pitch only respond on the follow-up.
Step 5: Don't make the webmaster work
As you can see, the bloggers we approached had listicle articles featuring the best content writing services.
It's irritating for them to have to go update these articles and write new copy.
So make it easy for them.
Suggest that you can write the copy so they can just copy and paste.
Here's a snapshot of what we wrote for a website called BforBloggers (here's the URL: https://www.bforbloggers.com/best-content-writing-services/)
Step 6: Follow through
Once you've got a verbal agreement from a webmaster make sure they follow through.
One way to do this is to move quickly.
As soon as they say yes, make sure to get them the copy or whatever they need to execute the niche edit.
By friendly and helpful, but do softly nudge them if they are dragging their feet.
Step 7: Rinse and repeat
Use this step-by-step methodology to rinse and repeat for adjacent keywords or for new services or products.
For example, in our case we will do best blog writing services next, and then eBook writing services etc.
Don't have product or services? Use your content as the product. Find sites that talk about topics related to your content and reach out to them requesting a niche edit on the most relevant pages.
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Niche Edits Results
So, has all the worked paid off.
Unfortunately it is too early to say, but initial results look good. From 15 sites that we contacted, 4 have added niche edit links for us.
For example, here's one.
And our page has already started ranking for 33 organic keywords.
Hopefully as we continue our efforts our page will climb from page 2 and 3, to page 1.
Niche Edits FAQ
Where can I buy niche edits?
There are many companies and vendors who sell niche edits, including our service. You can also purchase niche edits on marketplaces like Fiverr and Legiit. However, if you decide to engage a consultant or agency, make sure they follow a formula similar to the RAD methodology. You can do some serious damage by building niche edits on toxic sites.
Guests posts vs niche edits - what's the difference?
Guest posts are new articles that are written and published onto a website for the purposes of getting a link back to your website. Niche edits are links that are added to existing articles on a website with the purpose of pointing the link back to your website.
What is the best niche edits strategy?
There are many ways you can go about building niche edits. The most common, but not necessarily the best, is buying niche edits on relevant sites that sell them. Many sites sell niche edits and guest posts, so the trick is figuring out which sellers have high quality sites. Use the RAD methodology described above to figure this out. Niche edits can also be acquired by working strategically with bloggers and affiliate marketers (like in the case study above). This is particular relevant for eCommerce brands, SaaS companies and other service providers who can provide a commission or freebie or sorts in exchange for a niche edit.
Ready to learn more? Here's our guide to off page SEO.