Niche edits seem to have caught your attention, and no doubt you will have seen them if you have been exploring link building, and possibly even looked at some of the niche edit link building services out there.
They do form a viable and attractive strategy – if done correctly. If you are new to them, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Read on to find out what niche edits are, how to get them, and more!
What are Niche Edits?
Niche edits are backlinks placed in existing relevant high-ranking posts or pages on a website. It is a link building strategy that has been around for a while. In the SEO world, niche edits are considered mostly to be paid-for links.
Niche edits are an optimal way of getting backlinks on authoritative and relevant websites, and especially if you want links with a very specific type of context. This strategy is useful to website owners who do not want to use advertising for traffic or are looking for other methods to combine with advertising.
It can be a very quick way of securing contextual links, and can be done at scale, but it does have safe and unsafe ways of going about it. You have to choose safe tactics that align with your objectives and suit your project.
The reason why niche edits are loved so much is that they pass link juice faster and may help improve rankings quickly.
Three main features of niche edits:
- Natural anchor text with URL
- A pithy and fresh line/paragraph that incorporates the anchor text
- Existing content page high in authority and quality, where the niche edit will be placed
Imagine that you have an online honey retail business. If you want to utilize niche edits, you or a link-building agency on your behalf, can reach out to owners of blogs dedicated to wellness, fitness, or food.
Out of those targets, a proportion of them will ask for payment (this is often the case when you’re doing outreach at scale). You will need to select an older relevant post that is still ranking well and ask the owner to place your link insert in that post along with a few lines or paragraphs. For instance, it could be a post on the health benefits of honey or some ways to incorporate honey into your diet.
The link to your website/page should fit in naturally with the context of the page. Once your link is added to the post, that is essentially considered a niche edit.
Guest Post vs Niche Edits
Are niche edits better than guest posts? That depends on your intention and purpose. For some intents and purposes, guest posts might be better while for others, niche edits might be the right choice.
To help you decide which one suits your purpose better, we have outlined the key differences between the two:
- Niche edits find a place in posts that have already been indexed and may even already be ranking, or invite some organic traffic. Guest posts on the other hand are fresh posts.
- It is sometimes easier to get niche edits into a post than to get a new guest post into a website. Some editors/blog owners may even agree to niche edits and ask for their old(er) article to get refreshed, reflect new trends, so it can stay relevant.
- In the case of niche edits, you don’t have to worry about the creation of new content and related issues like the content’s conformity with the tone and theme of the website.
- Niche edits may have a better ROI since they consume less time and money than guest posts. They also offer more scalability.
- With niche edits, you may not get as much keyword relevancy in some cases, and you won’t be able (in most cases) to influence the title of the article. This is dependent on the rules of that site.
- You have a higher chance of getting more traffic with niche edits since the post is already indexed, while the traffic on guest posts cannot be guaranteed from the get go. That being said, with guest posts you may get more referral traffic if its published on a site with a lot of traffic and appears on the homepage and/or is pushed on social media.
- Niche edits can bring you quicker results, while it will take longer with a guest post since you will have to wait for Google to index it.
For the best link building strategy, diversify your links with niche edits and guest posts, as well as other suitable strategies.
Are Niche Edits a White Hat Strategy?
Niche edits, when used correctly, can be a safe link building strategy. Some legitimately earned (not paid) link inserts are what you could consider as completely “white hat”. Niche edit, be it paid or unpaid, should be carefully placed on real and relevant websites, rather than websites built under link schemes. Google and other search engines would prefer all links to be natural of course, so we should do what we can do to ensure the link fulfills that criteria.
However, if we interpret the definition of white hat as “following Google’s guidelines” then if we are paying for links, technically it is not white hat. But if we always read into Google’s guidelines, technically any form of active link building is not white hat!
Relevance is also an important consideration, regardless of whether the links are paid or legitimately earned.
Link building agencies can help you vet the websites thoroughly and see if they are high-quality and relevant to your business. Editors with expertise and experience in SEO and link building place the link inserts naturally into posts on your behalf. This ensures excellent placement and makes the niche edits highly effective. We’ll cover the importance of niche relevance in more detail, in another article. Do you need to buy links at all in order to build links? No, it isn’t necessary. But, if you are trying to build links at scale, on a moderate budget and are aware of those small % of risks, then just make sure to go with an agency that takes a sensible approach to these types of tactics. We would always recommend using a diverse range of tactics and in most industries, there are ways of getting links for free.
Some black-hat link-building companies may hack sites and insert hidden links, while the site owners have no idea about it. This technique crosses over from being against the rules of Google to verging on legal matters. If you use black hat techniques like this, or like SAPE network and PBN for link building, your site will run into problems sooner or later. This report on Buzzfeed published an expose on one unscrupulous link building service who engaged in this kind of activity.
That’s why it’s important to do your due diligence and work with a trusted agency if you are looking to do link building.
Do Niche Edits Help SEO?
Yes, they can be very effective if you know how to utilize them properly. Usually, you will place niche edits in fairly aged content. This content may be a very niche-relevant article. The content has already garnered authority and has been vetted for quality. The link placed is a dofollow link and it gets considerable authority passed on to it due to this relevance.
Niche edits can also be placed in such a way that they add some value to the existing content (on the linking page) and help the linked page rank higher relatively quickly as compared to other link-building methods. As you have probably understood, niche edits help the SEO efforts of both, the linking as well as the linked page.
Although results are faster with niche edits, they do still take a little time. There is a bit of drip-feed-like action as the backlinks get indexed by Google at different times.
Advantages of Niche Edits
Niche edits can be beneficial to both parties. Due to the contextual relevance of them, you get authority-building links and if you’re refreshing the surrounding context as well, you can help freshen the aged content of the linking website.
In some cases, it will help them replace the broken links on their pages with links to active pages. If it particularly benefits them, you may even get the link for free.
We have had cases where an editor said they normally ask for payment, but decided we added so much value, they wouldn’t charge anything.
Here’s an example where we just had the right approach during outreach, and the client’s site had the right fit.
Even better this was on an extremely industry-relevant site. We didn’t get an exact match anchor text (can’t win them all!), but our target keyword was in close proximity which is the next best thing.
Speed and Scalability
No writing paragraph after paragraph! A sentence or a few lines suffice. There won’t be any hassle with the editors or site owners over the content, tone, theme, and quality that you’d normally get when doing guest posting.
As well as this, you can earn link equity faster with niche edits, due to this ability to get links with just the right context, and at scale. Blog owners/editors are likely to accept niche edits sooner, provided you have taken the right steps.
Because of this ability to get these links faster without having to generate content, or produce extensive linkable assets, it may help you bring your link acquisition costs down.
You generally have more control over the anchor text. Along with the contextuality of the content, that’s a killer combination and as long as you’re sensible, don’t over optimize and don’t make the links look unnatural, you can reap the benefits.
This strategy is great for pages that are more difficult to target with other link building strategies – and that’s particularly very bottom of funnel content, case study pages or product/service pages. In such cases, earning free links from outreach is going to be a lot harder (probably impossible in many cases).
Having said that, guest posts may also allow you to insert commercial links, if the editor is comfortable with it.
Organic and Referral Traffic
Since these are generally going to be quite niche relevant links, it can make a good dent in your ability to rank for your target keywords, (especially for commercial keywords as we described) and can therefore help bring in organic traffic.
At the same time, referral traffic is also very possible. As long as you are getting links on quality sites that actually get traffic, niche edits can be particularly advantageous since its a page which is niche relevant, and you have a link on that page mentioned in the right context.
Challenges and Risks Associated with Niche Edit Links
Finding the Context
The greatest disadvantage of niche edits is that you often have no control over the rest of the content of the page on which the link is placed.
Some websites also won’t even go back to edit articles, or have a policy of not inserting links in previously published content at all. In those cases, you may have to come up with a highly informational guest post instead.
It may be highly time consuming to find the right niche websites and pitch to them, if you’re in a very obscure niche or have content that is very specific. In those cases, you may need to “niche up”, look for crossover industries, or rely on other link building techniques.
Many solo blog owners of smaller niche sites also won’t accept payments – both to keep in line with Google guidelines, but also on moral grounds.
So you might reach a point where you’re finding less and less links where you can do a niche edit.
Costs & Time Can Rack Up
Most niche edits require cash incentives, which is a disadvantage if you have an edit/link that legitimately deserves a natural place in relevant content. People learned that they can earn money this way, so they will ask for money.
And even if they don’t ask for payment, you may even have to refresh part of the content to incorporate your link, so the time spent doing that can also add up.
Not conducting rigorous quality checks before placing niche edits could land your website in trouble. If you placed your link on a website that is part of a link scheme by an error of judgment, you could still face the wrath of the Google overlords in the form of penalties.
Another reality is that there will always be a quality ceiling, if you only rely on niche edits. The top sites in your industry, and large media publications, will not accept payment for links. Many may accept payment only for advertising or sponsored content packages, but they will then have to nofollow the link.
So its best to only have paid niche edit strategies as a smaller % of your overall campaign. This may be difficult in a highly competitive industry like vaping or gambling however.
The Future of that Link?
In addition, if the website that accepted your niche edits goes on to accept links from low-quality and non-relevant sites for money, it could be problematic later down the line, even if you vetted the site in the initial stages. What may have been a good link one day, may not be as good years down the line, and the link could eventually get devalued.
However, this technically applies to any link, as even a site that didn’t sell links, may sell links in the future and be at risk of being devalued. We’ll talk more about this later on how to mitigate this issue.
A great niche edit strategy should be safe, with little risk of Google penalties, but impactful at the same time. Here’s how you can fully harness the power of niche edits:
- Use tools to find the right pages
With tools like Ahrefs, you can find the pages on your target website which get a lot of backlinks, traffic and social shares. You can seek to leverage some of the power that these pages have by getting niche edits on them.
For example, if we wanted to find get niche edits on pages which have a lot of link equity going to that page, we can use a feature like the “Best By Links” feature on Ahrefs and order it by number of Dofollow links, or Referring Domains going to that page:
Just ensure to factor in that some pages may have a lot of junk/syndicated links pointing at them.
Alternatively, you could look for the pages that have actual traffic or social shares. This is where features like “Top Pages” or “Top Content” can be helpful.
If a page is actually ranking on Google and bringing in traffic, at least you can be confident it’s a valuable page. Combined with the topic actually being niche relevant, that will make it quite an impactful link as well.
- Clear, concise and compelling emails
Editors get a huge multitude of emails with backlink requests. Understanding and sorting through these emails can get time consuming and stressful. Make it easy for the webmasters by drafting clear and concise emails. Your pitch needs to be compelling. Instead of making it all about yourself, let them know what is in it for them. You should also clearly state the page you want the link to be on, the page you want the link to lead to. Eventually, you can lead them to the anchor text and the context, but no need to get into that until you’re past the negotiation.
Also if its a roundup post you’re inserting a link into, they may often ask for some kind of blurb or summary about your tool/brand. As good etiquette, I’d usually recommend putting it in a publicly editable Google Doc, as it makes it easy for them to copy and paste it in. When its a small edit or a few sentences, putting it in the email is usually sufficient.
Here’s an example of a normal resource recommendation on a site where we had a fairly good idea that it would be paid. It’s good etiquette to not just jump in assuming you can buy the link.
As this thread went on, we found they wanted a pretty high amount, but its always good to have alternatives in your back pocket instead of sponsorship.
Link exchanges can work well, as it did in this case.
You can even try offering:
- Sharing their articles on social media in exchange.
- Giving some product exchange/discount.
- Helping them with a problem (i.e. you noticed an error on their website you can fix or a bit of free SEO work, site speed work).
- Eternal gratitude
Ok, the last one may not work! But in some cases, you might find you can get links for free just because you approached them in the right way, with something that’s truly valuable.
- Protect your brand
When you email contacts regarding paid links, it is recommended that you use an email that does not give away information about your brand right away. In case something goes wrong during the negotiation, your brand will be safe.
And like we said in tip number 2, we don’t want to jump straight in just assuming they sell links, if we don’t know first-hand. Plus,even if they did at one point, that doesn’t mean they still do, or that they sell to everyone.
- Negotiate and close swiftly
If they are expecting payment and you want to use paid link strategies, it’s often possible to at least negotiate the price down, or offer something else in exchange.
But, the key thing is to make the process as smooth as possible, in terms of the negotiation process and the payment. Some people use the DA level as a rule of thumb to calculate how much they’re willing to pay for a link, but there isn’t really any hard science to this. Different sites value their sites differently, and it’s possible for a really small blog to just expect a much higher amount than a more valuable site.
Above all else, just keep things professional and polite, but make it clear you can’t budge from a certain price – don’t start with the top end of your budget of course! It’s usually possible to get at least 30 – 50% of their original price off the link.
If you want to learn more about negotiation technique, I’d recommend reading the book Never Split the Difference, by Chris Voss.
- Resilience and Consistency
There are chances that the first pitch will be ignored. You need to follow up. If it is difficult for you to do so manually, set up automated follow up emails, which is easy using platforms like Pitchbox or Mailshake.
- Be very diligent
Practice due diligence when deciding a niche edit target. Apart from using software to check the traffic and site history, you may also need to check the website manually for red flags. The idea here is to avoid low quality sites or what we may deem “link farms”.
(a) Manual Checks
In terms of manual checks, here’s what you need to watch out for:
- PBN/Link Farm – often characterized as sites that are only made for the purpose of publishing sponsored posts. Often every single post is a guest post, and they often don’t share any info about the actual person/team behind the site. This method of identification is more of a “sniff test” which an experienced prospector can usually determine within about half a minute.
- Editorial standards & wide range of content- are they maintaining any kind of standard over the content, or are they just blindly publishing any old content pieces that have no logical relevance to each other? Has loads of unrelated categories with no narrow niche focus? Often a sign of a low quality site.
- Overuse of exact match anchor texts – ties in with the lack of editorial standards and only being used for paid posts. You may see that the majority of the posts (if not all) have quite unnatural looking links in them, where the buyer has used an exact match anchor text.
- Filled with spammy niche content – if the site is riddled with posts linking to casinos, forex, crypto or such topics, and there isn’t any editorial reason to legitimately talk about those (often it’s just promotional articles with aggressive use of exact match anchor text).
(b) Software Checks
- Checking traffic: As we said above, checking traffic levels with an SEO tool can give you some measure of quality.
Here’s an example, of a link farm site – orangemarigolds.com
On first glance it’s a poor quality website anyway, and the metrics show a low traffic level. In combination with that is a very high DR level, which doesn’t really match up well with the traffic metric. So that seems to suggest an attempt to inflate the metric with low quality links. This is also why you can’t blindly follow metrics like DA and DR, if you’re using niche edit services.
- Traffic quality: Traffic also comes with a big caveat – where is that traffic coming from and is it relevant at all?
Sometimes with poor quality sites, you’ll see that they do seem to register some sort of rankings and organic traffic, but you find it’s mostly junk traffic. That’s why I don’t really trust blindly following traffic, as high quality websites could even have a moderate amount of organic traffic, and may even be getting traffic from other sources.
Here’s an example of a seemingly good niche edit opportunity you’d want to avoid – easemybrain.com
We found that most of their 2,200+ traffic per month was in Malaysia. And even then, the traffic is keywords relating to people looking for info about instagram models, streaming services etc. Tell-tale signs of a site just churning content for the purpose of bringing any type of traffic in.
There are other software checks that can be done, but any more than this is digging too deep into a website and might only be a time-sink rather than giving any further benefit. Most of the low quality niche edits you want to avoid, you can usually filter out with the manual sniff test anyway.
With niche edit backlinks you need to be particularly careful with how it affects your target websites. When you are using paid links, you generally have more control over the link insertion. And that could mean, overuse of anchor texts and/or inappropriate use of anchors. In essence, your link building could look unnatural.
Will this type of approach cause a risk of a Google penalty because of it seeming like an attempt to manipulate pagerank? Probably not, but at the very least those links could be devalued over time.
Here’s an example of a naturally incorporated link:
We had a page specifically which was a roundup of Bowflex home gym systems, but with the added context of it being Bowflex, but without us just “pigeon-holing” an anchor like “Bowflex home gyms” with no context.
So that is a common challenge we do see company’s make, is when the context of their niche edits just looks off. So make sure those niche edits:
- look naturally written, i.e. with an anchor that is mentioned contextually. This is particularly important with commercial links which is where most get it wrong.
- are on an article which has outbound links to other high value resources or inbound internal links
- look even more natural if you can edit the article/paragraph in order to incorporate the link. This is a more natural signal, as people do generally edit their existing posts over time anyway, and it would make sense for someone to be adding a link, if they are trying to add more value.
Whether niche edits are worth it or not, depends largely on your goals and resources. It is best to use this strategy wisely and in limits, and to ensure your niche edits look as “white hat” as possible.
This isn’t easy though – it does require a lot of time spent on proper vetting, diligent selection of pages and contextual editing.
So, if you want to outsource your link-building work, go for an agency that is willing to vet the links properly and conducts those rigorous quality checks so that you get the best value out of those niche edits.