What are niche edit backlinks and should you use them?
My company spent $22,960 to find out. Here’s what we discovered:
What are Niche Edit Backlinks?
A niche edit occurs when a backlink is placed in an old piece of content. This is different from a guest post because those are placed in a new piece of content.
The “value” of a niche edit is that you’re getting a backlink on an established page.
Now you’re probably wondering:
Are niche edits worth it?
Let me show you what the data says:
Do Niche Edits Work?
We’ve acquired 565 niche edit backlinks to date. Some of these are through our own manual outreach process and some are through vendors.
This case study is 100% about the effectiveness of niche edits (not a review of vendors who provide them).
I’ll save that for another post.
That said, we analyzed the results of 34 URLs that received at least 3 backlinks from niche edits.
The segment included 239 total backlinks. We didn’t include most URLs because they had less than three backlinks.
Now I must say that the results were pretty impressive:
- 24 URLs saw keyword ranking and organic traffic growth, which equates to a 70% success rate.
- 20% of URLs in this segment saw flat performance (no increases or declines).
- And only 10% of the URLs saw a decline in performance.
Now here are the high-level metrics of the 565 niche edit backlinks:
The average Domain Rating (DR) was 24.
Two things to keep in mind here:
We acquired placements at all different authority levels.
Most vendors use Domain Authority (DA) from Moz as their primary metric. DR from Ahrefs and DA are calculated differently.
And the average organic traffic per month was 910.
So back to my original question:
Do backlinks from niche edits work?
Yes, they work if you know how to use them.
Here are three examples:
Example #1 – New Website with No Backlinks
In this example, we hit a brand new page targeting a local keyword with a search volume of 450 and a KD of 4. The keyword was sitting at #61 as of 8/9. As of 10/13, the keyword is now at #19.
We hit this page with a total of (x8) niche edit backlinks. I’ll update the rankings above once it hits the first page.
Example #2 – Established Website With No SEO
In this example, we first consolidated pages using The Cake Technique (a consolidation and 301 redirect technique).
Then we used focused link acquisition to the new “mother” asset. We used roughly (x16) niche edit backlinks for this page, and the results were great:
Example #3 – Old Website With Countless SEO Vendors
Let me start by saying that example #3 was an absolute mess. They had worked with three different SEO companies before us.
As a result, their SEO “strategy” was a hodgepodge of ineffective tactics. We ended up deleting 90% of their content.
And we also acquired many backlinks using the niche edit strategy. We started our SEO campaign in December 2019, and here are the results:
We also pushed their most important keywords from page two and three to the first page:
We acquired (x40) niche edit backlinks for this campaign. Now let’s talk about:
How to Use Niche Edits (Safely)
If you decide to use a vendor for niche edits, just remember that buying links is against Google’s guidelines. Your website CAN get penalized for buying backlinks.
That said, here’s the best approach regardless of whether you’re doing it manually or paying for it:
Focus on your content first
Your backlinks are only as good as your content.
Most people skip fixing their content and website and dive headfirst into link building. This is a huge mistake.
What they don’t realize is that strong content and an awesome website built for great UX makes everything easier (including link building).
So before you even think about acquiring backlinks, follow this quick checklist:
1. Make sure you’re targeting the right keyword
The key to every successful SEO campaign starts with effective keyword research. The truth is that anyone can find keywords, but the real skill comes from knowing what keywords to target.
That’s when keyword qualification comes into play.
Watch the new video below to see how I use the IRT Method to qualify keywords:
2. Create an SEO content brief
Finding a qualified keyword isn’t enough. You need to put your military general hat on and think about how you’re going to strategically beat your competitors.
- What are they doing well?
- What are they doing poorly?
- What can you do better?
- How can you add more value?
- How can you deliver a better experience?
- What’s going to be your unique angle?
These are some of the questions you need to be asking in your brief.
3. Create content that’s different and better than the competition
Most people talk about creating “better” content, but that’s the path of most resistance. It’s better to create content that has a unique angle for the keyword target.
As a result, you’ll be creating a blue ocean for your content. Watch this video to learn how to create SEO content the right way:
4. Optimize your content like a pro
Some people underestimate how powerful on-page SEO can be. Sometimes just making the right on-page SEO tweaks can double your performance.
But the question is: how do you know what to tweak?
You can follow the checklist I linked above or you can use a tool like Surfer SEO to streamline the process. Here’s how to use it:
5. Prioritize the content within your architecture
Like on-page SEO, optimizing your site architecture is an Archimedes lever. If you do it right, you double your SEO performance.
That’s because site architecture is the foundation of your on-site SEO strategy.
Your goal should be building a site architecture that efficiently improves crawling and indexing and distributes link equity.
Watch this video to see how I would map out a site architecture for SEO:
Once you’ve done everything I’ve described above, then it’s time to acquire backlinks.
Use high authority links on tier one
Getting niche edits on low-authority websites isn’t a wise idea on tier one. Less is more when it comes to link building.
So I recommend focusing on DR 20 + opportunities on tier one.
You can use lower authority backlinks to force Google to crawl your tier-one placements. It will also theoretically increase the authority of your tier-one links.
I call this strategy The Phantom Link Building Technique.
Use intelligent anchor text
Read my anchor text guide to learn the best methods for optimizing your anchors. In short, your use of keyword-rich anchors should be very low.
Google has gotten much better at understanding the context of a page without needing anchor text.
That said, most keywords still need a push. So when you use a keyword-rich anchor, make sure it’s with your strongest and best link opportunities.
I recommend using my method of anchor text cycling:
Niche edits are an effective link building strategy. Make sure you build content and a website worth linking to before you ever use them.