Beware of Niche Edit Link Building

by Stuart McHenry December 17, 2018

Contextual Backlinks That Are Too Easy

Quality Link Building

Building quality links is hard work and for a good reason.  Backlinks that are easy to obtain generally don’t count as much as harder to obtain links.  Easy links are too easy to replicate. Niche edit link building is nothing new and should be done with extreme caution.

SEO’s have been utilizing this tactic to build links for over a decade now.  Mostly because they don’t have to pay to produce any content and it’s an inexpensive way to do link building. I have seen this tactic work but I’d heard horror stories on how it’s backfired as well.


What is niche edit link building?

Niche edit link building is getting a link inserted into content that already exists.   Most of the time the content is related to the link but not always. A good example would be someone that wants a link to their iPhone review website.  They find someone with a blog post about smartphones and get them to add a link to an existing article.

Another name for this is curated links. Whether you call this link building technique; niche edits or curated link building, it all means the same. You are building links in aged content.

This link requires little work to obtain and is a widely used tactic by some link builders. Often times the relevance factor is iffy and not nearly as good as the example I provided.


Why you should be cautious

I’ve talked to an SEO that used niche edits too frequently.  He received a Google manual penalty for unnatural links. I don’t think this is a common occurrence.

Google is smart.  Really smart. They have been onto this form of link building for a while now.  It’s easy for them to identify especially if the only thing changing on the page is a new link. Even more so if the link has a keyword anchor text.

If you were to add a link naturally to an existing article you would generally do it for one of three reasons.  Add a citation, correct a broken link, or update the article with new information.

If you do partake in niche edit link building I would strongly suggest the article gets updated with new content. It doesn’t have to be a complete rewrite but adding a few new paragraphs would defiantly look more natural than just adding one link.


What Would be Normal Edit?

Some form of niche edits is natural.  In fact, I believe there are several reasons why someone would edit an old page to add a link.

Citing a source such as a company name.  There are plenty of SEO companies that look for unlinked brand mentions and then request a link.  This can be really effective in building links in a natural manner.

Another instance where it makes sense is with broken link building.  Broken link building is when you find a competitors page that no longer exists.  You then find all the websites that linked to that page and request they update their page because it has a broken link on it.  Of course, you suggest your page that is related to the topic.

These make perfect sense and I’m sure Google has zero problems with these.


How to Build Quality Backlinks

There are several ways to build quality SEO backlinks.  Niche edit link building may work at small scale or combined with other techniques but should be done with extreme caution. Below are my favorite ways to build links.


Content-Driven Link Building

Hands down the top link building technique are creating extremely high-quality content and then performing outreach.  I’m not talking about some crappy 500-word article.  I’m talking about data-driven or in-depth content marketing guides.  Even in-depth guides are getting harder to do nowadays because everyone is doing them.

The important factor in data-driven content is to ensure its data people would be interested in.  Ask yourself if you did research and came up with some statistics would they be interesting?  And if so who would want to share those results?

Most companies will say that outreach is the most important part of content-driven link building but they are wrong.  The content itself is the single most important aspect.  If your content sucks the outreach team will fail and it won’t be there fault. It’s not uncommon to spend 25-75 hours researching, writing, and preparing the content so it is visually appealing.

Once you have created your content masterpiece then it is time for outreach.  You should start by making a list of blogs and news publications that write about similar topics.  Find the specific journalist for that niche and shoot them an email about your newly discovered research.


Guest Posting for Link Building

Yes, this still works, if done correctly. I’m not going to go into too much detail because I feel like this topic is like beating a dead horse.  I will, however, discuss the three key factors.

Guest post on blogs that are relevant to your niche.  Don’t try and fit a square peg in a round hole here.  And when it comes to the specific article itself the more the article is related to your link the higher the relevancy factor.

Beware of overusing anchor text.  I give my team the analogy of asking 100 people to link to a specific webpage with no instructions whatsoever.  How many different variations of the anchor text will there be?  The answer is a lot.  And some of the more common ones like company name, page title, and author will be more common.

Don’t guest post on any blog. Look for blogs that actually have Google traffic.  You can use tools like SEMRush to get an estimate of the amount of traffic Google sends to a website.  The more traffic Google sends the higher the quality Google sees in it.


Final Thoughts

When it comes to links in older content I’m not saying don’t. But beware that if done in abundance can be easily detected by the search engines.  Especially when the only thing that changes in a five-year-old article is a keyword rich link.  In some cases, it will make perfect sense and in others, it will look spammy.

Stuart McHenry
Stuart McHenry is a US-based SEO Consultant focusing on link building, content marketing, local SEO, and reputation management. Follow Stuart on Twitter @smindsrt