Semrush SEO Reality Show is back for episode two with our new client: the artisanal Edelweiss Bakery in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in the US.
In the previous episode, the expert agency identified the brand’s core competitors, flagging six competing sites that they considered to be the most important based on factors including steady growth.
The next task was to find the reason for the positive dynamics these sites had; we wanted to know which pages and which keywords helped the sites collect the most traffic. We wanted to dive deep into this, to assess which sites they would place backlinks on.
This brings us to what we focused on in episode two: Backlinks! In this episode, we’re going to look at one of the main components of SEO success, which is building a strong link profile by getting more links to our site pages from other domains to rank higher in the search results.
Step 1 — Find Your Prospects
The agency first knew that they needed to assess the link portfolios of the client. In order to do this, they used the Link Building Tool from Semrush. This tool allows you to find a list of competitors to outrank (and compare data to) and keywords that you want to rank for.
To access the Link Building Tool, you can either navigate to it directly via the URL, by navigating through the menu, or by going through the Backlink Gap tool. To keep it easy, just click on the URL.
When using this tool, you’ll be prompted to automatically create a new project if you don’t already have one created in Semrush. To do this, simply enter the domain name of the business you want to research without a prefix.
To work with the link profile of the promoted site, we will use the Link Building Tool from Semrush. This is a service that helps you select sites automatically by simply setting a list of competitors and keywords that you want to promote. You can get to it either directly, through the navigation menu, or indirectly, through the Backlink Gap, we will use the first method.
If you don’t have a project on the Semrush platform yet, the service will automatically suggest creating it. Please note that the domain name is entered without a prefix.
The project creation process includes two stages:
- The first is to enter the keywords that you want to rank for or improve your position on.
- The second is to enter competitors to monitor.
In many cases, the list of your competitors will depend on the keywords that you enter, but the agency, in this case study, added in the additional competitors they’d compiled from their previous research. The main competitors are highlighted in dark green, and the additional ones are highlighted in light green. This expanded the list of potential sites and publications that Semush will recommend to us for backlink opportunities.
After processing all of this data, Semrush compiles a list of sites that could be a good fit for brands to work with, flagging the donors whose links would provide the strongest results. They do this by showing you two metrics:
- The Authority Score, which tells you about the authority of the domain. The higher the site authority, the more valuable the backlink to your site will be.
- Rating, which Semrush defines as a compilation of over 50 different factors based on quality and accessibility; the higher the rating, the more value a backlink from these sites would become.
To select the best donors, sort them by their Rating in descending order. Choose donors that have an Authority Score of 50 or higher, and a Rating score of 4 or higher. Then you should select the needed domains and click the “In progress” button.
We are particularly interested in sites that already have links to our competitors. To see them, just go to the Competitors tab in the Link Building Tool. Here we do the same prioritization as above for AS and Rating indicators, get a list of the most important donors for us and add them to the “In Progress” tab. For these guys, you can prepare personalized letters with the most interesting offers for them.
When using this process to find backlink opportunities for our artisanal bakery, the expert agency ended up with a list of 83 potential link donors and publications added to In Progress tab.
Step 2 — Prioritize Your Prospects
The next step is assessing whether or not the site would be a fit for the client, the agency looked at the thematic nature of the resource and its own quality of published content. The sites needed to have a similar theme, a local callback, or a local news resource. No sites with a Rating under a 4 worked for the agency, but in some cases it may work.
After our list of 83 donors list is ready, we check the selected links for the overall adequacy and relevance of the site’s theme to the promoted site. All this can be done directly in the tool — select the unnecessary site and click on the Delete button.
Once you identify sites that you believe would be a good fit, you’ll need to start pitching. It’s crucial to note that you won’t be able to get all (if not most) of the links, especially not right away. Plenty of high-authority sites (like https://news.yahoo.com in the example below) only accept a small number of pitches, and they’re more inclined to do so if you’re already working with an established online presence. Small local businesses like our Bakery have a disadvantage there. Therefore, in most cases, such potential publications can be discarded at the start.
As you’re going through this process, don’t forget to connect Google Search Console in order to see the backlinks that Google sees for your own brand. This can help you to automatically mark already acquired backlinks, and rest assured that your most important backlinks have been indexed by Google.
The next step is to set up the process of email distribution to our potential donors without leaving the Semrush platform. To do this, follow the steps below:
After your e-mail is connected to the tool, just go to the “In Progress” tab and click Contact to send the message. Semrush has already taken care to find the contacts to which you need to send a newsletter.
You can also choose your email template and customize it for your specific needs, including the option to see if your message has been read or not without leaving the platform.
After performing the above integrations and configuring templates for mailing, you can start sending out pitches to relevant publications while tracking open rates, responses, and acceptances.
In an ideal world, we could send pitches to every website on the list and get acceptances from each, dramatically improving our own Domain Authority Score to quickly overtake our competitors by the total number of referring domains. You can see the current number of referring domains of our competitors below.
Step 4 — Locate Additional Opportunities
Remember: the link building process is continuous.
To speed up the process of analyzing competitors and adding new sites that you may want to focus on for outreach, you can use the Backlink Gap tool.
Just enter the domain name of your site and the site of a competitor and voila! Semrush will show you those links that you may be lacking to get to the top positions of SERP.
By default, Semrush sorts the domains using the Best filter, which is perfect for our task. The hint that is displayed when you hover over the filter is: “Domains that point to all competitors, but not to You-domain.”
Then we sort the list of domains by the Authority Score metric, and then select sites with an Authority Score score of at least 50, and click Start Outreach. Please note that the service allows you to reach out to more than 100 sites at a time. If you have more than this, work in several rounds.
Then repeat the process described in previous steps and get a profit!
The expert agency used Semrush and the steps laid out above. They prepared a list of 52 domains that would be a great fit for placing backlinks using Semrush’s Backlink Gap tool and Link Building tool. This list can be viewed and managed directly in the Link Building tool. You can check the exported list of our domains here, in the “Backlinks Priority List” tab, where the bakery’s competitors’ are highlighted in blue.
These strategies are easy for our readers to replicate as they look for new potential backlink donors and publications to increase their link-building portfolio.
We’ve reached the end of this episode, but make sure that you stay tuned! In the coming weeks, we’re going to anaylze the semantics of the bakery’s competitors, build the structure of their site, determine the primary groups of keywords to target, and create mockups for new landing pages. This is one series you won’t want to miss, see every episode of our SEO Reality Show here!