A lot of link builders think niche edits and blogger outreach are like Coke and Pepsi. You choose one brand and stick with it for life.
But I think they’re more like peanut butter and jelly. They can both stand on their own, but they’re best (and most delicious) when they’re together.
Hungry yet? I’m about to get you hungry for some Grade A backlinks.
Let’s settle the niche edits vs. blogger outreach debate once and for all. Read on for the full rundown and a brief guide on how to use both link-building tactics.
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Blogger outreach is all about finding sites that will accept a guest post from you. And that guest post will include a link (or two) to your site.
It’s a grind, but it’s one of the most common ways to build backlinks.
You consistently and constantly reach out to bloggers who run sites in your niche. You ask nicely if you can guest author an article on their site.
If you’re doing it right, you get sustainable links on high-authority, relevant sites with real search engine traffic.
The central point of blogger outreach is to get a link on a relevant, authoritative, high-traffic website that points to your website.
But there are several ways you can go about making that happen:
You know your industry better than most. So, you probably know about the biggest sites in your industry.
For example: If you’re an attorney, you might be thinking of particular legal publications or your state bar association’s website.
It’s the same in most industries. If any sites spring to mind, these are a great place to start with your blogger outreach.
It’s a simple matter of finding out how to contact their editors or publishers and making your pitch.
Bear in mind: The success rate is relatively low for this method. But a sustained effort will eventually yield some wins, and that means powerful, relevant backlinks for you.
Not sure which sites you should target for your guest posting efforts? No problem. There are tools that can do it for you.
Just grab the URL of one of your competitors’ websites. Plug it into your SEO tool of choice, such as Semrush or Ahrefs.
Then, check out the backlink analytics for your competitor’s domain. You should see something like this:
Go through the list of sites carefully. Some of these will be nonsense or spam sites. But others will be sites where your competitor has had a guest post published.
Write those down. They’re likely perfect targets for your blogger outreach efforts.
This one takes some time. But it can be extremely effective.
It’s all about reading: Read the content on a relevant blog you’d like a link from.
(You don’t have to read every word — just get the gist of what their content has been about in recent months.)
Make a note of anything related to their main subject matter that they haven’t talked about. This is your opening.
Then, write your pitch. Craft a short and compelling email about the notable lack of content on the topic(s) you identified.
End with an offer to create an incredible article on the subject for the blog. Free of charge.
Many editors see through this immediately, but your offer can still help them even if it helps you.
They are often dealing with razor-thin budgets and will welcome a little free content to pad their editorial calendars.
In return for the favor you’re doing them, the least they can do is allow the link to your website that you include in the article you write.
It may not be that you’re aware of all the relevant websites and publications in your industry. But you might notice a few author names popping up consistently as you consume content related to your niche.
Check those people out. In many cases, they’re guest contributors working for businesses very much like yours.
They’re doing all that writing to build backlinks. That means you can piggyback on the work they’ve done.
Just look at where they’ve been published. You can get a pretty solid idea of this with a simple Google search:
Then, start pitching those publications with your article ideas. You already know these websites have accepted guest contributions, so they’re likely to accept yours, too.
(Just make sure your expertise on the topic at hand is clear in your pitch!)
This is the option many people end up relying on as they scale their link building efforts.
Yes, Google has forbidden it. No, they won’t catch you if you do it right.
What do I mean by “right” in this context?
Buying guest posts ONLY on sites that meet the following criteria:
Stick to those guiding principles, and you can safely purchase guest posts. But keep in mind that actually sticking to these rules will increase the average cost of each post. Still, it’s well worth it.
That’s blogger outreach. But what about niche edits?
Don’t overcomplicate this:
Niche edits are still backlinks. They’re registering as backlinks when search engines crawl them.
The difference is how they occur.
Niche edits, sometimes called link insertions, happen when a link to your site is inserted into an existing article somewhere on the internet.
(That’s as opposed to guest posts, which are NEW articles with backlinks to your site in them.)
You can break niche edits down into three basic categories:
Here’s what you need to know about each type:
White hat niche edits are the safest niche edits for business websites. That’s because they don’t involve any shady tactics.
Basically, these happen when you ask for them. You email a website owner and ask them, for one reason or another, to insert a link to your website into an existing article on their site.
Don’t do black hat niche edits. If anyone is offering these to you, run the other direction.
Because they’ll get you kicked out of Google results (de-indexed), maybe with a manual action. And these black hat tactics sometimes involve illegal activity.
Here’s how black hat niche edits work:
A black hat SEO provider has managed to find a way into websites they don’t own, usually without the actual owners knowing.
It’s often via a corrupted WordPress plugin, a phishing scheme or straight-up malware.
The black hat SEO asks you to pay them to insert a link to your site into one of these hacked sites.
Yes, it’s a niche edit. And yes, it can work for a while. But they almost always get found out. And penalized.
“Gray hat” is not really part white hat and part black hat. It’s really just a gamble you’re making.
Specifically, it’s when you hire an agency to build backlinks for you. If they’re doing niche edits, they’re doing it either the white hat way or the black hat way. And you really have no way of knowing for sure.
Thus the “gray” hat. It could be white or black, and you’re hoping you can trust the agency you’ve hired to do it the white hat way.
Fortunately, most reputable agencies are strict about avoiding black hat tactics, including black hat niche edits.
But you have to be careful:
Vet any link building agency you’re considering. Ask them specific questions about how they actually get niche edits. If they hesitate or sidestep you, you’re right to be suspicious.
So, which one is better: niche edits or blogger outreach?
Neither. Both. A link building strategy with one and not the other is incomplete.
However, each link building method has its strengths. Here’s how niche edits and blogger outreach stack up on some key link building metrics:
Most of the time, guest posts are going to be less expensive per link than niche edits.
Which may seem counterintuitive at first — isn’t a simple link insertion easier to do than negotiating, editing and publishing an entire guest blog post?
Yes, it definitely is. But website owners are pretty savvy with this stuff.
They know niche edits can provide greater immediate SEO benefits because they’re going into established pieces of content.
Also, there’s nothing really in it for them other than money to do the niche edit. But a guest post gives them content, so they get something out of the exchange.
Again, prices vary. And they depend heavily on brand reputation, website authority, organic traffic to the site and the level of control over anchor text that you get.
But in general, you’ll pay less per link for blogger outreach links than niche edits.
An Ahrefs study backs this assertion up:
Ahrefs also found that niche edits on high-authority websites can cost more than $600 in many cases.
If link building is a race, niche edits will win. That’s because niche edits are links inserted into established articles.
That means they’re already indexed by Google. They’re already ranking for valuable keywords. They’re already getting organic search traffic.
They might even already have backlinks of their own.
So, when Google sees the link from a page like that pointing to your website, it sees a MUCH higher-authority link right out of the gate.
That’s as opposed to blogger outreach, which generates completely new URLs that contain your links.
Yes, those new URLs are (hopefully) on authoritative, relevant websites that get Google traffic, but the specific pages that contain your new backlinks do not have any sort of page-level authority.
At least, not yet. They WILL get that authority. It just takes more time.
And that’s why niche edits tend to get faster results than guest posts.
The main point of building backlinks is about SEO. It’s about boosting your rankings in search results for relevant keywords.
But that’s not the only potential benefit of backlinks or link building. You might also reach new audiences who want to consume your content, follow your brand or even become a client or customer.
That’s audience building, and it DOES happen as a result of some types of link building. But blogger outreach will do a much better job of it than niche edits.
Because when you author a guest blog post, you put your website, brand, business, etc. front and center.
Readers know you’re the author. And they know you’re associated with your website or business.
If they like what you have to say, they may decide to follow you on social media, join your email list or bookmark your site in order to keep up with your new content.
I’ve seen guest posts lead to HUGE audience gains overnight. It’s all about finding the right topic for the right website with the right audience. And then, BOOM — your audience skyrockets.
But that rarely happens with niche edits, if ever.
(Which is OK, because that’s not the point of niche edits.)
The reason? Because niche edits are just in-text links inserted into an existing article. They don’t position your brand as the creator of the content (or any content, really).
So, they’re passing all that link juice back to your site. But it’s very unlikely that niche edits are doing anything to DIRECTLY build your audience.
Notice how I capitalized “directly” like that? That’s because niche edits — and all good link building — can INDIRECTLY build your audience by boosting your rankings.
When your content ranks higher, it gets more eyes on it in the search engine results pages (SERPs). And that can build your audience.
But when it comes to direct audience building benefits, blogger outreach takes the win.
Many link builders prefer building niche edits because they are easier to get than links through blogger outreach.
Your experience may vary, but in most cases:
A simple link insertion (niche edit) is a much smaller request than a whole guest post.
Imagine you’re the editor of an industry website. You’re going to have to do a lot more footwork to vet a potential guest blogger.
You need to know that they know what they’re talking about. You need to make sure they’re not inserting spammy anchor text or links into the content they provide. You need to make sure they can actually write.
Essentially, a guest post asks the publisher to align itself with the guest author and their views (at least in part).
That can be a lot to ask.
Meanwhile, a niche edit asks one thing:
Insert ONE link to ONE piece of content with not added fanfare.
There’s much less editorial oversight. There’s very little risk of upsetting any portion of the audience.
It’s a way easier exchange to make. And if you’re offering a truly helpful piece of content on your website for the publisher to link to, you’re even making their job easier.
What I’ve described above isn’t ALWAYS the case. But anecdotally, it’s true. Niche edits are usually much easier to get than guest-authored blog placements.
If you’re doing it right, blogger outreach can boost your authority in your niche or industry.
I’m not talking about domain authority — that’s a separate (and important) concern revolving around link building and blogger outreach.
I’m talking about your perceived authority among your peers and potential customers or clients. When you appear as the guest author in the right publications, you boost that authority. Often by quite a lot.
For example, if you’re an attorney who is getting featured in Attorney at Law magazine, you’re getting a lot of attention. And that boosts your authority — backlinks aside.
Niche edits, while powerful for SEO purposes, aren’t doing that for you. They are fairly transactional and don’t increase the notoriety of you or your brand outside of search engine algorithms.
The other cool thing about blogger outreach done right is that it builds relationships. If you’re routinely creating great blog posts for relevant publications, they’re happy about that.
Many of these publications will welcome the free content and not mind your link being included at all.
And your back-and-forth communication with the editors of these publications creates a tangible relationship that can yield even more backlinks in the future.
Those editors know to recommend you to other publications or websites looking for guest contributors. They will reach out when they’re doing something that you could be involved with.
Create enough relationships over time, and you’ve built a powerful engine for leads, backlinks and authority for your website.
So, which is better? Niche edits or blogger outreach?
The bottom line is that they’re both awesome. They’re both essential for your link building strategy over the long term.
Think of your backlink profile as an investment portfolio. Even beginner investors know that they need to diversify to mitigate risks to their overall investments.
Same for you — you need diverse types of backlinks (and established ways to get those links).
That way, if search engines ever change how they look at niche edits, you’re covered by your guest-authored blog links.
And if guest posts were to stop providing SEO benefits in the future, your niche edits would still round out your backlink profile nicely.
Neither of those scenarios is likely to happen any time soon. But the point remains that it’s better to be safe than sorry.
And in the meantime, you’re building incredible backlinks that boost your authority, rankings and traffic for relevant keywords.
Keep reading: Link Juice: What It Is & Why You Should Care