Best Practices for Backlink Exchanges: 5 Questions with UpCity’s Michelle Alese
UpCity SEO Content Strategist Michelle Alese gives her tried-and-true advice for conducting meaningful backlink exchanges.
Despite a seemingly endless number of changes to the Google algorithm over the years, backlinks have remained a notable ranking factor. According to Backlinko, backlinks (also known as “inbound links”, “incoming links” or “one-way links”) are links from one website to a page on another website. Google and other major search engines consider backlinks as “votes” for a specific page. Pages with a high number of backlinks tend to have high organic search engine rankings. So the more “votes” you have, the better.
It’s no wonder that earning backlinks has become an essential strategy for businesses looking to boost their off-site SEO. Link building helps page authority, provides credible sources for content, search engine accessibility, and more.
But you can’t just reach out to a business and ask them to link to yours out of the blue, can you? That’s why we asked our SEO Content Strategist at UpCity, Michelle Alese, about what she’s learned throughout her experience on link earning strategies.
Why is link building important?
Michelle Alese: Following best practices for a link exchange is essential for ensuring maximum results and protecting the health of your website. Poorly executed link-building campaigns offer a variety of potential consequences such as increased unsubscription rates, low response rates, and low-quality, unnatural-looking backlinks. Implementing best practices ensures better results and a stronger, healthier backlink profile.
How do you identify who is a good candidate for an exchange?
MA: Start by identifying a good candidate based on contextual relevance. Does the candidate appear to be an authority in their industry? Will your content be a helpful additional resource for the readers of their website and vice versa? Additional signs of EAT (expertise, authority, and trust) to look for when assessing candidates are site security, domain rating, author credentials, original up-to-date content, and information about the organization as a whole.
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How do you approach someone for a backlink exchange?
MA: Conducting research beforehand is key. I recommend finding a contact at the organization who typically handles marketing efforts and online content collaborations. LinkedIn is especially helpful for locating potential contacts based on their department and job title. Once you’ve found a potential contact, create a highly customized email with a precise and intriguing headline.
Describe the article that you’re pitching to them and explain why you think it’ll be a relevant addition to their content on hand. Keep the body of the email simple, short, and concise–always highlight the benefit that your resource can offer to the specific organization that you’re pitching to.
Any etiquette rules to follow?
MA: Address the email with the correct name of the person you’re contacting! This may sound simple, but I can’t tell you how often contacts receive link-building emails where their name is spelled incorrectly or the email addresses a different person entirely. Using the correct name and spelling shows a level of professionalism right off the bat that will help your email stand out.
Additionally, always make sure that you respect contacts’ wishes if they ask to unsubscribe or to not be contacted anymore. Provide an opt-out link below your emails and create a black list if you need to have contacts who don’t wish to be emailed in the future.
What other advice or points would you like to note?
MA: When it comes to link exchanges, prioritize quality over quantity. Focus on building a clean, diverse backlink profile with highly authoritative websites. Avoid spammy link building and if a website seems questionable or suspicious, move on and refocus your link-building efforts on more trustworthy platforms.
Additional Resources for Backlinking
Looking for more technical tools to get started? Here are some of our recommended resources: