Backlinks help boost your domain authority, bring new traffic to your site, and are essential for any good SEO strategy. But this only works if the backlinks are relevant to your niche and come from high-quality websites. Low-quality or irrelevant links can actually hurt your SEO, so it’s important to know how to find the right links and put together a good outreach strategy.
Using a tool like Semrush Backlink Gap is a great way to identify relevant links in your niche and see the high-quality links that your competitors are using. This makes it easier for you to identify new and relevant sites to seek backlinks from and opportunities for targeted traffic.
Crazy Egg’s Favorite Tools for Gaining Backlinks
Our Golden Eggs are our favorite tools for sourcing and building relevant backlinks. These platforms make it easy to analyze your own backlinks as well as those of your competitors, in turn spotlighting opportunities for link-building and outreach within your industry.
Semrush Backlink Gap delivers helpful features that let you compare up to five sites at a time and get suggestions for new websites to seek links. Get started with a seven-day free trial.
Ahrefs is a great option if you need help with advanced link-building tools and backlink reporting alongside a suite of other helpful SEO features. Learn more about Ahrefs’ Site Explorer and pricing plans to get started.
Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is a unique platform for creating organic links that boost your brand’s credibility by connecting you with recognized publications and writers in your industry. Start by creating your free account today.
More Top Link Building Tools
There exists a wide array of tools to build, analyze, and pursue backlinks for your website. That amount of choice, combined with the many facets of link building that these tools can handle, can make it tough for you to decide what tool is right for you with full confidence.
Fortunately, we’ve reviewed the Golden Eggs above and a couple of other tools in greater detail in another post. You can learn about our top five options and other aspects to help guide your purchasing decision. Gain more knowledge and get all the details on these platforms by reading our post on the best link-building tools.
Step 1 – Get Started with Semrush
It takes hard work to build quality backlinks to your website, especially if your site is brand new. That work gets even harder if you don’t have a powerful tool at your disposal to guide your efforts.
We highly recommend Semrush and its Backlink Gap tool, so we’ll kick off this guide by getting you up and running on its software.
Simply head over to Semrush’s website and scroll to the bottom, then click Start your free trial to get seven days of trying out the platform without having to pay anything.
After clicking, you’ll add your email address and name, set a password, and enter your payment information before being taken to your Semrush dashboard.
Your Semrush dashboard has a sidebar menu that includes the Backlink Gap tool, as well as a set of link-building features for analysis, auditing your site’s links, and more.
Get acquainted with the layout of Semrush’s interface and then you’ll be ready to move onto step two.
Step 2 – Analyze Potential Leads Using Keywords
The first thing you want to do within Semrush is to find relevant keywords and other sites to guide your new website’s first foray into generating backlinks.
Click on the Link Building Tool in the sidebar and add your site’s domain to start setting up keywords. Start by entering 10 most relevant keywords to your new site’s content and purpose. For example, if you’re an ecommerce store, start with keywords related to your products. Or, if you’re an industry blog like us, begin with a set of keywords that relate to the topics you’re going to cover in your blog posts.
As a new site, keywords will be more useful than anything else to help you get backlinks, so add as many as possible and make sure they are accurate.
At this same stage, you can add competitors. That doesn’t just have to be sites that are doing or selling the exact same things as you and at a similar stage of growth. You can also add sites that serve as aspirational goals for where you want your site to be eventually.
Once you’ve added your keywords, you can submit your list and see which sites Semrush suggests you seek backlinks from. You can always find this list by clicking on the Prospects tab in the Link Building Tool section of the platform.
This is where the tool really starts to become useful because not only will Semrush give you a list of potential leads, but it’ll also give you the email address you need to contact them, and you can track your messages within its dashboard.
If you click the To In Progress button next to a lead, Semrush will move it to the next tab. The leads you’ve placed into that list will show a Contact button to reach out to them via an email you construct within Semrush. Next to that, you’ll see the status of your outreach.
This makes it easy for newer sites to contact the right people at a quality backlink source and helps you maximize your chances of gaining backlinks early on in your site’s tenure.
Take your time crafting these messages, personalizing them to the recipient instead of just sending a generic link beg. Start by complementing their site, introduce your own, and then explain which page from your site you’d like them to link to and why you think it will be beneficial to you both. Semrush even allows you to use placeholders that will populate with information like your domain and that of the lead you’re reaching out to.
Semrush also lets you save a backlink request email template, which will make your outreach efforts faster. Just don’t forget to personalize your outreach emails a little for each lead.
Once you’ve taken this important first step in outreach, it’s time to analyze the competitors you also added in step one.
Step 3 – Analyze Your Competitors
Your keyword-based leads are a good first step, but assessing the backlinks of your competitors will identify more opportunities for your own backlinks, as well as which sites may be likely to say yes to your linking requests.
Head over to the Backlink Gap tool and add your domain and those of the five competitors you want to analyze.
One of the best things about the backlink tool is that it will suggest competitor domains for you. But, with your site being new, it might not be as accurate as it would be for one that’s been around for a year or more.
Since you may not have any backlinks yet, you can also add a competitor as the root domain (instead of your own), and use the tool as a way to identify sites that accept backlinks in your niche.
Semrush will run the data, and then take you to the backlinks dashboard, where you can see which sites your competitors are linking to that you aren’t. You can also see how many monthly visits those sites get and how often they have linked to your competitors.
You can then use this list to help you start planning sites to contact for backlinks. It’s smart to focus first on sites that are working with more than one of your competitors. That may imply they’re also open to linking to your site.
In much the same way as step two, you can click Start outreach to begin crafting messages to these sites’ owners that will ask for backlinks.
Step 4 – Track Your Link Opportunities
Once you’ve researched sites in your industry and your competitor’s backlinks, it’s time to put that data into a list.
While Semrush will help you with outreach within its dashboard, it’s important to have another method for tracking your overall progress. This can be as simple as a spreadsheet with the sites you want to contact and the status of your outreach efforts.
It’s also smart to segment opportunities by priority. Prioritize leads that are the most relevant to your industry and that Semrush’s metrics imply are most likely to say yes. Save your energy for the links that will be the most attainable and come back to weaker leads in the future.
You should also think about what parts of your site, such as which blog posts, you want backlinks to point to. Few to no sites will want to link back to you unless it’s relevant to their audience, especially if your site is new.
You need to make sure you are able to explain to them how and why a link to you is valuable for them by proving your content is of high enough quality.
Semrush’s Link Building tool will give you an organized way to track your messages and requests. But you can also connect your own mailbox to Semrush in the dashboard to make it easier for you to keep track of answers and to make your outreach emails look a little more professional.
If you’re not getting traction on responses, you can also offer to give leads a backlink in return, known as a link exchange. This can be helpful when your site is just starting out, but it makes it all the more important to work on other SEO aspects to ensure your pages are getting enough traffic for your backlink to a lead worth their while.
Once you’ve sent your outreach and backlink requests to your leads, you’ll just need to wait for responses and quickly reply when they arrive. That’s the bulk of link-building right there. Once you’ve converted some leads or run out of opportunities to pursue, head back to step two and try more keywords and competitors so you can add new leads to your list.
Step 5 – Answer Questions with HARO
Once you’ve used cold outreach for a bit to find leads and get backlinks, you can move on to trying a different method.
HARO (Help a Reporter Out) is a free platform where reporters ask for answers or interviews on lots of different topics, and experts on those topics can offer to help out with a quote or full interview. This quote or interview is then credited to the source, with a link back to their site or social channels.
This is a really unique and valuable way to get backlinks, especially for newer sites, because you can get your site linked on some of the highest-ranking domains like CNN or the New York Times. You also get some publicity and boosted credibility for your business by showing that you’re an expert, which encourages high-quality traffic for the backlink you’ve created (and proof for your cold outreach leads).
It’s free to sign up, and you just need to check your email a few times a day to look for requests. The only downside to using HARO is that it’s competitive, so you have to check your emails often and respond quickly to be chosen by a writer ahead of other sources.
This means it‘s not the most sustainable way to get backlinks, but if you can land a few with high-ranking domains, it’s a powerful way to improve your link-building campaign.
Step 6 – Check for Broken Links
Once you’ve gone through the above strategies to gain relevant backlinks, the last step is checking that they work and continually monitoring their health.
The last thing that you want to do is to put in all that work only to find that your lead has misspelled your site name or URL. You can obviously check your links manually, but a better way of doing things is to use Semrush’s link-building audit tool.
Semrush makes this easy with multiple metrics for your backlink profile, health, and more. You can see how many live backlinks you have, how they are affecting your domain ranking, and whether any of them are broken or inactive.
If there are any that are broken or inactive, you can reach out to the site owner and ask them to fix the issue or if there’s anything you need to do to maintain that backlink. It’s worth using this tool to audit your backlinks every few months, just in case, as a broken link will drag your SEO down or make all your hard work pointless.