Coming back into the digital world after a couple of years of working in the outdoor media space has shown me how quickly and dramatically this industry changes. SEO/CRO/PPC/CTR/CPC and any other digital acronym we’ve somehow created since the very first .com came to be has evolved because this digital world just moves so quickly! Not only that but now you have things like guest posting, niche edits, sponsored posts…. where does it end?
But now that I’m back to living and breathing it on a daily basis at NO BS Marketplace, it’s been a crash course on getting my SEO knowledge back up to speed so that I can have that extra bit of confidence in adding value to my clients during each and every interaction.
And while it’s very easy to think you know what the best practices are, it’s definitely challenging to know what you don’t know… you know? The most recent example of this is my new understanding of niche edits and editorial links, and why they are not really what I thought they were.
Full transparency: a week ago, I thought an editorial link was simply a formal term for niche edit. I mean, they both add links into aged and indexed content right? Wrong!
I strung up this conversation internally as we have just released editorial links as a purchasable link type, but I was quickly put into my place when I made the assumption that they were the same when, in fact, they are very, very different.
This brings me to the reason for my post today—I want to share the 3 major differences between the editorial links and niche edits so that you don’t make the same mistake I did and potentially land yourself with a penalty, pissed off clients, or a lawsuit.
- Link Stuffing Vs Adding Value
When people think of this type of link building, they’re generally thinking about placing links into aged content that is already indexed within a SERP and will give their backlink that extra bit of SEO juice in a different style to a brand-new guest post.And honestly, a niche edit is a pretty simple way to achieve that. Find a piece of content to edit with some hopefully relevant text you can use, turn it into an anchor, and put in your target URL. Well done, you officially stuffed your link into old content to only benefit yourself. You should be soooooooo proud.*Insert roll eyes GIF*Now an editorial link, on the other hand, is a real chance to add value to the end-user, which is something we know Google favours highly as one of the few hundred ways they determine a page’s ranking. While the method is the same in the sense of adding a link to an already indexed piece of content, the major difference comes in the “editorial” component.The way we define an editorial link here at NO BS is that we:
- Find a relevant article on the publisher’s website that is suitable for the project.
- With the publisher’s blessing, we hand the entire article to one of our highly skilled editorial staff and we make it better,
- We add around 150-300 words of additional content to improve the post and make it a better experience for the end-user.
- Through that process, we allow for a relevant anchor to be placed naturally within the article to create the link. This way, it becomes a win-win-win scenario: a win for the reader, a win for the publisher and, of course, a win for the client(s) looking to benefit from the SEO.
If I’m being honest—which I am, since we’re all about NO BS around here—this was one of my biggest learnings about “niche edits” that blew my mind.Unfortunately, it is very common practice in the SEO world for businesses (if you can call them that) to market niche edits as an affordable product option to agencies, affiliates, and the like without any disclosure that, often, the publisher has no knowledge that there are links going into their existing articles. What most people (myself included) don’t know is just how rife this landscape is with people who hack sites, bribe hosting providers, and find other unethical/illegal ways to insert their links as cheaply as humanly possible.To be fair, I can’t speak for all the providers out there, and I’m hopeful that some are doing the right thing by the publisher. However, I have it on good authority that this is common practice and have seen first-hand websites that have been hacked.Some people may not have issues with the ethics (or lack thereof) that are involved with this method, although for all the agencies out there, I’m pretty darn sure your paying clients would if they knew about it!Editorial links, on the other hand, are pre-arranged with verified publishers, wherein prices have been set, and are very real commercial exchanges where each party involved receives what they’re after for a fair price.True business. I’d love to see this become the norm within the industry but, unfortunately, there will always be someone looking for the cheaper option without caring much about how they actually get it.
- SEO Benefit (Relevancy To The End-User)
One of the final reasons I believe editorial links are worth every cent when compared to niche edits is that the former actually provide a stronger SEO benefit because you have influence in what relevancy your additional content and anchor text are providing to the end-user.At the end of the day, we know Google places an extremely high value on the end-user experience. After all, that’s why their product even exists. But when you simply do a niche edit, no end-user experience is taken into consideration as discussed for all the reasons above.But when you look at an editorial link, you can ensure those editorial changes are made with that end-user in mind to make their search experience all the more beneficial—which we can be very confident in saying that it means a better SEO result for both the aged article and the link juice you can expect for the target URL you’re linking to.
Let’s be real for just a moment and call it how it is: either option will successfully get you a link placed within aged and index content. One will do it unethically, illegally, and will literally add no value to others, but you may eventually see some SEO results. Or you can do it the right way by using editorial links with payment to the publisher, which grants permission to edit the article and add additional content that actually adds value to the end-user, one of Google’s favourite “SEO” hacks… in case you were wondering!