One of the most pressing and controversial issues in SEO these days is the cost-efficient backlink building for optimal website promotion. Last year, our team conducted a survey by interviewing SEO experts, who buy backlinks via Serpzilla. We asked them about what they focus on in link building and, most importantly, what criteria they use to pick their referring domains/pages. We are happy to share it with you in this article.
Over a 1000 SEO experts took part in our survey: 60% of the respondents have been in SEO for more than five years, while more than 50% were simultaneously running at least three projects, and 25% had 10 or more on their hands. All of them use a wide array of backlinks: rental, article and social links, etc.
The survey confirmed the trends that we already identified during our previous study of the link building market. The majority (57,2%) of the SEO experts base their link building strategy on the purchase of rental links. About 30% of the survey respondents base their link building around deploying backlinks in articles.
The key parameters they pay attention to when choosing their referring domains/pages posed the greatest interest to us. Here’s what we’ve found out.
The most important indicator, as was noted by 85% of respondents, is the relevance of websites in general, and the relevance of their pages in particular. Ranking algorithms have become more complex, and in order for a backlink to have sufficient weight from the search engine’s perspective. In order to appear natural, the backlink, first and foremost, must be deployed in relevant context – whether it’s via a text, or an image anchor. Therefore, the key aspect to look out for is not the overall relevance of the website, as much as it is the relevance of a specific page you plan to place your backlink on.
The difficulty for the SEO experts here is that the number of relevant and suitable pages is usually rather limited. As a rule of thumb, webmasters usually do not sell more than 3 backlinks per page, and often it is even less. In large part, this explains why relevance is such a valuable parameter. That is also why many website owners, especially informational ones, specifically increase the number of various sections and pages on their resource — to attract a broad spectrum of SEO experts who would then buy backlinks.
It is crucial to briefly highlight the subject of regional relevance of the websites, since it was specifically noted by some of our respondents. This factor can play a very important role in the promotion of local shops, service providers or other local websites. Search engines pay attention to it, when they check if you tried to game the system. Thus, if you get a backlink from a review on a Mexican website, and your resource is a website of a flower shop in Nagpur, search engines are extremely unlikely to consider that trustworthy. However, if it’s a regional online store, which has a wide geography of sales, then getting backlinks from other cities and regions won’t hurt its promotion. The same goes for global sales. You don’t need to be Amazon, just have unique goods or services that you’re able to deliver around the world.
The second most valued parameter among experts, as noted by over 2/3 of the participants (48,9%), was traffic. This confirmed another noted trend: SEO experts prefer quality over quantity and do not strive to get backlinks from websites, which are either poorly saturated with content, or low with traffic activity in general. The desired traffic They indicated the desired traffic volume at around 5,000 unique monthly visitors.
It is best to look at traffic over time: not only where it stands at the time of purchase, but also peek at its projected estimates in a month or six months. Ahrefs, for example, allows you to make such estimations. Even if the website has low traffic at the moment, but the projections are promising, you might want to think twice. Maybe this is a good investment opportunity that will pay off in the future.
For example: you consider buying a link from a website with 1,000 monthly users and you see that the site has been steadily gaining traffic over the last six months. That hints at the fact that in a year or so, your 10$-backlink on a website with 1,000 monthly users might easily turn into a 10$-backlink on a website with 10,000 monthly users. That’s a 900% profit right there!
And yes, there is a possibility that the traffic can be artificially poured in through various cheating methods and tools, like bots. In this case, the SEO expert runs the risk of overpaying for a backlink with an artificially high value. The least favorable scenario is if the backlink profile gets too many such links. That’s when you may encounter a negative reaction from search engines and get your website penalized. In order to protect yourself against such outcomes, pay attention to some key metrics of a potential Referring Domain.
DR (Domain Rating, an Ahrefs’ quality metric) was indicated as another important parameter by 30% of the respondents. Roughly 30% of the respondents stated the required DR value should sit at 20+, while around the same share of respondents indicated DR at 30+ or higher. The latter is a fairly high number, and it indicates that both users and other resources link to a Referring Domain with a DR like this. Either such a website is popular, or its webmaster puts in enough time and effort into promoting it.
In addition to DR, SEO experts also compare CF (Citation Flow) and TF (Trust Flow) (Majestic’s quality metrics). Whatever your case is, the task stays the same: to distinguish an active, growing website from a dead one and steer clear of buying backlinks that can harm the promotion process.
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Our research convincingly proves that the role of backlinks in website promotion is important to this day, unlike some experts claim these days. Google still considers backlinks as one of the most important ranking factors. Yes, link building has become more complex and requires a more thoughtful approach than seven years ago, when you could simply buy backlinks in bulk wherever you want and reap rewards still. Now, it’s different. In comparison to the parameters mentioned above, a low price of backlinks is of minimal interest to survey responders.
Building a natural backlink profile, consisting of links to and from resources relevant to your brand, business and target audience, must come first. A developing website gradually grows with links. Users refer to it in their comments and reviews, discuss it on social media, reference it on related websites. The task of link building is to force this process, and make the growth faster.
Successful SEO specialists use different types of backlinks and strengthen them. In any case, in order for the chosen method of link building to bear fruit, it is vital to correctly choose Referring Domains based on more than one parameter.
Whatever strategy you follow, try to think it through in advance and choose websites that will be useful to you in the long run. Treat backlinks as an investment: it’s often better to take a link from a newly growing site than from a well-established but declining one. Properly invested funds – e.g., smart decisions – will increase the total capitalization of your project.