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Maria Kalyadina

Link Building Workflow #semrushchat

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Maria Kalyadina
Link Building Workflow #semrushchat

Link building is said to be one of the most important skills in SEO. As search engines have become more sophisticated in rooting out unscrupulous links, the industry has changed.

Our latest SEMrush Chat was special because we dedicated it to some big changes to our Backlink Audit Tool. Recently SEMrush and Majestic combined forces to increase the scope of links that users are auditing. During the chat, our special guest Dixon Jones from Majestic and our other chat participants discussed the successful link building workflow.

In the recap, you will find answers to the following questions:

Q1. On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 is most important), how would you rate the importance of links now? Why?

Q2. What criteria would help marketers to define how many links is enough for a certain website?

Q3. What are some easy, low effort ways to get a high-quality link?

Q4. How can marketers earn links through building relationships online?

Q5. What is the best way to get rid of a spammy link? Do you disavow links or ask owners for removal?

Q6. As a new business, where is the best place to start working on our backlink profile?

Q1. On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 is most important), how would you rate the importance of links now? Why?

Most SEO specialists believe that links are still important, giving them between 6 and 9 points:

Although links still play a big role in the SEO game, not all of them can help your website to rank better and get more search engine traffic. Site owners can’t get away with building low-quality links anymore, and although spammy links may still work in the short-term, it is very difficult to sustain sites that are built on spam.

Earning links is a difficult and time-consuming process. High-quality links from authoritative websites are hard to come by, but if you want to build a solid, long-term business, you need to focus on earning reliable and trustworthy links.


Q2. What criteria would help marketers to define how many links is enough for a certain website?

"Link quality over link quantity" has practically become the main strategy for SEO specialists and site owners. You probably already know that links should be natural, relevant and come from an authoritative site, but do you know how many links should you be building? Here are our chat participants’ opinions on how to define the optimum quantity of links for your site:

Michael Hall‏ - @allmikehall recommends looking at referring domains and IP addresses linking to a page of your competitors. This information can give you a general idea of what goals to set.

Some SEOs underestimate the power of a solid internal linking strategy. By adding the right internal links into your content, you can help search engines understand the relevance and value of your content, as well as the relationships between them. Internal links to related content indicate to the search engines which pages contain information about similar topics, and they can increase the overall authority of your site and give some of their authority to your new page.

When it comes to internal linking, it has to be user-focused. One of the benefits of internal linking is that it improves user engagement on your site. Therefore, you need to make sure that your links match the context of your content and add value to your site visitors.

Many of our chat guests pointed out that there’s no single formula for defining the maximum number of links you should place on your pages.

As with many other SEO questions, there is not one answer. It is important to strike a balance between on-page SEO, your content, and the number of links. Without proper balance, you are risking hurting your site with a poorly planned SEO campaign. If you build too many suspicious links pointing to your homepage, it is unlikely to deliver the desired results. It is better to strengthen your internal pages to boost the overall SEO of your site, rather than point many links to your homepage.

Q3. What are some easy, low effort ways to get a high-quality link?

  • Be the First and Be Authoritative

Dixon‏ Jones - @Dixon_Jones believes that to earn links, you need to be ahead of the game. This means that if you are the first in your niche to announce important news or share some great pieces of content, links will follow. You should position yourself or your brand as an authority in your niche, so people will want to link to you. “Be Unique and valuable at once. Be the very first person to talk about something in an authoritative manner,” recommended Dixon‏ - @Dixon_Jones.

  • Reclaim What Is Already Yours

You can reclaim backlinks that are producing 404 errors, which represent potential inbound links that are currently broken. Use Google Search Console to identify broken links and in the Crawl Errors report, you will find where the Googlebot has encountered a 404 code, including links from external sites. To fix this, you can use an .htaccess file for 301 redirecting, and your 404 error will redirect to the correct page. 

  • Find New Ways to Present Data

Today, marketers have to deal with large amounts of data. To build credibility, it is important to present data effectively and in an understandable way. Eric Lander - @EricLanderSEO suggested setting yourself apart from everyone else and present your research data in a creative, unique, and interesting way. To do that, you can try out some of these 38 tools for data visualization.

  • Become a Good Resource for Journalists

Signing up for HARO (Help a Reporter Out) can be a powerful tool to getting backlinks from authority news sites. When you sign up, you will get three emails each day from reporters who are looking for sources. You need to find relevant topics that you can contribute to and then respond with your helpful tips and insights. When choosing requests that you want to respond to, be selective to ensure that links you get come from relevant, high-authority publications.

  • Create Opportunities

By making guest appearances (podcasts, webinars, etc.), creating interviews, and finding speaking engagements you can get significant exposure for your brand or yourself and new opportunities to build high-quality links from participated content. While this requires a bit more effort, the results can be huge!

  • Leverage Your Network and Relationships

No doubt, people who already know you are much more likely to link to you. Therefore, building solid relationships online boosts your credibility and significantly increases your chances of acquiring more quality links. “Networking. It can take a LONG time, but when it comes, it can be huge,” tweeted ThinkSEM‏ - @ThinkSEM


Q4. How can marketers earn links through building relationships online?

Building long-term, trust-based relationships with people who may care about your brand, can provide you with more link opportunities and give you a competitive advantage.

Try these tips to build relationships online to acquire links:

  • Engage with Your Community

Some brands use community involvement as a part of their marketing process. Contributing to a community within your industry is a great source for various brand-building activities and new link opportunities. First, you need to find where your online audience is and be active in those communities.

A great place to start is to engage within online communities like Quora, Reddit, or Google+ communities, share your expertise on industry forums and the comment sections of popular blogs. Even though these links won’t necessarily provide real SEO value, they can send referral traffic to your site.

  • Connect on Social Media

People interact on social media a lot, and it is one of the few channels that allow businesses to have a dialogue, instead of a monologue. Companies now have the ability to start a real-time conversation with users and connect with influencers.

Establishing content partnerships with highly influential people in your niche who share the same interests with you, your content can be exposed to a larger audience. By working with them, you can contribute to their blogs and occasionally link out to your own pieces of content.

  • Dive Into the Podcast and Guest Blogging Circuits

Collaborate with people who work in your niche to create content together and build partnerships that are mutually beneficial. The outcome can be significant, and goals can be reached that may not have been possible without this collaboration. Invite guests from the same or adjacent industry to your podcast and find new guest blogging opportunities. For example, they can be an industry podcast or a guide with insights from several experts. By working together and focusing on your key message, you can reach your objectives, whether it’s getting backlinks from influencers, exposing your brand to a new audience, gaining personal influence, or building your business from scratch.


Building mutually beneficial relationships is definitely worth the effort, as it applies to all industries. The rewards you get from partnering with people are quality links, shares, new audiences and brand advocates.

Q5. What is the best way to get rid of a spammy link? Do you disavow links or ask owners for removal?

When Google Penguin was released in 2012, websites with shady and unnatural links started to be penalized. Buying bad links may give you some short-term wins, but it will definitely backfire in the end. Today, site owners and SEOs should aim their efforts at controlling the backlinks pointing to their site.

Our chat guests shared their opinions on how to get rid of spammy links. The opinions were divided:

Dixon‏ - @Dixon_Jones said that he doesn't usually reach out to bad link owners.

On the other hand, some of the experts believe that it is worth doing both. First, you can find the contact details of the website owner and ask them to remove the link. You need to be polite and avoid demanding the owner to take the link down.

Unfortunately, there is a high chance that a webmaster will ask you to pay for link removal or even ignore you. In this case, you can disavow the link, using Google Search Console.

Removing spammy links can be hard. If there are just a few of them, you can do it manually, but if you have tons of them, consider using some paid tools to clean up your bad links. This can be helpful when you or your client has made the mistake of buying bad links via a shady SEO company in the past.

To find suspicious links, use the SEMrush Backlink Audit tool, which includes Google Search Console integration, and then send those toxic links back to the Google Disavow tool.

If you can’t remove some of your spammy or low-quality links, you can create a disavow report, asking Google to ignore these particular links when accessing your site.


What has been your experience working with Google’s disavow tool? Have you used any other services to find toxic links? Let us know in the comments!

Q6. As a new business, where is the best place to start working on our backlink profile?

These actionable techniques can help new businesses start working on their backlink profile:

  • Check your own site’s 404 errors.

  • Look at your competitors’ backlink profile for link targets.

  • Find your hubs of authority and engage with influencers in your niche.

  • Build citations to increase visibility, rankings, and trustworthiness.

  • Hit local business directories (Yelp, BBB, Google My Business, Apple Maps Connect).

  • Start off with stellar internal linking structure.

  • Go for the links that are easy to get (Product Hunt, AngelList, Quora, Reddit, technical publishers).

  • Consider investing in paid media.

  • Get an interview with your local newspaper.

  • Use Google Search Console to know what you got before planning your next move.

  • Make alliances — as SEMrush and Majestic did!

Special thanks to the following chat guests who helped us make this list: @Dixon_Jones, @iqseo, @netvantage, @natedriver, @Kevin_Indig, @patrickstox, @ThinkSEM, @AccuraCast, @timlev4, and @Optimisey.


We hope that the tips from this post will help you to improve your link building workflow. If you have got your own ideas and suggestions, please add them in the comment section! Many thanks to our special guest and our other chat participants for sharing their expertise and great insights!

Make sure to join us this Wednesday to discuss Proper Keyword Research with Stoney deGeyter.

Maria Kalyadina

SEMrush employee.

Maria is the Social Media Marketing Manager at SEMrush and the host of the weekly #SEMrushchat. You can always connect with her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter!

Join the #SEMrushChat every Wednesday at 11 am ET/ 4 pm BST!
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