How to Build Backlinks with Semrush: 10 Actionable Tips

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How to Build Backlinks with Semrush

Backlinks are one of the key factors Google and other search engines use to determine the quality and relevance of a website. As such, building and maintaining a strong backlink profile is a cornerstone of SEO.

Link building can be a daunting task for bloggers and SEO professionals. Fortunately, there are several tools available in the market to simplify the process. One such tool is Semrush, which is widely popular among marketers for its ability to help with link building efforts.

Semrush has the world’s largest backlink database with more links and faster update cycle than any other major SEO platform on the market.

The Semrush Link Building toolkit comprises of three essential tools:

In this post, we’ll examine 10 actionable link building tactics that can be implemented using Semrush’s Link Building toolkit.

Note: To get the most out of this guide, you’ll need an active subscription to Semrush. If you don’t have an account yet, click here to get a 14-day free access to Semrush PRO.

Semrush Backlinks: 10 Actionable Link Building Tips

1. Replicate Your Competitors’ Best Link Building Strategies

By analyzing the link building strategies of your rivals, you can get valuable insights and inspiration for developing effective link building strategies.

If you have trouble finding your competitors, Semrush’s Backlink Analytics tool can help you identify your closest competitors based on the number of common referring domains.

These are websites that are receiving referral traffic from other sites where your target audience is most likely to spend their time.

To identify your competitors, navigate to:

SEO > Link Building > Backlink Analytics

Enter your domain in the search box and in the resulting Backlink Analytics report, navigate to the “Similar Profiles” section.

Semrush BA - Similar Profiles

By doing this, you’ll have a fair idea whose referring domains you should analyze to get the best link building ideas.

For instance, if you are the owner of TechCrunch (as in the example above), you could analyze the backlink profiles of Wired, The Verge, Mashable, and Business Insider.

You can click on “View full report” under the section to see more competitors who share a similar profile to your website.

Semrush Competitors Report - Backlink Analytics

The “Backlinks” report will also highlight the total number of referring domains, backlinks, and common referring domains between your site and your competitor’s site.

To view your competitors’ backlink profile, click on your closest competitor’s domain and visit the “Referring Domains” tab to see the sites that link to your competitor. Use the advanced filters above and sort by Authority Score (AS) to view the most relevant and authoritative referring domains.

Semrush RD Report - Filters

You can focus on these domains as your target in your upcoming outreach campaigns.

2. Find Evergreen Content Ideas That Generate Natural Backlinks

Competitor analysis is not just useful for acquiring high-quality backlinks, but also for identifying evergreen content ideas that attract organic backlinks.

Evergreen content refers to blog posts that stay relevant and valuable to readers over an extended period. As a result, evergreen posts tend to receive more links as they can be continuously promoted over time.

Just like in the previous step, you can use Semrush’s Backlink Analytics tool to identify evergreen content ideas from your competitors.

Visit SEO > Link Building > Backlink Analytics

Enter your competitor’s blog and in the resulting overview report, visit the “Indexed Pages” tab to see your competitor’s content that has attracted the most number of backlinks.

Semrush Indexed Pages Report

You can use these content ideas as a source of inspiration, as they are not only ranking well in search results but also attracting a significant number of high-quality backlinks.

3. Build Resource Page Backlinks

Resource page link building is an easy, yet highly effective method for obtaining backlinks.

A common trend among bloggers is to maintain a resource page featuring a carefully curated list of tools and resources.

You can find resource pages for virtually any topic you can imagine. Here are three examples:

With Semrush, you can discover new resource page link building opportunities by examining the pages that are already linking to your competitors.

Here’s how you can do it:

Select the “Backlink Analytics” tab from the sidebar menu and enter your competitor’s domain in the search box.

In the resulting Backlink Analytics report, visit the “Backlinks” tab to get an overview of your competitor’s overall backlink profile. Let’s take SparkToro as an example.

Semrush Backlink Analytics - Sparktoro

Next, type the word “resources” in the search bar to filter the URL column. This will show you a list of pages that link to your competitor and contain the word “resources” in the title or URL.

Semrush - Resource Page Link Building

You’ll now have a bunch of resource pages that are already linking to a website in your niche. This means that there’s a high probability that they will be open to linking to your site as well.

The next step is to narrow down the list of websites by authority and reach out to them via personalized outreach emails.

4. Analyze Your Backlink Network

The Network Graph report within Semrush’s Backlink Analytics tool is a valuable resource that is often overlooked and should be utilized more frequently by Semrush users. 

Simply put, the Network Graph shows you four things:

  • If your site’s backlink profile is reputable, relevant, moderate, or suspicious
  • The most authoritative backlinks as well as 2nd and 3rd tier backlinks to your site
  • Link building opportunities based on your competitors’ most significant referring domains
  • Any connections to private blog networks (PBNs) and other spammy websites that are negatively impacting your site’s SEO

To view your site’s network graph, navigate to:

Link Building > Backlink Analytics

Enter your domain in the search box and in the resulting Backlink Analytics report, visit the “Network Graph” tab.

Network Graph Report - Semrush

Now you may be wondering: how is this information useful in your link building efforts?

Well, there are several reasons why it’s valuable:

  • The Network Graph helps you quickly evaluate your backlink profile and your domain’s link building influence. While basic backlink metrics can give you a fair idea, an interactive network of domains provides a more comprehensive view of your backlink profile.
  • The graph helps you identify which links in your network are the most relevant and authoritative. After collecting a sample size of backlinks, Semrush checks which links are coming from the most niche-relevant sites.
  • It also helps you identify any potential issues not just with your direct backlinks, but your 2nd and 3rd tier backlinks (i.e., your backlinks’ backlinks). If there are spammy links and shady PBNs pointing to a site that links to your site, it could potentially impact your site’s SEO.

You can use all of this information to optimize your backlink profile.

5. Audit Your Anchor Texts

Optimized anchor texts can have a significant impact on your rankings. In fact, writing keyword-rich anchor texts has long been an SEO best practice.

The importance of anchor text isn’t just restricted to how Google’s algorithms analyze them. It also helps you improve the user experience on your site by enhancing website accessibility.

You can use Semrush’s Backlink Analytics tool to audit your anchor texts and check if some of your anchors are being overused. This is an important step as overused anchors may signal to Google that you’re indulging in spammy practices.

To view the pattern of your anchor texts, visit the “Anchors” tab in your Backlink Analytics report.

Semrush Backlink Analytics - Anchor Text

Here you can use the filter search box by entering the words you want to check.

If you find an overused anchor in your link profile, you can reach out to some of the site owners requesting them to change the text of your anchors to something more descriptive and contextual.  

You can also use Semrush’s Backlink Audit tool to do a complete audit of your backlink profile and get more personalized insights. The Backlink Audit tool will also help you identify and limit the usage of what Semrush calls “money anchors” — anchor texts that are exact matches of keywords the website is trying to rank for in organic search.

6. Place Redirects for Previously Successful Pages

While it’s true that your homepage and blog posts will get a major portion of backlinks, you may also find a temporary page or a deleted page on your site that’s generated a ton of high-quality backlinks.

For instance, you may have previously created a landing page to promote a webinar or a product page for a product that is no longer available for sale.

In such situations, if the page returns a 404 error, you would lose out on all that link power.

Let’s take the example of Buffer.

After entering buffer.com into the Backlink Analytics tool and navigating to the “Indexed Pages” report, we can see all the pages that return a 404 error code.

Semrush - 404 Pages

As you can see, there are over 260 domains that point to this page.

This page once archived all the Twitter chats that Buffer hosted on Twitter under the hashtag #BufferChat. This Twitter chat is no longer active and the page no longer exists on Buffer’s website.

Buffer 404 Error

Be that as it may, the page has a lot of authoritative backlinks pointing to it. As such, it would be a wise move on Buffer’s part to redirect this page to a relevant category or this blog post on their site that covers the topic of “Twitter chats”.

Buffer Twitter Chats Guide

To see if your site is facing a similar situation, just enter your domain into the Backlink Analytics tool and check the “Indexed Pages” report to identify 404 pages that have a decent number of referring domains pointing to them.

Transfer the link authority from these pages to other relevant pages on your site to ensure that you don’t lose out on all that link power.

7. Broken Link Building

Just like resource page link building, broken link building is a highly scalable tactic to generate quality backlinks for your website.

Broken link building is a process that involves identifying broken links on other relevant pages in your niche and reaching out to website owners with your own resources to replace the broken links.

Broken link building is one of the easier link building tactics as it results in a win-win situation for both parties involved: you get a backlink, while the website owner fixes a broken link.

This practice can be easily followed using Semrush’s Backlink Analytics tool.

Here’s how:

Visit Link Building > Backlink Analytics

Enter your competitor’s domain in the search box and in the resulting Backlink Analytics report, visit the “Indexed Pages” tab.

Check the broken pages option on the top left to view the broken links on your competitor’s website.

Semrush - Broken Pages Report

Next, select a broken page you’d like to target and click on the number under the “Backlinks” column to view all the sites that are currently linking to the broken page.

Semrush Broken Pages Example

Make sure the broken page relates to a topic that you’ve already covered on your blog. If you don’t have a replacement resource ready, create one.

Use the filtering options on top to cherry-pick the most relevant link prospects for your outreach campaign.

Semrush - Broken Link Building Example

Once you’ve a list of prospects ready, you can reach out to the website owners linking to the broken page and offer your page as an alternative resource.

8. Identify New Backlinks in Your Backlink Profile

Regardless of how big your website is, keeping a tab on your backlink profile at least twice a month is an SEO best practice.

To get started, enter your domain into the Backlink Analytics tool and in the resulting report, navigate to the “Backlinks” tab.

From here, select the filter “New” backlinks, and pick only the “Follow” type to check the backlinks that transfer the highest link juice.

Semrush - Backlinks Report 2023

This is a quick and easy way to check whether your link building efforts (outreach, PR, relationship-based link building, etc.) are working and fetching you relevant backlinks.

Armed with this data, you can correlate SEO improvements like higher ranking, more referral traffic, and an increase in your site’s domain rating to your link building efforts.

For agency owners, this report can be incredibly valuable as it helps you monitor and analyze your link acquisition strategies effectively.

9. The Skyscraper Technique

Since its introduction by Brian Dean in 2015, the Skyscraper Technique has emerged as a highly effective approach to building high-quality backlinks. With its proven track record of success, this technique is a must-have tool in your link building arsenal to improve search traffic and visibility.

The Skyscraper technique follows this process:

  • Find content in your niche that has generated a lot of authoritative backlinks
  • Create content that’s at least 2x better than the original content
  • Promote the piece of content to people who’ve linked to the original post

So how do you execute the Skyscraper Technique for your website?

You can start with competitor research.

The goal is to pick a competitor in your niche with a proven track record of creating exceptional content.

You can use Semrush’s Backlink Analytics tool to analyze your competitor’s content.

Navigate to:

Link Building > Backlink Analytics

Enter your competitor’s domain in the search box.

In the resulting report, head to the “Indexed Pages” tab and sort the list by “Domains” to view the pages that have the most number of referring domains and backlinks pointing to them.

Semrush - Backlink Analysis_Indexed Pages

In this case, I’ve taken Backlinko as an example since it showcases several instances of Skyscraper content.

Next, you can individually review these pages using the Backlink Analytics tool to get insights into other key SEO metrics such as monthly visits to the article and the total number of organic keywords that the article ranks for.

Semrush - Skyscraper Content Analysis

But don’t just stop your analysis here.

Conduct a thorough editorial review of the pages to assess their content, graphics, and other aspects that you can improve on your own posts.

Once you have sufficient information, you can start creating your own unique blog posts or update existing content on your blog that can compete with the pages you’ve shortlisted from your competitor’s blog.

Once your content is ready, you can head back to Backlink Analytics and enter the competing URL in the search box.

Visit the “Backlinks” tab to view all the pages linking to your competitor’s page and use the advanced filtering options to look for potential link building prospects.

Semrush - Backlink Analysis for Skyscraper Content

After your list of prospects is ready, reach out to them individually through personalized outreach templates and present your blog post as a superior alternative to the existing link.

10. Create a Link Building Workflow

Link building outreach is one of the best ways to acquire relevant, contextual, and authoritative backlinks. It’s also one of the most scalable link building techniques you can adopt for your website.

Semrush’s Link Building tool is specifically designed to help you create and optimize your outreach workflow to acquire backlinks.

Follow the process below to create a scalable link building workflow for your website.

Navigate to:

Link Building > Link Building Tool

Click the “Set up” button next to your domain to open up link building settings.

Enter up to 10 keywords that you want to boost rankings for and up to 10 competitors whose backlinks you’d like to replicate.

Semrush LBT Settings

If you’re not sure about what keywords and competitors you’d like to target, you can use the list of keywords and competitors provided by Semrush through its database and Organic Competitors report.

Once you’ve entered these key details, hit the “Start Link Building” button.

Once the results are generated, you’ll be directly taken to review the link building prospects.

Choose the prospects that are most relevant to your website and move them to the “In Progress” tab by clicking on the “To in progress” button.

Semrush Workflow

Image Credit: Semrush

Next, you need to connect your email account to reach out to the prospects in the “In Progress” tab.

Semrush Workflow 2

Image Credit: Semrush

In the Monitor tab, you can follow the progress of your link building efforts over time.  

Semrush Workflow 3

Image Credit: Semrush

Final Thoughts

By using the various tools and features offered by Semrush, such as the Backlink Analytics tool and the Link Building tool, you can identify high-quality backlink opportunities and create a strong link profile for your site.

However, it is important to remember that building backlinks is a long-term process that requires consistent effort and patience. With the right approach and the help of Semrush, you can create a successful link building strategy that will benefit your website for years to come.

Try Semrush Pro for free for 14 days

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Sandeep Mallya is the Founder & CEO of Startup Cafe Digital, an award-winning digital marketing agency in Bangalore, India. He is an active member of the startup community, having worked with several early-stage startups and accelerators. 99signals is Sandeep's online marketing blog. The blog currently features 200+ in-depth articles, how-to guides, and hacks on a wide range of online marketing topics such as SEO, social media marketing, content marketing, blogging, and more.

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