Link-building prospect approval is crucial for acquiring backlinks that not only don’t harm your SEO performance but improve it.
In the article, we explore what the process involves, why it’s important, and how to conduct it. We also look at different link prospecting tools that you can lean into to make it smooth and effective.
Let’s get right to it!
- Link-building prospects approval is a process that evaluates potential backlink opportunities to ensure the links are valuable and relevant to the website’s SEO objectives.
- Link prospecting is the initial phase of identifying potential websites, bloggers, or influencers for backlinks while link-building prospects approval is the next phase that evaluates the identified prospects for quality and relevance.
- Backlink analysis differs from prospect approval as it examines existing backlinks to assess their impact on SERP performance, focusing on the quality and relevance of already acquired backlinks.
- Prospect approval is crucial for SEO performance of your site because it ensures you acquire links only from high-authority sites. It also protects you brand image, ensures target audience alignment, and contributes to long-term growth.
- A simple 5-step process for approving link-building prospects includes analyzing Domain Authority, investigating the backlink profile, checking traffic and engagement, assessing relevance, and reviewing content quality.
- Red flags to watch out for during evaluation include excessive outbound links, spammy content, poor user experience, and low engagement levels on a site.
- Several SEO tools can aid in link-building prospect approval, including Ahrefs, Semrush, Moz Pro, and Majestic SEO, each offering unique features and metrics for evaluating prospects.
- BacklinkManager offers features for managing link-building relationships, tracking link status, and setting goals for link-building campaigns. Book a demo to explore how it can streamline your link-building efforts and help you manage your backlink relationships.
What is link-building prospects approval?
Link-building prospects approval is a process of evaluating backlink opportunities.
To evaluate the prospects, which could be websites, platforms, or individuals, it uses a set of criteria and its aim is to ensure that the acquired backlinks are valuable, relevant, and contribute positively to the website’s SEO objectives.
Is prospects approval the same as link prospecting?
Link prospects approval and link prospecting are two interconnected but distinct parts of the link-building process.
Link prospecting is the initial phase, focusing on identifying potential websites, bloggers, or influencers that could provide valuable backlinks.
This stage involves extensive research, utilizing search engines and SEO tools to discover sites that align with your niche and have the potential to enhance your online presence. The objective is to compile a comprehensive list of potential link-building opportunities.
Examples of link prospecting techniques include researching the sites that link to your competitors, searching for unlinked brand mentions, reverse image search or looking for relevant resource pages.
Link-building prospects approval, on the other hand, is a subsequent and more meticulous phase of the link-building campaign.
It involves a thorough evaluation of the prospects identified during link prospecting to ensure their quality, relevance, and suitability for link-building. The goal is to validate and approve a list of prospects that meet specific criteria and standards, ensuring that the acquired backlinks will be beneficial to the website’s SEO.
Only when you carefully vet the link prospects, you can start your link-building outreach campaign.
Link building prospects approval vs. backlink analysis
Link-building prospects approval and backlink analysis are both essential stages in the link-building process but each contributes to the SEO strategy in a different way.
The main goal of prospects approval is to evaluate and approve the link-building opportunities. In other words, it concentrates on assessing the quality, relevance, and authority of prospective sites before acquiring backlinks from them.
In contrast, the primary aim of backlink analysis is to examine and assess the existing backlinks to understand their impact on SERP performance. Its focus is on the quality, diversity, and relevance of already acquired backlinks and helps link builders and SEOs optimize the backlink profile.
Why is prospects approval important for SEO?
Link-building prospects approval is crucial for a number of reasons, each contributing to the overall success and integrity of a website’s SEO and link-building strategy.
#1 SEO Impact
The main reason for thorough prospects evaluation is the impact on the SEO performance of the website.
In simple terms, search engines prioritize the quality of backlinks from top ranking websites over quantity. This means that a few good links from reputable sites can significantly outweigh numerous links from low-quality sources.
What’s more, ensuring that backlinks are from high-quality and relevant sites helps avoid search engine penalties, which can adversely affect rankings.
#2 Protecting Brand Image
Backlinks from low-quality or spammy websites can not only result in SE penalties but also damage your brand’s reputation and credibility.
That’s because the quality of sites your website is linked to can influence how users perceive your brand. Associating yourself with a dodgy website can put users off for good, so it’s important to weed them out early on.
#3 Target Audience Alignment
Backlinks not only increase your website authority but can be a source of direct traffic. That’s if you share the same audience as the website that links back to you.
In other words, ensuring that the prospect’s audience aligns with yours is vital for driving relevant and targeted traffic to your sites.
What’s more, links from sites with a similar audience result in better user engagement and interaction on your website and translate into higher conversion rates if that’s your goal.
#4 Resource Optimization
Acquiring backlinks is expensive and labor-intensive, so you don’t want to be chasing every single opportunity.
Prospects approval ensures that time and resources are invested in acquiring high quality links that will actually benefit the website, rather than wasting efforts on low-value prospects. It allows for a more focused and strategic approach to link building, targeting prospects that align with business goals and objectives.
#5 Competitive Edge
Link-building prospects can help you get a competitive edge over competitors.
First, acquiring links from approved, high-quality sites can enhance market positioning.
Moreover, building a backlink profile with authoritative and industry-relevant sites establishes your brand as a leader in your field.
#6 Long-Term Growth
Consistent prospect approval processes allow SEOs to grow their organic traffic and increase online presence in a sustainable way.
And it’s not just about maintaining a healthy backlink profile!
Building relationships with approved, reputable sites can open doors to future collaboration and more link-building opportunities.
Steps to Approve Link Building Prospects
How do you go about vetting your link-building prospects? Here’s a 5-step process that we use at BacklinkManager to assess our link-building opportunities.
1. Analyze Domain Authority
Domain Authority (DA) is an indication of how likely a website is to rank in SERPs. It was originally developed by Moz, an SEO analytics and link-building tool, and takes into account a number of factors, including linking root domains and the number of inbound backlinks to evaluate sites on a scale of 1-100.
Each of them could be used to evaluate your link-building prospects.
2. Investigate Backlink Profile
For more detailed insights into website authority, investigate the backlink profile of your prospects.
This step is about analyzing not only the number of inbound links but also their quality. At this stage, you should pay attention to:
the number of referring domains and their DA/DR/Authority Score
link attributes (follow vs nofollow vs sponsored)
A website’s backlink profile can offer insights into its reputation. A site with numerous spammy backlinks might not be the best prospect.
3. Check Traffic and Engagement
The traffic that the prospective website attracts is another factor to consider when evaluating link-building opportunities. The higher the traffic, the more reputable the site is likely to be and the more traffic it can generate for you or your clients.
To check the traffic data, use SEMrush’s Domain Overview and Traffic Analytics. If you don’t have access to a premium SEO tool yet, use Ahrefs’ free website traffic checker for general insights.
Apart from website traffic, look at engagement metrics as well, like Unique Visitors, Pages/Visit, Avg. Visit Duration and Bounce Rate for a more in-depth analysis of the site.
4. Consider Relevance
The relevance of prospects is one of the key factors for a number of reasons.
First, securing links from irrelevant sites can hurt your SEO performance. That’s because it can be seen by the search engines as an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings and incur penalties.
What’s more, backlinks from relevant websites can drive referral traffic to your site. Relevance is also important because it helps to demonstrate to potential customers that your website is trustworthy and relevant to them.
When assessing the relevance of a website or platform, ensure that they consistently publish content related to your niche or industry. Sometimes a quick look at the content is enough to determine this.
For deeper insights, analyze the keywords that they rank for.
Pay attention to the topical relevance as well as the search intent of the keywords. Ranking for keywords with informational and commercial intent has more link-building potential because they’re used in a broader content sense that provides more opportunities for natural link inclusion.
5. Review Content Quality
At a time when it’s possible to publish thousands of AI-generated posts, inspecting the content quality on the website of the relevant link prospects matters more than ever.
What factors should you consider?
Assuming the content is relevant, check how well it reads. Is the tone and style consistent? Are the ideas developed coherently? Is it free from repetition? Is it engaging? Are the visuals of good quality?
Next, look at how well it tackles the topic. Is it factually accurate? Does it use reliable sources? Is the content original or just regurgitated from Google’s Page 1 results?
It’s also worth paying attention to on-page SEO best practices. Generally, the easier the content is to find for the target audience, the better for your traffic too!
Red Flags to Watch Out For
As you’re assessing the quality of prospective sites, there are a few red flags to watch out for.
Excessive Outbound Links
A webpage that excessively links to numerous external sites can be a potential red flag. That’s because it can be involved in black hat link-building schemes designed to manipulate SERP performance.
Even if there’s nothing untoward in their practices, this can dilute the relevancy of the content and create a poor user experience because the focus isn’t on delivering valuable information but promoting unrelated websites.
Another warning sign is the presence of spammy content.
This can manifest in a variety of ways, such as poorly written content, overuse of keywords (known as keyword stuffing), or the inclusion of irrelevant topics.
These practices can degrade the quality of the site, making it less appealing to both users and search engines.
Poor User Experience
If there’s one thing that can put off potential readers more than rubbish content, it’s the poor user experience that a website offers.
Users have little patience for sites that load slowly, are difficult to navigate, or are full of annoying ad pop-ups. Even if the content is absolutely brilliant, it will be gone before your analytics tool even registers that they visited in the first place. That’s kind of suboptimal for a link-building prospect.
Low levels of engagement on a site can also be a cause for concern.
If a webpage has little to no engagement, such as comments or shares, it might indicate that the content is not resonating with its intended audience.
This lack of interaction can suggest that the site is not a valuable prospect for link-building, as it may not have a substantial or active user base.
Best tools for link-building prospect’s approval
Google Search + a few advanced search operators will provide you with a lot of information about prospective websites.
However, if you want to streamline your link prospecting efforts and link-building prospect approval process, there are a number of SEO and link prospecting tools that can help.
Here are a few popular choices.
Ahrefs is a comprehensive SEO tool that offers a suite of features to assist with link-building prospect approval.
Ahrefs Site Explorer and Web Explorer provide a detailed breakdown of a website’s backlink profile. This provides information on the number of backlinks, referring domains, and the website’s overall domain rating which you can use to screen potential link-building partners.
Apart from that, it has a number of features that you can use to improve the SEO performance of your own site. These include Keywords Explorer, and Site Audit as well as Content Explorer and Competitive Analysis if you’re still looking for new link-building opportunities.
How to use Ahrefs Site Explorer to vet your link-building prospects
Step 1: Log in to your Ahrefs account and navigate to the “Site Explorer” tool.
Step 2: Type in the URL of the link-building prospect you want to vet and hit the “Explore” button.
Step 3: Review the overview metrics displayed on the results page.
Metrics to consider include:
- Domain Rating (DR): Assess the overall strength and authority of the domain.
- URL Rating (UR): Evaluate the authority of the specific page.
- Ahrefs Rank (AR): Check the website’s ranking compared to all other websites in Ahrefs’ database.
- Backlinks: Look at the number and quality of backlinks pointing to the website.
Step 4: Navigate to the “Backlinks” section in the left-hand menu to investigate the quality, relevance, and diversity of the website’s backlinks.
- Link Type: Check whether the links are dofollow or nofollow.
- Anchor Text: Review the anchor text used for the links.
- Referring Domains: Ensure the links come from diverse and reputable domains.
Step 5: Go to the “Organic search” tab to view the website’s organic traffic to assess the website’s visibility in search engines and its ability to attract organic traffic.
- Organic Keywords: Review the keywords the website is ranking for.
- Traffic Value: Evaluate the estimated value of the website’s organic traffic.
Ahref’s offers 4 paid plans:
- Lite – from $79 per month
- Standard – from $159 per month
- Advanced – from $319 per month
- Enterprise Plan – from $799 per month
You don’t need them to use the Site Explorer and Site Audit features (for your own website), there are free Ahrefs tools you can use as well like Backlink Checker, Website Authority Checker, and Website Traffic Checker.
Semrush is a versatile SEO tool that brings a plethora of features to the table for researching and vetting link-building prospects.
Semrush’s Domain Overview gives you insights into the website Authority Score, its Organic Search Traffic and Backlinks. You can also use it to see the top organic keywords with their intent to assess the relevance of the site.
For more detailed insights about the backlink profile, you have Backlink Analytics which provides data on the total backlinks, their types, referring domains, and their authority score, and Overall Toxicity Score which can help you avoid partnering up with a spammy site.
How to Use Semrush Domain Overview and Backlink Analytics to Vet Your Link-Building Prospects
Step 1: Log in to your Semrush account and navigate to the “Domain Overview” tool located in the dashboard.
Step 2: Type in the URL of the link-building prospect you want to vet in the Domain Overview search bar and hit “Enter.”
Step 3: Examine the key metrics displayed on the Domain Overview results page.
- Authority Score: Evaluate the domain’s overall authority and trustworthiness.
- Organic Search Traffic: Assess the volume of the website’s organic traffic.
- Backlinks: Get an overview of the number and quality of backlinks pointing to the website.
Step 4: From the Domain Overview page, navigate to the “Backlink Analytics” tool in the left-hand menu.
Step 5: Review the detailed metrics and charts in the Backlink Analytics section.
- Total Backlinks: Examine the number and quality of backlinks pointing to the website.
- Types of backlinks: Check the distribution of dofollow and nofollow links
- Referring Domains: Ensure the links come from diverse and reputable domains.
Semrush offers 3 main paid plans:
- Pro – from $119.95 per month
- Guru – from $229.95 per month
- Business – from $449.95 per month
3. Moz Pro
Moz is a renowned SEO software that offers a comprehensive set of tools designed to assist in researching and vetting link-building prospects.
Moz’s Link Explorer is a powerful feature that provides detailed insights into a website’s backlink profile. It allows users to view the number of backlinks, referring domains, and the Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority (PA) of a website, which are crucial metrics for evaluating potential link-building partners.
Beyond link-building, Moz offers a variety of features to optimize your site’s SEO performance, including Keyword Explorer, Ranking Tracking, and Site Crawl. For identifying new link-building opportunities, the Competitive Analysis feature is particularly useful.
How to use Moz Link Explorer to vet your link-building prospects
Step 1: Log in to your Moz account and navigate to the “Link Explorer” tool.
Step 2: Enter the URL of the link-building prospect you are evaluating and click on “Analyze.”
Step 3: Review the key metrics displayed on the results page.
Metrics to consider include:
- Domain Authority (DA): Assess the overall strength and authority of the domain.
- Page Authority (PA): Evaluate the authority of the specific page.
- Inbound Links: Examine the number of backlinks pointing to the website.
- Linking Domains: Ensure that the links are from a variety of reputable domains.
Step 4: Dive deeper into the “Inbound Links” section to assess the quality, relevance, and diversity of the website’s backlinks.
- Link Type: Determine whether the links are dofollow or nofollow.
- Spam Score: Check the Spam Score of the links to identify potentially harmful backlinks.
Step 5: Explore the “Organic Research” section to assess the website’s organic traffic and its ability to attract organic visitors as well as its relevance to your niche.
- Organic Keywords: Review the keywords the website is ranking for.
- SERP Position: Evaluate the website’s position on the Search Engine Results Page for relevant keywords.
Moz offers several paid plans:
- Standard – from $79/month
- Medium – from $143/month
- Large – from $239/month
- Premium – from $479/month
For users seeking to explore the capabilities of Moz without a subscription, Moz also offers free tools such as Domain Authority Checker, Keyword Explorer, and Link Explorer.
4. Majestic SEO
Majestic SEO is a specialized SEO tool known for its focus on link-building and backlink analysis, making it a go-to resource for vetting link-building prospects.
The tool’s Site Explorer feature offers a granular view of a website’s backlink profile, showcasing the number of backlinks, referring domains, and the Trust Flow and Citation Flow of a website. These metrics are essential for evaluating the trustworthiness and influence of potential link-building partners.
In addition to backlink analysis, Majestic SEO provides features like Keyword Checker and Site Crawl for enhancing your website’s SEO. For uncovering new link-building opportunities, the tool’s Topical Trust Flow and Clique Hunter are particularly beneficial.
How to use Majestic SEO Site Explorer to vet your link-building prospects
Step 1: Log in to your Majestic SEO account and navigate to the “Site Explorer” tool.
Step 2: Input the URL of the link-building prospect you wish to assess and click on “Explore.”
Step 3: Examine the key metrics presented on the results page.
Metrics to consider include:
- Trust Flow: Evaluate the trustworthiness of the site based on the quality of sites linking to it.
- Citation Flow: Assess the influence of the site by considering the number of citations it has received.
- Backlinks: Investigate the number of backlinks pointing to the website.
- Referring Domains: Ensure diversity and quality among the domains linking to the site.
Step 4: Delve into the “Backlinks” tab to scrutinize the quality, relevance, and diversity of the website’s backlinks.
- Link Type: Ascertain whether the links are dofollow or nofollow.
- Anchor Text: Analyze the anchor text used for the links.
- Link Context: Understand the context in which the link is placed on the referring page.
Step 5: Utilize the “Topics” tab to evaluate the topical relevance of the website and its alignment with your niche.
- Topical Trust Flow: Review the categories and topics the website is associated with.
- Relevance: Ensure the website’s content and audience align with your industry and objectives.
Majestic SEO Pricing
Majestic SEO offers a range of paid plans:
- Lite – from $41.67 per month
- Pro – from $83.33 per month
- API – from $333.33 per month
For those looking to get a taste of Majestic SEO’s capabilities, the platform also offers a free version with limited access to tools like Site Explorer and Trust Flow Checker.
Unlike the link-building tools above, BacklinkManager is not an SEO tool that you could use to audit sites and evaluate their authority or quality. However, it offers a range of features that make it an essential addition to your link-building tool stack.
BacklinkManager supports a dedicated Linkbuilding Client Relationship Management (CRM) System that allows you to keep track of all your prospects, link exchange and guest post partners in one place. You can also use it to set goals for your team members, giving your link-building campaigns more focus.
The feature comes with communication features as well as a Link Partnership Scorecard for tracking who has built links for whom.
In addition to that, BacklinkManager allows you monitor the status of the links you’ve already acquired. It notifies you when links change their status or disappear altogether.
If that’s not enough, there are 2 paid plans available:
- Pro – $49 per month (billed annually) – monitoring and management of up to 2,500 backlinks, 100 targets, and invites 15 team members.
- Enterprise – $500 per month (billed annually), allowing monitoring and management of up to 50,000 backlinks, and 10,000 targets, invites 30 team members, and offering white label reporting.
Both plans offer priority support and start with a free trial.
Building links remains a cornerstone of effective SEO, but it’s not just about quantity. The quality and relevance of your backlinks play a crucial role in determining the success of your link-building efforts.
Link-building prospects approval helps you ensure that every backlink you earn drives value, boosts your SEO, and aligns with your brand’s reputation and goals.
If you want to see how BacklinkManager can help you in your link-building or link-prospecting process, book the demo!