Not all backlinks are equal. According to an assessment from Backlinko, Google may use at least 46 different factors to weigh the value of a single backlink or to assess a site’s overall backlink profile. A few notable link quality signals include:
- The linking domain’s age
- The linking page’s authority
- The location and context of the referring link
- The referring domain’s link velocity
Though no one knows for sure how Google qualifies referral links, SEO experts agree that acquiring links from high-quality editorial content will do more to boost your site’s authority than scoring multiple links from less trustworthy sources. Google’s ranking signals aside, it logically follows that better content passes more link equity to your website.
For this reason, you should focus your link-building efforts on sites with large followings and expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. Ideally, link building outreach to E-A-T-level experts will result in mutually beneficial relationships. Two high-authority sites who link to one another or who produce or accept each other’s guest posts can create a sustainable partnership that boosts both domains’ ranks.
Who’s an Expert in Your Field?
To build this type of relationship, you should start by identifying the experts in your industry or niche. Keep in mind that different topics have different forms of authoritative figures:
- “Official” Experts– People who hold advanced degrees or positions, have years of experience in their field or can prove their expertise with some sort of resume or portfolio. Content that deals with medicine, health, law, money, technology, education, or anything highly technical typically requires this type of expert to gain reader trust.
- “Everyday” Experts– Someone with a large or loyal following and has in-depth knowledge of a topic (often self-taught) or unofficial experience. Everyday experts often publish content involving non-profession based topics, such as travel, product reviews, hobbies, and many lifestyle subcategories.
In general, you want to look for link opportunities from any site within your niche or an adjacent niche that isn’t a competitor, produces E-A-T-level content, and has the social proof and performance metrics to indicate authority.
How to Find E-A-T-Level Experts
Especially in crowded and competitive niches, finding the highest level experts (or experts just a little further up on the ladder who can help pull you up to their level) can be tedious and time-consuming. Fortunately, numerous online tools can streamline this process:
- The Content Explorer from Ahrefs– Using Ahref’s Content Explorer, you can search keywords and analyze results based on organic traffic, domain rating, social shares, referring domains, and traffic value. Unlike most keyword or competitor research tools, Ahrefs lets you filter by author. With this feature, you can easily find which domains and specific authors create the best performing content.
- The Influencer Marketing Tool from BuzzSumo– BuzzSumo’s Social Media Influencer Marketing tool makes finding everyday experts with large followings fast and easy. The tool can find the top content in your niche and display the author of that content’s average engagement, total engagement, and the number of articles they’ve published.
- Google Scholar and Other Academic Sites– For academic experts, you can use Google Scholar to find the top scholarly articles published on any topic. Be sure to filter by date so you’re only looking at still-active experts. You can also find revered experts by identifying the top universities or programs for the related field and searching their faculty lists or department publications.
Competitor Analysis Tools– You can also find E-A-T-level authors by researching your competition and seeing where their backlinks come from. Ahrefs, Mozz, SEMRush, BuzzSumo, and other similar platforms typically have this capability.
Three Approaches to Acquiring Authoritative Links
Earning links from experts in your industry, no matter how you go about it, requires you to produce content that meets E-A-T standards. For a refresher on how to accomplish this, refer back to chapter four. With that being said, consider these three tactics for earning links from authoritative sites:
1. Create Complementary Content
Now that you’ve identified the official or everyday experts in your niche, you should deep dive into their content. As you read through articles, look for opportunities to complement their articles with additional information or media. Then, create an internal page on your website that would add value to anyone reading the expert’s article.
Once you publish the content, reach out to the expert, and recommend they link to your article. Be sure to include a clear value proposition in your outreach email.
2. Pitch Guest Posts
While you read through an expert’s articles, you should also take note of what’s missing. Is there any pertinent information that they don’t touch on? Has anyone left a comment with an important question the article doesn’t answer? If you find any content gaps, reach out to the blogger or site and editor and ask if they’d accept a guest post that provides the missing information.
If they reject the opportunity, reach out to the next relevant expert on your list. To generate more content ideas, you can ask the person what type of content they would accept.
3. Use the Skyscraper Strategy
The Skyscraper Technique is a well-known approach for generating content ideas. At the core, this strategy requires finding content with a high volume of backlinks, identifying how to improve that content, and publishing your own superior version. Once you create the upgraded article, you can reach out to the original article’s referring domains and pitch your own article.
Become an Expert Through Expert Backlinks
In link building, success tends to be reciprocal—and that’s how Google designs its algorithm and quality guidelines. The system of gaining authority through earning backlinks from other sites with authority is the technical equivalent to “game recognizes game.”
If an expert or authoritative domain links to your site, it serves as a vote of confidence in your information, products, or services. By design, websites can only thrive if they have support from other sites. By building close relationships with experts, you’ll not only improve your rank; in time, you’ll become the expert who can return the favor.