A Complete Guide To Broken Link-Building

There are many different ways to build links. The major part of these link-building strategies requires lots of time and efforts.

For example, guest blogging is one of the most actionable ways to build links. But it is too time-consuming. You will have to find the blog, send a guest post inquiry, write an article, and wait until the day it will go live. Yes, it takes months before your post will be published.

Talking about outreach I can’t say that it is a strategy but sooner a “tool” for building links. It takes a lot of time and efforts likewise. Just imagine, you will have to find targets for your outreach campaign, contact information, craft a personalized email template, send a pitch, a follow-up email (if needed), and track the entire progress.

Likely, the method for earning links I am going to cover in this post is far easier to apply. I’m going to talk about “broken link-building.”

Let’s get into detail.

What Is Broken Link-Building?

The name of this tactic speaks for itself. You search for broken links (that are already dead/don’t work and lead nowhere), write the better content, and contact a website’s owner where a broken link has been detected offering to link back to your piece of content instead.

This trick is effective because every owner of the website wants to fix the links that are non-active. It is uber important. If the broken links are not fixed, it will lead to a bad user experience that will hurt your website.

What Is Broken Link-Building

I guess it would be better to come up with an example of the broken link-building process.

Let’s see if there are any broken links on Quicksprout – a well-known and reputable web resource among marketers and SEOs. For example, this post had a broken link that redirects to ‘page not found’ source.

Here is what happens when you click on a ‘dead’ link.

Back Link 1

And you can find a dozen of such broken backlinks that would be a great opportunity to turn the tables.

The next thing you will have to do is to find out what was content about when the link was live. I recommend you to use Wayback Machine service that will help you see the actual content retrospectively.

It doesn’t matter what was the reason to remove the post. Your goal has been achieved. You know what was this post about. Afterwards, follow these three simple steps:

  • Write an outstanding post on the same topic,
  • Reach out to blog’s owner and tell him or her about the broken link you found,
  • Suggest blog’s owner to replace this broken link with a link to your piece of content.

Yes, the scheme looks as easy as a pie BUT don’t get your hopes up!

If you are trying to contact the guys like Neil Patel who are busy as hell, you might end up with no reply. What to do then?

Go to ‘Backlinks’ report in Site Explorer tool and pay attention to other similar links that point to the same broken web-resource.

Plus 42 link prospects that could be used for replacing broken links with your link. Hence, there are more chances for your broken link-building campaign.

FYI, one of the biggest challenges in this tactic is to find relevant broken links opportunities. Perhaps, this is the only reason why people say that ‘broken link-building’ doesn’t work.

Let’s see what we can do here.

In Search of ‘Dead’ Pages on the Top Sites

As you’ve already guessed you will need to collect a list of top competitors related to your niche. Assume that you cover some fitness stuff topic on your blog. Here is a short list of top competitors:

To find more broken links opportunities you will have to analyze all these websites with Site Explorer tool. However, the best way to find broken link-building opportunities I know is using  Broken Link Checker.

Grab one of your competitor’s websites and see what you will get:

The first position belongs to a’ dead’ page with 18 referring domains, the second one has 17, etc.

Right after this searching process get back to a three steps scheme on broken link-building I’ve mentioned in the first section of the post.

Look for Broken Outlinks and Choose Those with a Ton of Backlinks

It seems that anytimefitness.com is a pretty popular website in the fitness niche. Let’s see what broken outgoing links it has:

The report shows 232 pages with broken links that could be used for link-building opportunities. I advise you to skim through the list of broken links and find the ones that look promising:

I found that it would be a great idea to write a similar post on the topic covering morning workouts to improve the quality of sleep. Yeah, what a good opportunity to replace this broken link with your own.

But you can go ahead and analyze this broken URL using Site Explorer tool. Let’s see what we will get:

You can see that there are 17 more referring domains you can reach out to. What an actionable method of broken link-building, isn’t it?

Pay Attention to Expired Domains with Backlinks Related to Your Niche

This method of broken link-building is a bit time-consuming in contrast to the previous tactics. However, it is as actionable and resultative as they are.

Here we need to find expired domains with backlinks related to your niche. I recommend you to use ExpiredDomains.net and try to find domains for the keyword ‘fitness’:

The result is pretty huge – 305K domains! I think it would tough to check out the whole list of the domains. Thus, let’s apply filters like .com, .net, and .org domains:

Afterwards, set the results by the number of backlinks:

Your next step is to click on ‘copy domains into your clipboard’ icon and paste them into Batch Analysis tool. Choose ‘domains with all subdomains’ mode and see the list of referring domains:

We’ve got the list of expired referring domains that have tons of backlinks. What’s next?

Do the same steps as I’ve described before – search for promising broken links opportunities, see the content with the help of Wayback Machine, and a standard asking for the link replacing specifically.

Get Broken Links by Scraping Link Pages

FYI, this method is widely used by people to find more broken link-building opportunities. Let’s run through the process step-by-step.

In order to find resource pages related to your niche, you should type the following combinations on Google:

  • KEYWORD intitle:“resources”
  • KEYWORD inurl:“links”
  • KEYWORD blogs inurl:”resource” intitle:”resources”
  • KEYWORD intitle:”links” inurl:”/links”

The next thing you will need to do is to scrap these Google search results with the help of ScrapBox or SERP scraping bookmarklet for Chrome.

Thereafter, extract all the outbound links from these pages. Screaming Frog will help you with this. The tool checks the HTTP status for every outbound link and you will be able to identify ‘404’ ones.

However, if you don’t want (or don’t have) the Screaming Frog, you can extract all these links with the help of Google Sheets using the following formula:

=IMPORTXML(“page url”,”//a[not(contains(@href, ‘domain’))]/@href”)

The final thing you should do is to grab and paste these ‘404’ links into Batch Analysis tool. The rest of the steps are the same:

  • Search for excellent opportunities
  • Offer your content to replace a broken link
  • Reach out to all the sites that have been linking to this broken link before

Three Steps to Succeed in ‘Broken Link-Building’ Outreach

Ok, let’s say you’ve already collected a list of broken links that seem promising for you. If you think that the toughest part of the work is far behind, you are wrong. You need to build these links!

How is it possible?

With the help of good old-fashioned email outreach.

I am sure you know what email outreach is. But don’t get me wrong if I try to explain you the difference between ‘OUTREACH’ and ‘SPAMREACH.’

There is a fine line between these two ways of reaching out to people. I would like to provide you with three great pieces of advice on how not to get screwed with your outreach.

Reach out to the right people

Talking about reaching out to the right people I meant “using a correct email address” and “sending the pitch to the person responsible for backlink profile of the website.”

To find a correct email address I advise you to use such tools as Findthat.email, ContactOut, and Voilanorbert. These tools will do this job for you. Nevertheless, there are cases when you can get two different email addresses of one person. How to find out which one is correct?

I recommend you to verify person’s current working position on LinkedIn and test email addresses with a Chrome extension called LinkedIn Sales Navigator:

Practice shows that if the person changes his or her working place, the previous email address becomes invalid. Thus, a double check assures that the email address is valid.

Secondly, don’t reach out to any person asking to replace a broken link. For example, if you try to contact me asking to replace a broken link on Ahrefs blog, I won’t be able to help you. I have other duties at the company. Hence, I would redirect you to the right guys from my team.

Thus, I advise you to identify the person who would care about replacing broken links on the website.

“Cut to the chase” approach

When you’re reaching out to the person asking for replacing a broken link on his or her website, you should always be short and sweet in your message.

Here are a few positions you should stick to:

  • Always mention recipient’s name
  • Point out a broken link
  • Add the exact place of the broken link
  • Offer the replacement (your piece of content)
  • Try to explain why your replacement is a good choice

In a nutshell, here is how it should look like:

I hope you got a clue.

Follow-up

Despite the fact, that sending follow-up emails in an ordinary outreach campaign seems irritating, this rule isn’t applicable when you do a broken link-building outreach.

If you didn’t get a reply to your first message, you should send a follow-up. Just remind the recipient about a dead link on his or her site:

Don’t send more than one follow-up. If your ‘target’ takes care of the website, he will get back to you with the reply and will replace this broken link with your one.

To End Up

Broken link-building is a time-consuming and a kind of a spider work. Other than that it is really effective.

You must keep in mind that if you want to succeed with this tactic, you will have to suggest a worthwhile replacement.

If you found this guide useful, feel free to share it on your social media accounts.

And don’t forget to leave your comments below.


Author’s bio: Sergey Aliokhin, a Marketing Manager at Ahrefs. Apart from working at Ahrefs, he likes spending his time with family, studying martial arts, and plucking fat bass guitar strings.

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