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Broken link building is exactly what it sounds like: you’re looking for and replacing broken links on the web.
A broken link is a link to a page that doesn’t exist anymore.
It’s a super effective link building technique that has helped me get tons of backlinks from some very high authority sites.
I love it because it gives you endless opportunities/sources to build links, helps you create content for your own site, and is a whitehat method that makes the internet a better place.
This is a far better use of your time than something like guest posting because you’re producing this content on your own site rather than someone else’s. Additionally, it’s a lot less work, easier to find thousands of sources, and faster to implement.
In this article I’ll tell you exactly how to build long lasting high authority links using the broken link building method.
Why Do Sites Have Broken Links?
Why would any high authority site have broken links?
The answer is simple.
Like people, websites also die, sometimes because of lack of funding and sometimes because the owner loses interest.
If a dead site has links from other high authority sites, those links now lead users to 404 or expired domain pages.
Content creators regularly use external links for sourcing data, case studies, examples, additional reading material, and many other reasons.
Once they publish content, those external links stay there forever. However, it’s almost impossible for site owners to keep a track of all their external links and make sure that they’re working and still valid.
Here lies your opportunity.
You can look for articles that link to dead websites, create your own version of the content they previously linked to, and reach out to the site owner telling them about the dead link (and pitching your resource as an alternate at the same time).
This works well because you actually help out site owners by pointing out dead links that they were unaware of and give them an even better resource they can link to.
As a result, site owners rarely decline broken link building requests.
My Step By Step Broken Link Building Strategy
Here are the main steps involved in broken link building.
1. Find sites in your niche.
2. Find broken links on their site.
3. Re-create the dead page on your own site.
4. Inform webmaster of broken link, and your new page.
The best part is, even if you don’t get a response to your email, you didn’t completely waste your time. You still have a brand new page of fresh content on your own site.
There are a few different methods to the steps involved, but I’m going to show you how I like to do it. It’s what’s worked the best for me and we’re only using free tools so we don’t have to go and buy any software.
Here’s how it works.
Step 1: Finding the Sites To Get Links From
Before we go about doing anything, we need to locate these sites that have these broken links to dead pages.
All it involves is a few easy Google searches.
Take your subject/niche/keyword and type it into Google without any quotes.
Right after it, type in any of these parameters:
intitle:links intitle:resources intitle:sites intitle:websites inurl:links inurl:resources inurl:sites inurl:websites “useful links” “useful resources” “useful sites” “useful websites” “recommended links” “recommended resources” “recommended sites” “recommended websites” “suggested links” “suggested resources” “suggested sites” “suggested websites” “more links” “more resources” “more sites” “more websites” “favorite links” “favorite resources” “favorite sites” “favorite websites” “related links” “related resources” “related sites” “related websites” intitle:”useful links” intitle:”useful resources” intitle:”useful sites” intitle:”useful websites” intitle:”recommended links” intitle:”recommended resources” intitle:”recommended sites” intitle:”recommended websites” intitle:”suggested links” intitle:”suggested resources” intitle:”suggested sites” intitle:”suggested websites” intitle:”more links” intitle:”more resources” intitle:”more sites” intitle:”more websites” intitle:”favorite links” intitle:”favorite resources” intitle:”favorite sites” intitle:”favorite websites” intitle:”related links” intitle:”related resources” intitle:”related sites” intitle:”related websites” inurl:”useful links” inurl:”useful resources” inurl:”useful sites” inurl:”useful websites” inurl:”recommended links” inurl:”recommended resources” inurl:”recommended sites” inurl:”recommended websites” inurl:”suggested links” inurl:”suggested resources” inurl:”suggested sites” inurl:”suggested websites” inurl:”more links” inurl:”more resources” inurl:”more sites” inurl:”more websites” inurl:”favorite links” inurl:”favorite resources” inurl:”favorite sites” inurl:”favorite websites” inurl:”related links” inurl:”related resources” inurl:”related sites” inurl:”related websites”
That list might look overwhelming at first, but after a while you won’t even need it.
If you’re not too familiar with Google’s search parameters, inurl means the keyword is in the url and intitle means the keyword is in the title. Quotes help you specify your search by returning only results containing exactly what are inside the quotes.
You don’t have to go in and do a search for every single one of these. Just start with a few.
What we’re trying to do here is to find out resources and roundup pages that link to a ton of different sites in their niche.
You’ll find them in almost every niche.
For example, if you wanted to find link opportunities for your site about soccer games, you can type in: soccer games inurl:”resources”.
Try it now for any keyword. You’ll be amazed at how many opportunities come up.
Step 2: Scan For Broken Links
Okay, now that we have a bunch of sites to look through, it’s time to scan them for broken links.
This is the part where a lot of people decide to do things differently. Some of these pages can have a LOT of links on the page.
The good news is that you don’t need to visit every single link to find the broken ones.
There are a lot of different tools you can use to scan for them. Some are paid, some are free. Some are effective, some are useless. What’s awesome is that the best tool for the job is a free one.
Here’s what I use:
I use Chrome as my default browser and I use a link checker plugin. All I do is visit the page and run the plugin and it shows me every single link on the page and which one is broken.
You can download the free plugin here.
Now, when you visit a page, just click on the link checker icon and it will scan all the links and reveal broken ones in about 1 minute.
This is what it looks like:
RED/BLACK = BROKEN = LINK OPPORTUNITY
If you don’t use Chrome, then get it and use it at least just to find these broken links.
Other tools either require you to pay, or it involves a few extra steps that turn a simple job into a complicating one. This is by far the easiest way, as you can just click a button to scan all the links in real-time.
Step 3: Rebuilding the Dead Page
Next is to re-build the dead page on your own site. To do this, we need to see what was on the original page.
Go to Archive.org and input the URL of the broken page.
Find a snapshot of the page when it was live.
You can copy and paste the content, but make sure it hasn’t been re-published elsewhere. The best option is to just re-write it. It’s not that hard.
Add images, and make it look nice and presentable because the webmaster you contact in the next step is going to manually go through it. If it looks spammy, you’re likely not going to get the link.
To make sure that your resource is really impressive, try adding some data references or links to examples or case studies if it’s possible for the type of content you’re creating.
You don’t need to spend a lot of time creating a super unique resource, but since you’ll be publishing it on your site why not make it impressie so that you can get more links to it in the future?
Step 4: Contact The Site Owner
After you’re done building out the page, the next step is to contact the owner (the owner of the website where you found the broken link) by email. You can find this on their site (usually on the contact page).
A simple email is good enough. Don’t write an essay about why they should fix their link, and don’t make it sound like you’re begging even if you’re REAAAALLY hoping they give you the link.
Here’s a template I use to get links. Short and simple, and enough to get a response.
Hi ______ (Use their first name if you can find it on the site. Just makes it more personable.), I was reading through your site today and stumbled upon your ________ (whatever the page is about) page: (copy and pasted link). I discovered a broken link leading to a 404 page: (copy and pasted broken link) Thought you would like to know and get that removed. I see a lot of great resources on the page and would imagine it gets quite a bit of traffic. Also, I've recently created a guide on ______ (topic of broken page). I think it would make a nice addition to the list 🙂 Thanks, and keep up the great work! Best regards, Chris
That’s usually enough. Notice that we’re not directly saying, “Hey. You have a broken link. Here’s my page. Now replace it.”
You’re simply helping them improve their page by notifying them about the broken link. Afterwards, you’re just softly mentioning you have a similar page. You’re not begging them to add it onto their list or anything like that.
Step 4: Checking Backlink Profiles
Step 3 is usually the end of the broken link building strategy, but we’re going to take it a step further.
We spent the time to build out this new page, why not maximize our results?
The next part is checking the backlink profile of the dead URL to see all other pages that are linking to it.
Remember, we’re checking links to the page, not the domain. To do this, just go into a backlink analysis tool like Moz’s Open Site Explorer and input the exact URL of the broken link.
The list of links presented are all opportunities for you to get even more links to your new page.
Finding Expired Domains
Something interesting you’ll find is, a lot of times these broken links will lead to entire sites that don’t exist anymore.
That leads to a ton more opportunities for us, and a lot of options we can choose to take.
This actually happens more often than you might imagine, and it’s a pretty cool way to find expired domains that aren’t being hunted down by other SEO’s.
For one, we can take the domain and throw it into a backlink analysis tool like Ahrefs or Majestic. It’s going to be up to you to analyze and decide what to do with it.
If it’s an expired domain, first check if it’s available.
If it’s got a lot of good links, purchase it.
Instead of re-creating every page on our own site and then contacting each individual webmaster who linked to it, it’s going to be easier to just re-build the site.
Get the domain and use a tool like Moz to check its “Top Pages.” Then use Archive.org again to re-create the pages. This time, it’s safe to just copy and paste since it’s where the content originated from.
Make sure to make the URL’s exactly the same.
Then, you can link to your own site from those re-created page and you can also control what pages they link to.
Alternatively, you also now have another site in the same niche that you were able to pick up very cheaply compared to if they decided to list it on Flippa or something.
Note: If you do decide to purchase these domains and re-build them, don’t turn them into PBN link-farm type sites.
If you re-create it and it’s a high quality site, you don’t necessarily need to go through the PBN steps of hiding your footprints just because it has a link to your main site.
Are Inner Page Backlinks Useful For Your Site’s SEO?
One question you might be asking is:
But these links are going to inner-pages. How will that help rankings for a page like the homepage?
Deep links help your SEO throughout your entire site and not just for the particular page the link is pointing to. It increases your domain’s authority and also creates a natural link profile that isn’t just concentrated towards the homepage.
Also, the broken link building method is versatile. You don’t have to stick to a concrete strategy for it to work.
For instance, you don’t always have to re-create the page of the broken link you find. Often times, you might determine that you’ll be fine just to ask for a link to your homepage or another page on your site.
That will largely depend on the type of site you are looking at, and by assessing the other links on the page.
Are You Ready To Use Broken Link Building For SEO?
As I’ve said, it’s broken link building is one of my favorite ways to build high authority backlinks consistently.
It’s a repeatable process that you can apply to any niche.
Plus, it’s highly scalable because you only need to recreate a broken page once and then you can use it to get links from all the sites that had previously linked to the original resource.
With time, the pages of your site with the highest number of broken links can become your most valuable assets and drive authority to the other pages of your site.
Broken Link Building For SEO – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is broken link building?
Broken link building is an SEO technique for acquiring high authority backlinks by identifying dormant links on other websites and reaching out to the site owners with your own resource that they can link to.
What is a broken link in SEO?
In SEO, a broken link is simply a link that points to a page that no longer exists.
Why are broken links bad for a website?
Broken links not only negatively impact the user experience of a website but also directly hurt its SEO prospects because linking to non-existent pages is against Google’s search guidelines.
This is the reason why when you point out broken links on a site and offer your own resource as a replacement, most site owners gladly accept it.
Is broken link building a white hat SEO technique?
Yes, broken link building is a purely white-hat SEO technique with zero risks.
In fact, it makes the internet a better place because with broken link building you not only help website owners find dormant links on their site that serve no purpose but also provide them alternate resources that they can link to so that their customers can still benefit from the links.
Does broken link building still work in 2020?
Yes, of course. Broken link building will always be relevant because websites keep expiring and new sites keep coming up.
There will always be dormant links on different popular sits that you can identify and take advantage from.
What causes broken links?
Broken links appear when a piece of content that has backlinks from different websites no longer exists.
This can happen when a website expires or when the site owner decides to remove the content from its original link.
Is broken link building a scalable way to get backlinks?
Yes, that’s one of the best parts of broken link building.
Once you identify a broken link on a popular site and create an alternate resource to replace it, you can then find out all the websites that link to the dormant page and reach out to them with your content.
So you really only need to create content once and then keep using it to acquire new links.
How do I find broken links on a website?
You can find broken links on a website using any popular SEO tool like Ahrefs, SEMrush, or Moz.
Alternatively, you can use the free broken link checker Chrome extension which highlights any broken links on a web page when you visit it.
How do I reach out to website owners with alternate content?
You can reach out to site owners to notify them about the broken link on their site and to pitch your own alternate resource through their blog’s contact page or any of their active social media profiles.