Broken Link Building 101: The Complete Guide

A broken link building campaign is one of the most popular forms of link building strategies. It involves replacing links, on another site, that are broken, with your own. This tactic has the potential to yield high conversion rates when compared to other tactics. Of course, like any SEO tactic, there are a few important things you must keep in mind. So, in this article, we will discuss:

  1. What Is Broken Link Building?
  2. Key Points To Note
  3. Steps Involved In Broken Link Building
  4. Broken Link Building Strategy
  5. Frequently Asked Questions
  6. Building Broken Links
  7. Related Reads

What Is Broken Link Building?

Broken link building is an SEO strategy that is used to identify broken links in dead pages in your nuance and reach out to webmasters to retrieve the said pages.

In broken link building a website owner searches for pages with dead backlinks that are related to the industry they write content for. Once they have identified the related pages, they will reach out to the website and recommend that they link the dead page to your content.

In this situation, both parties mutually benefitted from each other. The website owner gets broken links fixed (improving the quality of their site and user experience) and your page will potentially have a new backlink. It is a win-win situation.

For those of you who are wondering, this is not a black hat SEO technique and you will not be penalized by Google. Broken link building is a white hat technique. It involves creating quality content and reaching out to webmasters to acquire inbound/internal links.

Key Points To Note

  1. A broken link is a URL that will no longer take the user to the original page. When you click on it, an error 404 page will appear, which denotes the page cannot be found.
  2. A broken link building technique involves finding pages in your niche relevant to the page content, and asking the website owner if they can use the broken link to connect to your site.
  3. Broken link building is a process where you have to create high-quality content and conduct outreach to other websites with the aim of acquiring inbound links.
  4. Building broken links is an arduous process but the wait is worth it because you have the chance to improve your website’s domain authority if you acquire high-authority links.

Steps Involved In Broken Link Building

Here is a brief outline of how building broken links works.

  1. Identifying pages with dead backlinks in your niche.
  2. Create content and replace the original with yours.
  3. Reach out to the original owners of the page and convince them to replace the broken link with yours.

Broken Link Building Strategy

Broken Link Building Strategy

A broken link building strategy involves four steps

1. Find Broken Pages

Link Farms

To do this you need an SEO tool like Ahrefs because it is impossible to find broken pages with a lot of links. If you decide to find broken links manually remember that you would still need a backlink checker tool to find out how many links the page has. So, once you have an SEO tool follow the steps given below.

  • Look for your competitors’ broken pages that have backlinks
  • Search for broken pages that focus on a topic that is relevant to your site
  • Look for broken links on your competitors’ websites
  • Check if there are any broken links on resource pages

Competitors usually have a lot of pages and it is not impossible for them to have lost a few of them along the way. Everyone moves and reorganizes their content from time to time and when they forget to redirect the URL to the new page it becomes a 404 error. So, you can take advantage of this situation by redirecting the broken pages to your site.

a. To find broken pages, head to Ahrefs site explorer and enter a competing domain. Then head to the Best by Links report and type “404 not found” in the filter. Select referring domains and sort them from highest to lowest.

b. To find broken pages about a topic, head to Ahrefs content explorer and enter a broad topic such as digital marketing. Click on the search mode and change it to “title.” Hit search and filter the results to show only the broken pages. Click on referring domains and set the filter to 20 and you will get broken pages that will have at least 20 referring domains. Click on the title to make sure they are broken pages.

c. To find broken links on competitors’ websites head to site explorer and type any of your competitor’s domain names and click on the broken links report. If you want to know which URLs have the most referring domains, export the data and paste it into Ahrefs’ Batch analysis tool where you can sort the data by the total number of referring domains.

d. Resource pages contain information and link to resources about a specific topic. For example, link building resource pages will have links pointing to sites that offer link building opportunities and services. Since they have many backlinks inside, it is a good place to find broken backlinks.

You can use one of these Google search operators to find broken links on a resource page.

  • KEYWORD intitle: resources inurl: links.html
  • KEYWORD intitle: resources inurl: resources.html
  • KEYWORD inurl: resources intitle: resources

For example, you can search for “digital marketing intitle: resources inurl: resources.”

To check for broken links in the pages, go to Ahrefs SEO toolbar by heading to the page> clicking on the toolbar icon> selecting the Links tab> then clicking on check status> and filtering it to show only the broken links.

To know the total number of backlinks, export the data and paste it into the Ahrefs backlinks analysis tool.

2. Vet Your Link Prospects

A mistake that many people make is creating replacement content for the broken page right away without vetting it. When you vet a link, you will be able to understand what that page needs based on its current state. Jimping straight to creating a replacement page for a broken page is wrong for two reasons.

  • The broken page you found may not have good backlinks. This makes creating a replacement page worthless since there is no point in pursuing a broken page with poor-quality backlinks.
  • To create a replacement page, you need to understand why people linked to the dead page in the first place. Jumping

If you create content without vetting a link your content and outreach process won’t be in sync.

Vetting a link involves

  • Checking to see if the page has good backlinks.
  • Checking to see if your replacement resource page aligns with why people linked to it before.
  • If your replacement page matches the user linking intent previously it is safe to pursue.
  • If it doesn’t have any worthy backlinks then you stop pursuing it.

a. To check the quality of a link

Before you start pursuing a broken page, you must check to see if they have high-quality links. To check the quality of links in a broken page, you must go to site explorer> enter the dead page’s URL> go to the backlinks report and set the grouping mode to “one link per domain.” Don’t forget to set “show history” to “Don’t show.”

You can eyeball the links and manually check the links but that is not an efficient method and takes up too much time. So, the faster way is to filter the report. You can use the following filter to find quality links.

  • DoFollow.” Use this filter to exclude low-quality links such as links from directories, blog comments, and forums.
  • Subdomains. Use this filter to exclude posts from sites such as Blogspot, because they usually tend to have low-quality spammy links.
  • DR5+. Use this filter to exclude websites that have low domain authority.
  • Domain traffic:20+. This filter will exclude links from websites that have low traffic.

b. Check the link reasons

You must find out why the broken pages were linked to by people. This will help you understand and come up with outreach ideas that are suitable for the page when reaching out to the website owner of the page.

There are two types of link reasons that you may come across.

  • General links. These are links that people use to link as a whole resource. They may have not found any particular topic inside but rather contains a general topic. You won’t be able to find out any specific content that shows why people linked to it.
  • Deep links. These types of links are linked to as a resource because they may contain information about a specific topic. You can visibly see the reason why people linked it as a resource page.

Focus on finding deep links more than general links because they offer deeper insights as to why people linked it as a resource and more importantly will help you craft replacement content for the broken page. So, note down the reasons why people linked to it and implement them in your content.

3. Create a Replacement Page For The Broken Page

Once you have a clear idea of why people linked to the broken page, you can create your own content to replace it with core link reasons still intact.

a. Create an outline

Do not copy the content inside the dead page. Instead, you can use the heading and subheadings as outlines for your new content. The purpose of the content and what it talks about must remain the same, but the contents must be different.

b. Add linkable points

The content must have points that denote why the content is worth linking to and possess content that is accurate. If there are any outdated statistics, you can replace them with newer ones. This will ensure the outreach process becomes simpler because it is easier to justify why this page was linked to.

C. Identify other areas to improve the content

The majority of the links you find on broken pages are general links and only a small portion consists of deep links. With general links, you won’t find any specific reason why they are linked to a page. So, you can improve the content but not so much because there are fewer deep links. So, you can focus on other areas to improve. Besides this, improving your content will also help strengthen your value proposition because then general linkers would have a purpose to link to the page.

To further improve your content you can

  • Simplify the content, making it more accessible and easier to understand
  • Use visual elements like infographics to explain a topic
  • Add a template to guide people through the content
  • Rectify the content and fix inaccuracies

4. Outreach

In outreach, you will be reaching out to the people who are linking to the dead page and pitching them your idea for a replacement page and its contents. Outreach is performed in two ways.

  • Shotgun outreach is when you send the same generic email without personalizing it.
  • Sniper outreach is when you send emails that are unique and personal.

Both of these approaches have their advantages and disadvantages, but the best way is a mix of both. Instead of sending generic emails to everyone, you can segment your prospects into smaller groups and create personalized email templates depending on the group. In this case, you will probably have to segment your prospects into general linkers and deep linkers. The way you target and pitch ideas for both groups must be different.

For example, when targeting general linkers, the best you can do is create a generic email, because you won’t know the specific reason why they were linking to the site. However, if you are creative enough, you can create something to add to the content. For example, you can add a few lines as to why you think your content is better and the areas you can improve on the dead page.

For deep linkers, you can create a personalized email because you know why the website owner was linking to the page. Similar to generalized linkers, you can add a few lines here that explain what is new in your content.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are resource pages?

A resource page contains a curated collection of external links to helpful articles and tools. A research page is considered highly valuable because it cuts down the time needed to research and provides actionable links such as the download now or click here button that takes the user to the site or tool they want to use.

2. What is a dofollow link?

Dofollow links allow Google and other sites to access your site and link back to it. Inserting Dofollow links on your site can strengthen the authority of your site because it shows search engines that other pages, blogs, and posts are linking to your page.

3. Which tool is the best to find broken links?

You can use a keyword research tool like Ahrefs because they have advanced search features, filters, and backlinks reports. The lite version costs $99 per month and the highest-end costs $999 per month.

Building Broken Links

Broken link building is a tactic that seeks to find link building opportunities that include a value proposition. The proposition here is that you found a broken page on a site and you offer to improve it by replacing the content with your own. It is an excellent technique that benefits the original owner of the content and the website owner looking to renew it.

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