What is Link Reclamation and How Does it Save Rankings?

Link building is a long, complicated, and arduous search engine optimization strategy. It certainly provides meaningful long-term benefits for your website but can be arduous and challenging. After all of your time and effort, you would want to get the most out of your link building.

This is why it’s important to audit your website for any broken or lost links! This helps you identify any links that aren’t working anymore so you can immediately swoop in and fix them. But how exactly do you do that with internal links and backlinks? This is where the process of link reclamation comes in.

In this article, you’ll find:

Comparing Unlinked Mentions and Link Reclamation

Before starting off on the link reclamation process, you need to understand the difference between a broken link and an unlinked mentions. A lot of beginners associate broken links with unlinked mentions. These are two very different links to have.

Unlinked mentions cannot be reclaimed because they were never yours to begin with.  These are simply mentions of your brand or anything that has something to do with it but hasn’t been properly linked to you. When you message the owner of a website about an unlinked mention, you’re getting a new backlink (if they grant your request), not fixing a broken one.

In contrast, broken links are previously existing links or backlinks that are not working anymore. This may be due to the following reasons:

  • The URL was misspelled or mistyped.
  • The URL structure of your site recently changed.
  • The web page where the link is directing users may no longer be available.
  • Links that lead to files like PDF, Google Documents, etc. may have been moved or deleted.
  • The page has broken elements (Javascript, HTML, CSS, or CMS plugin interference).
  • Users may be blocked by a firewall or geolocation.

These broken links must be found and reclaimed.

Why You Need to Reclaim Lost Links

Broken links are bad for SEO. Crawlers can categorize these broken links as non-legitimate, meaning the chances of those pages ranking on search engine result pages (SERPs) lowers.

It’s important to reclaim broken links because you’re losing out on the link juice they offer if you don’t. You can’t juice from dried-out fruit. Additionally, link reclamation helps you identify any defective web pages and problems with your internal linking and overall site navigation.   

Furthermore, broken links can increase the bounce rate of users. Bounce is the action of users immediately leaving a page before interacting with any of its elements. When users see that a link is broken, they will almost certainly leave the page. This reflects negatively on the bounce rate of your website. 

Broken links greatly affect the user experience of any website. When users find broken links, they are interrupted by their flow of exploring your website. 

Lastly, broken links give an impression that you’re not taking good care of your website and this casts doubt on you and your business. 

How to Find and Fix Broken Internal Links

To be able to fix internal links, we have to first find them. There are two options for finding broken links. You can use a paid tool such Ahrefs Site Explorer or you can use a free tool like Google Analytics. A paid tool has more features compared to a free one but both can do the job of finding broken backlinks.

For this discussion, we’ll be using the free option, which is Google Analytics. For this process to work, you’ll need to make sure that your 404 pages have a very distinct title so Google Analytics won’t confuse them with other pages.

Here are the steps you need to follow once you’re in Google Analytics. You will need the exact title of your 404 page.

  1. Go to the Customization tab found on the left part of your screen. Once the options appear, click on Custom Reports.
  2. You will then see more options for your Custom Reports. Click on the New Custom Report option to create a report for broken links.
  3. The application will then ask you to provide a title for your custom report. Simply type something like “Broken Inbound Links” so it’s easy to identify later on.
  4. Click on the Explorer option as the report type.
  5. You’ll see different options in the Metric Groups section. Click on the Add Metric option and search for Entrances.
  6. In the Dimension Drilldowns section, add the options Landing Page and Full Referrer.
  7. Next, go to the Filters section. Click on add filter, and search for Page Title. Leave the first dropdown on the left to Include and select Exact for the second dropdown on the right. 
  8. This is where you’ll need the exact title of your 404 page. You’ll need to enter this information in the space provided right below the Exact option.
  9. Select All views and click on Save to finish the report.

Once you’ve identified the links that you need to fix, the next steps are much easier but also time-consuming.

You will need to go to each of the pages on your site with broken links and update or replace them. If you find links that lead to content that is permanently removed, you’ll need to remove those links as well.

How to Find Broken External Links

Now that we’ve identified all of the broken internal links we have, let’s find the broken backlinks next. Reclaiming backlinks can be a lot more challenging than reclaiming internal links because you’ll be reaching out to other people.

For finding these lost backlinks, the best tool in the industry is Ahrefs Site Explorer. It would be great if you can invest in this tool because you can also use it to identify broken internal links from your website. 

If you want a free alternative, you can try out Free Backlink Checker from SEO Review Tools. The downside of using this free tool is you can only check out 100 broken backlinks at a time. But then again, you can keep using the tool over and over again to see 100 broken backlinks at a time.

Once you’ve identified these links, it’s time to contact the website owners to which these backlinks lead. They will most likely appreciate you reaching out to them about updating any broken links because this helps them identify any problems with their web pages as well. Additionally, it’s a great opportunity for them to reclaim backlinks instead of building new ones!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are inbound links?

Inbound links are links within your website that lead from one of your web pages to another. This is a good SEO strategy because it keeps people on your website longer which signals to search engines that you are helpful to users. 

2. What are outbound backlinks?

These are the links that direct users to other web pages. This is usually to help clarify points, define terms, or give further information about a certain topic. It’s great for user experience because when they want to learn more, they can just easily click on the link.

3. What is link juice?

In the world of SEO, this term refers to the authority or value that we get from links that connect us with other websites. It is also called “link equity”. Backlinks that come from websites with high authority and relevance generate more link juice. This helps you rank better on search engine result pages. 

Leverage Link Reclamation for Better SEO

Creating an effective link building strategy can be complicated and time consuming. There’s so many factors and elements to consider, such as finding the right content to link to and making sure each web page is functioning properly. There’s also the stress of getting high-quality backlinks through guest posting.

Overall, you wouldn’t want to waste all of that effort by not getting the most out of your links, right? This is why it’s important to audit your links every 3 to 6 months. This ensures that you can identify any broken internal links and backlinks that your website has. The earlier you can identify them, the faster you’ll be able to start your link reclamation process.

Link reclamation will give back the lost link juice that you’ve been missing out on.

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