A link building strategy won’t be complete without broken link building, one of the oldest tricks in the SEO book. But the tactic is also difficult to scale if you don’t have the proper process in place.
If you’re not familiar with broken link building, you’re in luck! This post will discuss what it is and how you can develop and implement a broken link building campaign for your website. Launching it the right way will help you build high-quality links guaranteed to grow your search rankings in no time.
Broken Link Building: A Primer
Broken link building refers to the technique of finding broken links of your target sites. When you visit broken pages, you will see a 404 page indicating that the page no longer exists.
This tactic aims to inform site owners that they have a broken link on their page. From here, you must ask them to replace the broken link by pointing to a similar and, more importantly, working resource page.
This information should alarm site owners because they don’t want to provide links to non-existent pages. By leading its readers to a 404 page, it reflects poorly on the site linking to it. As a result, visitors might bounce away from your site searching for a much better one that provides links to existing pages.
Now, this is where you come in. Instead of sharing a resource page from another site to replace the broken page, suggest a page from your site. You need a page on your site containing the same information (if not better) as the broken page for this to work.
It’s possible you also have an existing page that covers the same topic, which makes the campaign much more accessible. But if you don’t, that’s fine as well because there’s a way that you can recreate the broken page without having to start from scratch!
The Broken Link Building Process
In this part, we’ll break down the exact process of an effective broken link building strategy so you can replicate it for your campaign.
Ideally, you want to hand this task off to a link building agency with the knowledge and expertise in finding broken links. However, you can follow the steps below if you wish to take it upon yourself to do it.
#1 – Find Broken Link Building Opportunities
First, you must identify websites from which you don’t have a link. To do this, head on to Ahrefs and enter your domain URL on Site Explorer. Then go to Backlink profile > Link intersect.
Enter the domain URLs of your top competitors.
If you’re not sure who your top competitors are, go to Organic search > Competing domains. It will show you the list of websites with the exact keywords as you.
The fact that they’re ranking on Google for your keywords means that they may have backlinks from authoritative sites that you don’t have yet.
Once you’ve entered the top competitors, you can identify the domains with links pointing to your competitors and not to you.
#2 – Find Broken Links of Prospects
Once you have the list of domains where you should secure a link, identify the broken links they’re linking to.
From Ahrefs again, click on the drop-down arrow from the list of referring domains and select Overview. On the next page, click on Outgoing links > Broken links.
You should now have a list of dead links the site is linking to. Find pages on your site that cover the same topics as any broken pages. If you have a relevant page you can use as linkbait, you can jump to the final step. If not, move on to the next step.
#3 – Recover Broken Pages Using Wayback Machine
Select relevant broken links from the list relevant to your niche. The goal is to recreate a piece on your site that is in line with your topic. This way, you still maintain topic relevance across all your content pieces.
However, make sure that the page leads to a 404 page by clicking on it from Ahrefs. The page may be a false positive, and that it’s actually working.
Once you’ve confirmed that the dead link is indeed dead, check how the page looked at before it broke. To do this, go to Wayback Machine and enter the URL of the broken page.
You should be able to see the times that the page was crawled by Wayback Machine, from when it was published to now. Please choose from the dates to see how the page looked before returning a 404 error.
Even if you found a working version of the page, try opening its crawled versions, especially the latest ones. The page may have been updated over time, which you should consider when recreating its content on your site.
#4 – Recreate Page (and Make It Better)
Now, you have the content of the page your prospect is linking to. All you need to do now is create a version of the same content on your site.
By “recreating,” I don’t mean copying and pasting the same content on your site. It’s in your best interest to rewrite the content and add your spin to it.
In fact, it’s better if you can add new information regarding the topic that wasn’t included on the broken page. This adds more value to your page and gives site owners more reason to replace the broken external link to your site.
#5 – Launch Broken Link Building Outreach
After publishing the recreated page on your site, it’s time to send an email to the website owner informing them regarding the broken link and that you have a much better replacement page for it.
Here’s a great example of a broken link outreach email:
The email is short and sweet but clearly communicates its message. More importantly, it created a much better version of SerpIQ’s post about content length, which is one of the most linked resources about the topic.
From here, you need to send follow-up emails to the site owner if s/he doesn’t reply.
Broken link building is simple if you follow the steps above in your campaign.
However, even if you follow the process to the tee, you’ll still encounter problems with this tactic.
For one, Wayback Machine doesn’t always crawl the live version of the broken page. Also, and more importantly, the success rate of this tactic is not very high. Even if there is an incentive for site owners to change the broken link on their site, they may have more important things to worry about.
In this case, it’s best to hand off this task to a link building agency like Linkplicity with experience in scaling different link building tactics for growing your organic traffic. They can launch a campaign targeting multiple broken link building prospects to increase your chances of landing high-quality links.