Link building can be a drag.
Although it is something that can get your website to that next level, it is a time consuming process which oftentimes brings no tangible results.
Why is that you might ask?
It is because people simply do not have a proper incentive to link to you. This is especially obvious in highly competitive industries.
However, we are able to remedy the issue with this broken link building technique.
What is broken link building?
Sometimes pages to which you have placed a link can no longer be found on a website. As a result, you will have a broken link on your own page. This can be really unpleasant for your readers and can have a negative impact on user experience.
Commonly, webmasters will change or just remove the link as soon as they notice the problem. However, most of them will not spot the issue at all.
This is where you come in.
When performing broken link building (henceforth referred to as BLB) you find those juicy broken links and offer your article as a replacement.
If you think about it, it is a win-win situation:
- Webmasters will quickly resolve the issue on their website
- Users will not come across non-working links
- You will get a juicy link for your effort.
Due to its simplicity and mutual benefit, BLB is one of the most efficient ways to improve your link profile.
Why broken link building rocks?
The very fact that this is the most efficient link building method (at least for NikSto.com) should be enough for you to consider it.
However, here are some additional benefits you need to have in mind:
- It is 100 % white hat!
- Website owners have a good reason to use your link as a replacement
- It is much faster to execute than any other link building strategy
- It is much more efficient than your standard promotional campaign
- You are able to get some high quality links which you couldn’t procure by using other methods
- Regardless of whether a webmaster links to you or not, it is a good way to start a relationship with other bloggers
With all that being said, why is this technique rarely used?
Most bloggers stumble on one of the steps (usually prospecting) and they give it up.
Luckily for you, I will give you a step-by-step guide that will make your broken link building campaign a breeze.
Just keep on reading!
Selecting just the right keywords
SEO is based on keywords. No matter what you do, this is something you always have to keep in mind.
Same goes for broken link building.
Although you would love to get as many links as possible, you have to have end strategy. You can build links all you want but if it doesn’t result in better traffic and rankings, the entire process is a waste.
This is why you have to perform a proper keyword research beforehand.
Unlike regular keyword research where you pinpoint a phrase that you wish to rank for, rules are a bit different in case of broken link building.
You see, number of broken articles and broken links is an inherent inhibitor.
In other words, even if you find some keywords that look amazing on paper, lack of broken links can sidetrack your campaign. So, this is something you always have to have in mind.
We will talk about it in detail during prospecting chapter.
Besides this, there are three things to have in mind when performing keyword research:
- Keyword relevancy
- Keyword volume
- Keyword difficulty
Relevancy is self-explanatory. Just find the phrases that your website can benefit from.
Volume also needs to be considered when deciding on a keyword.
As I mentioned, your campaign needs to bring you at least some traffic. Yes, getting links from domains that haven’t link to you before can do wonders for your website as a whole but you still need some traffic to justify the effort.
Finally, keyword difficulty is the last factor that needs to be considered. Why do I say this?
In a normal situation, difficulty will be on pair with volume when it comes to significance. In this case, it is a bit less important given that proper BLB campaign will guarantee at least some links which will even allow us to rank for more difficult keywords.
Different types of broken link building
According to Moz, there are three main ways to find broken link opportunities:
- Resource page targeting with keywords
- Resource page targeting with URL
- Direct URL targeting
1) Resource page targeting with keywords
In this case, you are interested in particular keywords.
For example, you have an online shop that sells bathroom tiles. You wish to pursue something like “cheap bathroom tiles”. You will have to check all the related phrases, for their volume and difficulty and then you are ready to start the process.
Best way to do it is by checking various resources pages.
Use strings in Google such as:
Keyword + links
Keyword + resources
Keyword + useful resources
Keyword + useful websites
Once you get the list of results, start visiting them one by one. All these pages have a lot of links inside of them and there usually are some broken ones.
Resource pages have a lot of listed websites all of which can be used for your link building campaign. You have the choice of checking them result by result but I recommend that you use some of the tool such as Check My Links.
Furthermore, you are able to open several windows and run this tool in each one of them. Check My Links is a free tool that you can get through Google Chrome web store. It comes in a form of add-on and it is really easy to use.
Once the tools has finished, it will mark all the links on page in either green (working link) or red (non-working link). After that, you will know which pages have 404 errors.
You should place all these broken articles in a excel sheet. When you are done browsing Google search results, you are ready to check these pages.
Best paid tools for broken link building
Here are some of the best paid tools which you can use to check links pointing to a page:
- Majestic SEO
- cognitiveSEO Backlink Explorer
- Backlink Watch
- Backlink Checker
This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are tons of other tools which you can also use. Nevertheless, these are the most popular ones.
Once you find the most suitable tool, start checking broken links.
Select articles that have most domains pointing to them. Now, you are ready to start with the content creation and outreach.
2) Resource page targeting with URL
This is the method which Niksto team prefers.
Bear in mind, you do not build links by prioritizing keywords. Instead, you find an authoritative website within your niche and search its pages for broken articles.
You can use various tools to see if there are any broken link opportunities. I would recommend Ahrefs.
What’s the catch?
Top websites in every industry get a lot of links. In that sense, they are your best bet. If you were to pursue a smaller website, which gets one or two links per article, there wouldn’t be any point in performing this strategy.
On top of that, authoritative websites constantly get a lot of high quality links and usually, these links come from other relevant websites within their industry. Powerful websites do not have to build links so you can be certain that all the links you get will be totally legit.
When you decide which website you wish to target, you are ready to use a tool.
As mentioned before, Ahrefs is great here.
Insert URL into the tool and click on “outgoing links” after which you need to click on “broken links”. This will give you a list of all the broken pages on the website as well as the websites that are pointing to them.
Now, use the filter to check how many of those are dofollow links. Article should have at least 100 dofollows pointing to it (that’s how I do it).
Filter them based on the number of linking domains. The more the merrier.
Unlike the previous method, resource page targeting with URL is great for websites that need overall increase in traffic and improvement of link profile.
With this strategy, you are primarily trying to get as many links as possible while use of the keyword is in the second place.
Direct URL targeting
When it comes to direct URL targeting, it differs from other BLB methods. It is slow, you cannot scale it and it is usually not that profitable.
Website owner focuses on one website and starts checking its pages for broken inbound links. Now, you are not checking them so you can find potential resources. Instead, you are doing this so you can perform a single outreach to blog owner.
This method is primarily used as a way to start a conversation or get a link from a valuable resource. Once you’ve found a broken link, you can pitch editor or owner.
Even though this is not the best way to find link building opportunities or to build links, it is great way to leave a first impression on a person.
Providing a suitable replacement for the broken link
You have finished prospecting. That’s great!
Next thing you need to do is find (or create) a proper replacement.
If you are performing resource page targeting with keywords you usually have already prepared some articles. This method is often used as a promotional method where you have a written post revolving around a keyword.
Resource page targeting with URL is link building in its most common form. You are not really interested in promoting anything or increasing sales.
Instead, you wish to get as many links as possible in shortest amount of time. In this case, you probably don’t have an article ready.
If you already have an article, you can skip the rest of this chapter.
But, what happens if you don’t have one?
The problem with missing pages is that they are missing. In other words, you cannot know what was the article about. If you offer a replacement to a blogger and you are completely off topic, they will quickly refuse you.
Luckily for us, we have Wayback Machine.
This amazing tool can show you how a page looked like throughout the time.
All you have to do is place the URL and tool will show you how the page looked at a particular date. You can easily replicate the content and offer it as a valid replacement for the broken link.
Scraping the contacts
Before you can start outreaching, you have to get proper names and emails of bloggers.
Start visiting websites that linked to the broken article.
Depending on the size of the website, you will either have to contact the main editor or website owner.
Small websites usually have teams that consist of one or several people. So, it makes sense to contact website owner directly.
In case of bigger organizations, you should get editor’s email. Website owner probably gets a lot of emails so they likely won’t be able to reply.
Start by checking the “Contact” and “About Us” pages. They will most likely do the job.
Whenever you can, try to get personal email. Messages sent to company’s Contact page or info@ email are read by the entire team. Someone may even delete your email if it seems unimportant. This is why you need to send it directly to the person in charge.
During prospecting phase, you added names of all the websites that linked to the page. Now, you can add names and emails to that list. Once the list is complete, you can start with the outreach.
Blogger outreach phase
OK, so far you have found names and emails of all the bloggers and you have prepared suitable replacement content. Now, it’s the time to notify them and point out the broken link on their pages.
Neil Patel uses this template to for BLB outreach:
SUBJECT: RE: Problem with (SITE NAME)
Hey (first name),
I was checking out (their site) today and noticed that a few links weren’t working on
this page: (page with broken links)
These two pages that you linked to don’t seem to exist anymore:
(broken link #1)
(broken link #2)
If you need a replacement resource, I saw this post last week and thought it was awesome:
Hope that helps and keep up the awesome work with the blog!
(anything but your real name)
Templates for broken link building blogger outreach are pretty straightforward.
It makes sense given that relationship and communication is purely based on mutual benefit. There is no point in sweet-talking a person having in mind that it is also in his interest to remove the broken link. Whether they will replace it with your link is completely different story.
Nevertheless, template may not work for you. If that is the case, try and modify it a bit making it more direct.