Everything is allowed in love and SEO.
When it comes to improving your website, people are willing to go to extreme lengths up to a point where their actions can be regarded as immoral.
SEO profession isn’t one-dimension. In fact, it is one of the fastest evolving jobs where a professional constantly has to change their strategy and adapt to Google’s policy in order to remain relevant and profitable.
Due to this fact, I have seen a plethora of different techniques over the course of time.
One of those that are super popular and rewarding is broken link building or BLB.
Broken link building basics
Most of the SEO techniques are concentrated on getting new links from other websites.
In that regard, this method is no different.
As its name implies, it revolves around broken links. Like always, the biggest secret lies in the method which is being used to find those broken links.
OK, but what does broken link mean exactly? Here’s a great explanation from Computer Hope:
“A broken link or dead link is a link on a web page that no longer works because the website is encountering one or more of the reasons below. An improper URL entered for the link by the website owner. The destination website removed the linked web page (causing what is known as a 404 error)”
During this procedure, the SEO expert needs to find some of the most heavily linked articles within a particular industry. Furthermore, these articles need to be unsuccessfully moved or deleted. This way they’ll create a broken link on all the websites that still link to them.
Now, if you were a Good Samaritan, you could notify the website which moved their article so that they can rectify the issue.
But, that is not in the SEO spirit 🙂
Instead, you can write your own article on the topic. It should be very similar to the original one and so that it’s relevant to all the targets you’ll outreach to. After you’re done, you start pitching the sites that originally linked to the broken article and get these sweet links rolling.
Easy right? It is indeed!
If you think about it, this is a win-win situation. Here’s why:
- Help webmasters fix their non-working links which worsen their user experience
- Help readers by giving them additional resource which otherwise was not available anymore
- Acquire some relevant, contextual and 100% white hat backlinks
With broken link building, you are doing a favor to everyone involved. Because of it, this method can be utilized as a great way to get links from highly authoritative websites within your industry, the links which you couldn’t have gotten otherwise.
Our experience with BLB
In this new SEO era, you have to play by the book making sure that you avoid grayhat or blackhat techniques. Unlike before, SEO experts have less options when it comes to whitehat link building.
Simply put, Google is no longer taking nonsense and they are doing everything in their power to prevent any malpractices.
That being said, broken link building emerged as one of the best ways to build backlinks.
Let’s get to the main question: Should you incorporate BLB as regular part of your promotion?
Our team created its first BLB article about a few months ago. For us, it was a technique which we never tried before. Although I have a lot of experience when it comes to implementing some other methods, every new technique brings new challenges. This is where most SEO experts tend to stumble as this transition can prove to be rather difficult.
In case of BLB, there were no such issues for us.
How much time did the first BLB campaign took us?
Here are some facts about our first broken link building strategy:
- It took us about 2 hours to write a similar article to the broken one
- We targeted, extracted and contacted exactly 100 bloggers which took another 4 hours in total
- 30 minutes to extract all links to the broken page with Ahrefs and clean the bad ones
- 3 hours to extract all names and emails/ contact forms in the sheet
- 30 minutes to create a nice personalized template and send it in bulk with YAMM plugin for Chrome
- From those 100 bloggers I got 15 links (this took us couple of days as I had to wait until everyone answers)
Yes, you read correctly! The conversion rate was the whooping 15%. Imagine if you send 500 emails per campaign and get 75 links within a week! The possibilities are limitless.
As previously mentioned, broken link building can get you a lot of high quality and pure whitehat links.
The top three links which I got from this campaign had MOZ domain authority of 95, 78 and 78.
Talk about profitable!
Obviously, broken link building is not only good in terms of getting authoritative backlinks. It is also a relatively fast and highly effective link building method.
When we sum everything up, it took us approximately 1 day to do it. You have to agree, for this kind of exposure, it is more than worth it.
Like always, you will lose majority of your time on correspondence. Nevertheless, this is crucial as negotiating with webmasters is precisely the thing that secures you the links.
Similarly to other types of content promotion, you can expect different reactions from webmasters. They are used to different types of pitches. However, this method is rather unknown so it may come as a pleasant surprise to a lot of guys.
During our campaigns, the contacted people mostly had a positive reaction seeing the BLB technique as an ingenious and helpful method. Due to this fact, you will likely encounter less resistance than with other types of outreach and content promotion.
Of course, this can only be seen as positive as it will ultimately lead to more links.
How does BLB work in practice?
Always remember that broken link building technique is in fact reverse engineering SEO.
What does that mean?
In short, you start by finding pages with lots of links to them and then you go start writing the piece.
In that regard, you shouldn’t concentrate on particular keywords. Instead, your target should be the biggest names (sites) within your industry.
By doing things in this order, you won’t always be able to rank for your desired keywords. However, you will get something much more valuable and that is a massive number of authoritative contextual links that will improve your website as a whole. Also, you’ll make some new friends as you go.
Broken link building technique relies heavily upon the use of SEO tools which is actually to be expected. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to scan all the pages and links that are worthy of your attention.
Usually we all know the names of the biggest players our industries.
That is good because all their websites can and will be used as a starting point for your research.
We love using Ahrefs as it is one of the best (if not the best) backlink checkers on the market. However, before we start describing this tool in detail and explaining how BLB is done, let’s look back at the targeted websites.
Basically, you should find the top 10-20 websites within your niche/industry, and run them through Ahrefs site explorer one by one. Each of these websites is usually highly authoritative and on average, their articles attract a lot of links. Sooner than later, you will find a couple of articles that will fit your needs.
But wait, there is another great benefit with this technique.
You are able to get easy links from your shoulder niches without having to research or invest a lot of time in creating contacts. Let’s use our example.
Broken link building in shoulder niches
Niksto is a company that is mainly into SEO. It is our main service, although not publicly advertised. As such, we usually create content that revolves around this topic.
Nevertheless, we are also interested in internet marketing in general. But, as a startup, we don’t have enough time to write many articles build a decent amount of links to each of them.
Here’s why this is a big issue for us:
- We wouldn’t have time to promote them properly
- Even if the article ranked high, the keyword wouldn’t bring profit
- Although we are proficient in other internet marketing topics, we are not able to follow all the trends and news which may affect the quality of our content
Logically, given all of this, it is much better to stick to SEO.
Luckily, with the use of broken link building, we are able to create articles which will be, if not profitable, very successful and will allow us access to other shoulder niches (digital marketing, social media, etc.)
BLB also allows us to make a contact with a completely new set of people.
Nowadays, a lot of SEO professionals are acquainted with our website. Some of them have linked to us, some of them haven’t. Anyway, if we try to get links from the same sources, pitching the same people for God knows how many times, we would only antagonize them.
Instead, we start with a new sheet, new bloggers and a potentially lucrative proposal for both sides.
Sounds good, doesn’t it?
Using Ahrefs for finding broken links
Now, let’s say you prepared about 10-20 different websites, from your niche as well as other shoulder niches. It is time to analyze them, website by website, by using Ahrefs.
You always begin by entering the URL into Ahrefs site explorer search bar. On the left side, you have an overview of the domain. One of the sub-options is outgoing links under which there is broken links.
You need to click on it and Ahrefs will provide you all the broken articles from that domain.
So far, so good.
OK, now you can add some additional filters on this page which will help you narrow your search (for example, 1 link per domain).
You can see the data for each and every article and most importantly, how many domains are linking to that piece. With that, you can determine which article you wish to replicate.
Always make sure that the article is well suited for your blog. There is no point in pursuing broken content that has numerous websites linking to it if it’s going to put you in danger with Google. Ideally, you will find some topics that have a lot of traffic and which can be connected to your service.
Again, that shouldn’t be your priority. The most important thing about BLB technique is getting a massive number of links from various domains and boosting your website authority as a whole. If you can get something more, that’s great. If not, it doesn’t matter as long as you nail some powerful links.
The Wayback Machine
The Initial part of the process is over. You have found an interesting article with lots of links and you would like to replicate it and offer it as a replacement.
But, there is another issue.
Before, I mentioned how this technique is great for bloggers who linked to a broken article as it offers them a replacement. When you show them your own article (resembling the original one) they can rectify the problem in no time. It saves them a lot of headache as they do not need to change their content.
But, if your article is not similar to the original one, it may not be a good replacement.
Because of this fact, you will have to use the Wayback Machine.
All you have to do is copy paste the URL of the broken page and this tool will show you how the article looked like back in the day. By checking the content, you can easily replicate it creating something that is likely to be linked to.
There are various things which can go wrong during email outreach. Luckily for us, BLB campaigns are not as other SEO pitches. They are much friendlier and easier to perform given that this service is something that other bloggers are actually willing to embrace.
That being said, you can be much more direct during the procedure.
Unlike standard content promotion, where you have to warm up the contact making a friend in the process, broken link building is completely based on mutual benefit.
Here is an example of our own template:
As you can see, you can keep it short and sweet and offer a substitution on the first email. In other cases, you would have to beat around the bush, show respect to the blogger trying to be as cordial as possible.
In this case, all you have to do is point out the broken link on the page and to propose your own replacement article.
Things to look out for
Perhaps this technique seems as a perfect solution to all your marketing issues. Nevertheless, there are certain things that can pose a problem affecting your campaign.
Mainly, BLB is something that can lead to a negative response from the blogger who wrote the original article. Naturally, no one would like to have their links replaced or exploited even though his article is no longer existent.
But, here is something that can keep everybody happy.
Whenever third party website decides to replace an article, you can add original author’s link as well. This way, everybody participating in the exchange will be satisfied by the outcome.
In the end, if you were able to restore some of the links that original author lost, it is still a good thing for him as he didn’t need to invest any time in restoring them by themselves, right?
If you are stuck with your link building efforts and it seems that you are unable to acquire fresh ones, I suggest that you try broken link building.
Not only will you be able to increase your link building productivity, but you will also be able to tap into other niches which were previously unavailable to you. Our team had enormous success with this method and there is no reason why you wouldn’t.
Have you ever tried this BLB? What was the biggest obstacle for you? Share your questions and successes in the comment section below.