Building links to your content can sometimes be the most difficult of tasks when trying to secure a top ranking in the search results. Having a few options for acquiring backlinks can lighten the burden. Broken link building is an option that makes sense for both you and the list of link prospects you approach for securing a link to your site.
The opportunities for broken link building are in constant flux. Domains expire every day, websites are updated and pages are moved and deleted. Links to and from sites are constantly made and broken on a daily basis. You can take advantage of these occurrences by identifying broken links and offering to repair them with links to your own relevant content.
The basic concept of broken link building is identifying websites that have a broken link on their pages and offering to replace the link with a link to your own content.
The general steps to this process are as follows:
1) Find sites that are linking out to pages that have been deleted
2) Create a better version of the deleted page
3) Notify the website owner or editor of the broken link
4) Offer your content as a suitable replacement
When a link is broken it means that the target URL no longer exists. This produces a 404 error (page not found).
Not every website owner will respond the same way to hearing about a broken link, but many will be happy to fix the situation once it is brought to their attention. Include your link in your email as a suggested replacement to make the process much easier for the site owner.
The content you’re suggesting should meet or exceed the quality of the now missing page in order to convince your prospect your link is the best option.
There are many different forms of outreach campaigns that can be used to build links. Broken link building is one method that results in a higher response rate than your typical outreach.
In an expert round-up I asked Brian Dean what he thought to be the most effective link building tactics for 2020 and here was his response:
Reverse the roles to put yourself in the position of a site owner. Wouldn’t you rather make changes to your site that benefits you, rather than someone else? The theory of reciprocity would infer that a person is much more likely to return a good deed when a good deed is bestowed upon them.
Website owners are not always aware of when a link on their site becomes broken. By identifying a broken link and notifying the Webmaster, you’re essentially doing them a favor. You’re giving them the chance to improve the user experience of their website.
Fixing broken links is also one of many ways to improve the on-page SEO of a website. This method of link building arms your outreach campaign with an edge by allowing you to contact your prospects with good tidings. You can legitimately offer to improve their website by pointing out a broken link. The fact that your link is so conveniently available to replace the broken one makes this strategy a go-to for many link builders.
With the right tools, you can perform this method of link building at scale. Rather than reaching out to pitch site owners requesting to write a guest post (which would require you to write a piece of content for every accepted pitch), you can write one piece of content and work on finding sites to link to your page.
The process of finding sites with broken links can be extremely tedious. Rather than explain the different versions of how to find broken links, we’re cutting straight to the chase to make your life simple. In this version of broken link building, you’re going to need to use the trial version of one of the best tools to make your life easier — Ahrefs.
Go to Ahrefs.com and opt for the seven days for seven dollars trial and choose the standard plan.
You can’t choose the lite plan because it doesn’t allow you the same search options for identifying broken links.
In order to execute a successful campaign, you should have an idea of how many links you want to acquire. This gives your outreach some structure for how big you should build your prospect list.
The best way to estimate links is to find a page that ranks with a domain authority (DA) similar to yours.
You will need to assess their link profile to determine the number of quality backlinks they’ve acquired to achieve their rank. The Mozbar is a free extension you can download from Chrome to get quick summaries on the metrics of each domain in a search result.
When you see lower DA sites ranking on the first page of results with higher DA sites, it’s almost always because of high page authority (quality backlinks) — or some real good content.
Having a good idea of how your competition has achieved a first-page ranking will give you an idea of how many links you need to shoot for (as well as how in-depth your content needs to be).
In the example above, a domain is highlighted for the approximate number of links. Keep in mind that link quality will outweigh the quantity. However, as a rough estimate, we’ll set the goal of acquiring 30 links for this campaign (because we’re planning on acquiring higher quality links).
Assume your average response rate will be eight percent and that means that in order to get 30 links, you’ll need to at least build a list of 375 prospects.
Use this formula to estimate the number of link prospects you’ll need for a successful link campaign:
[Target number of links] / .08 = number of prospects
30/0.08 = 375
The content explorer on Ahrefs is its own search engine. It’s similar to Google in producing results, however, you can filter the results to find exactly what you need. Using the content explorer, type in your keyword to produce a list of search results. In this example, the keyword is “benefits of SEO”.
You have the option of displaying sites that have the keyword in the title, URL, content or any of the above.
Click on the filter to show the results with broken links.
The results will consist of pages that no longer exist.
Filter your results to show a minimum number of referring domains. The referring domains represent the link prospects you will be contacting. Choose a minimum number that allows you to get to your target number of link prospects.
Pages that were published five years ago have a much lower chance of being maintained than those that were recently published. Filter your results to show the most recent pages that were published without sacrificing too many of your results.
Go through the list to determine what pages are relevant to your content.
For some results, it will be immediately apparent that they are not related to your content based on the title of the page.
If you’re not sure you can click on the backlinks to double-check whether you would want those links linking to your page.
Once you find a good result, click on “Show all backlinks on Site Explorer” and a new tab will open up with the backlinks, which are essentially your link prospects.
Export them to an Excel spreadsheet and add them to a master list of prospects
If you don’t get to your target number of prospects you can always enter another similar keyword research to produce another set of results.
The content you’re marketing to your prospects MUST be of high quality and be a better, updated version of the page that has been deleted. Make the decision to link to your content an easy one for the site owner by publishing 10X optimized content.
The best way to perform a competitive analysis is to get a peek at what the page used to look like by using The Wayback Machine.
Go to archive.org and type in the URL of the broken link. More often than not, you will be able to get a snapshot of the page before it went missing or was deleted.
This becomes extremely useful because you can now make sure the content of your page covers every aspect that the last page covered.
You can determine the length of the article, the topics covered, the multimedia that was used as well as the type of content used. Use facts, statistics and quotes — all the elements of persuaive essay writing.
You can make sure that the site owner has every reason to link to your page by making a better version of the page that is causing the broken link.
In order to streamline the process, you’re going to finish your master spreadsheet by finding the email address and the name of the person you’re sending the request to. It will be necessary to prepare a custom template email for each of those pages to increase your chances of success while still being able to scale up your efforts.
A large part of a successful outreach campaign is getting your email to the right person. Clicking on “contact us” will more often than not, send your email to a general mailbox. That may work out in some cases (smaller sites) but you can improve your success rate by getting your email to the right person using Hunter.
In the case of a larger website with multiple email addresses, it’s better to get your email to a person that handles that aspect of the business. Hunter will categorize the email addresses according to the job titles of the personnel.
For example, here is a list of email addresses to choose from for Loganix.com:
Try to get directly to the owners or the people that will more than likely do something about fixing a broken link. Emailing someone by their first name has more of an impact on that person to take action.
If you were to choose Adam in this example, it so happens that he is one of the owners of the company. Your request would definitely get the attention it deserves.
Extract your target email addresses for each of your broken link prospects in your group. Include the first name and email address on your master spreadsheet to make your outreach as streamlined as possible.
Include the following points in your email:
The first point is to make sure that the site owner understands that there is an error on their page. It’s important they understand that you’ve identified something that needs their attention in order to improve their site.
Make the entire process as easy as possible by including the necessary information for the site owner to complete the task of replacing the broken link. By including the URL of the page you were reading and the anchor text of the broken link, they can immediately confirm where the broken link is located. By offering your URL as a replacement, you save them the trouble of researching alternative content to replace the URL.
Your email doesn’t have to be an intricate symphony of words. In fact, it’s better to make it as simple as possible to make sure they get through to the end of your email.
Here is an example of an email that hits all the points:
Hi [First name],
I was reading an article on your blog titled [Title of article]. I noticed that when I clicked on one of your links it took me to an error page.
I thought I would inform you immediately as I believe this to be an easy fix that would make your site better.
The article is here [URL of the page with the broken link] and with this anchor text [anchor text of broken link].
I know that you probably have a lot on your plate, so I’ve included an article that’s just as good-perhaps a little more helpful even;).
You can read it here: [URL of your article]
Thanks and keep up the great work.
Use the template feature on Gmail to automate your outreach. You can save your email as a template and highlight the areas that you will replace for each email. Your outreach email should start off by using the name of the person you’re contacting and URL of the page with the broken link. Using this feature will allow you to work from your spreadsheet and fill in the blanks of your email.
In order to save your first template,
Write your email with the subject heading.
Bold each area you want to replace in your email.
Click the three dots and hover over Templates, Save Draft as Template and then finally Save as New Template.
Give the template a name.
Whenever you start a new email; click Compose, click the three dots beside the trash symbol, hover over Templates and select the template you’ve named for your broken link campaign.
The exact email will appear for you to replace the bolded text and enter your recipient.
Link building is such a cautionary practice that it’s important to use white hat methods and tactics that match your goals and objectives. It’s hard to avoid outreach when you’re attempting to accelerate the rate at which your content acquires backlinks. Arm your outreach email with good tidings of improving your link prospects website.
The broken link-building method offers link prospects the opportunity to improve the on-page SEO of their website while giving you a link to yours. Broken link building is one of the go-to methods for building backlinks that every Toronto SEO company uses in its repertoire. Get the most value out of this method by learning and executing this strategy on a shoestring budget for your own business in order to scale up your link building efforts.
As with anything you do in life, there’s a learning curve associated with mastering the skills required in achieving successful backlinking campaigns. Give yourself the opportunity to master these skills by performing a broken link building campaign from beginning to end. The results will speak for themselves.