Our days of youth are passing us by — just like the youthful days of the Internet! So, now we see a lot of outdated stuff on the web tons of
404 pages we need to transform by pitching related content that was once linked to the page.
This is our jewel method used to enhance our campaigns.
A Complete and Easy Guide to Build Broken Links
“Is broken link building one of the most scalable link building tactics around?” one might ask but you get to realize that it is really time-taking and the results are often average or below. And that leads to these types of comments:
An interesting thing to note is that broken link building actually does work, it just needs a little tweaking to make it scalable and quite alright.
I’ll be giving you the tweak; a good means to scale broken link building and actually have it working quite effectively.
The first step is to know what a broken link is. Hence;
What is a broken link?
A broken link is also called a dead link. It is any like on a web page that is unresponsive probably because there is an error or an issue going on with the website.
Broken link building is the act of locating a broken or a dead link and recreating the contents of the link to your own taste and then telling anyone linking to the broken link to link to yours instead. Broken link building is very important because broken links make the users’ experiences very unsatisfactory and nobody really wants an unresponsive link on their website.
When you alert people about your new recreated links, they’ll happily replace their dead ones.
If per adventure you come across a broken link, you could use the Wayback Machine to find out the contents that used to be on the dead link.
You could actually rebuild the broken link by these few steps:
- Recreate your own content and guide about protecting your site against Google penalties since that’s what the broken link was about initially.
- Reach out to the owner of the website and alert him on the broken link on his website.
- Throw a suggestion at the owner that they might want to replace their broken link with another; the functioning one that you already created.
The owner of the website may or may not be interested. The broken link can be checked out in Site Explorer (assuming the owner of the website wasn’t interested), you get to see that there will be other links pointing to this broken link and more links means more success on finding people that could be reached out to replace their dead links which could be really time-consuming.
How to find useful broken links:
1. Locate the dead link of the top sites you have in your niche
Most broken links aren’t just located. You could use Site Explorer for instance to locate broken links. The Site Explorer has over millions of external backlinks which includes broken links stored in its database. This explorer is very useful for locating broken links because their backlinks are also present.
How do you use Site Explorer?
The first thing you do is to make a list of all the top websites you have stored in your niche and carefully study them in Site Explorer.
For example, if I have the topic ‘meditation”, here is a list of website that covers the topic:
The most effective way to find opportunities for broken link building is with Ahref’s broken link Checker and this is how to go about it:
Site Explorer -> Pages -> Best by Links -> filter for HTTP 404 errors.
Demonstrating using the websites in the image below:
You realized that despite the fact that it does not exist anymore, the most linked-to page on tinybuddha.com still has 31 referring domains and judging by the image and the same goes for the the rest of the websites.
Using the Wayback Machine, it was discovered that the dead link on tinybuddah.com was an article about forgiveness.
What if the Wayback Machine is unavailable, how do you find out what the broken link was?
- Copy the URL of the broken link and paste it into Ahref’s Site Explorer.
- Go to Backlink Profile -> Anchors.
- Look at the anchor text and all the texts surrounding it for each link.
This is quite an effective way because you could repeat this process for all the dead links you have on all your sites and study their individual 404 pages. This increases the chances of broken link building.
2. Locate the broken outlinks on those same websites
When you do this, you can find which links have a lot of backlinks.
Assuming we are still on the topic of medication, Zenhabits.net is a very useful website because it deals with my interests about medication.
If I want to link it to my own website, the first thing to do is to check the broken links on Zenhabits.net in Ahref’s Site Explorer by following these steps;
First go to Outgoing links then, you go to Broken links.
It is seen that a number of pages on this website have links to the external pages that don’t exist anymore.
An article can be written about any available topic that is linked to the broken link and suggested as a fix to that link.
Going ahead to really study the dead link in the Site Explorer, it can be seen that there are still referring domains that can be contacted with the new and recreated contents that I have made.
Is there a way to speed up this process?
There actually is, and it can be done by using Ahref’s Batch Analysis.
It is possible for you to actually just paste the URL of each dead outbound link into the Site Explorer to know how many referring domains it has. But this is really time-consuming as you could have a large number of broken out bound link so, an easier way is to:
- Export the entire list of broken outlinks.
- Open the CSV and copy the outlinks into Ahref’s Batch Analysis. This can be done 200 at a time.
- Sort the results out by their referring domains.
- This makes it easier to see the pages that have a lot of referring domains faster.
This method is pretty efficient when it comes to searching for broken links.
3. Search for broken links by gathering the links pages in your niche
This is the most commonly used method for people looking for the opportunity to build a broken link.
It includes the following steps:
- To find the links pages in your niche, use the advanced Google search operators.
You could use terms and search keywords like;
- KEYWORD blogs inurl: “resources” intitle: “resources”
- KEYWORD intitle: “resources”
- KEYWORD inurl: “links”
- KEYWORD intitle: “links” inurl: “/links”
- Scrape the results.
This could be done by using a tool like SERP scraping bookmarklet for Chrome or Scrapebox.
- Scrape all the outbound links from each of the links pages.
You could use Scrapebox for this also. It checks the status of all the outbound links so that all the 404 errors can easily be detected. You could use Screaming Frog to do this also.
- Check the status of each page; you’re hoping to find a 404 error message.
You could also use another tool, a free tool like LinkMiner, but these tools check the status of all the external tools individually.
These links could also be extracted on a page using this formula on Google Sheets: =IMPORTXML(“page URL”,”//a[not(contains(@href,’domain’))]/@href”)
- Use Ahref’s preferably to locate the pages that have the most inbound links.
Paste the list of all the 404 errors into the Ahref’s Batch Analysis tool to locate the best opportunity for broken link building.
How can you speed up the process of finding broken links?
This can be done using the ‘Citation Labs Broken Link Finder’. The Citation Labs Broken Link Builder is not a free tool, but it automates the whole process of scraping results from the Google search engine and extracting the broken links. It’s really easy and straightforward as just a few keywords can get the job done.
4. Search for niche-relevant domains that have backlinks
The issue with this method is not that it doesn’t work. It works quite alright. The major issue is that it is extremely time-consuming and quite hectic because there is relatively more manual work to be done here than in any of the previously discussed methods.
Still maintaining meditation as the niche, we could search for expired domains related to yoga using a site called ExpiredDomains.net
The results could be filtered down if they’re so much so that you might only be able to see .com, .org and .net domains (depending on what you like). This helps dial the number backwards.
The results gotten can be ordered by the number of backlinks!
After all these are done;
- Copy the domains and paste them into the Ahref’s Batch Analysis Tool and select the “domains with all subdomains” option for the mode
- Using the available number of referral domains, sort the list and you get a list containing a lot of expired domains with backlinks.
After all these are done, it is discovered that the majority of the results you get are junks as are such with most of the results gotten from Expireddomains.net regardless of what term you use.
It takes a bit of looking and digging to find actual useful ones.
Sometimes, the Wayback Machine comes up empty like in the case of this post, but you can see what it is by looking at the anchor text.
How do you find links of expired domains using the Ahref’s Site Explorer?
The Site Explorer is quite user-friendly and it can be used as thus:
- Paste your top competitor into the Site Explorer.
- Go to the Outgoing Links.
- Go to the Broken links.
- Filter for do follow links alone.
- Exports the results gotten to a CSV as such.
- Copy and paste all the broken URLs from the CSV export into the URL domain extraction tool.
- Paste the extracted domains into the availability tool.
- All the expired domains linked to by your competitor will be shown.
- Copy and paste the domains into the Ahref’s Batch Analysis tool after you must have exported them to a CSV.
- Continue the steps and find a lot of opportunities…
HELPFUL TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL BROKEN LINK BUILDING OUTREACH
To have gotten to this level, you should have quite a number of broken link building opportunities and have used them quite well so, well done.
But, the job isn’t over yet. You would still have to contact the owners of the site and this can be done by doing an email outreach. To do this, you need to first have the contact details for the site you want to reach out to then, you need to send then an email alerting them about the dead link and their site. You could even suggest your recreated link as a replacement for the dead one.
Sometimes, this isn’t very effective as the messages might come in form a spam so, these are tips that could be used for a broken link outreach:
1) Keep the email message easy and short
It’s really good and professional if your broken link email message is short and concise. It also should contain the following information;
- The recipient should be addressed by his or her name.
- The broken link should be mentioned.
- Tell the recipient about the broken link, stating exactly where it is.
- Suggest your replacement/.
- It helps if you further explain why that replacement should be chosen amongst all the others.
An example of such an email is this:
The email goes straight to the point, it states its purpose politely and suggests a change.
Don’t waste words trying to convince the recipient why they should use the replacement link you suggested. Don’t beg for the person’s attention or come of as extremely needy.
2) Try reaching out to the right set of people
Most people like to do things the easy way and they just end up doing a sloppy job. Most people, when they have a list of broken links prospects don’t go about it the right way. They just upload the list to the outreach software they use, and then they let the software generate all the email addresses for the sites on the list. After that, they just send it without even reviewing or checking the list according to relevance.
This is a very sloppy way of doing the job and it isn’t likely to get many feedbacks even if it does get a few.
It helps if the right person is contacted.
When it comes to company sites, you don’t necessarily have to reach out to the CEO of the company, no. It is only relevant to reach out to the CEO if the person is an individual blogger or the company is a small company where the CEO is the one in charge of the blog or site management.
3) Say no to laziness
To send a very good email message for your broken link outreach, you have to actively search for the right people and to do this, you have to be hardworking.
You have to actively search for people that actually need your replacement. To do this, you have to be up and doing.
4) Send follow up messages
This helps a lot, especially if you’ve not received a reply to the first email message you sent.
You should send a follow up message. The follow up message shouldn’t be pushy or aggressive.
You also shouldn’t beg or plead for acceptance.
The follow up message should just be a gentle reminder of the previous message, telling the recipient about the issue at hand.
The follow up messages are usually very effective, sometimes even more effective than the initial message because most times, people tend to forget about it even if they are interested in the offer. It helps refresh their memories.
Follow up messages shouldn’t be sent more than twice to avoid being seen as a spam message or a junk message. If after the actual message and at most two follow up messages and you get no reply, just move on. The party isn’t probably interested.
Building broken links, albeit being thought washed out and faded, still work really good.
The process is quite time consuming and tedious, but it yields dividends in the end if properly handled.
The process can also be made way easier. To make this easier, you can hire a VA to find email addresses of people that could use your rebuilt link. All you need do is send them a guide to finding the email addresses and the rest is smooth sailing.
Also, make sure the link you recreated is a very good replacement for the broken link.
Nobody wants to go from good to bad, but everyone wants to go from good to better!