Any budding SEO will tell you that white hat link building has become increasingly tough over the last few years, topped off by Matt Cutts’ declaration in January that “guest blogging is done”.
The question for many SEO’s now is “how do I build links?” I’m here to tell you that there is another way. A way to build scalable, powerful, white hat links that can make a real difference to your site’s positioning within the search engines.
The answer is broken link building.
What is broken link building?
Broken link building is the process in which an SEO makes contact with a webmaster that has a broken link on their site & recommends that rather than removing the link entirely, that instead they link back to their site. For a webmaster to accept an SEO’s request, it’s essential that the SEO’s website is of the same theme as the broken link & the content they are providing as a replacement is an article/video/infographic or even entire website that the webmaster actually wants to link to.
What steps should I take?
Broken link building is a simple process, which follows three key steps:
- Prospecting – Finding the sites with potential broken links.
- Search – Finding the broken links within the resources.
- Outreach – Reaching out to webmasters to replace the broken links with your own.
Step 1 : Prospecting
The first step in the process of broken link building is actually finding the resources with the potential broken links that can be tapped into.
There are various tools that can be used to find broken link building opportunities, including Citation Labs Broken Link Finder, however in this instance; I’ll be exploring what I feel to be the most basic & cost free method around.
Using advanced operators in search engines is a fantastic way of finding relevant sites with broken links.
An advanced operator allows users to narrow down & refine their search results simply by adding specific words & symbols to their query.
Below is a list of advanced operators that could be used to find relevant resources & potentially a whole range of broken links.
KEYWORD inurl:resources – This query would tell Google to find pages relevant to your chosen keyword that contain “resources” within the URL.
KEYWORD inurl:links – With this query, you are telling Google to find pages relevant to your keyword that contain “links” within the URL.
KEYWORD inurl:websites – Much like the above two advanced operators, you are telling Google to find pages related to your chosen keyword, only this time that include “websites” within the URL.
KEYWORD intitle:resources – Here you are telling Google to find pages relevant to your keyword that contain “resources” within the page title.
KEYWORD intitle:links – In this instance, you are telling Google to find pages relevant to your targeted keyword that contain the phrase “links” within the page title.
KEYWORD intitle:websites – Similar to the above, this query is telling Google to find pages relevant to your chosen keyword this time containing “websites” within the page title.
Often, a large number of the links within these resource/link pages are broken. This broken link then provides a user with a 404 error. This often results in the user leaving the site as they cannot find the resource that they are interested in, and this is where you, as the broken link builder, can earn your stripes.
By informing the webmaster of the broken link, you have done the webmaster a favour & so in return, are well within your rights to ask the webmaster to replace the broken link with your ready-made alternative.
Step 2 : Search
Once you’ve found the resources with the links, the next step is to find the ones that are broken.
There a number of plugins that can help find broken links such as Check My Links Chrome Plugin, or Dead Link Checker. Alternatively, you can crawl through the links/resources pages you’ve already found yourself & search for the broken links manually. One of the more simple (and cost free) methods of doing this is with the use of Screaming Frog’s SEO spider. This tool allows users to check the response codes of their chosen websites, enabling them to find any 404 codes, thus broken links that may exist.
Step 3 : Outreach
Once you’ve found your broken links, all that’s left to do is to contact the webmaster to let them know that they’ve got a broken link on their site.
For example, your email might look something like this:
Hi [webmasters name]
I hope that all is well,
I was just browsing your website and found some great information about [keyword]. However, just wanted to get you a heads up that one of your resource links isn’t working & is coming back with a 404 error.
See here [insert page link URL].
Should the webmaster respond, the next step would be to offer a replacement link to fix the broken link that you found.
This email should look something like this:
Hi [webmasters name],
I hope that all is well,
Thanks for your response.
I’ve actually got the perfect replacement for this link should you be interested? My client has a [website/article] all about (keyword/subject) & I feel that this would really help your readers.
You can find the link right here [insert clients website/article].
I hope this helps! Please let me know whether you’d like to use my client’s [website/article] as a replacement!
And that’s it. You’ve helped the webmaster by letting them know they’ve got a broken link on their site. All that is left to do now is to wait & see whether the webmaster decides to use your link as a replacement.
Ultimately, as with any link building tactic, this approach does not guarantee you links and it can take a bit of time. It may be that you have to contact numerous webmasters before one agrees to replace their broken link with your replacement. That being said, this is a fantastic link building technique perfect for finding high quality white hat links in a time where link building has become increasingly difficult.
If you need some help building links for your website, or with your SEO in general, click the button below to get in touch with us.