Broken links abound on the internet. For instance, researchers found that 39 to 83 percent of the links in academic journals no longer work. The good news is that website owners can use them to their advantage. Broken link building has become a popular strategy among search marketers. It provides an ethical, spam-free way to gain quality one-way links.
How it Works
A website becomes less useful and loses credibility when it contains bad links. Its position in search results may also suffer. As a result, webmasters often appreciate learning about outdated links that they need to remove. You may benefit from finding a bad link, reporting it and suggesting your own website as a replacement. Some promoters employ a few different variations on this strategy.
The first step is to locate resource pages that focus on subjects relevant to your website. Moz.com recommends searching for phrases like “recommended resources”, “related websites”, “suggested sites”, “useful websites” and “favourite links.” Combine these terms with one or two keywords describing your website. You’ll find pages that contain numerous links, so there’s a high probability that some of them will be broken.
Although search marketers primarily focus on resource or link pages when using this strategy, other types of web content can also offer valuable opportunities. For instance, you might find an outdated link in a news article, blog entry or buying guide. Any relevant webpage with an external link may prove useful.
After locating desirable pages, you’ll find it takes a long time to test each link manually. You can expedite the process by using automated software to check for broken links. A few examples include Check My Links, Xenu Link Sleuth and Screaming Frog SEO. Double-check a link before reporting it; these programs don’t always supply accurate data.
“Broken link building can be VERY rewarding for consistently growing your traffic over time,” according to search optimisation expert Richard Marriott. Nevertheless, only a small percentage of webmasters will decide to create links to your website. It’s vital to use time efficiently. A friendly, well-written email template can help you contact more websites.
Create a polite, concise statement and personalise it for every person you contact. Remember that a lengthy message will often overwhelm recipients. They’ll delete it or put off reading it for a long time. Avoid sending anything that looks like a generic form letter. Try to mention a few details about each website and the specific page with a defunct link.
Most marketers send all of the information in one email message. However, a few people attempt to communicate in multiple steps. You could just tell a webmaster about a broken link in the first email. If you get a response, suggest linking to your website and consider introducing other ideas, such as a guest blog post. This technique may be worthy of experimentation.
Some webmasters will appreciate it if you make an extra effort. For example, you could recommend several high-quality replacement URLs for multiple broken links and only include one of your webpages. Another option is to conduct research and tell the proprietor what URL the dead link’s content has moved to. Suggest your own link at the same time.
You won’t be able to send a message if you can’t find the right contact information. Look at the resource page’s introduction and conclusion. Some websites put email addresses on their “about us” pages. You may also check for a staff directory. It’s best to send your message to a specific relevant person and use this individual’s name in the greeting.
- Look for contact info on Facebook “About” pages
- Avoid using long titles; “Dr.” or “professor” is OK
- Start a message with “Hi” if you can’t find a name
You can also try automated “contact finder” software, but it’s not always reliable. Occasionally, you’ll find a website that only offers postal mail or phone contact details. If you have a chance to gain a particularly high-value link, it may be worth the time and expense of using these communication methods. Recipients usually take printed letters far more seriously than email.
During a broken link building campaign, you should prioritise high-quality webpages that are at least somewhat likely to accept your links. Keep in mind that a link on an unrelated or disreputable website could actually harm your promotional efforts. Authoritative nonprofit and government websites usually provide the most valuable opportunities. Be sure to look for both broadly and narrowly relevant pages.
Prioritise websites that have been updated recently. If a resource list has remained the same since 1998, the likelihood of a response is low. The person who maintains it may have retired or decided to abandon the list. A page’s popularity also has an impact. The webmaster is more likely to care about broken links that visitors frequently see.
It’s best to focus on webpages with broken outbound links. If you report a bad internal link to another page on the same site, the webmaster may fix it but probably won’t add your link. However, it may be worth a try if you can only find a broken internal link on a highly desirable website. Don’t forget to suggest a suitable page where your link could be added.
Keep a list of all the websites you’ve contacted. It’s important to avoid repeatedly sending messages to the same person. This wastes time and could result in “spam” complaints. Consider checking the websites from time to time; people occasionally create links without responding. Add a note to your list whenever you achieve a successful outcome.
If you find that no one responds favourably, consider tweaking your email template. Perhaps it isn’t engaging enough or fails to concisely explain the value of your link. Reevaluate the quality of your webpage as well. Is it thoroughly edited, informative, well-designed and compelling? Many webmasters will only add links to, particularly useful or inspiring material.
Consider developing new web content that matches a common broken link. You may use Internet Archive’s “Wayback Machine” to see what the defunct page had to offer. For example, perhaps you run a website that sells AM/FM radios. You notice several websites have dead links to a bygone list of radio stations in London. Think about building a similar page and suggesting it as a replacement.
- Take the time to create detailed, high-quality material
- Surpass the old page with insightful, up-to-date content
- Briefly advertise your product or service at the end
Another technique is to discover if bad links send people to domain names that have expired. This gives you an opportunity to register the domain and reestablish webpages at the appropriate URLs. You would need to pay the registration fee and a yearly renewal charge. Nonetheless, you may find it worth the expense if an expired domain still has numerous high-quality inbound links.
Rather than manually looking up each domain name, you can use a handy browser extension called Domain Hunter Plus. It automatically searches for bad links and tells you if their domains have expired. This tool even calculates the total number of links to a defunct domain, so you may easily gauge its value.
Broken link building certainly demands considerable time and effort. Nevertheless, it’s one of the more effective ways to gain valuable inbound links without spending money. This strategy also involves comparatively little risk. As long as you keep away from suspicious websites and avoid offering incentives, you’re unlikely to face any search engine penalties.