Gone are the days that you can automate link building using tools/machines that will provide you thousands of link prospects and instantly build those links with a single click.
Link building today is becoming more difficult, time consuming and costly. However, it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to acquire high quality backlinks for your website.
There are several creative ways to get manually-built links today without having to spend a huge amount of budget on your link development campaigns.
Broken link building is one of those creative and effective methods to acquire high quality contextual links that your competitors may haven’t earned yet for their domains. This was based from the recent link building survey by James Agate, you may want to check that out for future references.
To get started, let’s first define broken link building.
Broken link building is a method of asking to a site owner if he would want to replace a dead link in his resource page with a link of your content resource.
Why is it effective?
Given that this link building method would tell a webmaster/blogger that there is an error issue in his/her website, the tendencies of earning links to your site is higher. Helping others is the best way to build links.
Anyway, let’s get straight on how you can start to build links through broken link building.
To simplify the process, I divided it to four activities (but it mainly consists of two: link prospecting and outreach).
This is the initial phase in broken link building and probably the most time-consuming part in the process.
In link prospecting, your aim is to create a list of all resource pages that are horizontally/vertically connected to your website; any other link targets (e.g. guest blogs) won’t be suitable for this approach.
If you don’t have any background in using advanced search operators, you would find it difficult to discover untapped link opportunities in broken link building.
To simplify this link building activity, my friend Jason Bagio created a spreadsheet specifically designed for broken link building process. It contains a list of all the possible advanced search operators that you would need in the link prospecting phase.
If you want to see/use the spreadsheet, here’s the link.
The first tab, Plain Search, lists down popular keyword terms and advanced search operators that you will use to find industry-specific resource pages. You would only need to add your keywords to Column A and it will automatically generate links (Column E) pointing to Google search results.
Once you clicked on the triggered link (Google search results page), you’ll find several resource pages that are related to your domain.
Click on each link listed in the search results or use Linkclump to easily open multiple tabs with drag and click.
When landed on the page, you would need to evaluate if it is a good fit to add to your list of link targets.
Here are two things that you need to consider when evaluating a certain resource page:
- Relevancy. Is the website relevant to your domain? You can widen your thinking by looking at the main focus of the resource page. For instance, if it lists down travel resource links and your website is in the car industry, you can consider it as long as you have a content that discuss safety driving and any other travel-related resources.
- Obtainability. Look if the links listed in the page are similar to your content/page that you’ve created or will about to be published on your blog.
When you are sure that the resource page could significantly provide value to your domain in terms of link opportunity and potential traffic, then you can now add it to your broken link building spreadsheet.
Broken link identification
However, it will be easier for you to check if there are broken links in a page by simply using the second tab (HTTP checker tab) in the above spreadsheet.
There’s an available script generated in the spreadsheet that will automatically provide the current HTTP status of your links.
So when you landed on the page, you will just hold right click in your mouse, grab all the links and paste them on the HTTP checker tab (make sure you install Link Clump in your browser).
Now when you already identified all the broken links in your listed resource pages, it’s time to find the contact person from the prospected domain as well as his/her email address.
Here are a few tools that you can use to find email addresses:
- Email Permutator + Rapportive
- Google search (“*domain.com” full name)
- Domain’s webpages (about us, contact us, team, press page, etc..
When you identified the email address of your link target, you can grab it and add to your spreadsheet.
Link building outreach is the most crucial step in broken link building given that this is when you will actually get the links that you want. If you’ve got the right approach of doing it, then the likelihood of receiving several responses and acquiring links is higher.
Below is the copy of the email template that I’m using for outreach:
To speed up the outreach process, you can use any of the following outreach management tools:
Once done with your outreach activity, it is very important to track the responses and most especially the links built during conversations with the link targets.
I personally use CognitiveSEO to track newly-built links pointing to a page/domain.
Broken link building could benefit both parties. For the domain linking to your page, errors or link issues were fixed which improves the site’s user experience. For your domain, you earned a contextual/resource link that could not only help your page’s rank higher in search results but could possibly drive referred visits and conversions to your brand.