Frequently praised as one of white hat SEO’s most powerful tools, broken link building has been a beloved method of acquiring authority links for years.
In a nutshell, this approach to link building requires locating broken links across the Web and then notifying website owners, while offering up your own content as a quick and quality fix to the problem. They rid their website of the issue, you get a quality link in return.
A fairly simple, win-win strategy to link building, right?
Yet, despite numerous occasions where leading marketers hailed broken link building as a world-class tactic for improving SEO, there’s a growing belief that this method of securing links lost its marketing punch a while back.
In most niches, you’ll get around 5 to 10 links for every 100 websites you contact, which is certainly not something to write home about (Source: Quick Sprout).
For some, this leaves an impression that broken link building is too inefficient to be worth the time it takes to make it work.
So, why do some swear by broken link building while others are quick to entirely dismiss it?
Well, like most other marketing activities, there are both good and bad ways to perform broken link building. If you are taking unnecessary steps and making mistakes, there’s a strong case to be made that you’re just wasting your time.
However, if you are able to turn broken link building into a streamlined, methodical and scalable process like the one we’ll show you today, you will significantly boost your organic search engine traffic.
Your Go-to Tactic for Effective Broken Link Building
While there are a few noteworthy tactics for broken link building being tossed around on the Web, we’re going to focus on the by far most effective one – finding dead links your competitors left on leading websites within your niche.
So, for entertainment’s sake, let’s say we are in charge of something interesting and challenging, like a blog devoted to blockchain technology. We want to start ranking better on search engines and decide that broken link building is our best bet of improving SEO.
Let’s now go through our broken link building strategy step by step, and see what we can do for our fantastic, albeit imaginary, blockchain tech blog.
The first thing we want to do is assemble a list of relevant competing websites you’d like to overcome in the all-out SEO war you decided to start.
Chances are that you already know at least a few competitors already, but be diligent and do your research, you’re bound to find other competing websites.
Try to find at least 10 to 15 websites.
For our blockchain blog example, we want to gather a short list of websites and blogs that cover the topic of blockchain technology. Basically, any authoritative website that’s fighting for the same traffic as we are.
You need to:
Don’t worry – you’ll be using a tool to do so.
While there are other options on the market, if you came here looking for a truly effective and streamlined broken link building tactic, there’s no real alternative to Ahrefs. It has around two trillion external backlinks in its database! That makes it extremely useful when discovering broken links the smart way.
Ideally, we want to find broken links that have as many authoritative websites referring to them as possible.
If we can get back to our fictional example, as owners of an up-and-coming blog about blockchains, we would use Ahrefs to analyze the competitors’ websites in order to see their current link situation.
Blockchain News would be a logical place to start.
A simple filter in Ahrefs’ Best by Links section reveals that 15 websites are pointing towards a piece of content that no longer exists. Aa certain blog post about medical data and blockchain technology, judging by the URL.
Since the link is obviously dead, you can’t actually see what the post was precisely about. But there’s a great hack for such scenarios. Simply visit Wayback Machine and see what the post in question was about.
In our case, we’re dealing with a blog post that used to explain how blockchains can help protect sensitive medical data.
This is a solid broken link building opportunity.
When making new content you plan to offer as a substitute to a dead link, you should always aspire to make something better than what the original link pointed towards.
Write a better text, add videos, update the post, etc. Doing so will not only increase your chances of getting the link, but will also do wonders for your organic SEO.
In other words, you shouldn’t be creating content for the sole purpose of broken link building.
When trying to come up with ideas on how to make truly jaw-dropping content, keep in mind what Tim Soulo, head of marketing at Ahrefs, said about this subject:
“You have to know everything that ranks for the topic that you are targeting. You need to research even more than competitors and you don’t need to create the same article. You have to offer something entirely unique or at least, you should pick another angle.”
Tim Soulo – Ahrefs
If you’d like to read more about Soulo’s views on content, check out the rest of this great interview! As far as our topic is concerned, just remember that your new post needs to offer something unique and give as much value to the reader as possible.
After creating a new post, you need to do email outreach to all the noteworthy websites who have the same broken link in common.
Remember that you do not have to outreach to all of them. Contact only those that have high enough domain ratings to make an actual impact on your SEO. Check their domain ratings either with Ahrefs or use something like Domain Authority Checker.
While this is indeed very time-consuming, you can use Outreach Plus to streamline the entire outreach process. This tool can help you create personalized emails on a large scale, and it automates responses and follow-ups, both of which are crucial for any link building strategy.
Shortly put, Outreach Plus helps you not waste time and focus on more important things than manually sending out emails. Just make an effective email copy, find the contacts of appropriate persons, throw everything inside Outreach Plus and let it do its magic.
You can learn more in-depth information about how you should structure emails in our guide to cold email writing and feel free to use our post about outreach tips from marketing influencers to get the most out of this final step in our broken link building tactic.
At the End of the Day, Broken Link Building is a Numbers Game
As we mentioned earlier, there’s no going around the fact even the best broken link building tactics won’t have great conversion rates.
That’s why we like to say that broken link building is a numbers game and it needs to be scalable. The more broken links you find on high DR websites and the more people you contact, the more of an effect your link building efforts will have.
The idea is just to spend as little time doing it as possible. And that’s precisely what makes the streamlined tactic you learned here such a powerful SEO tool.
Our approach to broken link building yields great SEO results, doesn’t eat up too much of your time and it’s structured around creating quality content.
What more can one ask from a link building strategy?
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