Broken Link Building: Everything You NEED To Know
Affordable link building at scale is something any website owner is trying to achieve.
Enter: broken link building… a viable (and scalable) link-building process.
In this article, we’ll answer:
- Is broken link building still a viable process?
- Should you still include broken link building in your link building plan?
- What are the benefits of broken link building (compared to other strategies)?
- How can you do broken link building yourself?
What Is Broken Link Building?
Broken link building is a white hat niche subset of SEO that involves finding and exploiting broken links within a website to gain more search engine rankings.
The broken link building process includes discovering, verifying, and exploiting the errors on the target website to generate traffic via search engines.
Broken link building is not necessarily an ideal strategy for everyone: it can be complicated and time-consuming, but there are many SEO benefits that may outweigh its disadvantages for some people.
What is a Broken Link?
A broken link is a link that has been rendered dead by a webmaster or database manager, either because it does not work, because an update to the website’s front-end interface deleted it, or the destination webpage no longer exists.
When a website visitor clicks on a broken link, they will land on a page that looks something like this, often with a 404 error message:
This is obviously an undesirable outcome for anyone clicking on a link, and broken links can severely impact the user experience of a website. This is why broken backlink building can be used as an alternative to buying backlinks if you don’t have the budget.
Why Websites Should Consider Broken Link Building
Since broken links negatively impact the user experience by taking users to pages that no longer exist, it’s in a website owner’s best interest to replace as many broken links as possible. The first step in this process is to identify these errors on their site or sites they wish to rank well and then replace the links with a relevant destination page.
When a link builder brings a broken link to a webmaster’s attention and offers them a quick solution to relevant content, this manual outreach can be mutually beneficial for both parties.
The website owner improves their website performance and user experience, and you get a backlink to your website.
Broken Link Building Examples
When a user is on the web page that contains a broken link, the link will appear normal and functional until the website user clicks on that link.
Such issues with a website will likely deter users from staying on the website, as they might feel the site is poorly maintained, thus doesn’t carry the authority they want from their information sources.
For example, you had a blog of your own that you wanted to get links to, and you found a broken link on a website, you could contact the administrators of that website, let them know about the broken link point to a broken page, then offer them your own piece of content to link to.
Benefits of Broken Link Building
There are several benefits to digital marketers who want to leverage broken link building, as they carry beneficial link building metrics:
- The links you gain through broken link-building outreach are highly relevant to your niche, meaning they carry high backlink quality and link relevance.
- They don’t cost money, but they take time during prospecting, finding contact information, writing outreach emails, following up emails, and then creating quality content to earn high-quality backlinks.
- Broken link-building opportunities can be found at scale by using the correct tools, which will boost the success rate of broken link building as a link-building strategy. These tools include:
- Ahrefs backlink checker, which crawls websites looking for broken backlinks
- Archive.org’s wayback machine to discover the old content a broken link used to point to
- Using email templates to do outreach en masse
However, it is important to note that many SEO link building experts have condemned broken backlink building as to time-consuming for the potential returns.
This is largely because link builders have been doing broken link building aggressively over the past several years, meaning site owners are likely wary and tired of receiving emails that point out a broken link and offering a replacement link in return for free high-quality links.
Of course, this isn’t to say all site owners feel this way – it just means you need to approach broken link building with a more personalized approach and ramp up the number of emails you send.
How To Find (+ Fix) Broken Links
Finding broken backlink opportunities can happen in two ways:
- By pure accident, as you browse the websites that you enjoy reading
- At scale, using SEO tools such as Ahrefs
Here, we’ll give you a rundown of how to use the free Ahrefs tools Broken Link Checker
To use this free tool, all you need to do is paste in the URL of the website you want to analyze.
The tool then gives you a list of broken links on your site or the site you wish to analyze.
Then, once you know which links are broken, you use web.archive.org’s wayback machine to look at the history of that link and discover what type of content was on the destination page
You can then use email finder tools, such as the chrome extension Email Finder, to discover the administrators’ contact information on the web page with broken links, and send them a manual outreach email notifying them of the broken link and offering your content as a replacement.
Any time you find a broken link, there is an opportunity to get a backlink to your own website. All it takes is persistence – it’s a numbers game; the more pitches you send, the more responses you’ll get and the more links you’ll earn.
Broken Link Building FAQs
How do I get results from broken link building?
The broken link building process is straightforward, but there are many factors that can influence the amount of traffic you get from this strategy.
You will need to consider several things before implementing this tactic for your business or website, including how much time you have available to dedicate to the activity, how much competition there is for particular keywords, and whether or not you can afford acquire links. It is best to start small and grow your workload gradually since most SEO campaigns are ongoing processes.
Why has this strategy fallen out of favor?
There are two primary reasons why broken link building is considered to be a less efficient SEO strategy than it used to be. Firstly, there is now far more competition for broken link building opportunities. The profitability of many sites has attracted spammers who will often go to extreme lengths to make money off of broken link building.
One must be wary of these “black hat” techniques that can lead to penalties for the site owners, as well as the potential for spamming based on low-quality links that might damage your own business’s reputation if you use them.
What causes a link to be broken?
There are a number of reasons why a link might be broken. One of the most common reasons is a change in a webmaster’s configuration, but this may not necessarily be the only cause.
In some cases, search engines have informed webmasters that their site has been compromised and that they should no longer index it.
In other instances, another website owner may have added the link to provide a means of accessing content for free or for charity purposes without payment.
When search engine bots discover broken links, they may be added to the spam blacklist and penalized with lower rankings in future SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).
This can also lead to significant drops in traffic and user experience.
How do I fix a broken link (for SEO)?
The process of fixing a broken link is simple, though several steps must be taken to make the correction effective.
It is important to check for broken links within the target web site’s metadata and manually inspect each page that you detect.
Some broken links can be fixed by changing the link text or using other tactics to improve the site’s accessibility.
Others may require an import of an XML file into your CMS (Content Management System) which you should use the “link removal” feature within.
There are also some cases where creating a 301 redirect from the old URL to the new URL may be necessary. The correct way of achieving this would be through services such as sitemap maker.
Are broken links bad for SEO?
A large number of broken links that appear due to virus infection or malicious software may be a problem for search engine rankings, but they can be remedied by using proper link-building techniques.
In general, links from broken sites will have a little negative effect on the traffic rankings of those sites.
However, some people can still cause significant issues if they are not properly managed and implemented as part of an appropriate web strategy. In fact, often short-term spikes in traffic viewed as “unnatural” due to fake backlinks could damage a site’s reputation over time if they don’t contain any additional actionable value.
Furthermore, broken backlinks significantly impact the on-page user experience, as when a website visitor clicks on a link and is sent to a non-existent page or a 404 error, they are interrupted and might be discouraged from continuing on the website, meaning a user is lost.
Hopefully, this article has given you a better understanding of what broken backlink building is, why you might consider it as part of your SEO strategy, and how you can go about earning backlinks from broken links on other websites.
As you’ve no doubt noticed, the process is time-intensive, so those wanting to build links at scale need to consider the pros and cons of using broken backlink building instead of other types of backlinks, such as guest posting and contextual backlinks, niche edits, or buying backlinks.
In any case, with the right approach, broken backlink building is and remains a viable strategy for growing a website’s backlink profile, which in turn boosts rankings in SERPs, and gets more organic traffic to a website. If you’d like to look into outsourcing backlink building, don’t hesitate to contact us at Loganix today and see how we can help you and your clients.