The web is beautiful because of many things, but one which is connecting the dots is how people glide through web pages without having to type in a page URL to access the next available information.
Thanks to the existence of web links that provide smooth navigation from one web page to the other, and give the best experience the internet users crave for.
The web crawlers understand the importance of links or backlinks on the web, hence, they place a premium on a page that has a high number of links connecting to it. They give such a page a big tick in their search engines which makes it rank above other pages for user queries.
Google particularly sees each backlink as a vote for your page by pushing it higher up in its search engine as you earn (note the word “Earn”) more of such links.
In trying to reach the first page results in Google, many SEOs have resorted to risky link-building practices termed “Blackhat” and “Greyhat”. Blackhat and greyhat are the process of taking a backdoor in trying to reach Google’s first page results.
But such methods have proven to be costly, if not scandalous, to businesses these days.
With Google changing its algorithm hundreds of times a year, blackhat or greyhat has been found in most cases and has been punished considerably by the search giant.
Guest posting is a popular method that many people have also used to grow their business and gain backlinks that Google will consider “ethical.” It is a strategy that has worked pretty well for many web owners who have had the opportunities to contribute to high page-rank websites with a decent traffic as well.
But the guest posting process is too tedious to rely on as the only source of relevant backlinks for your website. The time it will take to nudge a website owner for a relevant guest post is too cumbersome. That time can go as far as 3 to 6 months if you’re aiming your guest contributions for mainstream publications, not to mention the time it will take to come up with your guest post if your request is accepted.
Of course, guest post is great if you have the time to write for relevant websites with some domain authority. But if not, there are other ways to shortcut your link building process without putting your site at the risk of Google penalty.
Before going into that,
Remember this: any successful online marketing tactics today rely on the ability to provide value to others. The more value you can provide (or project yourself to provide), the more will people also be ready to reciprocate.
Most successful and well established web marketers today are those fond of using this tactic. They share relevant content to pique interest from their readers, and people respond to that gesture appropriately. People flock to them and are ready to buy from them, because they receive value and see them as authority.
You can use this strategy while building up your website’s backlink profile through broken links.
Broken Links are simply the links found on a website that are pointing to non-existent pages on another website or websites.
Unlike an internal link that points to another page within the same website, outbound links are not easily detected by web owners when they become broken or would give a 404 status code. Unless a page by page analysis is done to find the links that have become problematic (which people rarely do), most website owners don’t know when their outbound links need to fix. It will be an opportunity for both parties by telling a website owner when their links have become broken and also offer the suggestions of relevant pages where they can change their dead links to.
Many SEO experts believe that broken links have some amount of SEO problem. So no one wants to keep a dead link roaming on their website.
Also, it does not offer an iota of user experience by sending people to a page that has long gone out of existence, especially if that page holds an important information to the page they are coming from.
You are better placed to convince a site owner to change their broken links to your page if it contains a relevant information to the page they have linked to before which is no longer available.
After all, you want to save them the hassle of searching for another outbound reference similar to the previous one they linked to, which is time-consuming.
The smart idea is to project the process as a friend wanting to help fix their broken links other than a web spy snooping around their page for link opportunity.
First thing: search for pages that might have references similar to your site, using keywords
HOW TO FIND POTENTIAL WEBSITES WITH BROKEN LINKS THAT COULD FIT YOUR PAGE
You can conduct a search for websites that would likely have written content that reference your content type with the following search strings. Replace the “Keyword” with the Search Term you will like to use
“Keyword” + inurl:links
“Keyword” + inurl:resources
“Keyword” + intitle:resources
site:.gov Keyword + “links”
site:.edu keyword + “recommended sites”
Keyword + “related links”
Keyword + “resources”
Using the keyword “Christmas Gifts” will have the following outcome in Google first page.
You can see there are thousands of pages (15,200) that have outbound links present in them. You can choose the particular page you want and analyze it for broken links. Manually checking every link on a page for broken ones would be a tedious task if not impossible. This is why there are many automated link checkers available on the web that you can bring in to do the job for you at one click. Few of the tools I will mention here will require you to use Google Chrome as a browser because they come as extensions which you will need to download and add to your toolbar.
HOW TO CHECK FOR BROKEN LINKS ON A PAGE
You can use this tool to analyze the status of outbound links on a page and have an insight about how many of the links are valid and how many are pointing to pages or domains that are non-existent. It crawls hundreds of links and gives you detailed reports about each broken link it found on a page by showing data on the number of broken links to that particular page or domain. It even tells you if the broken links’ domains are available for purchase that you can connect through to your GoDaddy account and register them right away.
You can open the OpenSiteExplorer in a new tab right from its interface and have an in-depth view of the page that hosts the broken links. You can also export all the results into .CSV file for later use. To add this tool as your Chrome extension, visit the site DomainHunterPlus and click on the big DOWNLOAD button, this will take you to Chrome store where you can add it to your browser. It will appear at the top right of your browser on successful download.
As the name implies, this tool is solely meant for checking links on a page that need to fix. You can check hundreds of links at a click by visiting a page and clicking on this tool at the top right of your Chrome browser. It will run through the page and highlight all the valid links with green color and the invalid links with red. You can determine those with error code 404 from the invalid links to know which links are pointing to non-existent pages.
It also allows you to export your data in CSV format for your later consumption. To add this tool to your Chrome extension, simply follow the link above to the Chrome Webstore to download it. It will show up on your browser toolbar after this. Using the example given above, you will have the following page analysis using this tool. I have taken the number three from our Google first page results above:
As you can see, out of the 309 links that were analyzed on the page by this tool, 263 of them reported to be valid while a whole 46 of them returned error status codes (invalid). Though the overall total number of links on the page is relatively on a high side, that figure of invalid links presents a huge opportunity for anyone who wants to link build from such page. You can begin to contact the site owners and give them the reasons to switch their links to your pages. Nobody would want to keep a whopping 46 invalid links on a single resource page.
Now that you have discovered two powerful ways to analyze a page for any outbound links that are broken. You can begin to help site owners figure out their dead links and solicit for them to be redirected to your pages. But before then, there is another useful tool you would like to know about. It can also be used to detect broken links easily but this time not on a single page but in the entire domain of a site. This tool will analyze the whole of a website and present you with all the hyperlinks with problems. It’s called Brokenlinkcheck
This is a free tool that you can use to scan an unlimited number of pages for any problematic or dead links. It validates both the internal and external URLs and shows you the location of the dead links in your HTML code. Just plug in any website’s or blog’s URL you want to analyze and this tool will bring up the report of its link rot for you in no time, (Note: it shows you only the problematic links and leave out the clean ones).
You will find this tool particularly useful if you have some authority websites in your niche that you are targeting for some backlinks. Just type in their domain URLs into this tool and click the “Find Broken Links” button. It will scrape every page on their sites for broken links and report error codes (404 etc.) for any bad links and the pages they were found. You can then contact the site owners to inform them about their dead links and why they should consider changing them to functioning pages (your site). This leads us to the next phase of this article:
HOW TO APPROACH THE WEBMASTER AND REQUEST FOR A LINK
Before that, be aware that this method of broken link building is something that has been on for a long time, people have built a lot of fortunes out of the quality of backlinks they have gained through the broken links. But this does not in any way make the idea of broken link building an old-fashioned strategy. It is still working pretty well for people who know how to solicit for it not only in the aspect of link building but also to foster relationship among webmasters.
The whole strategy works well when you emphasize on helping the site owners fix their broken link problem and de-emphasize on improving your own SEO. In contacting them, there are three different methods I will propose to get you the needed results. You can email them on the guise of another person (you don’t declare your true identity). Or you can contact them as a fan of their website who has concern for the broken links on their page and want to help rectify them. The third strategy is to let them know the seriousness of the broken links, how they impact their page and user experience, and why they should consider fixing them. Let us take a look at each method one by one with email template.
You can pretend as a random reader of their site who just found the broken links and trying to recommend the pages that are worth the value they can reference in replacement. Make it seem as if you are only suggesting the pages you have read before which tend to mirror the anchor texts of the broken links. And as well, saving them the hassle of searching for new references. Your email template should look something as this:
SUBJECT LINE: PROBLEM FOUND ON (their site)
Hey (webmaster’s first name),
I was reading through (their site) this morning and found out that some of the links were not working on this page:
(page with broken links).
These 4 pages that you referenced don’t seem to exist anymore
(Broken Link #1)
(Broken Link #2)
(Broken Link #3)
(Broken Link #4)
Considering how important they might be, I wish to let you know that I read similar pages a week ago that you might want to consider in their replacement:
Hope they are helpful to you. Wish to say I enjoy your work on this blog, really awesome!
(anything but your name)
That is it, you have used this simple template to achieve what is most important: getting the site owner to take action. Some will read and ignore or just remove the bad links without replacement, no problem!. But with the way you made them realize how useful the links are to the page content, they would likely want to replace them and your page has a good chance.
This method is about presenting yourself as a huge fan of their website who feels obliged to bring the problem to their notice. In doing so, you are also offering your page as an option to consider in replacing the broken links. This method won’t be any difficult if the site owners themselves have come to know you as a prominent reader who often contributes to discussions (like comments) on their sites. The template could be:
SUBJECT LINE: TO YOUR NOTICE ABOUT (their site)
Hey (webmaster’s first name),
I wish to start by saying that I love your work at (their site). I have been following your site for a while now and it’s been truly an inspiration.
Just this afternoon when I was picking through my favorite reads, I found this one particularly interesting:
(article with broken links)
Though, I feel I should bring to your notice that some links in the post were bad. The following references look to have gone out of existence:
I know you would have fixed them were you aware before now.
Actually, I wrote a few articles recently that capture these topic areas:
As a huge fan, it will be an honor if you can consider replacing these broken links with the links to my articles.
If not, no problem. You still remain one of my best reads!
No need to write epistle in this type of email. Just a few words to convince them to take a step. And if they do, you surely have a chance if your page is relevant. Nobody wants to go through the hassle of searching for new references. This template has also done a good job in the presentation.
This third one follows the same pattern as the first two but a bit differs in its emphasis. You can give webmasters heads up about their broken links and also make them understand why they should fix them. In doing so, you want to present your page to them as an ideal replacement. Such template would likely take this form:
SUBJECT LINE: BROKEN LINKS AT (their site)
Hey (webmaster’s first name),
Just to inform that I noticed a few broken links at (page with broken links).
The following sites that you linked to seem to have moved:
Considering what would be the impact on user experience, I wish to suggest similar resources on my site that could replace the missing pages.
I know your readers will like them as I have got a great feedback on them.
This one is a bit balance. Because fixing of broken links is something that is beneficial to both sides. You (the receiver) are also helping the site owner solve what many SEO experts believe to be a problem as well as improving the user experience of their site. On the other hand, they (the giver) are helping you earn quality links that could become a significant boost for your page in search engines. Overall is that the replacement link you offer must be a relevant content. This leads us to the next and final phase
HOW TO CREATE OR KNOW THE RIGHT REPLACEMENT CONTENT
Supposed you want to gain backlinks from high authority domains like .gov or .edu site. The simple best way to achieve that is to offer content that is worth the value they can link to. After determining some broken links on these sites, you can use the anchor texts to know what the content of the missing pages like. But the anchor texts can be unreliable, nothing helps better when you can see the real content themselves. This is where this wonderful site comes to play:
You can use this machine to turn back the hands of time to the exact time these dead pages were alive. Just head over to the site after you have found a broken link. Plug in its URL and hit the button. It will take you back to the exact page as it was then live.
Now you can craft a similar content (and even improve on it) if you don’t have one already. When you let site owners be aware of their broken links and that you have content that matches (or better) the missing pages. You are almost certain to get the link from them.
Now your turn?
What about you? How does broken link building work with your site SEO? What strategy have you been using? Care to share your experience, or you have question or suggestion to the article. Let’s discuss it in the comment below
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