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With social media platforms making it increasingly difficult to get traffic without paying, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is becoming increasingly important for your website.

If you’re totally unfamiliar, SEO is the process of making your website as “appealing” (not the best word, but you get it) to search engines as possible. In other words, it’s about organizing your site and creating content for you site in ways that make it easy for search engines to find you and identify the most important content.

Sites that are most optimized for search engines tend to get the most organic search traffic, which translates into more leads, sales, and customers.

But SEO involves much more than simply organizing your content effectively and structuring your site in a logical way. One of the big factors Google looks at is how many backlinks (links from other websites) there are to particular pages on your site.

In Google’s eyes, backlinks are a popularity vote of sorts. The more people link to a page, the more important it must be and the higher it will show up in search rankings (all things being equal).

Of course, this raises the question: how can you get more backlinks to your most important pages? While there are >numerous ways to do this, we’re going to focus on what’s often called “broken link building”.

Let’s dive in.

What Is Broken Link Building?

First things first. A broken link is any link on a website that doesn’t work anymore. When you click on it, you get a message that the page doesn’t exist anymore. Broken links can happen when a page is deleted, a site shuts down, a web address changes, and numerous other reasons.

If you can find broken links on websites related to yours (that’s critical), it’s an easy way to get links back to your site.

Here’s how it typically works:

You create a valuable piece of content on your site. If you sell coffee products on Amazon and your website, maybe it’s an in-depth guide to creating the best cup of French Press coffee. If you sell productivity consulting services, maybe it’s a deep dive into the best strategies for increasing overall productivity. The point is that it’s valuable content that someone else would want to link to.

  • You find broken links related to the valuable piece of content you created. This involves first, finding websites that have linked to content that is similar to your piece. Then you need to identify which links on those sites no longer work (more in a moment on how to do that).
  • You email the owner of the site, informing them of the broken link and offering your content as an alternative. Essentially, you’re performing a service for the site owner. You’re telling them that something on their site isn’t working AND you’re offering them a valuable alternative. Very few website owners will turn this down.
  • The owner of the site replaces the broken link with a link to your content. Now you have a link to an important piece of content which will help boost it in the search rankings.

Sounds great, right? It is…but you have to know how to find the broken links.

How To Find Broken Links

Unfortunately, you can’t type “find broken links” into Google and be presented with all the sites that have broken links. However, there are some relatively easy methods you can use.

Finding Link Roundups

The simplest way to build broken links at scale is to begin by finding link roundups. These are pages on sites that contain dozens of links all around a similar topic. With the productivity example, you could look for link roundups about the best productivity hacks.

To find these types of pages, use these search queries in Google:

  • “roundup”+your keyword
  • “top blog posts”+your keyword
  • “links”+your keyword
  • “favourite posts” +your keyword
  • “recommended resources” +your keyword

The search “roundup” + productivity hacks gives us a great starting point.

search results

The first post is EXACTLY what we’re looking for. It’s a collection of 100 articles about productivity hacks.

single result detail

Immediately you can see two items that the author himself acknowledges don’t work anymore (crossed out and no link at all). Those are easy opportunities.

But it’s not particularly common for website owners to cross links out and still leave the link on the page. You need a way to automatically highlight every broken link on a page.

That’s where the “Check My Links” Chrome extension comes in handy. This handy extension automatically highlights every broken link on a page.

check my links

When you run the Check My Links extension, it highlights all the broken links (not including the ones that have been totally removed).

highlighting links

Each of these broken links is an opportunity for you to get a link back to your site.

Once you’ve identified the broken link, send a short email to the site owner along the following lines:

Hello [FIRSTNAME],

I was reading through your fantastic roundup of links about [SUBJECT] on this page: [PAGE LINK]. Thanks for putting that together. Very helpful.

I noticed that this link [INSERT BROKEN LINK] no longer works. It returns a “Page Not Found” error.

If you’re interested, I created a very similar piece of content about [SUBJECT OF CONTENT]. I think it may be of interest to your readers and could be a replacement for the broken link. Here’s the link to my piece: [LINK TO YOUR CONTENT].

Cheers!

[YOUR NAME]

Remember, your goal is to be helpful to the site owner. Make sure to phrase your email that way.

Speeding Up Broken Link Building

The above process, while very effective, is also time consuming. Thankfully, there are a few ways you can speed it up.

First, you can find every site that linked to the content that is no longer there. In other words, you find every site that originally linked to the broken link.

You can do this by using a tool like Ahrefs

When you put the broken link into Ahrefs, it shows you all the sites that have also linked to the broken link.

ahref

Clicking through lets you see exactly which sites linked to the broken link. You can then email those sites and also let them know about the broken link and the new piece of content you created. That’s more links back to your site.

refering domains

You can also search an entire site for broken links using Ahrefs. For example, James Clear runs one of the biggest productivity sites on the internet. A quick scan of his site shows 6 pages that have broken links on them. Each of these represents a possible link to your site.

broken link scan

This is a little more advanced, but if you really want to speed things up, you can gather a big list of websites and resource pages and then use a tool like Screaming Frog to find ALL the broken links on ALL the pages.

Once you’ve done that, you can use Ahrefs to find the broken links that have been linked to the most. Then you simply email all those sites. This method can generate a huge amount of backlinks for you.

Broken Link Building: It’s Worth The Effort

You may think that all this work isn’t worth it. Do you really need backlinks to increase your search rankings? Yes, you do. At the moment, Google relies heavily on backlinks to determine which content to show in searches.

What good is it if you spend a large amount of time creating a valuable resource but no one sees it? Getting backlinks to your site ensures that as many people as possible see your content.

And frankly, broken link building is one of the easiest methods for acquiring backlinks. Most site owners are glad when you help them identify a broken link and are more than happy to replace it with yours.

So do the work. It’s definitely worth it.

This post was written by Skubana. Skubana is an all in one solution that unifies operations for online merchants after the checkout. Skubana automates everything from order management, order fulfillment, inventory management and purchase order management.

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