Let’s talk link-building – broken link-building, that is. Should you be doing it? Is it a magnificent and creative inbound marketing technique, or a waste of time?
Earning quality links through the production of relevant, value-driven content is one of the best ways to improve your domain’s organic search traffic while also:
- Boosting referral traffic
- Building brand authority and trust
- Expanding your exposure beyond your industry
- Establishing yourself as an influencer
With so much inbound impact, it’s no wonder link-building has become a world unto itself. A recent survey questioning 435 link-building professionals found that while more than one-third of clients have monthly budgets of less than $1000 for link-building, another 43% allocate between $1,000 and $5,000 a month. Nearly 10% have budgets ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 per month just for link-building.
You can do it successfully through a number of white hat techniques, from writing guest posts on relevant sites to creating compelling infographics and SlideShare presentations that other content producers will want to use.
So why go out there and fix all those orphaned links on the web if there are other ways to get quality links? After all, this entails finding the broken links, creating your own replacement content, and contacting webmasters to replace the links. Is it worth the effort?
Cleaning house for the web
Broken link-building is basically the lost art of cleaning up the web. Think of it this way – there are, give or take a few hundred thousand, one billion websites at any one time. But as many as three-quarters are inactive. Every time someone links to content and that page is removed or deleted, another broken link is formed.
With new sites being created and left to die, and many more being reborn when a webmaster decides it’s time to give their website a makeover, there are probably nearly as many broken links out there as there are stars in the sky.
Aside from everyone taking care of their own redirects when they do a website relaunch, broken link-building is the only way some of these lost links are ever going to be corrected. You are essentially doing other webmasters a favor while also making your corner of the web more relevant.
Sweeping up the cobwebs is not a thankless job, however. Broken link-building is a powerful way to create your own quality links and reap the SEO rewards in the form of an ongoing increase in web traffic. With that many broken links out there, if you can find a method that works for you, broken link-building could be page-rank gold for your brand.
How to do it
Broken link-building isn’t something to pour your heart into at the sacrifice of other SEO techniques. Nor is it something you should do casually. You need a happy medium where the time invested is bringing you enough links that make it worthwhile, but you aren’t spending precious marketing hours mining for broken links that are relevant to your brand.
According to online marketing expert Neil Patel, for every 100 emails you send out letting a website owner know that they have a broken link and offering your high-value content as an alternative, you will get only 5 to 10 links.
The only way to make curating quality broken links worth it is to be smart—very smart.
First, use the resources that are available to you.
These tools will help you identify broken links when you visit a webpage (Domain Hunter Plus is a little more efficient as it will let you create a list and then export it to Excel):
- Check My Links Chrome Extension
- Domain Hunter Plus
When you’re looking for sites that may have a lot of broken links, keep in mind that the older a site, the more broken links it may have. Also, you want to get the best-quality links to your own content – so start by checking the sites in your niche that already have the most authority.
You can search in bulk by using tools like Xenu Link Sleuth. QuickSprout explains how to scrape hundreds of pages at a time to identify broken links with Xenu.
Another bulk tactic recommended by Patrick Stox, a SEO specialist for IBM, is to use Ahrefs. He suggests saving time by looking at your competitors’ broken links, using the same process you would to reclaim your own site’s broken links. Then, as you may already have content that could fit what your competitors had, you don’t even need to create new content.
Once you have neatly organized all your links, determined replacement content, and have your email addresses in order, you need to reach out to website owners. Politely let them know they have a broken link and offer your solution: your informative, engaging, compelling content!
When reaching out, it may be tempting to send bulk emails to “Dear Webmaster.”’ While this technique is fine, keep in mind that your offer to fix the broken link may appear as just another spam email that they are better off ignoring. You may have better luck with a more personal email. Keep it short; two or three sentences should suffice. And make sure you spell their name correctly.
Now everyone wins. You get a high-quality link, the site owner improves their website, and the web becomes a little bit cleaner.
Aren’t there better ways to build links?
There may be faster ways to build links, and there may be better ways. One thing you don’t want to do – ever – is veer away from white hat techniques. No buying, trading, or selling links. Don’t bother with poor-quality online directories, and definitely don’t post on another’s website with anything less than a high standard of quality. Remember, the goal for search engines is always about increasing value for web searchers.
Instead of going after broken links, you can simply create links to your website by posting original and relevant content on your own site on a regular basis. Other sites will eventually link back to your elegantly designed infographics, entertaining videos, and informative, well-researched blog posts. In the process, you are creating more content for your own audience.
Guest posting is still one of the most popular white hat link-building techniques as it gives you a chance to get your brand out there, build relationships with other influencers in your industry, and also create a link.
Broken link-building can be a time-consuming process. You must first find the broken links, and then find out if another website owner is even interested in your practical SEO-boosting-for-both-of-you offer. But it can also provide a nice boost to your site’s page ranking and get your brand out there in a positive way. This is particularly useful if you don’t have much content on your site.
It may also be right for your marketing if you get a sense of satisfaction from helping clean up the web for everyone else. After all, someone has to do it.
For more on digital marketing strategies, see Confessions Of A Webcast King: Modern Marketing, Webinars, And The Future Of Digital Marketing.