Is Broken Link-Building Right For You?

Michael Brenner

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.

Image: Pixabay


About Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is a globally-recognized keynote speaker, author of  The Content Formula and the CEO of Marketing Insider GroupHe has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael shares his passion on leadership and marketing strategies that deliver customer value and business impact. He is recognized by the Huffington Post as a Top Business Keynote Speaker and   a top  CMO influencer by Forbes.

Selling To Goldfish: Responding To Decreasing Attention Spans Of Customers

Arif Johari

The average human’s attention span is down from 12 seconds in the year 2000 to eight seconds today. That is less than the nine-second attention span of your average goldfish! Another study states that most healthy teenagers and adults are unable to sustain attention on one thing for more than about 20 minutes at a time, although they can choose repeatedly to re-focus on the same thing. So how do we cater to customers who are overloaded with marketing messages?

“If a picture is worth a thousand words then a video is worth a million!”
Barry Levinson, Academy Award-wining director.

Personalized videos are the next big hit for content marketing. If done right, they can be engaging, entertaining, and educational. Videos don’t have to be extensively produced; the goal is to create authentic videos with relevant content rather than videos for mass consumption. There are a lot of videos out there; the ones that are most compelling elicit an emotional response, whether it’s through background music, empathy from the speaker, or the video’s imagery. Personalized videos cater to the ego of your customers, who love feeling special, and personalized videos signal to them that you care about them, you want to cater to them, and you will respond to their needs.

“This personalization creates a meaningful connection with your buyer and makes your video that much more engaging. It’s tailored content like this that will help you stand out from your competitors and get you that much sought-after meeting for a pitch.”
Jill Rowley, Partner, Sales for Life.

Aligning sales and marketing

One of the benefits of creating personalized videos is that salespeople get to create content that’s more specific to the needs of each customer; it helps connect them on a more personal level with the customer and it humanizes the brand.

The average customer, according to Forrester, consumes 11.4 pieces of content before making a purchase. From the customer’s perspective, it’s easier to consume videos over lengthy whitepapers. Sales is about relationships, and video is just one more way we can engage and build camaraderie with our customers. Marketing benefits because they’re getting front-line content that aligns with the customer’s needs and helps generate more leads, nurture more inquiries, and effectively connect with customers throughout the buying journey.

Get the right tools

Sales reps assume that creating videos is hard and time consuming, but in this day and age, creating great videos doesn’t have to be expensive or laborious. For a personalized introductory video, you can easily record on your phone and edit using an app like Videolicious that can help produce professional-quality videos in minutes. You can also incorporate existing high-end demos into your personalized video. Imagine a potential customer’s response to getting a video where the salesperson addresses him or by name and identifies issues and proposed solutions specific to their company.

Pro tip: Film in a quieter space with natural lighting and avoid a bland or white background.

Start small

When it comes to creating videos, start small. To get comfortable, start by creating a video business card, which should be under one minute; the whole process – including filming and editing – should take about 15 minutes. Make it a habit to send follow-up videos after meetings so that you’re utilizing videos as part of your sales toolkit.

Pro tip: Do power poses before filming to boost your confidence; you’ll be surprised at how a little boost of positive thinking can improve the tone of your video.

You’ve got to be committed to the process, because a video’s return on investment doesn’t happen overnight. Just like any other sales strategy, not all customers will respond, but being personal and human definitely help you stand out from the crowd of competitors.

Social selling has become such a hot topic that Coffee-Break with Game Changers is dedicating an entire series to exploring its various facets and promoting best practices for salespeople. To listen to other shows in this series, visit the SAP Radio area of the SAP News Center.


Arif Johari

About Arif Johari

He is a Social Listening and Social Selling advocate. He enables marketing and sales employees to become experts in Social Listening/Social Selling so that they’d leverage social media as a leads-generation tool. He is also responsible for crafting innovative marketing strategies that can be scaled out globally and is executable for each marketing team. He is passionate in making the work processes of the marketing and sales team more efficient, so that they can generate more leads in a shorter time.

Why $4.6 Trillion Was Left In Abandoned Online Shopping Carts In 2016

Aaron Solomon

Nearly 70% of online shopping carts are abandoned without the customer ever completing the purchase. According to Business Insider, that added up to over $4.6 trillion in the global economy in 2016. So, what can online retailers do to fix this problem? Keep reading to learn why cart abandonment is so prevalent, and the steps you can take to recapture potential sales in your business.

Top 3 (preventable) reasons for cart abandonment

Customers abandon online carts for a variety of reasons, ranging from issues with your online store to simply getting distracted and leaving their computer. Studies show three common, and often preventable, reasons customers do not complete the checkout process.

1. Shipping cost sticker shock

For a whopping 61% of U.S. shoppers, the number one reason they don’t complete the checkout process is unexpectedly high shipping costs. Customers may have found your product prices acceptable, but high shipping costs can change their view completely. Not every company can subsidize shipping, and even fewer can on all orders, but here are a few things you can do to try to reduce your customers’ shipping cost shock:

  • Price fairly: Review what you are charging your customers for shipping against what your actual costs are. It’s no sin to turn shipping into a revenue stream, but if these costs are excessive, it may be costing you more in sales than it’s worth.
  • Offer options: Depending on your carriers, consider offering customers slower, but more cost-effective options, such as UPS 3 Day Select instead of Next Day or Second Day Air.
  • In-store pickup: If you also have physical stores, consider offering in-store pickup as an option.

2. Lack of trust in your site

Whenever a first-time customer makes a purchase, they are demonstrating trust in your ability to fulfill their order, charge them accurately, and most importantly, protect their data. There are several website attributes that could cause customers to consider shopping elsewhere:

  • Site maintenance: If your site has blurry images or broken links, customers may doubt your ability to meet their needs.
  • Online security: Include a “Trusted Site” logo from your certificate authority on your site to tell customers that you have properly secured your site.
  • Return policy: Having a complete and accessible return policy on your online store can provide customers with the reassurance that if the product does not meet their expectations, there will be a way for them to address this issue.
  • Shipping clarity: A shipping information page provides customers information they will want to know before committing to a purchase, such as how long after an order is placed it will be shipped or what shipping carriers and delivery options are available.

3. Frustration during the checkout process

The main perk of online shopping is convenience. If your checkout process is slow or tedious, customers get frustrated quickly. Take the following three points into consideration to mitigate this concern:

  • Guest checkout: In 2016, 33% of U.S. shoppers abandoned their carts when forced to create an account. Having a customer create an account can be beneficial for your business, but, if customers are forced to create an account to make a purchase, is it worth it? Consider leaving the option for them to check out as a guest to simplify their shopping experience.
  • Coupon codes: If you offer promotions with coupon codes, make sure that all your marketing information has the correct coupon codes and expiration dates for these codes.
  • Make it easy for customers to reach you: As a best practice, online stores should always have a “Contact Us” page to allow customers to easily reach out. If customers are experiencing frustration, being able to reach you can be the deciding factor on whether they give up or not.

Successful online retailers manage these issues to ensure that when customers abandon carts, it is not due to failures of the business. Taking these steps can reduce the amount of lost revenue, as well as increase your business’ reputation with both current and prospective customers.

For more insight on selling through digital channels, see Primed: Prompting Customers to Buy.

This blog was originally posted on the SAP Anywhere Customer Success Portal, and has been reposted with permission.


About Aaron Solomon

Aaron Solomon is the head of Training and Content Development for SAP Anywhere. With a dedicated history in knowledge management and consulting, he is driven to provide quality information to customers and help them understand how best to grow their businesses. His areas of expertise include e-commerce management, data analysis, and leveraging technology to improve efficiency.

Running Future Cities on Blockchain

Dan Wellers , Raimund Gross and Ulrich Scholl

Building on the Blockchain Framework

Some experts say these seemingly far-future speculations about the possibilities of combining technologies using blockchain are actually both inevitable and imminent:

Democratizing design and manufacturing by enabling individuals and small businesses to buy, sell, share, and digitally remix products affordably while protecting intellectual property rights.
Decentralizing warehousing and logistics by combining autonomous vehicles, 3D printers, and smart contracts to optimize delivery of products and materials, and even to create them on site as needed.
Distributing commerce by mixing virtual reality, 3D scanning and printing, self-driving vehicles, and artificial intelligence into immersive, personalized, on-demand shopping experiences that still protect buyers’ personal and proprietary data.

The City of the Future

Imagine that every agency, building, office, residence, and piece of infrastructure has an entry on a blockchain used as a city’s digital ledger. This “digital twin” could transform the delivery of city services.

For example:

  • Property owners could easily monetize assets by renting rooms, selling solar power back to the grid, and more.
  • Utilities could use customer data and AIs to make energy-saving recommendations, and smart contracts to automatically adjust power usage for greater efficiency.
  • Embedded sensors could sense problems (like a water main break) and alert an AI to send a technician with the right parts, tools, and training.
  • Autonomous vehicles could route themselves to open parking spaces or charging stations, and pay for services safely and automatically.
  • Cities could improve traffic monitoring and routing, saving commuters’ time and fuel while increasing productivity.

Every interaction would be transparent and verifiable, providing more data to analyze for future improvements.

Welcome to the Next Industrial Revolution

When exponential technologies intersect and combine, transformation happens on a massive scale. It’s time to start thinking through outcomes in a disciplined, proactive way to prepare for a future we’re only just beginning to imagine.

Download the executive brief Running Future Cities on Blockchain.

Read the full article Pulling Cities Into The Future With Blockchain


About Dan Wellers

Dan Wellers is founder and leader of Digital Futures at SAP, a strategic insights and thought leadership discipline that explores how digital technologies drive exponential change in business and society.

Raimund Gross

About Raimund Gross

Raimund Gross is a solution architect and futurist at SAP Innovation Center Network, where he evaluates emerging technologies and trends to address the challenges of businesses arising from digitization. He is currently evaluating the impact of blockchain for SAP and our enterprise customers.

Ulrich Scholl

About Ulrich Scholl

Ulrich Scholl is Vice President of Industry Cloud and Custom Development at SAP. In this role, Ulrich discovers and implements best practices to help further the understanding and adoption of the SAP portfolio of industry cloud innovations.


Are AI And Machine Learning Killing Analytics As We Know It?

Joerg Koesters

According to IDC, artificial intelligence (AI) is expected to become pervasive across customer journeys, supply networks, merchandizing, and marketing and commerce because it provides better insights to optimize retail execution. For example, in the next two years:

  • 40% of digital transformation initiatives will be supported by cognitive computing and AI capabilities to provide critical, on-time insights for new operating and monetization models.
  • 30% of major retailers will adopt a retail omnichannel commerce platform that integrates a data analytics layer that centrally orchestrates omnichannel capabilities.

One thing is clear: new analytic technologies are expected to radically change analytics – and retail – as we know them.

AI and machine learning defined in the context of retail

AI is defined broadly as the ability of computers to mimic human thinking and logic. Machine learning is a subset of AI that focuses on how computers can learn from data without being programmed through the use of algorithms that adapt to change; in other words, they can “learn” continuously in response to new data. We’re seeing these breakthroughs now because of massive improvements in hardware (for example, GPUs and multicore processing) that can handle Big Data volumes and run deep learning algorithms needed to analyze and learn from the data.

Ivano Ortis, vice president at IDC, recently shared with me how he believes, “Artificial intelligence will take analytics to the next level and will be the foundation for retail innovation, as reported by one out of every two retailers globally. AI enables scale, automation, and unprecedented precision and will drive customer experience innovation when applied to both hyper micro customer segmentation and contextual interaction.”

Given the capabilities of AI and machine learning, it’s easy to see how they can be powerful tools for retailers. Now computers can read and listen to data, understand and learn from it, and instantly and accurately recommend the next best action without having to be explicitly programmed. This is a boon for retailers seeking to accurately predict demand, anticipate customer behavior, and optimize and personalize customer experiences.

For example, it can be used to automate:

  • Personalized product recommendations based on data about each customer’s unique interests and buying propensity
  • The selection of additional upsell and cross-sell options that drive greater customer value
  • Chat bots that can drive intelligent and meaningful engagement with customers
  • Recommendations on additional services and offerings based on past and current buying data and customer data
  • Planogram analyses, which support in-store merchandizing by telling people what’s missing, comparing sales to shelf space, and accelerating shelf replenishment by automating reorders
  • Pricing engines used to make tailored, situational pricing decisions

Particularly in the United States, retailers are already able to collect large volumes of transaction-based and behavioral data from their customers. And as data volumes grow and processing power improves, machine learning becomes increasingly applicable in a wider range of retail areas to further optimize business processes and drive more impactful personalized and contextual consumer experiences and products.

The transformation of retail has already begun

The impacts of AI and machine learning are already being felt. For example:

  • Retailers are predicting demand with machine learning in combination with IoT technologies to optimize store businesses and relieve workforces
  • Advertisements are being personalized based on in-store camera detections and taking over semi-manual clienteling tasks of store employees
  • Retailers can monitor wait times in checkout lines to understand store traffic and merchandising effectiveness at the individual store level – and then tailor assortments and store layouts to maximize basket size, satisfaction, and sell through
  • Systems can now recognize and predict customer behavior and improve employee productivity by turning scheduled tasks into on-demand activities
  • Camera systems can detect the “fresh” status of perishable products before onsite employees can
  • Brick-and-mortar stores are automating operational tasks, such as setting shelf pricing, determining product assortments and mixes, and optimizing trade promotions
  • In-store apps can tell how long a customer has been in a certain aisle and deliver targeted offers and recommendations (via his or her mobile device) based on data about data about personal consumption histories and preferences

A recent McKinsey study provided examples that quantify the potential value of these technologies in transforming how retailers operate and compete. For example:

  • U.S. retailer supply chain operations that have adopted data and analytics have seen up to a 19% increase in operating margin over the last five years. Using data and analytics to improve merchandising, including pricing, assortment, and placement optimization, is leading to an additional 16% in operating margin improvement.
  • Personalizing advertising is one of the strongest use cases for machine learning today. Additional retail use cases with high potential include optimizing pricing, routing, and scheduling based on real-time data in travel and logistics, as well as optimizing merchandising strategies.

Exploiting the full value of data

Thin margins (especially in the grocery sector) and pressure from industry-leading early adopters such as Amazon and Walmart have created strong incentives to put customer data to work to improve everything from cross-selling additional products to reducing costs throughout the entire value chain. But McKinsey has assessed that the U.S. retail sector has realized only 30-40% of the potential margin improvements and productivity growth its analysts envisioned in 2011 – and a large share of the value of this growth has gone to consumers through lower prices. So thus far, only a fraction of the potential value from AI and machine learning has been realized.

According to Forbes, U.S. retailers have the potential to see a 60%+ increase in net margin and 0.5–1.0% annual productivity growth. But there are major barriers to realizing this value, including lack of analytical talent and siloed data within companies.

This is where machine learning and analytics kick in. AI and machine learning can help scale the repetitive analytics tasks required to drive leverage of the available data. When deployed on a companywide, real-time analytics platform, they can become the single source of truth that all enterprise functions rely on to make better decisions.

How will this change analytics?

So how will AI and machine learning change retail analytics? We expect that AI and machine learning will not kill analytics as we know it, but rather give it a new and even more impactful role in driving the future of retail. For example, we anticipate that:

  • Retailers will include machine learning algorithms as an additional factor in analyzing and  monitoring business outcomes in relation to machine learning algorithms
  • They will use AI and machine learning to sharpen analytic algorithms, detect more early warning signals, anticipate trends, and have accurate answers before competitors do
  • Analytics will happen in real time and act as the glue between all areas of the business
  • Analytics will increasingly focus on analyzing manufacturing machine behavior, not just business and consumer behavior

Ivano Ortis at IDC authored a recent report, “Why Retail Analytics are a Foundation for Retail Profits,” in which he provides further insights on this topic. He notes how retail leaders will use new kinds of analytics to drive greater profitability, further differentiate the customer experience, and compete more effectively, “In conclusion, commerce and technology will converge, enabling retailers to achieve short-term ROI objectives while discovering untapped demand. But implementing analytics will require coordination across key management roles and business processes up and down each retail organization. Early adopters are realizing demonstrably significant value from their initiatives – double-digit improvements in margins, same-store and e-commerce revenue, inventory positions and sell-through, and core marketing metrics. A huge opportunity awaits.”

So how do you see your retail business adopting advanced analytics like AI and machine learning? I encourage you to read IDC’s report in detail, as it provides valuable insights to help you invest in – and apply – new kinds of analytics that will be essential to profitable growth.

For more information, download IDC’s “Why Retail Analytics are a Foundation for Retail Profits.


About Joerg Koesters

Joerg Koesters is the Head of Retail Marketing and Communication at SAP. He is a Technology Marketing executive with 20 years of experience in Marketing, Sales and Consulting, Joerg has deep knowledge in retail and consumer products having worked both in the industry and in the technology sector.