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With links as one of the top search engine ranking factors, many businesses and bloggers invest their time and effort in acquiring links from blogs and websites relevant to their industry.
No wonder it is still mostly discussed in different digital marketing publications, forums and community websites – people are always asking the question, what is the best link building strategy in [current year]?
Let’s admit, links are hard to build.
The days of submitting your website to thousands of directory sites (generic and blog), getting tons of blog comments and doing guest blogging on a massive scale are long gone.
You can’t scale link building easily. You need a link building process to get backlinks the right way.
Note: I’ve put together a bonus link building resource at the end of the post
Today, let me walk you through the fundamentals of one of the effective link building tactics ever exist in the search marketing industry – broken link building.
What is Broken Link Building?
Broken link building coined by Melanie Nathan, Former SEO Executive of Seer Interactive, is a process of contacting a webmaster for a broken resource found on his website and suggesting to replace it with correct links, one is your resource.
You have two methods of executing the broken link building process: broken link replacement and content suggestion.
Two Methods in Broken Link Building
Broken Link Replacement
With broken link replacement, there’s a value innate in the process. There is a direct reciprocation given that you’re helping people fix their broken links and suggesting replacements for them. In return, you’ll get a link using this approach.
As the phrase defines itself, the approach is to suggest content resources that will fit to a section or to the whole context of the resource page, with no intent to fix any of their broken links. In most cases, this is your last resort if you can’t find any broken hyperlinks on their page.
1. Find high-quality prospects
Like any other link building and off-page SEO strategies, broken link building starts with finding relevant link opportunities.
With this approach, you are looking for resource curators – webmasters/bloggers who have their own resource or links pages.
If you’re not familiar with a resource page, it is a page listing down links to resources on a specific topic (e.g. online bullying useful links).
There are two ways to look for resource pages that are connected to your industry: automation and manual search.
Manual search prospecting for resource pages will rely 100% on search engines (Google). By using search operators plus keywords, Google will provide you with niche-specific resource pages in its search results.
Here are the following search operators you can start using along with your niche keyword:
- Useful links
- Helpful links
For example, you have a client in the travel space, you can use combine your keyword (“travel planning”) with your search operator (inurl:links) to come up with a Google search phrase.
Qualify while prospecting or do it afterwards
Once you landed on the page, you can start qualifying it if it passes your metrics. You can also do the qualification right after you’ve collected all available resource page opportunities, but I highly recommend you immediately qualify when you landed a link prospect. This will save you a lot of time.
There are three things you need to consider when qualifying a resource page:
Relevance is looking at a resource page and seeing if it is topically connected to your website. Going through straight to the page title would give you an idea the context and purpose of the page. Let’s say, the title of the page is Colorado Travel links, you have an idea that all resources listed are in the travel space. Simple, right?
Authority can easily be measured with SEO tools. There are hundreds of link building tools out there, but the ones that we use are Ahrefs and Moz toolbar. This allows us to see both the page-level and domain-level authorities of a certain page/site.
Finally, your last considering factor is obtainability. Asking yourself the question, can I obtain a link from this page. This gives you the confidence of reaching out to the webmaster and getting the link.
One way to identify the page’s link obtainability is looking at its context and purpose. In our recent example, Colorado Travel links page won’t accept any country-specific guides/content – i.e. UK-based planning guide. In that case, skip that page and move on to another link prospect with UK-based external links to increase chances of acquiring links.
2. Create linkable content
Whether or not you have created a content piece, it’s very important to consider the depth of the information of your content. If you’re trying to reach out to a webmaster with lots of external links to linkable travel planning guides, it’s very easy to receive a No for a pitch if your content couldn’t be considered as best and first on the topic.
A few things to keep in mind when creating content for broken link building strategy:
- Check similar content, try to look for angles of sub-sections or topics that they hadn’t covered in detailed yet. Improve your content by adding other content formats like visual and video formats, this might give a boost to your visitor engagement. In a link building perspective, it increases the linkability of the content.
- If it is your first time to create content, tailor the topic to specific linkable audiences. A few examples are parents, senior citizens and people with disabilities. If you are in the travel niche, you can create a travel planning guide for senior citizens.
3. Do webmaster outreach
After the checking the content’s linkability, you may now proceed to outreach.
Outreach in broken link building can be done with no more than 50 words. You don’t need a lengthy email, just a pure intent of telling the webmaster that there’s something wrong in his website.
In your initial pitch, you can use this template below:
Subject: Found an error on your website
Hi [ Name ],
I was browsing your website and notice a resource in your [ links page title ] isn’t working when I clicked on it. Other readers may also experience the same, so I thought of reaching out to you for that reason.
Could you let me know of the person handling that page?
[ Your name ]
When the webmaster replies to you, it’s your time to tell him about the broken links you’ve found on his website, then let him know how to fix them.
Make sure you suggest at least two resources that he might want to add to the page – one of which is your content.
Monitor your new links from the broken link building campaign using tools like Monitor Backlinks.
Broken link building isn’t that hard to learn. You just need to have a process to follow, all the way from prospecting to outreach so you can secure links every month for your website or for your client’s site.
Want more link opportunities?
I’ve put together a list of 800+ blog opportunities that you can freely access and use for your website’s link building campaign. These are blogs that:
- Passes the penalty-proof check (by checking at the sites’ SEMRush data).
- With domain authority of 30 and above
Click here to get an access to this spreadsheet of free 800+ link opportunities.