Broken Link Building

Broken Link Building

Broken Link Building is another technique that SEO specialists use discreetly – it’s also one of the helpful ones. Why not, when you’re trying to fix a webmaster’s broken link for him?

This entry is part of the SEO Hacker School series: Linkbuilding Techniques

Broken possibilities

There are lots of things that can happen in the web. A lot of possibilities why a site will go down and incur a ‘404 Not Found’ status. Shift happens. And the web is full of it.

404 not found

Once a site goes down, the links that point to it are immediately invalidated – they become broken links. Not every webmaster is notified when a site they are linking to goes down. The good thing is, you can do the job for them!

The trick behind Broken Link building

First you have to look for sites which might have broken links. You can start off with this type of query in the Google search box: intitle:”Your Niche” -inurl:pdf -inurl:doc -inurl:ppt

{Your Niche} inurl: resources

What this advanced search query does is find you all the .edu results about “Your Niche” and remove all results that are .pdf, .doc, and .ppt – because we want to focus on webpages where we can get links from. Once you’ve compiled a good list of .edu websites, you can start checking each website with either Xenu Link Sleuth or Screaming Frog (I personally use Screaming Frog but it’s a paid tool while Xenu is free – just so you know).

The results of Xenu and Screaming Frog will show you clearly which of the links have a 404 Not Found status.

404 Not found Screaming Frog

Checking where that 404 Not Found points to using’s Wayback Machine can give you an idea what that webpage was about.

Other methods of finding broken links would be:

For Firefox users: You can download Linkchecker to highlight broken links in a webpage that you’re browsing.

For Chrome users: You can download Check My Links Chrome extension to automatically tell you whenever there’s a broken link in a webpage that you’re in.

These methods however, will require you to go through each webpage of the website in order for you to check out all of the possible broken links inside the website. It would be much more efficient if you use Xenu or Screaming Frog.

Fixing what’s Broken

The best thing you can do to fix a broken page which is out of the bounds of your control – is to make a similar one in your own website. You could either copy the content from the Wayback Machine’s archive (since it’s dead anyway), or make a unique one from your own self or from your team.

Consequently, after you have revived the dead content inside your website, you would ask the webmaster to point the broken link to the new resource (which you’ve created) rather than the 404 Not Found webpage.

Shoot the webmaster an email stating you’ve ‘encountered’ a broken link in his/her website and you would like him/her to check it out – and suggest a replacement.

Of course, the webmaster shouldn’t get an inkling that you’re linkbuilding from his/her broken link. So make it look clean and neat – make it seem like you have no other agenda than to help the poor little webmaster fix his broken link.

Broken Link Handyman

Broken linkbuilding is usually a win-win strategy. You’ve helped a webmaster point to a similarly relevant source which works, and at the same time you get a backlink because that ‘source’ is found in your website. It’s really a powerful linkbuilding technique that is not so rampantly used by many linkbuilders.

Here is a resource from Garett French to help you out:

Tips for Keeps: Keep an eye out for broken links around your niche websites. If you’re using Chrome, always keep the Check My Links Chrome Extension turned on. You might just extend a helping hand to another – and to yourself.

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Sean Si

About Sean

is a Filipino motivational speaker and a Leadership Speaker in the Philippines. He is the head honcho and editor-in-chief of SEO Hacker. He does SEO Services for companies in the Philippines and Abroad. Connect with him at Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. Check out his new project, Aquascape Philippines.