Broken link building has been around a while. It’s probably a little more advanced than some strategies, but it can be a very effective way of finding powerful links that otherwise would seem out of reach. The typical way is to reach out to a blog or site within a market you are promoting, find their broken links, tell them about their broken links, and maybe in return ask that they add your site as a resource. This is obviously a very white hat strategy, relative to other ways to do this. What I show here is not exactly white hat, and certainly are against Googles webmaster guidelines, but it’s effective.
- 1 What Is A Broken Link?
- 2 How to Leverage Broken Links In Your SEO Strategy
- 3 A Word Of Caution
- 4 How To Find Relevant Broken Links
- 5 Using Ahrefs.com To Find Broken Links
- 6 How To Use The Broken Links
- 7 What Now?
- 8 Using Domain Hunter Gatherer To Find Broken Links
- 9 Which Method Is Best?
- 10 Quick Links To Tools I Used In This Tutorial
- 11 What Twitter Says
What Is A Broken Link?
A broken link is simply a link on a website that does not go any where, or renders a 404 error when clicked. There are a number of reasons this can happen. The website where the link goes to has been shut down or expired. The page has been removed, or even the URL is incorrect. The broken link on the site is considered not great practice by Google. It makes sense, as if a user tries to click on a link and they get an error, it’s not a great user experience. So you can consider this a negative ranking signal in Google. To check if you have broken links, there are plenty of resources.
A good free tool is http://www.brokenlinkcheck.com/ or the Chrome Broken Link Checker Extension. These tools will only check on page at a time. If you want to check entire domains or have clients, hands down the best tool for the job is Screaming Frog.
How to Leverage Broken Links In Your SEO Strategy
So broken links are not great on your own site, but how can you use other peoples broken links to help your strategy? Essentially the concept and theory is that by finding broken links on another relevant site in your market, or even a large authority site such as wikipedia.org or a major news organisation, with the right tools, you can quickly and easily drill down to the links that you can “acquire as your own”. Once you “own” that link, you can do what ever you want with it. You can direct it your site, a social property, or anywhere that you deem appropriate.
A Word Of Caution
This strategy can easily get you into trouble if you don’t know what you are doing. For that reason I recommend you test on a site you can afford to lose. Not so much due to the process of acquiring that link, but you need to have experience and understand how to do the research to understand if that link will provide enough quality and relevance to your campaign
How To Find Relevant Broken Links
So the first thing you need to do is find the links. The 2 tools you can use are ahrefs.com, or one of my favourites Domain Hunter Gatherer. While I mentioned in a another post that SEMrush and Ahrefs.com are my two most used tools, DHG comes a very close 3rd. I actually only started using it about 18 months ago, and I’m kicking myself I didn’t use it earlier. It’s basically just a scraper, but dedicated to finding auctions and expired domains quickly and easily at the click of a button. The filters are very very good, and it also now has and expired Web 2.0 finder.
Using Ahrefs.com To Find Broken Links
As an example, let’s say you have a website in the UK. A great link to acquire would be from bbc.co.uk. This site obviously has a massive amount of trust (in googles eyes) and one of the largest in the country. A link from this site is beneficial. In the post FRED update however you probably still want to be careful how you use it. More on that later.
Head on over to ahrefs.com and type in the domain you want to check for broken links. Keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be a massive authority domain, but it will be more likely there will be more broken links to find. You could search a competitor (these are awesome links), or a larger site within the particular market or niche.
Once you are on the next screen, you’ll be provided a list of broken links on the website. You can then export them to a .csv file.
How To Use The Broken Links
So now you have a list of links, what so you do with them? Firstly, you need to clean them up, meaning you should trim the links to the root, so you end up with a list of domains. Also remove any duplicates. I’m not going to show you how to do this here. There are some simple Excel tutorials on Youtube you should look up.
Then head on over to Namecheap bulk domain search and enter the domain names in bulk. I like Namecheap as they consistently have the cheapest domains around, and also have a very easy to use interface. I also find that their DNS changes are very fast, so I don’t have to wait a day for DNS changes to take effect. They have had some bad press in the past but I think they’ve really improved in the last year. Great support also.
Keep in mind that you can only add 50 domains at a time.
Next you’ll be presented with a list of domains, and hopefully some will be available. If not, check the next 50 until you find one.
So now you have found a domain that has a link from bbc.co.uk. At this stage before purchasing, I will go and do some further checks, including backlinks, and audit with SEMRush and also a check with the Whayback Machine.
If I’m happy with the domain I will purchase it. These days, I will get quite granular with the domain checking process. ie, for what purpose do I want to use it? Is it relevant? Does it have other quality links? etc. etc. Auditing the quality of a domain is a whole other process. But for the simplicity of our example here, we now can own a domain with a link from the BBC.
At this point you have a number of options. You could build a PBN site on this domain, you could 301 redirect to your site, or you could 301 redirect to a buffer site. ie. to a web 2.0 or social property. It’s completely up to you, but be aware you need to be know of what you’re doing.
Using Domain Hunter Gatherer To Find Broken Links
Using Domain Hunter Gatherer is much simpler and essentially a push button method. I’ve had good success using this software, and also doing manually as above. The nice thing about DHG is that you setup up the crawl to find broken links in about 2 minutes, and then let it run in the background while you continue with other tasks.This how I use the software, and it works really well. The stats that are pulled back also reduce time in then checking the metrics of the domain.
Rather that go through a step by step how to guide, DHG already have some great tutorials on how to use it and the features. The video below shows how to find expired domains with links from authority sites.
Which Method Is Best?
To be honest I use both methods all the time. For me it actually depends how much time I have, and what sort of mood I’m in. They both work well, and you will also at times find different results. Neither will scrape every single domain on the net, even though they say they will.
Quick Links To Tools I Used In This Tutorial
What Twitter Says
— Martin Hiesboeck 🌐 (@MHiesboeck) September 13, 2017