In the world of SEO and content marketing, the competition for high-quality backlinks continues to intensify. With Google cracking down on manipulative tactics, link builders need effective yet ethical ways to earn links. One approach that fits the bill is broken link building – a highly strategic process that generates impressive results when done properly. By finding broken pages that previously received backlinks, developing replacement content, and conducting personalized outreach, you can convince site owners to swap updated links pointing to your site instead.
What is broken link building?
Broken link building is a white hat link building tactic that involves identifying webpages that once existed and received backlinks, but now return 404 errors. You then develop replacement content that offers similar value to site visitors and reach out to webmasters who link to those broken pages in hopes they will swap the links to point to your content instead.
It’s called “broken link building” since you are leveraging broken links that have existing backlinks as opportunities to prospect new links for your site. The sites linking to the now-deleted pages previously felt that content was valuable enough to link out to, making them prime targets for outreach.
As an ethical, value-focused tactic, broken link building can generate impressive link building results. However, it does require significant effort invested into finding and assessing prospects, creating genuinely useful replacement content, and conducting personalized outreach to site owners.
Why does broken link building work?
There are a few core reasons broken link building remains an effective approach, even in a highly competitive environment:
Site owners want to fix broken links. Broken outbound links deliver a poor user experience, harming credibility and trust. Most webmasters strive to quickly fix broken links once notified.
Previous links indicate endorsement. The fact that a page linked out shows that they felt the now-deleted content provided value for their users. Useful replacement content aligns well with their site’s purpose.
It offers renewed value. By taking the time to develop tailored content that serves the audience well, you provide refreshed value in place of outdated or abandoned resources site visitors want.
As long as you focus on delivering utility and relevance over manipulation, many site owners will welcome updated content and gladly swap links. The key is creating content that captures the original page’s purpose and spirit.
Does broken link building still work in 2023?
Given Google’s increased scrutiny of artificial link building tactics, some wonder if broken link building remains viable. The short answer is yes – as long as it’s done correctly.
Blanket outreach blasts offering irrelevant content typically fail. However, when executed strategically with useful content and personalized pitches, lots of site owners agree to link updates.
In essence, broken link building still works if:
You identify genuinely broken pages that previously received links
The content topics align well with prospects’ sites
Your replacement content provides real utility for their audience
Outreach conveys customized value focused on their needs
As search engines continue penalizing manipulative tactics, legitimate value-focused broken link building delivers results. There will always be site owners eager to fix broken links to resources their visitors want.
How to do broken link building the right way
Conducting an effective broken link building campaign requires a methodical approach:
1. Find quality broken link prospects
The first step is identifying broken pages that have existing backlinks from relevant sites. Here are proven ways to uncover targets:
Review your top competitors for any broken pages that had links
Search for broken resources around your keywords with links pointing in
Check resource sites and directories in your space for broken outbound links
Use broken link checking tools to find prospects
As you find targets, compile a spreadsheet to track details like link quantities, page topics, site quality scores, etc. This helps assess and prioritize prospects.
2. Vet opportunities carefully
With a list of prospects, take time to carefully evaluate each:
Check link equity potential – Evaluate metrics like domain authority and organic traffic for pages linking to the broken resource. Prioritize sites with stronger ranking power.
Assess original reason for links – Determine why that page previously linked out. Ensure your replacement aligns closely with their original motivations for endorsing that content.
Review relevance – Analyze the topic of the broken page. Develop replacements that tightly match site themes and serve visitor needs.
Careful vetting allows focusing efforts only on quality opportunities with strong potential to update links.
3. Develop useful replacement content
Now it’s time to create tailored content that captures the original page’s core utility.
Map out an outline catered specifically to that previous page and site’s audience based on your topic research
Work in internal links to related resources on your site
Consider supplementary content/tools you can offer site owners beyond just a simple page
Make the content so useful that declining to update seems irrational.
4. Conduct personalized outreach
With content created, reach out to site owners:
Email those directly linking out explaining you noticed a broken link to a page their audience previously valued. Offer your content as an ideal substitute.
Consider social media outreach to establish contact as a known industry peer before pitching replacements.
Follow-up regularly until you get a clear response. Be helpful, not pesky.
Personalized multi-channel outreach focused on the site owner’s needs converts best. Blanket emails typically fail.
Check Out: Complete Guide for On-Page SEO
Keys to broken link building success
Though effective broken link building requires effort upfront, results justify time invested due to enduring SEO value. Here are core best practices:
Find quality prospects – Identifying genuinely broken pages with current backlinks should be the priority over quantity. Ten strong prospects outperform 100 weak ones.
Assess relevance diligently – Ensure topics align tightly and your content matches both site themes and audience needs. Generic pages get rejected.
Create exceptionally useful content – Well beyond just fixing their broken link, offer upgraded utility their visitors appreciate.
Do personalized, multi-contact outreach – Convey customized value focused on their situation vs generic pitches. Be ready to follow up.
Adhering to these principles, you can achieve link building success through a value-driven broken link building approach – now and long into the future.
In an era where earning coveted backlinks feels increasingly arduous, broken link building stands out. By identifying broken pages that previously received endorsement links and providing site owners with useful replacements their audience will value, you can achieve link building wins. Just stay focused on relevance and delivering real utility over manipulation. While it requires strategic effort, broken link building remains a consistent performer – now and for years to come.