Broken Link Building: A Quick Guide


  • One of the most important ranking factors for SEO is authority – i.e., how trustworthy search engines deem your content to be.
  • One strong measure of authority is the number of backlinks your site has. SEOs try to acquire backlinks through various link building strategies, one of which is broken link building.
  • Broken link building means pitching your content to sites that have broken links. By replacing the broken links with your content, sites can improve their user experience, while you gain the benefit of a backlink. Broken link building is a mutually beneficial strategy if done right.

Broken link building: A quick guide

If you’re interested in improving online performance for your business or website, you’re probably reading article after article about content marketing, search engine optimization, influencer marketing, and other digital marketing topics. We’ve all been there and we know it can be a little overwhelming. At Redefine Marketing Group, we’re here to help.

The core idea at the center of many of these articles is actually pretty simple. If you want to be successful and grow online, you need to build authority. In other words, your brand, or your website, or your products, need to be seen as the best in the business. Your voice should be perceived as trustworthy, reliable, and ahead-of-the-curve.

Search engines like Google and Bing know this. They build authority and the perception of authority into the decisions their algorithms make. Wondering why one brand or site shows up higher on Google than another? It’s because they are perceived to be more relevant and authoritative than the ones below them for the search term entered. If you want to compete, you need to demonstrate your authority and relevance to what searchers are looking for.

How can I build authority?

In SEO, there are a few crucial ways you should be building your authority. The main ways are high quality, relevant, and engaging content combined with the accumulation of valuable backlinks from other authoritative websites. The latter is called link building.

No SEO strategy is complete without a link building strategy. If done correctly, these authority-building efforts will complement one another, since great content organically builds backlinks, and backlinks expose your content to new readers. Without creating best-in-class content and building valuable backlinks, you’ll have a hard time moving the needle and increasing organic traffic.

Although link building sounds pretty straightforward, it often requires a great deal of effort to do correctly. Over the years, SEO professionals have developed several great link building tactics that don’t run afoul of Google’s guidelines.

In an effort to make sure that organic search yields results that are relevant and valuable to searchers, Google has gone to great lengths to make sure that no one can cut corners or buy false authority for long. This approach to link building is called “black hat” link building and, although it can be effective in the short term, it can result in severe penalties from search engines in the long run. Any company hoping to truly build authority in their space should avoid these types of link building tactics.

Link building techniques that are within Google’s guidelines are naturally called “white hat.” There are several tried-and-true white hat link building strategies, and to be as effective as possible, you should take advantage of as many of them as possible. From guest posting articles or blogs on authoritative sites with relevant audiences to creating unique tools, quizzes, or games that encourage conversation online, find ways to demonstrate your voice, expertise, and value to new people.

One incredibly effective way to build authority through link building is called broken link building.

What is broken link building?

Broken link building refers to creating new backlinks to your website from existing links which no longer point to their originally intended destination.

For example, imagine that someone has written a blog about the best HVAC businesses in your community. In that blog, you notice that the author has linked to a company that’s no longer in business. Their website is down and so the link points to a broken page. All you’d have to do is reach out to inform them and then suggest that they consider your HVAC business instead. You could provide reviews, customer testimonials, etc. A lot of times, the writer or site owner will make an update to their blog once you’ve let them know that something is no longer accurate. It’s a mutually beneficial situation.

These “broken links,” if relevant to your business or site, provide an opportunity to earn a new link without a great deal of effort. Another advantage to broken link building is that you have an opportunity to claim links that may once have gone to a competitor. Often, broken link building is a great way to build authority upfront to supplement the work you’ll be doing creating content and developing tools and other engaging things to attract traffic and links.

Checking in monthly, quarterly, or annually, depending on the frequency of conversation about topics relevant to you, will consistently yield new broken link building opportunities.

Making sure you don’t have any broken links

If your business’ website has been around for a while, chances are good that you’ve made changes. A lot of times, pages on your website have earned backlinks that you didn’t even know about.

Unfortunately, it’s also typical that the normal changes you make to your website didn’t preserve the authority earned through backlinks over time. That’s why it’s also a good idea to go looking for links that are broken which once pointed to your own site. This technique is called link reclamation. Technically, it’s more of an authority preservation strategy than an authority building strategy, but it’s important to do periodically nevertheless. Broken links pointing to your site can be claimed by a competitor doing broken link building.

Helpful resources for broken link building

You might be wondering how to find broken links. You can’t expect to just happen upon them, no matter how engaged you are in your field or business community. Fortunately, there are a few excellent tools for finding broken links.

For example, you can spot check articles on authoritative websites by using a chrome extension called Check My Links. This extension quickly shows you which links are working and which are not.

If you’re looking for a more advanced approach to finding broken links, you can use a tool like Majestic, Moz, SEMRush, or Ahrefs. These tools will all tell you how many links a dead page is getting and what they are. Some of these tools even have specific broken link reports which tell you if a linked page has a status code suggesting that it’s no longer there or has been moved.

How to do broken link building outreach  

Once you’ve identified websites with broken links that you think you can claim, it’s time to do some outreach. Doing link building outreach can be difficult, and there are site owners and writers online who will not be open to your suggestions. It’s important to remember that what you’re suggesting is mutually beneficial. Broken links on their pages create a poor user experience.

You should also make sure that your site is a good fit for the page or article with the broken link. If you’re able to determine what type of content or topic the original link was pointing to, it’s good to explain why the link you’re suggesting is also appropriate.

To effectively scale your broken link building efforts, you should use a template for your outreach. However, don’t be afraid to alter or adjust the template so that it’s more personalized and effective. If someone can tell that they’re received a templated outreach email, they’ll be very likely to ignore it.

For anyone who is looking to grow their business or website using search engine optimization, broken link building is one effective tool to have. Building authority online takes time and effort, but it pays dividends. At Redefine Marketing Group, we have all the tools you’ll need to truly build something special – get in touch with the team today to learn more.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jason is a Cal Poly Pomona Alum, an extreme fan of marketing, and social media advocate. As a Marketing Coordinator at Redefine Marketing Group, he is responsible for the development and execution of strategy for both off-page SEO and social media marketing.
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