A Step by Step Guide to Modern Broken Link Building

broken links

The Internet is broken…

…literally.

Millions of links become broken every day as hosting expires, sites mess up when they migrate, and typing mistakes occur.

All of those events create one of the most consistent opportunities for SEO link building.

Broken link building isn’t new; in fact, it’s been around for years.

Download this step by step worksheet for modern broken link building.

It’s a tactic that will never be exhausted because the Internet will always have new broken links. 

Here’s what broken link building is in a nutshell:

If you find a broken link on a website, you can contact the owner. Since you did him/her a small favor of pointing out a broken link, they might do you the favor of including a link to your website. You can even offer a replacement link when appropriate.

It’s very simple: finding broken links is your in.

This tactic relies on the principle of reciprocity—one of the six principles of influence, according to Cialdini:

The principle of reciprocity states that when you do something nice for another person, they are much more likely to pay it back by doing you a favor of a similar size.

There are a few guides to broken link building available, and I even covered the topic in my advanced guide to link building. But most of those guides are at least a few years old, so I wanted to give you an up-to-date guide with modern twists on the old tactic.

Bulk is better

There is one key to broken link building that you must keep in mind if you’re going to use this tactic successfully: broken link building must be scaled.

Unlike tactics like email outreach or some other types of promotion, broken link building doesn’t get an amazing success rate. In most niches, you’ll get around 5 to 10 links for every 100 emails you send.

It’s decent but not great.

If you’re only sending a few emails here and there, you won’t ever see real results from this tactic.

You need to approach it the way I’m going to show you in this article and use the right tools to scale it.

It’s possible, and necessary, to find hundreds of broken link opportunities at once as well as to minimize your time spent emailing site owners.

This way, you can feasibly send over 100 link requests a day (without spamming) and acquire a decent number of links. If you do this on a fairly regular basis, this tactic alone can be very effective in your overall link building campaign.

Tools that will help you

As I said, you will need tools for this tactic.

Out of many available options, including a few paid ones, I’ve picked four that can provide you with everything you need.

Tool #1 – Check My Links Chrome extension: If you’re ever in need of a tool that can quickly check a page for broken links, this is it.

Once installed, it will appear as a little checkmark icon beside your address bar. When you click it, it will start scanning all links on the page. If a link is broken, it will be highlighted in red, and the error will be shown right beside the text (e.g., “404”).

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The one drawback of this tool is that you still need to scroll through the page to find the red highlighted links. If you could simply copy all the broken links by clicking a button, it would be perfect.

Tool #2 – Domain hunter plus: This extension is an alternative to Check My Links. It works similarly. You click the icon, and the tool scans the links on the page.

The difference is that this extension doesn’t stop at just finding broken links. It also checks to see if the broken link domain is available for registration as well as how many links point to that domain.

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If you do find a domain available to register, you could register it and then redirect the pages with links to them however you wish.

Alternatively, you could email everyone who links to that domain (could be hundreds or thousands of sites) and ask them to link to you instead.

One warning: I’ve found this plugin to be hit and miss. On occasion, it will say that a link is broken, but when you actually test it, it works. Just be sure to double check your results once in a while.

Tool #3 – Canned responses Gmail feature: A huge component of broken link building is emailing website owners. In order to do that efficiently, you will need to make use of templates.

Gmail has a great built-in feature called “Canned Responses.” It’s just not activated by default.

To activate it, click the little gear icon at the top right of your mail box, and click “Settings”:

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Now, click on the “Labs” menu option.

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This will bring up several experimental features Google has released. Some of them are pretty useful.

The Canned Responses Lab should be on the list of recommended labs, fairly high up.

Once you find it, click on the radio button to enable it:

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Make sure that you scroll down to the bottom of the page and click “save changes.” After you do, Gmail will automatically reload with the feature enabled.

The next time you type in an outreach email/template into a blank email, you have the option of clicking the little down arrow in the bottom right-hand corner (shown below) and choosing“Canned responses”.

Then, click on “New canned response,” which will prompt you to enter a name:

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Once you’ve done that, you’ve saved that template.

When you open a new blank email, you can click that same arrow in the bottom right and highlight the Canned Responses option. You’ll see the name of the template you just entered.

When you click it, it will paste that previously written message with the name of the template in the subject line:

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I’ll go into more detail on sending emails later, but this, or any other template extension, is very useful.

Tool #4 – Xenu’s Link Sleuth: If you’re going to do broken link building at scale, you need this tool. It’s a free and amazingly robust tool that allows you to check all the links of up to hundreds of pages, all at once.

You’ll need to know how to use the basic functions of the tool before moving on in this article, so let me quickly show you the main features before we get started.

The “File” menu option is what you’ll use the most.

You can either check a single URL (“Check URL”), or you can check a large list of URLs all at once (“Check URL List”). There are times and places for both features. If you use the list option, you’ll need to upload a text file of URLs, with one on each line.

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The results you’ll get will depend heavily on the settings you choose.

When you go to “Options > Preferences”, you’ll see the following window:

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You can play around with the settings under “Report,” but you should have at least the first four settings checked.

The most important setting is the “maximum level” setting.

Say you were checking Quicksprout.com for broken links. If you just wanted to scan the links on the homepage, you would put a maximum level of “1”. They are “1” click away.

If you also wanted to check the links on all the pages that the homepage is linked to, you would set the level to “2”. Clearly, the higher the maximum level, the more URLs it will scan.

If you’re looking for links on a specific page (because it’s highly authoritative/relevant), you’ll want to keep this number low.

If you’re looking for all sorts of opportunities, you can set it high (999 is the highest).

If you’re a bit confused, don’t worry. I’ll give you more detail about this feature later in this post.

Finally, there’s the parallel threads option. The higher it is, the more of your computer resources the software will use, but it will run the query faster. I recommend running at least 20 threads.

Once you run a report (status in bottom right), you’ll see a list of results. Green results are working links, while red ones are errors of some kind.

There are different “status” labels for different error codes (see them here):

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You can also use the “Export” option under the “File” menu to generate a spreadsheet of the results. If you have thousands of results, this makes it much easier to sort through them.

Step 1: It starts with your targets

The first step in broken link building is to find broken links.

There are many ways to do this, but I’m going to show you three of the most effective.

Tactic #1 – Pick a particular domain: Chances are there’re a few authority sites in your niche that you’re dying to get a link from, but maybe you can’t find your “in.” This is a perfect opportunity for broken link building.

Let’s say you wanted to find broken links on Quick Sprout.

Open Xenu, pick the “Check URL…” option in the file menu, and enter either quicksprout.com or quicksprout.com/blog as the starting point in the text box.

There are a few other things you also need to do…

Check the “check external links” box. Now Xenu will check both internal and external links.

Then, click “More options…” in the bottom left, which will bring up the same panel I showed you before.

For this purpose, you want to crawl as many pages on the site as possible, so pick a high “maximum depth.”

Once you’re ready, click “OK” twice to start the scan.

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After a few minutes (depending on your computer speed), you’ll get a report.

I recommend sorting the results by “level.” The lower the level, the closer the dead link is to the starting point. If you email someone about a page on their site from 10 years ago, they probably won’t care. But if it’s only a few months old, they probably want to keep it updated.

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Then you need to find the link on the page and verify that it’s actually broken (Xenu is wrong sometimes).

Right-click on any of the broken URLs, and choose “URL Properties.” This will bring up a small window (shown above), where you can see which pages have the dead link on them in the bottom section of the pop-up.

Tactic #2 – Find sites in your niche: This tactic is mainly for finding relevant broken links on sites in your niche.

Combine keywords in your niche with search strings in order to find pages that have lots of links on them. The more links on a page, the more likely you are to find broken ones.

Here are some search strings you can use, but you’re free to get creative as well:

  • keyword + “resources”
  • keyword + intitle:resources
  • keyword + intitle:blogroll
  • keyword + “blogroll”
  • site:.gov keyword + “links”
  • site:.edu keyword + “recommended sites”
  • keyword + “related links”

You can proceed from here in two different ways.

The first method is labor-intensive.

Click promising results from your searches, and check each page for broken links using one of the extensions I showed you before.

For example, if I had a design site, I could search for:

intitle:blogroll design

One of the first pages I clicked had several dead links according to a quick Domain Hunter scan:

image05

You could either contact the site owner right away or just add this URL and its broken links to a spreadsheet.

While that method will work, it’s slow.

The better way to do it is to use Scrapebox. It allows you to scrape hundreds or thousands of URLs from search results based on different footprints (search strings) all at once. However, it is a paid tool, and you’ll also need to buy proxies.

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Obviously, I’m in favor of the bulk method for finding broken links, but it’s up to you.

When you get massive list of URLs that you want to check for broken links, plug the entire list into Xenu. However, this time you want to limit the link depth to 1 or 2, so you only find broken links on those pages that you found (or closely related ones).

If you set the depth to 3, you’ll get many more links, but you’ll notice that they won’t all be relevant to your initial keyword.

Tactic #3 – Search by keyword: The final option is to search for a specific keyword that you’re targeting.

For example, say I created a post on the top podcasting tools. Now, I want to build links to it using broken link building.

I can search Google for “top podcasting tools,” and then visit all the top results:

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The top results usually have the highest number of links pointing to them, which is important.

Next, plug in any of these URLs, one at a time, into a link database tool such as Ahrefs:

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Hover over “inbound links,” and then click on “links,” which will bring up a massive list of pages that linked to those articles about podcasting tools.

You will need a paid account to get any real results using this method.

Now, scan all of the pages that link to the article for broken links. If they do have a broken link, let them know about it and suggest also adding a link to your article.

If your new article is great, you have a decent shot at getting a link.

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Again, you can check these one at a time with a free extension:

image18

Or you can export them into Xenu. Again, use a shallow link depth of 1 or 2.

In the case above, there are several similar broken links because the author forgot the “http://” part of the link. Since it’s a fairly recent article, and there are several broken links, your chances of getting a link go way up (because you helped out more).

Step 2: Methodical broken link building involves content creation

Depending on which of the tactics from step 1 you choose to use (you can use more than one), you will need some content.

Method 1 – Create content first: The most basic option is to create content according to your content schedule and then go hunting for relevant pages that have broken backlinks.

This is what I showed you with tactic #3 of step 1.

It’s a good method but not the best because you’re making a somewhat unrelated request.

You’re finding dead links and then basically saying: “My article is also related to your page’s topic, so do you mind adding a link?”

Some will go for this, of course, but there’s an alternative option.

What if you could instead email them saying: “This link is broken on your page, but luckily, I have a better version of it on my site. Here’s the link…”

All of a sudden, it makes a ton of sense for them to add your link instead of having to track down a replacement.

The only problem is that your article won’t always be a perfect replacement. That’s where method 2 comes in…

Method 2 – See how many sites link to a broken URL: If one site has linked to a broken URL, chances are that others have as well.

So when you come across a broken link, check how many backlinks point to the page.

For example, while looking at a few podcasting articles, I found a broken link on this page that pointed to: http://www.podcastingpassion.com/

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That site is clearly dead, and it was flagged by Check My Links for me.

When I plugged that broken URL into Ahrefs, I saw that it has 12 linking domains for 45 total backlinks:

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Honestly, that’s not great, but it will do for the purposes of this example.

Once you find a broken URL that has many links, look it up using archive.org. Just type in the URL into the search bar, and you can see what the page used to look like when it was active.

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Now, re-create the page (same topic), but make it better so that the linker has a good incentive to link to your new page.

Creating content that is a perfect substitute for a broken page will obviously take more time, but it will get you a higher conversion rate.

Step 3: Engage targets and get your links

After the first two steps, you should have a large list of URLs with broken links as well as at least a somewhat relevant link on your site that you can offer as a replacement.

The last major part is to contact the webmasters and let them know about the dead links.

Find the right contact information: Some sites make it easier to find contact information than others. Avoid sending emails to generic “support” email addresses or using generic contact forms. In my experience, those have the lowest conversion rate.

If it’s a blog that has the broken link, the best way by far is to sign up for their email list. That way, you’ll immediately get an email from an email address that is actively monitored.

Most blogs have signup forms in the header or sidebar of the blog:

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Blogs are the easiest to find contact information for.

The hardest ones are .edu and .gov sites.

There are no rules that apply 100% of the time. Finding the right contact information is a process that you will have to learn through experience.

For example, let’s say I was looking for a link on this podcast page on wvu.edu:

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The first place where I would look is a department specific email. Usually you can find this by scrolling down to the bottom:

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If you’re comfortable on the phone, that’s also a very good option.

But not all sites or sections of sites will have that. Next, look at the About page for the section, which is usually located near the top:

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We can see only three names there.

To try to find their contact information, check the school’s directory, which will be at the very top or bottom:

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Then, search for each name.

If there are many people listed, try to find a project manager or someone who is likely to update web pages.

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In my case, I actually couldn’t find any matches for those three staff members. But if I did, I would use the email and telephone number from the search.

As the last resort, look at the footer for the websites for a feedback form link:

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This usually sends an email to the IT department. You can ask them to forward your email to the appropriate department if they can’t help you.

Keys to a successful outreach email: Once you have your contact information, it’s time to craft your outreach email.

In general, there are four things to keep in mind:

    1. Personalization – Whenever possible, start your email with a name (no “Dear Sir”). If you can’t find a name, just start with “Hi” or “Hello.” While we will be using a template, try to add a line or two at the start that is customized for each site (e.g., I loved your article on X last month).
    2. Keep it short – The shorter your email, the more likely that your target will read the whole thing and understand what you’re asking for. Be as concise as possible.
    3. Be professional – Write with proper grammar, and don’t be too pushy. While it’s okay to follow up once or twice, don’t spam anyone.
    4. Be polite – Politeness goes a long way. Understand that you’re asking for a favor (albeit a small one), so don’t make demands or insult anyone.

Here’s a template you can use:

Subject: Quick feedback – dead resource on your site

Hi [name],

I was recently researching (topic) for an article I was writing and came across this page on your site: (URL).

I found it very useful, but there are a few dead links on the page:

  • (link #1)
  • (link #2)

I came across a few other great resources during my research, which you could put in their place:

  • (link #1)
  • (link #2)

I think they would help anyone in the future looking for more information about (topic).

If you do update the page, I’d appreciate it if you would consider including a link to my article. It’s about (description). I think your visitors would also appreciate it. Here’s the link if you’re interested:

(Your URL)

Thank you for your time,

(Your name)

Once you have your template, pop it into canned responses like I showed you earlier so that you can quickly put it into a new email.

A final note: While templates are needed for efficiency, customize them as much as you can for each email you send. If you can add a sentence about the site you’re emailing about, it will improve your conversion rates.

Step 4: Track your results

Now you know how broken link building works and how you can use it to acquire some pretty nice links to your content.

It’s important to stay organized and track your results for three reasons:

  • So you don’t waste time emailing the same sites
  • So you can calculate ROI
  • So you can improve your success rate (track which templates do better than others)

Sometimes, you will get an email response saying that your link has been added. However, sometimes you won’t, and it’s up to you to find out if the link has been added.

If you do get an email back, just highlight the URL or make a note of it on your spreadsheet. But first, make sure you check to see that the link is actually there and has been added correctly.

Monitoring method #1 – Confirm links by visiting the page manually: While you could create a custom tool to check pages for your links if you have programming skills, you can always use this basic method.

Go to the page that is supposed to have your link on it. Right-click anywhere on the page and select “View page source”:

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This will bring up a new tab with all the HTML code of the page.

If your link is anywhere on the page, a link tag with your URL will be in the code (e.g., “<a href=”yourURL.com”>…”).

To find it, press “ctrl + f” on this source code tab to bring up the Find tool, and type in your domain name:

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If your link is on the page, you’ll get at least one match (shown above).

If your link isn’t on the page, the tool will show you 0 results:

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Monitoring method #2 – Check link database occasionally: The main way to find links when you don’t receive any email is to use a link database (Ahrefs, Majestic, etc.).

They won’t necessarily find all of them, but they’ll get most.

First, type in your domain name. Then hover over “Inbound Links,” and click on “New”:

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You can pick how fresh you want the links to be:

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If you have a free account, you’ll only be able to see a few results, so you can restrict the results to “Yesterday” or “7 days” so that there aren’t too many.

Continue to scroll down that page, and look to see if any of the new links match the sites you have sent your emails to:

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If you see one, mark it down on your spreadsheet.

Track your time, and calculate ROI: Like with any link building strategy, you should track your return on investment (ROI).

With broken link building, you won’t be spending too much directly, but you will be spending your time, which has value.

ROI = (# of links) / (time spent * hourly rate)

This formula will give you a result in links per dollar spent. You can also invert it (flip it) to get a cost per link. In general, any high quality link under $100 is good, and under $50 is great.

The better you get at broken link building, the better your ROI will be.

Step 5 (Optional): Power up your results – Combine broken link building with other tactics

The most powerful thing you can take from broken link building is that it can be incorporated as part of a bigger link building strategy.

Pointing out broken links is your entry point for a relationship with a site owner. You don’t necessarily have to ask for a link on that page if you have a better alternative.

Start reading about other link building tactics to see if you can combine broken link building with one of them.

For example, broken link building can just about double your success rate with the Skyscraper technique. Not only do you have an amazing piece of content to pitch, but if you’re pointing out broken links, you’re adding even more value (always a good thing).

Conclusion

Broken link building is a powerful scalable tactic you can use to get high quality links in almost any niche.

I’ll warn you, however: it will take some trial and error the first few times you use it, but once you get efficient with it, it’s a great weapon to have in your SEO arsenal.

Decide how you’re going to incorporate broken link building into your overall SEO strategy, and then give it a try.

I know that it’s not the easiest tactic, so if you have any questions, leave me a comment below, and I’ll help you out.

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Comments

  1. awesome indeed !!! That Gmail labs technique is such a small thing but makes big things. Eventhough using it all the day , I can’t figure out the hidden features. Thanks for showing it.

    I’m going to implement this technique to my previously written articles and Hope to get rock solid links 🙂

    Regards

    Mohanraj S

  2. Hello, Neil!
    Just went through this article.I would like to say you just made it damn awesome.People are talking about link building strategies which are published 1,00,000 time, but you just did it in you own way.
    I Never though there will be something like this to build backlinks.It is obvious that you will not get high conversion rate with this method, but at least you can get 4-5 which will be decent for any good website.
    So, this tactic also depend on article creation, therefore I like to make good contents at my blog http://www.shouterbuzz.com 🙂
    Keep the good work up!

    • Deepak, glad I could help. There are a ton of ways to build links — you just have to go out and discover them.

  3. Ivailo Durmonski :

    I am wondering, how did you found about these techniques. Where did you go to school? 🙂 Really valuable resources Neil, thanks

  4. I had a VA do this for me a few years ago, these were the results:

    1) NO ONE fixed the link using the suggested article: 0%
    2) 9/13 either fixed the link or removed it: %69, so at least we know that the emails were opened
    3) Only 2/13 people responded… and that was to thank me: %15

    I’m sure that it can work, but be prepared to play the numbers game.

  5. Hey Neil,

    Brian has a great experience in Link Building and his Skyscraper technique is really good.

    Your article was an epic as always but I have a question for both of you guys (Brian & Neil) what do you do if you don’t receive any response from the peoples you have emailed to.

    Thanks,
    Akshay Joshi

  6. Maurizio Fumini :

    Hi Mr. Patel, a great post as always, is still a good technique on 2015 broken link on social seo era?
    Best
    Maurizio

  7. Hello Neil, everytime I open your email update I keep myself prepared for getting something new in detail and you never miss an opportunity to impress your readers like me.

    Thanks for another amazing idea to build backlinks for success in online businesses.

  8. It’s a creative way of link building. I am lagging to contact others by email…you speak about sending 100 emails asking for links. Mm…I have to improve here.

    Thanks Neil.

  9. Johnson Emmanuel :

    Neil, thanks for this awesome article as always, you seem to know how to read my mind. I was just thinking on a link building strategy for my recent post http://koriefusion.com/9-pull-marketing-strategies and i will be implementing every single stuff in here and i will report to you definitely.

  10. great resource Neil sir 🙂 😉

  11. Great Write up, but it falls short to what I am looking for.

    Some of your techniques seem to have the same issue.

    These are great and very step-by-step, and that is the major problem with them. This falls short in helping what I imagine is a big segment of your readers.

    This would be great for an individual who wants to spend 20 hours a week on this.

    But, do you really think anyone has the time to implement this technique without outsourcing it?

    Then, how do you manage and track what your VAs are doing?

    That comes down to what management tools does one use to outsource it so that it can be managed, and the process tracked, and the results measured . . .

    Tools. BuzzStream, NinjaOutreach, aHrefs

    What I think businesses that have sites up and want to maintain them are techniques with metrics,

    • It looks like you’re looking for shortcuts, but proper link building is a time consuming process.

      Tools like Buzzstream can for sure help you organize and streamline your outreach, but aren’t in any way, shape, or form a turn-key solution.

      • Jeff, I was going to say the same thing as David — if you want the best results do it yourself then perfect the model so you can then give the work to VAs and such.

  12. another great post man. you rock!

  13. Nice post, Neil!
    I had been hunting for broken links (for dropped domains, actually) when doing some work for my SEO clients and I’ve found out that for really bulk approach Xenu appears to be more robust and responsive than ScrapeBox. And the same time ScrapeBox is more like a swiss-knife tool.

  14. Neil this is a kick ass post about getting ranked with broken links, I mean just awesome ways to rank

  15. Broken link building is certainly one approach. However there are much faster ways to build traffic. I know you and Brian Dean are huge aficionados of this approach but I find it cumbersome and time consuming. The goal of SEO is traffic, if you can get that traffic without stressing about the rankings (it is extremely easy to get backlinks of Wikipedia for instance that, nofollow or not, drive huge volumes of traffic) then why bother going through all this outreach?

    Also, Neil. I think your full screen Facebook opt in that you’ve recently added to your blog is probably just about the most annoying thing I’ve ever seen.

  16. If you’re on a Mac, Peacock Media’s free Integrity software is also great for broken link checking: http://peacockmedia.software/mac/integrity/free.html

  17. Suzanne Collins :

    Wow!!! What a Detail Article. Loved it !!! Your Articles are more like a Tutorial to Learn Everything About SEO.

    Thank you for giving us all the Insight Study.

  18. https://www.quicksprout.com/the-advanced-guide-to-link-building-chapter-7/

    In this post you mention some website where we can find broken link of website or webpage. And then after finding the broken link send a E-Mail to website owner of the website.

    My question is that after all these thing what benefits will i get. I’m just helping other website owner by telling him that you have broken link find out them and resolve it.

    How i will get Links by doing these things ?

  19. Another awesome post

  20. Wow Neil! It’s one of the best source for broken link building I have ever read. Definitely my blog http://theblendersguide.blogspot.com could benefit from your post. I have been putting so much effort on the past months but still it’s struggling for traffic.

    Thanks a lot. Keep up the good work 🙂

  21. Davinder Toun :

    Hey Neil
    i am happy to read this article. This is awesome to improve my broken link building doubts.Can you share ton of link building techniques.

  22. Stephanie Manley :

    Just curious do you think keeping your 404/301/302 have much to do with your own page rank? I just installed screaming frog and was slightly horrified once I did my outgoing link analysis. I have a lot to clean up.

    I can see that Google’s words is that it is a normal part of the web now, but I am curious if someone has witnessed cleaned links out result in a more friendly search engine.

  23. Theodore Nwangene :

    Hello Neil,
    Truly, broken link building is one of the best and very effective link building tactics out there but like you said, its usually a hit and miss approach.

    However, I don’t think there’s any easier way to build links, they’re all difficult and that’s why its usually fun once you succeed.

    Among all the tools you mentioned here, I’m already familiar with Xenu Link Slot. I first heard about it at Jon Havers blog and have been using it to find expired domains since then, its such a handy tool indeed.

    Thanks for sharing Neil.

  24. Stefan Nilsson :

    I recommend checking out ahrefs ‘outgoing links’ -> ‘broken links’. By using it you can target specific high value domains within your niche and even create content based on it so it’s a perfect match. Just a shame ahrefs is so expensive and doesn’t offer a free trial.

  25. Wow! What a detailed guide on building backlink using broken link method.
    I must confess building is not an easy thing.

    Question: When you redirect a URL that has back link, can it be considered as back link to the new URL it is point?

  26. Hi Neil,

    Thanks a lot for mentioning the canned response feature! I barely have any time to promote an infographic I put together, which I believe is the only of its type in my niche. But reaching out effectively has been difficult simply due to time constraints.

    It’s knowing about these things and utilizing them before everyone else that makes you the best of the best.

    I plan to begin incorporating this broken link tactic very soon, because its highly possible that only a handful of people in my niche even know about it, let alone apply it! I just see it as being too technical for most people.

    Baig

  27. Neil, I love how much information you give – you are just fantabulous. Yet another tutorial for me to add to my bookmarks to reference as I learn this technique.

    Thank you! <3

  28. Bruce Smeaton :

    Hi Neil… I am someone who can personally testify just how effective your ‘broken links strategy’ really is!

    Several years ago (when you and Brian published your Advanced Link Building Guide) I made a point of focussing on trying to find (and leverage upon) as many broken links as I could. Well, after a year or so of mixed results and a LOT of hard work, I discovered something that changed my SEO career forever.

    You see, as you well know, a small portion of the broken links you find actually point to expired domains. When I began seeing this I started using a filtering process (courtesy of Majestic.com’s Trust Flow and Citation Flow metrics) to single out the expired domains with the highest potential. I then registered those expired domains, built out a one-page content site for each one (making sure the content was thematically relevant to the original link source) added a few contextual links to the content, and then pointed those links to whatever relevant client site I was working on. NOTE: Yes, I could’ve just 301’ed those links, but too many 301’s wouldn’t look natural and so I opted to build actual content sites (given the sheer value of the link juice from the originating site).

    The results were… staggering!!! In the time that I have been using this (modified version of your own) strategy I have acquired links from Huffington Post, Forbes.com and several other huge authority sites — purely because I unearthed broken links pointing to expired domains!

    The real beauty of this method is that I never needed to contact anyone or ask anyone to point a link to me. I was able to do the entire thing on a completely anonymous basis, by default!

    But I will say one thing: you sure as hell don’t want to do this method manually! You wouldn’t live long enough ???????????? Tools like Scrapebox are a godsend when it comes to checking gazillions of URLs for a methodology like this.

    So, in closing, I just want to say THANK YOU for giving me the insight and the inspiration (almost four years ago) to uncover a whole new way of acquiring top quality links.

    • Bruce, that’s great to hear — glad I could help. You’ve come a long way and have seen some great success 🙂

      Keep up the great work.

  29. Humberto Gates :

    Hi Neil,

    It’s really awesome tips, useful for newbie like me !

    I will follow step and steps to build links for my new site!

    Thank you <3 <3

    Gates

  30. Waiting for your article, Nice , Broken link building one more way for me to build better backlinks.
    Love your information very much .

  31. Muhammad Asim :

    Neil it’s a great comprehensive post on Link Building but here I want to add few more tactics that will make this post superior.

    1 – In tool section you just mentioned Check my Links Chrome extension. It’s a great tool but there is a drawback of this tool as you mentioned in your post that you have to extract the broken links (URLs) manually. Good news you can use Link Miner chrome extension https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/linkminer/ogdhdnpiclkaeicicamopfohidjokoom. It’s functionality is same like Check my links but you can also download all urls list including Broken Links (404). Cool…..! 🙂

    2 – Emailing is the major part in Broken Link building Tactics, so there should also the mention of Email tracking ‘Tool Streak for Gmail’ https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/streak-for-gmail/pnnfemgpilpdaojpnkjdgfgbnnjojfik. With the help of this tool you can track whether the concern person is reading/clicking your email or not.

    3 – Another tool you mentioned in your post Xenu’s Link Sleuth. Although it’s a great tool but it’s functionality is too complex. Alternatively you can use Webbee SEO Spider https://www.eebew.com/spider/, simply you just need to enter your desire website to crawl and it will crawl all your website under on-page SEO aspects. Especially you can extract all external links with http status code just in one click. To download all external links navigate to Additional Reports and click on All External Links. Same as you can also upload your desire list of URLs to check their http status. It can help you to find broken links quickly. That’s it….! 🙂

    • Wow,

      I just installed two of extension you have mentioned in your comment and definitely going to check eebew.com.

      Thanks for the share and keep sharing 🙂
      Satish

    • Muhammad, thanks for the summary of all the major points. Looking forward to hearing much more from you.

      • Muhammad Asim :

        Neil there are other lots of techniques regarding Broken link strategies in my mind but it’s not possible to write up all there in comment section. However just try above mentioned tools, definitely people will love to use them.

    • Interesting & useful guide of modern backlinks tactics Neil Patel. I will surely try these.
      Appreciated your feedback on that extension. Muhammad Asim

  32. Nice stuffs however not all tactics work through this way. I will try few out of them. Though for sharing new insights of link building.

  33. Hi Neil,

    I have already read many article on link building including brian dean and I follow some techniques to get.

    1) prepare template for email outreach.
    2)colleect niche related dead links.
    3) daily send emails regarding broken link.

    But still I am not getting any positive response. I have send 50 emails per day and get 1 or may be 2 replies. now I understand why I am not getting proper response. as you said in your article “get around 5 to 10 links for every 100 emails you send.

    It’s decent but not great.

    If you’re only sending a few emails here and there, you won’t ever see real results from this tactic.”

    Now I know where I am lacking and definatelly I am going to use your template and technique to get more response and yes I am also going to experiment on “combine broken link building with other tactics” once I will satrt getting decent replies.

    Once again thanks for the guidance.
    Satish

  34. Hi Neil, great overview of broken link building. I’m using a XENU broken link software to find out the 404 not found pages. There are some great tips in here and I don’t the feature of Gmail i.e. Tool #3 “Canned responses Gmail feature”. I tried to send sample test mail and this works very nice. I’ll definitely try these techniques on my site. Thanks for sharing this guide Neil.

  35. This method will only work if you are a brand otherwise no one would care to reply to your mail.

  36. Hi Neil Bro! You always share useful information with your visitors here. With your every new article, we get to learn new things. I want to say that this method is very much safe from any of the future Google updates. Although the chances to get links from these sites are medium, but if you may get a few of them they will benefit you a lot.

  37. Hi Neil

    Discovered you a few years back and your blog is always my first destination when online.

    Love this article.

    I run an ecommerce site selling household goods.

    I cant ask for links to products? I dont have a blog either. So would this tactic not work for me?

    Thanks in advance!

  38. Hi Neil,

    Thank you for sharing information about managing modern broken link building.

    Have a Good Day!

    @AMRahulSharma

  39. Anders Jytzler :

    I was making a new webshop for a customer, creating an entire new website in new CMS (wordpress & woocommerce), so i ofcourse had a lot of broken backlinks. Thanks to this article i did 301 redirects in the htaccess file, for the most used and important pages on the site. Couldn’t fix ’em all, but i guess this is a beginning. Awesome sauce blog again!

  40. Hello Neil,

    congrats first of all for another great post. Your newsletter is one of the very few I continuously read.

    As you rightfully say, broken link building should be scaled. And scaling means necessarily that you need to go fast, even if you do personalise your outreach e-mail and such. Hence, you don’t have the time to look at each and every site extensively.

    If you combine this with the fact that more and more webmasters, bloggers, etc. are aware of the broken link building tactic and will spot it as linkbuilding and not genuine help, the danger is real that you might spoil potential relationships.

    Later you might find another way to approach the same website owner in a more quality oriented way, and by that time the person will remember you as broken link builder.

    Any tip how one can prevent this problem?

    thanks for your insights

    Frank

    • Well you shouldn’t be broken link building just to build links. If you are creating pages that benefit their readers it shouldn’t ruin any relationships… it is actually helping them out.

      What you mentioned becomes an issue only when people are creating shitty pages just for links.

  41. Neil,

    Your blog posts are very, very informative and despite many, I try to study all of them. Problem which I have is at which trees to look, when I am in forest?
    Or otherwise:

    When starting, what technologies to implement first, as they have biggest importance.

    Did you ever wrote about those?

  42. Hey Neil,

    Good stuff as always… I haven’t seen any updates on your Health blog. Maybe I just missed it. I’ll keep an eye out for it.

    Thanks!

  43. Charonda Edwards :

    I enjoyed reading your guide for locating and building broken links. I look forward to trying these methods and tools. This is very useful information. I wonder if you make an comment on the blog or domain article that links to your website at the time the link is added, will it make a difference in how people respond to your email regarding the broken links?

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge!

    • Charonda, sometimes it does. Basically engagement is an important metric and one thing we should do to help others out.

  44. Hello Neil Great Job

    This is probably the best step by step guide I’ever seen on Broken link building

    PS. I’m going to HAVE to share this post!

    Thank You

  45. Heyy.,I want to say that this method is very much safe from any of the future Google updates. Although the chances to get links from these sites are medium, but if you may get a few of them they will benefit you a lot.I tried to send sample test mail and this works very nice. I’ll definitely try these techniques on my site.Interesting & useful guide of modern backlinks tactics Neil Patel. I will surely try these.
    Appreciated your feedback on that extension.

  46. Again good article Neil. You are the best in link building business. I have read your full article now i am going to implement it wish me good luck

  47. I didn’t know the broken link strategy to build backlinks. But I wonder, why they will link to me, in spite, they will just redirect those links to some other URL of their website.

  48. Manjurul Islam :

    Hello Neil,

    Nutrients because always… We haven’t observed any kind of improvements in your Wellness weblog. Perhaps I simply skipped this. I’ll look out for this.

    Many thanks!

  49. Manjurul Islam :

    Hello Neil Brother! A person usually reveal helpful info together with your site visitors right here. Together with your each and every brand new post, all of us reach discover brand new points. I wish to state this technique is extremely a lot secure through the long term Search engines improvements. Even though probabilities to obtain hyperlinks through these types of websites tend to be moderate, however in the event that you might get those hateful pounds they’ll advantage a great deal.

  50. Shivam Mishra :

    Hey Neil,

    I’ve been following the broken link building since a while and has got really great results. Ranked on few competitive terms using that by snatching competitor’s broken backlinks.

    Thanks for this guide, was helpful and informative.

  51. Hello Neil, thanks for publishing such great content. Have been following your guide since long and I am definitely going to try this broken link building method for my eCommerce site. Lets see how it goes.

    Thanks alot.

  52. Hello Neil.
    Thanks for sharing this article – very interesting and useful reading!

  53. Neil,
    It is kind of funny as I just went through my website today doing a broken link search, followed with sending out emails to webmasters there after.
    Of course I know you and Brian from elsewhere and have read these techniques before, as well as implemented them myself. I know these methods work and work well.
    Thumbs up!

  54. Thanks to share this blog…

  55. Great article about broken link building this is very useful for me. Thanks

  56. I got pretty help from this blog. Many Many thanks !

  57. Buy links or build a PBN?

  58. I totally agree with you, we should do good and it will come back almost every blog owner to be grateful to you if you indicate to him on the broken link, thanks for the good article

  59. @Niel Patel

    Now i know about modern link building.This post holds valuable information for me.
    I am gonna using your guidance for link building.

    Regards
    Priyanka

  60. This stuff is very powerful, Neil I honestly think that you’re the best authority guy in SEO / linkbuilding !

    I’ve discovered this technique from Brian Dean, but this is much more scaled and will get better results than wasting tons of time reaching out to the webmasters one by one.

    All the best !

  61. Good article Neil. I’ve been successfully doing 404 reclamation for my clients with extreme success for years and one thing I’ve noticed is that not all 404 rec opportunities will provide SEO value. I think it’s important to let your readers know that if there’s an overwhelming number of broken links on a page you’re targeting, it may not be worth the effort unless you can get the WM to fix all the broken links. As we know, a good link on a page full of broken links wont help since Google probably isn’t assigning much value to that page because it is such a wreck.

    What do you think?

  62. Christoph C. Cemper :

    Not sure if you’ve heard of the Link Juice Recovery Tool from LinkResearchTools already, but it can also find broken pages on a domain with backlinks related to it. Consequently, you can easily recover some Link Juice with this tool.

    Let me know and I’ll set you up for an account ASAP.

    Since you are “Kind of a Big Deal” I would more than appreciate if you could take a look at our next big thing:
    http://www.linkresearchtools.com/news/google-toolbar-pagerank-replacement/

    This is a toolbar I created recently where you can get the quality of a Page/Domain at one sight directly in the browser, which incidentally can be handy for link building and/or while purchasing domains.

    Please take a look and let me know how you like it. I would appreciate your feedback.
    FYI – this is all based on the LRT Power*Trust metric that we’ve been using to identify spammy and great links in LinkResearchTools and Link Detox since 2012 and the free browser extension was just recently launched.

    Would appreciate getting your opinion on it Neil!

    Cheers, Christoph

    • I will have to check out the tool.

      As for the toolbar, I am on my ipad… but I will get to it when I have my laptop. But based on the copy on the landing page, it looks great so far. Wish there were screenshots on the landing page.

  63. I´ve read the post many times and I´m going to start this link building tactic. A little bit pissed with all those all fashion PBNs and blogs 2.0 (which they actually work) but for trying something new.

    Regards from Spain.

  64. Broken third party referencing is surely one methodology. However there are much quicker approaches to assemble activity. I know you and Brian Dean are enormous devotees of this methodology however I think that its lumbering and tedious. The objective of SEO is activity, on the off chance that you can get that movement without focusing about the rankings (it is greatly simple to get backlinks of Wikipedia for case that, nofollow or not, drive gigantic volumes of movement) then why try experiencing this effort?

    Likewise, Neil. I think your full screen Facebook select in that you’ve as of late added to your online journal is likely pretty much the most irritating thing I’ve ever seen.

    • There are many methodologies out there, this just happens to be one my personal favorites. I agree that it can be lumbering and tedious, but once you start coming across and develop quality links, the work doesn’t bother you. At least that is how it is for me.

  65. Jamie Costello :

    If you guys are interested I wrote a free tool for finding broken links. You can enter a list of websites to crawl or it will scrape sites from Bing depending on your search terms. 100% full and free, enjoy 🙂

    http://www.supagrowth.com/Broken-Backlink-Finder

  66. This really great article about the broken link building. Now i know how to do broken link building and i will try this

    Regards
    Linda

  67. Sharif Sayfulloev :

    I still have some concerns on this technique for e-commerce websites.

    Even If I will fix some broken link from a review for a similar product on a blog, there is a chance that Google will penalize that blog for having “paid review link”. I mean do follow link here.

    For nofollows that is not a problem.

  68. Shailesh Sharma :

    I started blogging only few days ago and wasn’t aware of this method of link building until i read this article. Thanks for this informative article. I am surely gonna give it a try.

  69. Hanuman Chalisa :

    Worth sharing, and needs to bookmark it for future planning towards link building ;).

    Thanks for sharing

  70. Peter S. Juul - SEO Manager :

    Hi Neil,

    I have been using Ahrefs to do broken linkbuilding and the SEO´s best friend: Excel to keep track of the linkbuilding.

    The free tool “check my links” are of great use, and is in now a part of my link building routine.

    Awesome reading and as always great info – Thanks Neil!

    Regards Peter Sidenius Juul

  71. Thanks Neil, I love your content!

  72. Jens Lundgren :

    Cool stuff right there. 🙂

  73. Hi,

    I was trying broken link building technique, but some tool like check my links is not showing right result.

  74. Jan-Henk Gerritsen :

    Great guide as always! I have one tip to add:

    Instead of using Scrapebox you can also use the Google Chrome Scraper extension (https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/scraper/mbigbapnjcgaffohmbkdlecaccepngjd?hl=en) to get the links from a Google results page. You can get 100 at a time if you change your search settings. This is a good alternative for people that don’t want to spend the money on Scrapebox.

    One drawback is that it requires some technical knowledge, since you have to specify an Xpath selector to specify the links that should be scraped. At this moment you can use //h3[@class=’r’]/a as your Xpath selector, but if Google changes the HTML structure of the results page this selector probably won’t work anymore.

  75. Gonçalo Costa :

    XENU is an awesome tool. We use it extensively. Highly recommend it. Thanks for the post Neil 🙂

  76. Great article. I’ve tried broken link building but because it takes so long, we gave up. I know how important it is and have to get back to doing it.

  77. Hai, Neil Patel First of all I want appreciate for great efforts about broken link buliding, from my opinion Links are the key to Success nd for failure.Quality backlinks are the backbone of any successful blogger. Doesn’t matter how good your content you have, or how many hours you spend your time to produce the content, if you are not making relevant backlinks, there is no worth of your content.Thank’s.

  78. We use anchor text(My company brand name) in footer for all websites(Which we designed as we are web design company). Is it write way to get backlinks or spammy?

  79. Learnt a lot from your article. I will try broken backlink for my website.

  80. Cynthia Marie Smith :

    This is truly a fantastic article. Love reading your articles. This is something I’d like to implement in the future, but I’m not convinced the ROI is substantial.

  81. Karim Mohammadi :

    It was amazing article, man! Thank for sharing the knowledge.

  82. Awesome thing, But can we buy expired domain with good backlinks and redirect 301 to our main website?

    Can i get penalized by this way?

  83. Indian bloggers :

    Worth sharing! Will give a try on building links using Broken link Building technique

  84. always i used to read smaller articles or reviews which also clear their motive,
    and that is also happening with this piece of writing which I am reading at this time.

  85. It’s a creative way of link building. I am lagging to contact others by email <3
    Thank you Neil.

  86. Konstantine Gegeshidze :

    Hey Neil, what sources are you using additionally for finding webmasters contact info?

    Thanks
    Konstantine

  87. Thx Neil, yours articles are the best.

  88. Truly actionable tips, as i am new blogger. Thanks

  89. Learn a lots from this article. I will try broken backlink for my site.

  90. Thank you very much Neil. This is a very informative post particularly for a newbie like me. I will definitely use this steps to build links for my blogging site http://floralbeautyspot.com/. Thanks once again and continue doing your thing. Sharing is caring 😉

  91. paras dhankecha :

    Thank u nail, i have read this post 3 times and finally i understand what u want to tell or what is broken link building, but i think that how to find contact of admin of the broken linked sites my website at http://www.earnonblog.com

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