The Advanced Guide to Link Building

Written by Neil Patel & Brian Dean

The Advanced Guide to Link Building Download PDF

Black Belt Broken Link Building

Like relationship building, broken link building is an old school strategy that was largely neglected during the reign of backlink webspam. Now that more and more SEOs are turning to white hat link building strategies, broken link building has undergone a bit of renaissance. In this chapter, I'm going to show you some shortcuts to help you find hidden broken link building opportunities and convert more of your outreach emails into backlinks.

Find Pages With Dead Links

There are a few ways to identify relevant, authoritative pages that have broken links. But before we get into that we need to download a few tools to help us quickly ID dead links.

Domain Hunter Plus

First, you'll need to download Domain Hunter Plus for Google Chrome. This tool quickly checks for dead links on a page.

Head to Click the "Download" button. And follow the steps to install the extension.

Now when you come across a page, hit the green crosshair button and it will automatically check for broken links (and whether any of the sites linked to on the page are available for registration).


This is another time-saving tool (more info on this tool can be found in the chapter on Relationship Link Building). This tool will help you quickly find contact information.

Search Strings

There are literally hundreds of search strings you can use to find broken link building targets. In general, you're looking for relevant pages that tend to simply have a lot of outbound links.

Here are some search strings to get you started:

  • keyword + "resources"
  • keyword + intitle:resources
  • keyword + "links"
  • keyword + "recommended sites"
  • keyword + "related links"

Find a page that looks like it has a lot of links on it.

Set Domain Hunter Plus to work.

When it's done you'll have a list of all the dead links. Export this data to Excel.

Now you'll have a list that you can use to send the site’s webmaster.

Finally, find the site contact by running the Link Buzzmarker tool.

Dated-Based Searches

One little-discussed way to find pages with broken links is to use date-based searches. In general, older pages tend to have more broken links.

Just use a search string in Google. When you get your results, hit the "Search tools" button:

Choose a date range that starts a few years ago and only shows results at least a year old.

Bulk Broken Link Checking

Once you have a handle on how the process works, it's time to step things up and scrape hundreds of pages and broken links at a time.

You'll need two tools to make this work.

This is how you'll be able to check hundreds of pages at a time. Head to and download the software:

Simple Google Results

This is a bookmarklet that displays Google's results in format that can be easily opened in Excel or a text document.

Go to and drag the green button to your Firefox bookmarks toolbar.

  1. Expand Google Search Results

    You want to analyze at least 50 results at a time. To do that, put your search string into Google and hit the little gear button.

    Turn off Google Instant results.

    Set the results per page to 100.

    Hit save.

  2. Simple Google Results

    Now that you're rocking 50-100 results per page, it's time to scrape them.

    Click the Simple Google Results bookmarklet.

    And the program will open up a tab with the scraped results.

    Scroll to the bottom of the page and copy the "Plain listing" results.

  3. Organize Your List

    Paste into the Virante duplicate entry deleter ( This tool deletes any duplicate URLs.

    Click "Submit Your Keywords".

    Copy and paste this clean list into a Notepad file.

    And save it as a .txt file.

  4. Analyze Your List

    Open up Xenu Link Sleuth. First, go to Options Preferences. Set the maximum depth to "1." This tells Xenu to only check links on the pages you upload to it.

    Under the "Report" area, uncheck everything except "Broken Links, Ordered by Page."

    Hit "OK"

    Now open up Xenu Link Sleuth. Go to File Check URL List.

    And open up the .txt file you just saved.

    Give the program a while to check all those links. When it's done it will ask if you want a report. Click "Yes"

    The report will open in HTML as a new tab in your browser.

    Scroll down to the "Broken links, ordered by page:" section.

    There you'll see all of the broken links, organized by page. To save this data, copy the information.

    And paste it into Excel.

    Now you'll have a list of up to 100 pages with broken links.

Broken Link Index

This tool automatically scrapes the web for broken links. Amazingly, you can search their database for free.

First, go to Enter a keyword that relates to your niche (it's best to pick something somewhat broad).

And sort by http status code.

You want to look pages with 403 and 404 status codes.

Now click the OSE link to see the page's stats in Open Site Explorer.

Choose "Only External" from the dropdown menu.

And click "Filter".

This shows you the pages linking to this broken page. Now it's a matter of reaching out to each site owner to give them a heads up about their broken link.

Analyze Entire Domains

If you have a list of authority domains in your niche that you've always dreamed of getting a link from, broken links can make your dreams come true. The best way to look for broken links on a specific domain is to use the Free Broken Link Checker

Head to the site and enter the homepage URL of the site you want to get a link from. Hit "Find Broken Links." (It can take a while to scan large sites).

The program will give you a list of broken links, along with the URL the link appears on and the type of error.

Save these broken links somewhere because next you're going to reach out to the site owner and (finally) get a link!

Outreach Time!

Outreach is the most important part of broken link building. No site owner it going to reward you with a backlink if you send them a generic email template. The key to any link building outreach campaign is personalized scale. Depending on your niche and approach, you may want to adopt one or a mix of email templates (which you can track using Yesware). However, you want to include as much personalized information as possible within those templates.

Get Organized

You want to keep track of the people you contact. That way, you can follow up with people that ignored you with a friendly "reminder" email. To keep track, you can use a program like BuzzStream or Excel. Considering we aren't going to be "building relationships" with most of our targets, let's just use Excel.

First, create a spreadsheet that includes the name, URL, contact info (or contact us page), and a few broken links for the sites you analyzed:

Canned Responses

I'm going to hook you up with a few proven, tested email templates. Instead of copying and pasting them every time you send out an email, you can use Gmail's Canned Response to speed up the process.

First, open up Gmail. Hit the gear button and choose "settings"

Hit the "labs" tab.

Scroll down to "Canned Responses".

And choose "Enable":

Scroll to the bottom and hit "Save Changes".

Compose a new email and hit the "Canned Responses" tab.

Choose "New Canned Response".

And give it a name (you can copy the names of the templates below):

Type the template you'd like to use into the body of the email.

Click the "Canned Responses" tab again. This time, choose the name you gave your canned response under the "save" category:

Now, when you compose a new email, just choose your canned response.

And your response will appear instantly!

Use Yesware

If you want to track which email subject lines get you the best open rate, Yesware works like a charm.

First, head over to and hit the giant "Yes, Add Yesware to Gmail" button.

And allow the software to install on your browser.

Follow the prompts to login to your Gmail account.

And grant it access to Gmail.

Now compose a new email. Opt to have click tracking enabled.

When you test different email subject lines over time you can measure the open rate differences and apply them to future outreach campaigns.

Here you're pretending that you're a random web surfer that happened to find some broken links.... and "suggesting" one of your favorite resources as a potential replacement.

Subject: Re: problem with (their site)

Hey (first name),

I was checking out (their site) today and noticed that a few links weren't working on

this page: (page with broken links)

These two pages that you linked to don't seem to exist anymore:

(broken link #1)

(broken link #2)

If you need a replacement resource, I saw this post last week and thought it was awesome:

(your page).

Hope that helps and keep up the awesome work with the blog!


(anything but your real name)

This is where you reach out as another site owner that loves the site. You're looking to help your idol and get them to consider linking to you.

Subject: Question about (their site)

Hey (first name),

Just wanted to start off saying that I love (and I mean love!) (their site).

In fact, I spent my afternoon yesterday combing through a few of your classic articles.

This one was particularly amazing: (article link).

One thing, though: a link in the post wasn't working. Looks like the site moved.

No biggie, just wanted to let you know.

Actually, I just posted an article that covers the same topic (article link).

As a huge fan I'd be honored if you'd consider replacing the bad link with a link to my content.

If not, it's cool. I'll still read your stuff!


(your name)

This is a two-part sequence: First, you email them to let them know about broken links without giving them any specifics. Then you follow up with the broken links…and your replacement link.

Subject: Broken links at (their site)

Hey there,

I just noticed a few broken links at (their site).

I'm not sure if this is the right person to ask, but I thought it was worth a shot.



Subject: Broken links at (their site)

Hi again,

No problem. Here are the broken links that I found:

(broken link #1)

(broken link #2)

It'd be great if you would consider replacing one of the links to a link to this page on my site:

I've got great feedback on it and I think it would be a perfect replacement for those broken links.


(your name)

This is best for sites that rock the 1997 GeoCities look. Because the response rate is so low, this email is simply intended to see if there's a warm body running the site. If so, you can spend time pitching them.

Subject: Is (theirsite) still active?


I stumbled across your today and found some great info (and a few broken links).

Just checking to see if you still update the site.



Create New (and Improved) Content

In most cases, you'll want to offer the webmaster some of your best content as a replacement. The closer your content is to the broken link's content, the better. But if there's a page you're dying to get a link from, you can sometimes create a new and improved version of the missing page. This makes getting a link much easier.

Wayback Machine

First, find a broken link.

Head to (The Wayback Machine). Plug the missing page's URL into the Wayback Machine. And hit "Take Me Back".

Click on a recent capture.

And you'll see the content of the page.

Now create a post that covers the same angle (and improves upon it). When you let the site owner know that you have a piece of content that's even better than the one he or she was linking to (and doesn't exist anymore), you're almost guaranteed to get the link.

Nice! You're a broken link building ninja!

Now it's time to rock and roll with one of the most powerful link building tools on the planet: ScrapeBox. If you're ready, head on over to Chapter 8: Advanced ScrapeBox Link Building.