If you run a website, the odds are good that you spend a lot of time thinking about attracting more visitors. Web traffic usually correlates directly with your bottom line, so that’s understandable.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the primary way most site owners boost the number of hits their sites receive. Broken link building is an underutilized and often misunderstood aspect of SEO—and, with the correct guidance, it could help you transform your web presence.
Defining Broken Link Building
You may have seen an advertisement for a broken link building provider. If all you have to go off is the name, that’s not an appealing-sounding service. The last thing anyone with a website wants is more broken links.
Fortunately, broken link building is the opposite of what you might think. Whether you employ a provider or a more DIY strategy, broken link building refers to finding broken links, recreating the content they led to, and then having websites link to your content instead.
That seems simple enough, right? You receive all-important backlinks to boost your position in the search engine results pages, and the other website owner can replace a useless broken link. Everybody wins.
Why Don’t More People Take Advantage of Broken Link Building?
Sadly, most people who attempt broken link building don’t see their desired results. Conversion rates tend to be low, with Ahrefs estimating that a 5 to 10 percent conversion rate is fantastic.
Now, recreating high-quality, helpful content is a lot of effort. Even if you put in the work to ensure it’s the best that it possibly can be, it’s still overwhelmingly likely that you’d receive a refusal from a site owner, and that’s if you receive a response at all.
If all you’ve got is one site with a broken link that you stumbled across by accident, you don’t need to do an in-depth cost-benefit analysis to realize that broken link building isn’t worth it.
So, how do you change the odds to be in your favor?
Find Broken Links
The first step in successful broken link building is locating broken links. Finding the links is the most challenging part. It’s only partially automatable, and therefore potentially quite time-consuming.
First, make a list of popular sites in your niche. Marketing, lifestyle, entertainment—whatever the case may be. There’s no right answer to how many sites should be on your list, but more sites mean more options later on.
When you have your list, you’re going to plug the URL for each site’s homepage into a broken link checker, ensuring that the tool is also looking at the site’s subdomains. Now, you have a list of broken links whose content you could potentially recreate and replace.
Discover Sites That Are Using Broken Links
Once you’ve located a broken link, you can run it through the link analysis tool of your choice. Ahrefs and Moz are great options, although you may have to create an account, and most of the more advanced functions aren’t free. These tools will give you a list of every site that currently backlinks to the broken link in question.
The number of backlinks a broken link needs to have to make it worth attempting to replace is subjective. The more there are, the more likely it is that a site owner will take you up on your offer to use your link instead.
Don’t be discouraged by a low initial conversion rate. Your SEO efforts will compound, with small successes leading to larger ones.
For example, let’s say that only one website out of the 100 that you contact uses your link as a replacement. That’s one more backlink you didn’t have before and still a boost to your own site’s domain authority.
Your web traffic might increase, and the next time you create a replacement for a broken link, maybe two websites out of 100 will take you up on your offer. It’s the snowball effect in action.
Create New Content and Contact Site Owners
Once you’ve identified the links you want to replace, you can create the necessary content and post it to your website. Always follow the current best practices for content creation and SEO when you do so to improve your chances of successful broken link building.
The final step is to contact the websites you previously identified as using a broken link. As you’re likely already aware, broken links can cause a wide range of problems for a website. In addition to being inconvenient for visitors wishing to follow them, too many broken links may negatively influence a site’s position on a search engine results page.
You’re providing a service by identifying and offering a replacement for a broken link. Everyone you contact will be interested in won’t be a service, but some website owners will be.
With the right tools and some creativity, you can make broken link building work for you.