Broken link building is a popular link building strategies out there and there’s a good reason for it. Similar to guest posting, with it you’ll be able to secure high-quality links from authoritative websites, in exchange for a strong piece of content.

So, today we’re going to focus on this awesome tactic, discuss its pros and cons, and even dive into a step-by-step guide for carrying out your own broken link building campaign, along with a few tips and tricks.

But first, let’s get the initial question out of the way.

What is Broken Link Building?

In short, it is the process of acquiring links by finding resources with dead links and offering them your own content instead of the one they originally linked to.

There are tons of reasons why a link would get deleted. Pages get edited, moved, URLs get changed, domains expire, and it happens pretty much constantly. So, why not take advantage of it?

The more backlinks a website has, the bigger the percentage of dead ones is going to be. You just need to know how to look for them.

The great thing about broken link building is that the conversion rate is higher than some other link building techniques. After all, nobody wants dead links on their site (since they hurt both SEO and the user experience), and if somebody was nice enough to point a dead link out, and offer a good replacement article to plug that hole, there are literally zero reasons to turn down that offer.

The not-so-great thing about broken link building is the fact that you will likely need to produce a new article for each prospect. That is, of course, unless you find a dead resource that a lot of other websites used to point it. That it’s a jackpot, pretty much.

Broken Link Building Pros and Cons

And even though broken link building might be more effective, that doesn’t mean it’s the ultimate link building strategy out there, and like everything, has its own disadvantages.

Let’s start with the pros first, though.

Pros:

  • High-quality backlinks from relevant, authoritative websites.
  • High conversion rate.
  • Lots of link building opportunities that are relatively easy to find.
  • Quite effective as a strategy.
  • The possibility of acquiring multiple links with a single piece of content.

Cons:

  • Producing new content solely for building links can be quite time-consuming.
  • Sometimes the prospects will not reach back to you after they’ve replaced the link.

So, as you can see, the benefits greatly outweigh the disadvantages, so this strategy is extremely viable. Anyhow, let’s take a closer look at how to actually run a broken link building campaign of your own.

How to Do Broken Link Building

If you have any previous experience with link building, you already know what the first step is going to be.

Finding Broken Link Building Opportunities

Like any link building campaign, the first step to this one is to fill up your prospect list. But, unlike, say resource page link building or guest posting, finding them is not quite as simple as typing your keyword in Google and adding “resource pages” or “guest post”.

Although, resource pages can make pretty good link building prospects for this strategy as well and you shouldn’t ignore them. In fact, here’ are some search operators that can help. Find the operator you like and then check each page in the results for broken links.

“keyword”+”top 10 internet resources”+&num=100
“keyword”+\”top 10 online resources\”+&num=100
“keyword”+”top 10 sites”+&num=100
“keyword”+”top resources”+&num=100
“keyword”+”top sites”+&num=100
“keyword”+”favorite articles”+&num=100
“keyword”+”favorite links”+&num=100
“keyword”+”favorite resources”+&num=100
“keyword”+”favorite sites”+&num=100
“keyword”+”favorite tools”+&num=100
“keyword”+”favorite websites”+&num=100
“keyword”+”guide”+&num=100
“keyword”+Broken Link Building+&num=100
“keyword”+”recommended articles”+&num=100
“keyword”+”recommended links”+&num=100
“keyword”+”recommended resources”+&num=100
“keyword”+”recommended sites”+&num=100
“keyword”+”recommended tools”+&num=100
“keyword”+”recommended websites”+&num=100
“keyword”+”round up”+&num=100
“keyword”+”round up” + intitle:weekly/daily/monthly+&num=100
“keyword”+”top 10 articles”+&num=100
“keyword”+”top 10 resources”+&num=100
“keyword”+”top 10 tools”+&num=100
“keyword”+”top 10 web resources”+&num=100
“keyword”+”top 10 websites”+&num=100
“keyword”+”top articles”+&num=100
“keyword”+”useful articles”+&num=100
“keyword”+”useful links”+&num=100
“keyword”+”useful resources”+&num=100
“keyword”+”useful sites”+&num=100
“keyword”+”useful tools”+&num=100
“keyword”+”useful websites”+&num=100
“keyword”+”interesting articles”+&num=100
“keyword”+”interesting links”+&num=100
“keyword”+”interesting resources”+&num=100
“keyword”+”interesting sites”+&num=100
“keyword”+”interesting tools”+&num=100
“keyword”+”interesting websites”+&num=100
“keyword”+”suggested articles”+&num=100
“keyword”+”suggested links”+&num=100
“keyword”+”suggested resources”+&num=100
“keyword”+”suggested sites”+&num=100
“keyword”+”suggested tools”+&num=100
“keyword”+”suggested websites”+&num=100
“keyword”+”top internet resources”+&num=100
“keyword”+”top tools”+&num=100
“keyword”+”top web resources”+&num=100
“keyword”+”top websites”+&num=100
“keyword”+intitle:”round up”+&num=100
“keyword”+intitle:list+&num=100

So, how do you actually find sites with broken links? Do you just manually check each one? Well, nobody’s stopping you, but there’s a much better way. There exists a large variety of backlink checking tools and software, and you’re going to need its help.

For now, I’m going to focus on one way of finding broken link building prospects, and discuss some other ways of doing it later, just not to overcomplicate this step-by-step part.

Take a look at the top-performing websites in your niche. Those are the ones that have the most backlinks built already. And the more live links a site has, the more dead ones are going to appear over time. So, those should be in the first round of your link building prospects.

Useful Tools for Finding Broken Links

  • The Ahrefs backlink checker is perfect for quickly getting an overview of the backlink profile of absolutely any resource. It also reveals all dead links, which is exactly what you’re going to be on the lookout for.
  • Dead link checker was built specifically for this purpose: it will scan your, and any other website just in order to reveal its dead links. And it’s 100% free!
  • Expireddomains.net is a daily-updated database of expired domains all across the Internet. Why would you need to know about expired domains? Because after a site dies, all of its links remain, but in 404 form. That’s just prime link building real estate if you can replicate the content!

Finding Your Prospects’ Contact Emails (and Some Helpful Tools for It)

After you’ve established your list of prospects, it’s time to start searching for their contact emails. Preferably, the person’s who is responsible for links and not just some generic “info @ domain.com”.

Sometimes, you will be able to find those down in the site’s footer or on their Contact page, but a lot of the time you will need to do some good searching to get actual results.

Luckily, you don’t need to do it manually, and there are some pretty awesome tools designed to help you out with this somewhat tedious task.

  • Hunter.io is one of the tools I can’t recommend enough. What it does is reveals all emails related to the domain you feed into its search bar. Yep, absolutely all company emails, at a click of a button. But, as good as it is, no email scraping tool is perfect and for every 9 found emails you’re going to have to search for the 10th one elsewhere.
  • This is where the Email Permutator comes in. Now, this one doesn’t actually do any searching for you. Instead, it permutates all possible email combinations if you know your prospect’s name and domain. After it gives you the list of emails, it’s very likely that one of them is going to be their actual address. To check which one it is, you just need to paste emails into Gmail until one lights up with an account.

Create Content to Plug the Hole Created by the Dead Link

This is probably the hardest and most time-consuming part of the entire campaign. Look at what kind of content the site used to link to, and do your best to replicate it.

Pro tip: if you want, you can actually try to snatch links that aren’t even broken by producing content that is longer, better, and more informative than the one linked to (but that’s a slightly different strategy).

Make sure it is actually relevant and fits in the place of the old link organically. By offering pointing out a dead link and offering a good piece of content to replace it, you’re offering the site owner an extremely high amount of value, so don’t waste it away by sending irrelevant articles on entirely different topics.

Yes, writing articles for each backlink is extremely time-consuming, but there is a way to use just one article for multiple links. If you find an expired domain as I mentioned earlier, and take a look at the links pointing to it, you’re likely to find some links to the same page. Write a replacement article and send it out to all of the sites that link to it to kill a whole bunch of birds with one stone.

We actually have a whole article dedicated solely to how to write outreach-worthy content and get more links out of it.

Writing Your Outreach Pitch

At this point, you’re almost ready to start sending out your outreach pitches. You can use a template to speed things up a little, but every message you send should be customized enough so that your prospect never even realizes you used a template in the first place.

There are some general rules that you should follow when crafting your pitches. The first one is rather obvious: be polite, and at least take the time to start your email off with your prospect’s first name instead of “Dear Sir” or something like that. If you go with the latter, there’s almost a 100% chance of your pitch ending up in the trash bin.

Be clear as to who you are, and why you’re actually messaging them. Be sure to pinpoint the exact location of the broken link you’re trying to replace, maybe even add a screenshot.

When offering your content, be sure to explain why you think your content would be a good replacement for the dead link, and exactly what kind of value it will bring to your prospects’ audience. Is it topically relevant? Perhaps, you’ve managed to write an even better, more informative article than the one they used to link to?

If you’re having trouble with any stage of the outreach process, you can check out our blogger outreach companies article to see a vetted list of agencies that do real outreach.

If you would like to get more in-depth into how to write an email outreach pitch that gets approved, we have a full guide on it as well.

Outreach Email Templates

I have picked some top-tier outreach email templates for broken link building from our collection of 80+ cold email outreach templates.

You can grab and use them if you want, but remember about customization! If the prospect notices that the email you send them came from a template, they will get a sense that they’re not the only one you sent it to, which makes you look spammy. And that’s exactly the opposite of how you want to be viewed.

Remember the pitch crafting rules and deliver actual value to your prospects.

Template 1

Hello {{prospect.first_name}},

I was looking for some good data on {{topic}} and stumbled upon your {{article name}}.

I found what I was looking for, however, I noticed that the link directing to the {{site name with 404 error}} leads to a 404.

{{broken link URL}}

I feel like one of my own posts on {{topic}} would be a great addition to your page and a good replacement for the broken link. {{elaborate why}}.

{{Your post’s URL}}

Let me know if there’s anything else I can help you with.

Thanks {{prospect.first_name}},

{{inbox.name}}

Template 2

Hello {{prospect.first_name}},

I was just reading your post about {{topic}} and noticed you linked to {{site name with 404 error}}.

It looks like {{competing website’s name}} have moved or deleted that page, so when I try to follow the link, it leads to a 404 error. I was wondering whether it would be possible to replace the broken link with a working link to my own article.

I did some research on {{topic}} and found out that {{your article’s summary}}.

You can find it here: {{Your post’s URL}}.

I feel like my post would fit right in and your readers would find it interesting, because {{elaborate why}}.

Let me know what you think,

{{inbox.name}}

Template 3

Hey {{prospect.first_name}},

I was digging around for information on {{topic}} today and came across your post: {{link to their post}}

This is great! Lots of good advice. I even {{implemented something, learned something}}.

However, I did find some broken links there. Let me know if you’d like me to send you the list I made.

Cheers,

{{inbox.signature}}

Template 4

Hey {{prospect.first_name}},

I was researching {{topic}} for my next {{blog post, presentation, etc.}} and stumbled on your post:

{{post title + hyperlinked}}.

This was awesome. Seriously, it helped me {{insert pain point that was solved}}.

Great work.

However, I did notice that a few links weren’t working. I went to click on one for more contextual info, and it gave me a 404.

Let me know if you’d like me to send you the exact details on that.

Best,

{{inbox.name}}

Template 5

Hey {{prospect.first_name}},

1. I was looking for a few resources on momentum trading and I came across your very informative guide: {{post title + hyperlinked}}
2. I noticed that one of the resources you mentioned on online brokerage comparisons no longer exists.

I recently created an extensively researched guide on how to choose the right online brokerage for you: {{post title + hyperlinked}}

Considering trade volume, trade frequency, invested amount and other key factors, it might make a good addition to your article.

Either way, keep up your insightful articles – Google sure loves those 10 000+ word tomes.

{{inbox.name}}

Template 6

Hello,

I’m a licensed {{industry specialist}} and a {{topic}} writer – I recently visited your site while researching for an article I’m working on…

This is a note for your webmaster, as I found a dead resource on your site that visitors like me surely miss. It’s on this page: {{post title + hyperlinked}}

I got an error message when I tried to click on this site: {{dead URL}}

It looks like they made a change to their home page but didn’t update it… anyhow, the correct link is here: {{working link}}

And while you’re updating your page, I wondered if you’d be open to including some further resources that could help people struggling with similar issues.

{{Compelling Content Title + link}}

{{Compelling Content Title 2 + link}}

Thanks for your help and for providing great resources!

Best,

{{inbox.name}}

Template 7

Hey {{prospect.first_name}},

Are you still updating {{prospect.domain_name}}? I found a broken link I’d like to point out.

{{inbox.name}}

Sending Out Your Pitches

Laid out a structure for your emails? Good! Send them out. You can do it the old-fashioned way, manually, but if you have hundreds of prospects even a dedicated email address can get a bit messy.

There’s actually a variety of marketing automation software that can speed up the outreach process, send follow-ups on its own, and help you track each conversation in an intuitive and manageable interface, including our own!

Following up

Regardless of whether you got a reply or not it is a good practice to follow-up after your initial email.

If the prospect didn’t answer, wait for 2-3 business days, and re-send your original message. You can start it with “did I get the right person?” or something similar, but that’s entirely optional.

If you did get a response or even got your link, it’s a good idea to follow-up with at least a simple “Thank you”. Beyond that, it is generally a good idea to stay in touch with your prospects, especially those that are closely related to your niche since that can open up a lot of other link building, and joint project opportunities in the future.

Broken Link Building No-Nos

This one is rather obvious, but you should focus on only topically-relevant websites. Don’t offer your content if it doesn’t fit in with your prospect’s theme and doesn’t replace the resource they originally linked to perfectly, if not better.

Make sure you find the right person to contact and avoid “info @ domain.com” as much as you can. If you’re lucky, they will actually direct you to the person you need, but it can take them a couple days, if at all.

Choose your prospects well, and don’t go for low-hanging fruit, or websites that link to a bunch of unrelated websites. Also, avoid bookmarking sites since those fall into the category of link schemes.

On the other hand, resource pages are great to build links on, if they actually gather niche-specific pages to create a huge well of information.

And, finally, DON’T be afraid to follow-up. Bloggers are busy people with hundreds of emails bombarding their inboxes every day, and it’s easy for a message to get buried underneath other pitches, offers etc.

Conclusion

Broken link building is a very powerful strategy that can yield amazing results if you put your mind to it. Broken links aren’t hard to come by on the Internet, and there’s a chance to get multiple prospects from just a single dead link, so it’s quite awesome in that regard.

Its only real downside is the fact that you need to create new, unique content per each broken link, and that can take quite a while.

Ajay Paghdal
Outreach Labs Founder
đź•’ 11 mins read
Aug 28, 2023

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Article by
Ajay Paghdal
Outreach Labs Founder
Ajay enjoys tinkering with new link building strategies, building teams and processes around it and in general, has enjoyed being a part of the industry for the past decade.

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