Broken Link Building Step-by-Step Guide (Using Free Tools!)

February 14, 2017

To get more patients in the door, you need high search engine rankings so prospective patients can find you more easily. A huge ranking factor is the number of backlinks you have and the quality of those backlinks. One of the most popular and effective link-building tactics is broken link building. In a nutshell, you find dead links on relevant websites and suggest your own website as a replacement. This way you’re not only receiving a quality link, but you’re also improving the internet by cleaning up link rot and contributing quality content. The downsides of broken link building are that it’s a time-consuming process and you’re not guaranteed a link. Here’s how to do it using free tools only:

1. Find Broken Links

To find broken link opportunities, we perform a Google search to find relevant pages we want a link from.

First, you need to choose a good keyword or keyword phrase. The keyword must be relevant to your industry (“dermatology”) or your audience (“NYC resources”) but still broad (“dermatologists in NYC” is too specific).

Pair these keywords with prospecting search phrases, such as “intitle:resources” or “inurl:links”. For more ideas, check out Moz’s list of prospecting phrases.

Additional Search Tips:

  • Use “keyword -inurl:.pdf” to find .edu links excluding pdf files
  • Use the minus sign (-) to exclude certain results (example: “-.pdf”, “”, etc.)

Set your search settings to 100 results per page and enter your search term. For example, enter “dermatology inurl:links” to find all dermatology-related links pages.

Use the Google SERPS Bookmarklet to get the results in plain text format, and copy them into an Excel document.

Remove the duplicate hostnames so we don’t have multiple links from the same website.

Optional: Use the Ahrefs Batch Analysis tool, which you can get a free trial of, to get the domain rating for each link. Sort by domain rating in Excel to delete huge sites like Facebook and Pinterest, which will take too long to crawl and most likely will not give you backlinks, and sites with extremely low domain ratings, because a link from them won’t grant much authority to your site.

2. Evaluate the Links

Now that you have a list of potential prospects, you want to check if they’re worth asking for a link. At the very least, the site must be relevant to your content. Good signs of a quality prospect are a high domain rating, signs of social sharing, and a reasonably-updated web design. Bad signs are thousands of links on the page, spam links present, and a ton of broken links. Remove all poor prospects, and you’re left with a list of high-quality outreach sites.

Paste your sites into this free dead link checker and then select the “check single webpage” bubble. Click the “check” button and the tool will generate the broken links on each page. If you sign up for a free account, the site will send you the results upon completion, so you can do other things while the tool works.

Remove all pages that don’t have broken links. Now you have your final list of outreach opportunities.

3. Reach Out

The final step is to ask the webmasters of these sites for a link. First, make sure you have a good replacement page on your website. If you don’t have a high-quality page with similar content to the broken link, consider creating a new page. An easy way to create a relevant page is to use the WayBack Machine to see what content used to be on the broken link. You can then repurpose the content to fit your site, improving on it and updating the statistics. If your content isn’t valuable and trustworthy, other sites won’t want to link to it.

Find the website owner’s contact info. You can do this either by manually searching the site for their email address (usually on the contact page, about page, or footer), googling “ email”, checking WhoIs, or using a paid tool.

Create an email template for your broken link building outreach email. For the best response rate, you should mention how you came upon the broken link and offer your replacement link in a follow-up email. As a bare minimum, you should tailor your email to the specific industry, but it’s best to customize it to the site itself. Moz has some great example templates here and here. I like the one where you ask the Webmaster if they’re still updating their site before presenting the broken links and asking to add your own since it’s a huge time saver.

Send each email individually and double-check for errors. Remember that you must have a good resource to share and not everyone will respond. If you don’t receive a response within a week, you can send a follow-up email. Record your progress in the Excel document so you don’t email the same person twice.

4. Go Deeper

The next step is deep broken link building, where you find every page that is linking to one broken link and reach out to all of them as well. This is a great tactic if you created a new page that reproduces the content on the broken page.

Is Broken Link Building Worth It?

Broken link building may be a time-consuming process, but ten high-quality, authoritative links are worth hundreds of easily acquired low-quality links. Furthermore, you’re adding great content on your site that you know other sites are interested in linking to. This could result in organically acquired links and social shares in the future. The important thing to keep in mind is that you need to start off with a good website or nobody will want to link to it, no matter how good your outreach is.

If you need link building services or a site upgrade, docero can help. docero has the best programmers, designers, SEO specialists, and account managers to help fill your waiting room with patients.

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