The concept of broken link building has been around for a while now, but as Google emphasizes the importance of quality content, perhaps this link building strategy’s time in the limelight is just beginning. Broken link building can be explained in the following steps:
Step 1: Find a quality URL that links out to other websites related to your industry.
For the sake of this article, let’s say we’re an HVAC contractor offering heating and A/C repairs. The websites that are best for us to target? Online publications that focus on home repairs, contracting, and other issues related to our industry. Therefore, we’ll be checking those sites to see if they have Resource sections with outbound links. Here’s how we’re going to find those Resource sections: Prospecting.
While there are other strategies for broken link prospecting, one of the easiest methods is based on keywords. So with our example, we’re going to select the keyword “HVAC”. Below are two of the phrases we’ll want to type into Google:
- intitle:resources hvac
- inurl:resources hvac
*Also think of what other phrases you can replace “resources” with in another search. Maybe try “links” as well (I.E. “intitle:links hvac”).
Click “Search” and this will likely show us multiple HVAC-related websites with great Resources sections. We’ll want to check out those URLs one by one, determine whether or not they’re quality sites, and if they’re worth trying to get our website’s link posted with the other resources.
Step 2: Find broken links on that quality website.
Let’s say we’ve identified one of the search results as a beautiful website with quality content that has a great Resources section specifically related to our company’s industry. Not only that, it’s definitely worth trying to get our site’s link on. We’ll want to search that site’s Resources section to see if any of the presently listed links are broken. We will check for broken links by using the chrome plugin Check My Links. Once you’ve installed this through the Chrome Web Store, an icon will appear on the top right side of your Chrome web browser (resembles a white check mark with a black background). Now we can go back to the Resources pages and activate the plugin by clicking the plugin’s icon. This will highlight any broken 404 URLs on the page in red.
Step 3: Write quality content that covers the same subject the broken 404 link once did.
Continuing with our HVAC example, let’s say that one of the broken links we find is a How-To guide showing readers how to prepare your A/C unit for summertime (if it’s not entirely apparent what the broken URL is about from the anchor text or URL, you can always plug it into a tool like Wayback Machine to see what it once looked like before it became 404ed).
Perhaps you already have a page on your site covering a topic similar to what the broken 404 link once did. But if not, it’s time to write new, original content – like your own guide to prepping your A/C for summer, or something else related that the website’s visitors may find valuable. We’ve all heard it over and over again to the point where perhaps it sounds like nails on a chalkboard: Content is king, but now it’s your time to reign…
Step 4: Report the broken link to the quality URL’s web master.
Now is the time to say goodbye to that broken link (hopefully). Feel free to hold a short mental vigil, but don’t get too sad because it’s time to move on. Before you hit the send button on that outreach email or contact form, don’t forget to…
Step 5: Suggest your own URL as an addition to the Resources page or as a replacement for that broken link.
Now cross your fingers and hope for the best. Hopefully, you’ll have built a new quality link using this tactic.
By using broken link building, you’re not just helping a web master tidy up their outbound links for a better user experience devoid of 404s, you’re also helping the web by adding quality content that’s actually useful. You are also helping boost your own site’s rankings in the process – something that’s just about as natural as link building gets.