Look at the anchor text (and the surrounding text) for each link.
This will often give you some insight into what the page was about.
Not bad. Considering it took me less than 10 minutes to find them. And that was only one article on one website! If you repeat this process for all the sites on your list and analyze all of their 404 pages, you will get dozens, if not hundreds of opportunities for your broken link building campaign.
2. Find broken outlinks on those same websites (then see which of those links have a TON of backlinks)
Zenhabits.net is a very reputable website in the niche I’m interested in (remember, we’re still in the niche of meditation and personal development).
And I desperately want it to link to my website.
Let’s check zenhabits.net’s broken outgoing links in Ahrefs Site Explorer.
To do this, go to Outgoing links -> Broken links.
135 pages on this website have links to the external pages that are no longer available.
I did a quick check and here’s a promising opportunity:
There’s a broken link to an article listing 30 ways to save $1 per day.
I could write an article about that and suggest it as a fix to that broken link.
But I can squeeze even more from that single broken link I found!
I went ahead and analyzed the dead URL in Site Explorer. And guess what?
It has another 13 referring domains I can reach out to with my content!
3. Find niche-relevant expired domains with backlinks
Disclaimer: this tactic is a LOT more time-consuming that the two tactics I’ve shared already. It works, but it’s nowhere near as simple. There are lots of moving parts to the process and a lot of manual work involved.
Let’s stick with our meditation and personal development example.
Using ExpiredDomains.com (which lets you search for expired domains using keywords), we’ll search for domains related to yoga.
I chose yoga because there are a lot of websites and blogs about this topic; it’s also pretty closely related to medication.
160K+ expired domains—that’s a lot!
Let’s add a filter, so we see only .com, .net, and .org domains. (This massively reduces the amount of junk in the results.)
Then we want to show 200 domains per page of results. (You’ll see why in a second.)
And finally, let’s order the results by the number of backlinks.
The number of reported backlinks here comes from Majestic and tends to be somewhat arguable. To illustrate this, take a look at balibumyoga.com in the screenshot above; it has 468K+ backlinks according to expireddomains.com. If you check this website in Ahrefs Site Explorer, you’ll see that it only has ~25K. This discrepancy comes down to the way Majestic handles “canonical” pages and URL parameters. Whenever a URL contains additional parameters (e.g., UTM parameters), Majestic sees it as a unique linking page, even though it’s canonicalized. Thus, the number of reported backlinks gets dramatically inflated and causes HUGE inaccuracies.
Next, we’ll hit the “copy domains to clipboard” icon, paste the domains into Ahrefs Batch Analysis tool, and select the “domains with all subdomains” option for the mode.
Sort the list by the number of ref. domains and this is what we get:
That’s right! We now have a list of tons of expired (i.e., broken) domains with lots of backlinks.
Let’s take a look at the backlinks for one of the domains on the list, annadoesyogachina.com.
This domain has 440+ links from 160 ref. domains.
But all of them are total junk.
No matter what search term you use on expireddomains.com, you’ll find that this is the case for most of the results. After all, most people don’t let sites with a ton of high-quality links expire.
But with a bit of digging, you can usually find some gems.
Here’s an example:
This DR 67 link points to a broken resource on therealyoga.com (one of the expired domains on our list).
But it’s clearly a blog post about doing yoga in bed.
We can tell by looking at the linking anchor text (i.e., “practice yoga in bed”)
If we look at the backlinks to this specific page, we can see that there are two other legit links, one of which is nofollow.
Three links isn’t many.
But if we already had a piece of content about practicing yoga in bed on our website, we could easily reach out to these three sites and steal these links.
If the expired domain were available to purchase, another option would be to buy the domain and redirect it to the appropriate page(s) on your main website. But this isn’t always possible. Many of the domains listed on expireddomains.com cost hundreds or thousands of dollars.
explain why it’s a suitable replacement (optional).
Here’s an example of such an email (with all parts mentioned above clearly marked):
I used this exact email template for a recent broken link building campaign and got a 6.3% conversion rate. Oh, and credit for this template goes to Stewart Dunlop of linkbuilder.io—thanks, Stewart!
Please don’t steal this exact template and spam the heck out of it. This leads to diminishing results for everyone (including you) as more people become aware of the template. I included the template to illustrate an example of such an email. You should ALWAYS add your own flair and customization to anything you find on the web.
You’ll notice that this email is far from pushy.
We’re simply telling the person about a broken link and suggesting a replacement—that’s it.
NEVER say things like, “please replace the broken link with this link”, or “you should replace it with this link because it’s the best link out there and your audience will love it.”
Nobody likes being told what to do!
3. ALWAYS send 1–2 follow-ups
Not received a reply to your original outreach email?
Send a follow-up.
Don’t be pushy; just remind the recipient about the issue.
Here’s an example:
You’d be surprised how effective follow-ups can be.
In fact, the follow-up is often responsible for more links than the original outreach email.
It truly is that important.
But don’t follow-up more than 1–2 times.
That’s a surefire way to end up being reported as spam and getting your email address (or entire domain) blacklisted.
Broken link building is far from dead—it still works exceptionally well.
(I’m speaking from personal experience here.)
Is the process somewhat time-consuming?Definitely.
Can the process be streamlined and made easier?Absolutely!