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What is Broken Link Building? SEO Firm Explains

Broken Link BuildingBroken link building is a technique whereby marketers scour through authoritative websites in search of broken links (links that lead to a 404 error page), and then contact the webmaster for that site to request that they direct that link to a relevant page on the inquiring marketer’s website instead. It is becoming a popular link building strategy, and yes, a reputable SEO firm will tell you that it is in fact a white hat SEO technique.

That’s right: There is nothing wrong with broken link building! After all, it helps the other party, too. Broken links can send a site’s search rankings tanking, and no webmaster wants months of SEO efforts to be obliterated just because of a few broken links. However, a webmaster for a large site (for example, an .edu site) may not have time to track down all the broken links in the entire network. You are actually doing him a favor in two ways: 1.) By making him aware of broken links he didn’t know about, and 2.) By giving him a quick fix that eliminates the need for another 404 error page or simply no third party information.

But broken link building isn’t just for active sites. You can also find a site that is going out of business, and then approach the webmaster about acquiring some of the links to his domain (or ask your SEO firm to do it for you). Here is an example of this, from Search Engine Journal’s Kristi Hines:

“For example, one of my favorite tools to use to schedule tweets is Buffer. Their biggest competition was Timely.is who recently announced that they were retiring. This is actually an even better broken link opportunity in the sense that while the website is not down, they are recommending Buffer as an alternative.”

She continues: “Buffer could now use a backlink link checking tool to see what links Timely.is has built to their domain and attempt to acquire them. As a bonus, they can note that their former competitor endorses them. This is why it never hurts to monitor the news about your competition and businesses within the industry you are link building for. You never know when thousands of links could be up for grabs.”

So, that is one idea for finding broken links. Here is another one: Like everything else in SEO, start with your keywords. Google keywords you are using, and examine the top results for any 404 errors. Also, don’t just search for the keywords your SEO firm is currently using for your campaign, but also any keywords that may be categorically relevant to the content on your website. What you consider a “junk” keyword may be considered valuable by another website.

Broken link building is a relatively new method of acquiring inbound links, but it is regarded as white hat SEO – and it works. Ask your SEO firm if broken link building could be right for your SEO campaign.

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