What Is Broken Link Building in SEO and How to Find Broken Links

In this article, you will learn what is broken link building in SEO and how to find broken links.

Broken link building is one of the most successful link building strategies. But prospecting for broken links in your niche can be time-consuming and ineffective. Fortunately, today, you will learn what is broken link building in SEO, how to find broken links, and how to use them.

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What Is Broken Link Building?

What Is Broken Link Building in SEO and How to Find Broken Links

Broken link building involves finding broken external links on other websites in your niche and recommending your own content to replace them.

Broken link building requires a well thought out and effective strategy. For broken link building to be effective, you need to decompose your process into three steps:

- Find broken links on relevant web pages
- Identify (or create) content that is worth linking to
- Conduct outreach to persuade a website owner to replace the dead link on their page with yours.

It sounds simple, but the most difficult part of the process is usually finding opportunities on a large scale. There are ways to speed up and optimize the search for opportunities, and we can walk you through the steps to properly develop a broken link building strategy.

Why Is Broken Link Building Important?

Broken link building is about finding broken links and offering webmasters a resource you've created to replace the link. This can be an effective tool in your link building arsenal. After all, you are helping the webmaster/company while getting a link back to your (or your client's) website.

Does Link Building Still Work?

What Is Broken Link Building in SEO and How to Find Broken Links

As you improve your website visibility, you should know that link building remains one of the most effective SEO tactics. As Google continues to consider high quality backlinks in determining website credibility, investing in a link building campaign can potentially offer you more ranking and conversion opportunities.

What Are The Benefits of Link Building?

Broken link building offers you a solid strategy to quickly get links from relevant web pages that were linked to content that is no longer active on competing websites. As long as you have great relevant content, webmasters are incentivized to replace dead links because they don't want dead links on their web pages.

Broken link building increases your SEO authority by getting links for your website from highly relevant web pages. Often, if it was a popular resource page that is now dead, you will be able to get several high authority links for your content.

How to Find Broken Links & How to Use Them

We're sure you're thinking, "Yeah, this all sounds good, but where do I start?". Well, below are the three steps to broken link building that I'm going to explain to you: the content step, the research step, and the outreach step.


First, you need quality content. Without it, you'll have a hard time placing links, no matter what your strategy is. We suggest creating content that offers the most value to your target audience. As we've said many times, quality content not only benefits users, it can also make link building easier.

Find a topic in your industry that has been historically popular in resource folders and other selected content pieces. Then, build a solid piece of in-depth content that you can leverage without the help of a broken link. Why? Because it can give the content piece a better chance of success after the broken link opportunities start to dry up.

Research: How to find broken links

There are several ways to find broken links. The first, the broadest approach, is to search for broken links in any domain. I generally start by utilizing advanced search commands such as:

"example resource" inurl:resources.

Then I use a chrome extension (LinkMiner) to identify broken links on a page. I search for resource banks where my content could fit while using the LinkMiner extension until... BAM... the link is broken. The advantage of LinkMiner (over other broken link extensions) is the ability to sync with your Majestic or Ahrefs account to get a better idea of the size of the broken link jackpot each link contains.

Pro tip: If you discover a site that has more than 30% broken links, walk away. That page is most likely no longer maintained and not worth contacting. You can bookmark these broken links for other opportunities and go down the rabbit hole later.

Another way to find broken links is to use the link explorer tool from Moz. It's useful if you're targeting broken links from a competitor or a site with a wide variety of content and you may already have matching content.

Enter your competitor's URL into Moz's link explorer and click on the first few pages of results. Select "4xx- Broken" from the drop-down list and voila, broken pages.

What Is Broken Link Building in SEO and How to Find Broken Links

Make a list of pages from the most to the least referring domains and start looking for pages relevant to your own content. If you find a relevant piece of content, place that URL in multiple backlink databases, as each site may have picked up backlinks that others don't.

Building links for your own organization? Run your URL through Link Explorer to discover any unknown broken pages on your own website. If you find any, contact the webmasters of those pages or redirect that page to another relevant page on your site. Google does not assign link authority to 404 pages, so cleaning up these broken links has always been considered a quick and easy win.

Outreach: How to use broken links

When contacting webmasters, there are two different strategies you can use to notify them of broken links. The first outreach strategy is what I like to call the " replace strategy ". It involves notifying the webmaster that there is a broken link on their website and that you have a resource that would be relevant and valuable enough to take its place. 

The other strategy is to notify the webmaster of the broken page and inform them that the page has been moved to a new location. Then, let the webmaster know that you have a piece of content that would be a good fit in its place. This strategy is less predatory and more useful. It works well when you find a broken link in a related area to your content, but is not a direct replacement.

What Causes a Broken Link?

There are several reasons why broken links can occur, for example:

- The website owner entered an incorrect URL (misspelled, mistyped, etc.).
- The website's URL structure was recently modified (permalinks) without redirection, resulting in a 404 error.
- The external website is no longer available, is offline, or has been permanently moved.
- Links to material (PDF, Google Doc, video, etc.) that has been moved or deleted.
- Broken elements in the page (HTML, CSS, Javascript, or CMS plugins interference).
- Firewalls or geolocation restrictions that do not allow outside access.

Broken Link Example

Here are some broken link examples that a web server may present:

What Is Broken Link Building in SEO and How to Find Broken Links

404 Page Not Found: the page/resource does not exist on the server.
400 Bad Request: The host server cannot understand the URL of your page.
Bad host: Invalid host name: the server with this name does not exist or is not accessible.
Bad URL: Badly formed URL (e.g. missing parenthesis, extra slashes, wrong protocol, etc.)
Bad code: Invalid HTTP response code: the server response violates the HTTP specifications.
Empty: The host server returns "empty" responses, with no content and no response code.
Timeout: HTTP requests were constantly interrupted during the link check.
Reset: The host server interrupts connections. It is either misconfigured or too busy.

Broken Link Building Summary

Broken link building remains a fantastic tool for gaining high quality backlinks. In fact, it even has significant advantages over other SEO tools such as guest posting. And as long as you use it the right way, you will see results.

But don't think that just having a replacement resource will be enough.

Webmasters get emails and proposals all the time; to stand out in their inbox, you need to communicate quickly, and effectively and give them a reason to work with you.

The best way to do this is to rely on your own personality to make your emails friendly, helpful, and approachable. The harder you work at it, the better you'll get. All forms of relationship-building require trial and error.

But the great thing is that you can track which emails work best. Over time, you can modify your style to generate even more success.

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