The Simple Guide To Scalable Broken Link Building

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The internet is filled with broken links.

This is a huge problem for website owners. But it’s also an excellent opportunity for you.


Because webmasters need an SEO like you to swoop in with your great content to fix those broken links with very little effort on their behalf:

Fix broken links

You receive a link. They receive a piece of content. It’s a win/win for everyone.

I can guarantee almost every site in your niche has some sort of broken link you could fill with your content. (Even if you have to create it for that purpose.)

If you do this right you can see your rankings soar and receive links from many of the major websites in your niche.

So I’m going to show you how to find, analyse and pitch for broken link building opportunities step by step.

What Is Broken Link Building?

Broken link building, also known as dead link building, is the process of finding non-functional (“dead”) links on sites and replacing them with a working link to your site.

This will improve your link profile and provide value by fixing broken links on other sites.

This is often done by recreating the content that was previously used in the link, or by creating unique content that improves upon or can be used as a solid replacement.

It’s a tried and tested white hat link building startegy and is filled with infinite opportunities.


Because the internet is filled with broken links.

Websites are constantly changing and evolving. Pages move, content gets deleted and this leaves a trail of broken (or dead) links behind.

You can do a website owner a favour, point out their broken links to improve their on-page SEO and grab yourself a powerful backlink for your efforts.

broken link building

Pretty simple, right?

Now I should mention that broken link building doesn’t have a high success rate. Between 5% and 10% response rate is considered great. But don’t let that put you off.

If you have a strategy to follow – like the one I’ll show you in this article – you’ll be able to win tons of free backlinks to your site.

PRO TIP: You can use this technique to find niche edit and link insert opportunities and build powerful edu backlinks and gov backlinks.

2 Ways To Find Broken Link Building Opportunities

There are two methods I want to recommend in this guide:

  1. The most effective method
  2. The free method

Depending on where you are in your career or business you’ll be able to benefit from either of these. (Just because it’s free doesn’t mean it’s not good!)

But first, you need to create a list of websites you’d like to find broken links on.

Google the keywords you want to rank for and add the top results into a spreadsheet.

If you’re already well entrenched in your niche, you could also make this from the current competitors you’re aware of. Here’s a list I made for productivity blogs:

example target website list

I’ll be using these examples in the rest of the article.

The Most Effective Method For Broken Link Building

For this super-effective method you’re going to need access to the Ahrefs SEO tool.

Head over to their Site Explorer tool and enter the domain name for one of the websites:

Ahrefs site explorer tool

Once you’ve searched you’ll need to head over to the side bar.

Under the Pages section click “Best By Links”:

broken link building ahrefs

Once you’ve selected this option you want to filter this down to “404 pages”.

This will allow you to see all of the best “dead” links on the site and how many referring domains (RD) that each page has:

Referring pages lifehacker

You can see one of their top pages has 76 referring domains.

 That’s a lot of backlinking potential.

You may have to do some sifting through the results to find a topic that matches yours. But I found this on the first page:

Productive and smiling post

It has 48 referring domains which gives me lots of opportunities to link.

And they come from some high-quality places:

Wayback Machine

The next step is to run this through the Wayback Machine.

This is the internet’s archive that will show you how the content used to look.

internet’s archive

Look for one of the green dates on the calendar (you may need to go back a few years).

This should bring up the old page:

Example broken link past blog post

Now you can either create the same content in your own words. Or, you can create a brand new piece that closely fits this topic (and therefore worth the broken link).

 Quick, easy and effective.

Pro Tip: You can also go out and find broken links that match your existing content categories so you don’t have to go out and create new content.

If you’re creating content around the main keywords in your niche, there’s a good chance you’ll have something to fit here. So, look for opportunities to insert your existing content as well.

So now let’s take a look at the free way of doing things.

The Free Method Of Broken Link Building

There are lots of Chrome plugins and free link building tools that make finding broken links pretty easy if you’ve got a few hours to spare.

For this you’re going to need to use Check My Links.

Check my links tool

Check My Links is a plugin that picks out broken links on a page that you’re reading.

You’ll have to invest some time upfront into finding these links. But it can be effective.

Install the plugin and head to one of the sites from your list. Go deep into their blog post archive (most new posts won’t have broken links in them). Look for content to check.

All of the invalid links will show up in red, and the “dead” links will have a 404 tag:

Check My Links Broken Link Example

Then run this link through the Wayback Machine to see how the content used to look.

You can then recreate this exact content, or create a similar piece that would fit the link.

Robert K Bitting

This process is much slower but can be used to get great results.

Especially if you’re on a budget.

The problem is you won’t be able to see how many other websites are linking to this dead result so you’ll only be able to win 1 link at a time.

How To Notify Webmasters Of Their Broken Links

Once you’ve identified the broken links and created the content, it’s time to notify the webmasters of their broken link.

Like in the last section there are two ways to do this:

  1. The most effective method
  2. The free method

I’ll walk you through both of them in the sections below.

The Most Effective Outreach Method

Ninja Outreach is a great entry level outreach tool for most people. It’s a huge database of websites and their contact information.

 It allows you to bulk contact people, while still keeping your emails personalised.

If you head to the Email Finder section of their tool, you’ll be able to input all of the websites you’ve found linking back to the broken link.

Type in their domain name into the “@domain” section of their search bar and hit enter.

This will bring up all of the registered email addresses for the website. You just have to match them email up to either the webmaster, or the author of the article:

buffer website email addresses

Once you’ve acquired their email address it’s time to pitch them.

If you’re using Ninja Outreach you don’t need to worry about creating your own pitch, because they have tried and tested templates ready for you to use.

Just head over to the Outreach > Templates section of the tool:

Ninja Outreach Template finder

And you’ll find an entire list of templates you can personalise to fit your voice.

They even have one that’s been tailored to broken link building:

Broken Link Building

All you have to do is adjust it and hit send!

Struggling to find an email address? Follow my email address lookup guide.

The Free Outreach Method

You can perform this using your Gmail account and the free credits from / FindThatLead, or just straight up manually looking for them on a website.

If you’re using the Hunter plugin just head to the website you want to contact, click on the plugin and it will bring up some of the available email addresses on that website: email examples

Or you can look for their contact information on these pages:

  • Contact
  • Press
  • Disclaimer
  • About
  • Our Team (or similar)

You may not always be able to find an email address on these pages, but you may find another route of contacting them, like a social media handle or page:

kevan lee contact

Struggling to find an email address? Follow my email address lookup guide!

Once you’ve identified how you’ll contact them, you’ll need to send a pitch identifying their broken link and suggesting your link as a solution.

Here’s broken link building template you can use. Just make sure to change it up before you use it-

“Hey [Name]

I was doing some research for an upcoming article and I came across your page. When I tried to click through two of the links on the page [insert links] they came up with 404 pages.

I just wanted to let you know so you could tidy that up and improve your SEO!

Also, I’ve got some resources that I think would be a great fit for the new link, if you’d be interested?

I wrote this piece on [topic] which expands on the previous content you were linking to, and could add even more value to your readers who click through!

[insert link to your piece]

No worries if you don’t want to include it, but I figured it can’t hurt to ask 🙂

Have a great day,

[Your name]”

Just fill in the correct section with the relevant information and links to fit you, and adjust it to make it sound more like your writing voice!

If you want to speed up this process you can save this template as part of the “canned responses” tool in Gmail Labs:

Canned response gmail example

You can then customise it to fit your needs with each person you send it to.

How To Capture Link Juice From Broken Internal Links

While you’re doing your broken link research, it’s worth looking at the dead links on your own website as well to help capture link juice you may be wasting.

There’s a good chance you have 404’d pages on your website that have backlinks, and the “juice” is just being wasted on an out-of-date page.

broken link building redirects

But, all is not lost.

If you set up a redirect to a new page on your site, you can regain some of that backlink power and spread it to another page on your website.

Use Screaming Frog SEO Spider, the SEMRush site audit tool or the Ahrefs site audit tool to run a new scan of your site-

Ahrefs Dashboard matt woodward

In Ahrefs – from the side bar select the “Internal Pages” option.

Then select the 4XX page option:

4XX page option

This will show you all of the 404’d internal links on your website.

It’ll also show you the number of internal links points to that page that need to be fixed:

internal links

You can also check out my Rank Math review which is a free SEO plugin for WordPress that includes a 404 monitor and tool to create redirects.

Wrapping It Up

Before starting building links, make sure you have read the full link building checklist that explains all the link building process.

Broken link building has an endless source of link building opportunities.

Plus it works as a win/win for both you and the webmaster you contact and if you have a solid system in place you can begin to leverage this type of strategy effectively.

But before you start broken link building, check the internal links on your site and find places you can create redirects to spread the link juice across your site.

Next let’s look at social backlinks and how to build them easily!.

Frequently Asked Questions

In SEO, a broken link refers to a link that is no longer live or does not lead to anything. This usually happens when the page is deleted or moved to another URL.
Broken links can create a bad user experience. When a visitor clicks on a 'dead' link and isn't able to reach the page he was supposed to, he gets frustrated and leaves your site. And, because of this bad experience, he might never come back again. Not only that but broken links can restrict the flow of link equity all-around your site which might impact your rankings negatively in the long run.

What Are Your Thoughts?

32 Responses

  1. Great approach to make back links from scratch. Definitely I will use this method. Can you please latest Seo approaches to create powerful backlinks? Or refer a link you have already written on?Thanks

  2. I always get great value from your content Mathew and this right here is a real gem let me embark on using it. Once again thank you.

  3. I always thought that finding broken links was very complicated, but with this strategy I will definitely be able to boost my site’s SEO. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Another great tutorial. You know Matthew! I’m following you since 2015 (I’m in your newsletter list ) & your income reports inspired me to start the IM journey and helped me to make my first $100k.

  5. I agree with Atul, this is yet another solid gem and way to leverage backlinks from a different angle for online marketers. I am sharing this with my tribe and on Facebook in our online business tools page. Thanks, Mathew, you are amazing (and no I am not getting paid to write this, hehe)…Cheers!Dave

  6. Great article, I hate manual work 🙁 . For broken link building there is a great tool on the market for finding prospects. You can try the tool > by citation lab.

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