7 Effective Ways To Use Broken Link Building Strategy

July 10, 2024

Dmytro Spilka

By monitoring competitor websites’ broken links and offering your pages as an alternative, you can uncover valuable SEO opportunities.

What are broken links? Via backlinks between external websites, a link can become ‘broken’ when the end source disappears, leaving a 404 error page instead.

From an SEO perspective, pages that point to broken links can harm websites. They can cause problems with search engine crawlers that may lead to lower page rankings.

However, one website’s broken links can be an excellent optimization opportunity for another. For this reason, we’ll look at ways to use this as an effective link-building strategy.

Why should I focus on broken links?

The simple reason that adopting a broken link-building strategy works is that it’s a mutually beneficial SEO tactic.

By pointing out that a host website’s pages have broken links, you’re alerting web admins to an optimization issue on their site.

Because broken links are generally errors on historical pages, the need to find and add alternative links is unlikely to be part of the webmaster’s daily workload. This means they’re more likely to review alternative links you propose.

You can present your pages as suitable alternatives to add as a backlink. Ideally, your alternative content will be highly relevant to the broken link and offer even more value than the original backlink.

What’s in it for you? Data suggests that getting backlinks is becoming increasingly difficult for search engine optimization. 41% of industry professionals believe that the cost to acquire new links will increase further as the landscape becomes more congested with rivals.

In identifying and offering to remedy dead backlinks, you can secure an invaluable link to a host website to help improve your site’s SERPs.

But how can you secure those all-important backlinks through broken link-building opportunities? Let’s explore seven key ways to create the perfect broken link-building strategy:

1. Discover relevant target websites

You could have the best content to offer and the perfect level of charm for your outreach approach. Still, your broken link-building tactics won’t take off if you fail to target the most relevant and authoritative websites.

Here, it’s imperative to prioritize websites related to your niche while only targeting sites with a higher domain authority (DA) or domain rating (DR). Otherwise, you may link to a weaker page that could undermine your SERPs.

Trawling through countless websites to find your targets can be time-consuming. However, tools like Linkody, Ahrefs, and SEMrush can effectively identify link opportunities.

For instance, let’s say you have a website specializing in homeware and have conducted search engine queries to identify some prospects. One key prospect, www.bedbathandbeyond.com, emerges as a top result on Google’s SERPs, but is it a viable choice to target?

Ahrefs Site Explorer

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Using Ahrefs’ Site Explorer, we can see that Bed Bath & Beyond has an excellent domain rating of 86 and an estimated monthly traffic of 1.6 million visitors. These metrics would make the website a leading industry target.

Ahrefs Linked Domains

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But now we must determine whether Bed Bath & Beyond typically links to external domains. With the website’s outgoing links limited to 55 domains, pitching to Bed Bath & Beyond may be tricky. But it’s worth getting in contact if you have a solid resource to help overcome broken links.

2. Identify broken links

Let’s continue imagining that we’re looking to boost our SEO by identifying broken links across homeware websites.

Ahrefs allows us to use its Outgoing links menu to explore a website’s broken links. You can study your target website for instances where your blog posts or articles could replace a dead link to external content.

Another approach is to look directly at your competitors and identify broken external links on their pages.

Semrush’s Backlinks Analytics tool is a practical resource for this. But, for our example, let’s look again at how Ahrefs can help our homeware website gain ground on our prospective industry rivals.

Here, we’ve identified www.homesandgardens.com as our industry competitor to investigate. The website has a strong 80 DR and an extensive blog relevant to our niche, meaning we’ll likely find more dead links to focus our attention on.

Ahrefs Linked Domains

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You can use Ahrefs’ Broken Backlinks resource, which you’ll find in the Backlink profile. Here, we can see a series of broken links from host websites towards content that now displays 404 not found errors.

Closer look at broken links

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Many broken links are towards guides and listicle articles that we could easily substitute or scrape. This makes it a perfect opportunity for some broken link-building.

Another great way of identifying prospects for broken link building is through Check My Links. It is available as a Google Chrome extension and actively monitors pages for issues with external links.

3. Research broken links

One of the best tricks of the trade here is to utilize the Wayback Machine. The tool can help you better understand what external links looked like when they were still operational.

The great thing about this is that you can directly study what makes a piece of content suitable for adding as a backlink. This will help inspire you to create an alternative resource that’s every bit as impactful.

Wayback Machine

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Wayback Machine can bring 404 not-found pages back to life through past snippets of what they looked like at earlier dates.

If you’ve chosen to contact a website regarding a broken backlink, it’s worth researching the dead link. Doing so will ensure you provide the webmaster with a relevant alternative.

This measure can also be great for making small but essential modifications to ensure your content is the perfect replacement for the host site.

4. Create skyscraper content

The great thing about identifying broken backlinks to guides and listicles is that they can be ideal targets for the skyscraper technique.

In a nutshell, skyscraping refers to taking existing content or broken links to articles and improving the copy.

For example, if you’re skyscraping an article focusing on the ’10 Best Ways to Skyscrape Content’, you can offer an alternative that features the ’12 Essential Approaches for Skyscraping Content’.

Long-form content featuring more external links typically performs better on SERPs. Taking existing relevant content as inspiration to create a more expansive article can work wonders. It will equip you with everything you need to stand out from the crowd and position your copy as a leading alternate resource for broken links.

5. Identifying who to outreach

So, you have your intended host website, and you’ve worked on skyscraping your content so that it surpasses the broken link you intend to replace. Now what?

At this stage, you’ll need to begin the broken link-building outreach process and identify who to pitch your value-adding content.

Finding a way to get in touch with a webmaster or editor who can swap your link in for the broken link can be difficult. This part of website maintenance is time-consuming, and for many larger companies, only a few prospects can make the changes.

While smaller websites with web admins can be easier to find, identifying who to reach for larger publications can take time and effort.

When analyzing your target website, it’s worth seeing whether there’s a wide range of broken links on the site. This could indicate that the webmaster is unwilling to change past content. Hence, you may need to adapt your pitch to reiterate the SEO value of using live backlinks.

If an author published the content you want to add your link to, it may be worth identifying their email address to reach. Author and editor emails are available on-site via a masthead for some publications. For others, identifying the right email address can require more resources.

Hunter Email Finder

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Platforms like Hunter can be great for scouring websites for staff email information. You can target your outreach based on the likelihood of the recipient responding. However, it’s always worth conducting extra research to ensure that the employee still works for the company and is still in the position.

6. Strategizing your outreach

Now, we are reaching the business end of our strategy. Crafting the right outreach email is essential. Pitching your content in the right way can make all the difference between a valuable boost to your SEO and a wasted attempt.

So, how can you build the perfect broken link-building outreach email? There are a few rules that are important to follow.

Firstly, personalization is essential. If you’ve found an email address, it’s reasonable to expect that many others have, too. So, you need to stand out from the crowd. You should also indicate that you’ve engaged with their website by acknowledging some of their content.

Sharing your thoughts on why you liked a specific article they’ve written can be a strong way to start a conversation. It shows that you’re not just cold contacting them and instead have a genuine interest in the host website.

For instance, if you run a restaurant but struggle with generating bookings, one effective strategy to improve your restaurant’s visibility would be to contact various lists that showcase the best restaurants in your area, your cuisine, or even your city. When you reach out, you should explain why your restaurant should be added to that list.

However, don’t be verbose. Keep your outreach email concise and to the point. Explain why you’ve gotten in touch, and add links to the article and broken links that you’ve identified for ease of reference. Then, suggest your content as an easy-to-access alternative.

Use your pitch to highlight the value your content will provide their audience as an alternative backlink.

Finally, keep your email professional in tone and avoid overfamiliarity with your language. After all, you’re offering them the opportunity to grow their SEO with little effort.

7. Offer variety

In broken link building, a little choice can go a long way. Providing a web admin or editor with a range of alternative links from your content can maximize your chances of pitching an article that suits their respective needs.

If you’re skyscraping your articles to provide websites with more extensive resources to backlink to, pitching more articles may seem redundant.

However, websites’ engagement goals may vary, and a different article may be deemed more effective for reaching a specific audience.

With this in mind, try to offer three alternative high-quality backlinks for host web admins to use when replacing their broken links. Sure, you can spend more time promoting your most suitable fit. However, sometimes, recipients will see something that may take time to appear among your alternatives.


Link building remains one of the most effective SEO strategies today because it benefits both parties. You’re helping your host website identify broken links within their on-site content and offer like-for-like replacements. Meanwhile, your host website can help you by adding your resource as a valuable backlink to help your SERPs.

However, this approach isn’t always seamless. It’s worth using your favorite SEO tool to monitor whether your broken backlink strategy improves your DA, DR, and authority.

If your DA does not improve despite adding external links to the website, it may be worth targeting more authoritative websites.

Although broken link building can be time-consuming, you certainly get what you put into the SEO strategy. For content creators willing to focus on building valuable and relevant backlinks, broken link-building represents a sustainable strategy with bags of potential.

Dmytro Spilka
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Dmytro Spilka

Dmytro is a CEO at Solvid and founder of Pridicto. His work has been published in Creative Bloq, Shopify, Zapier, Make Use Of, Mention, WordStream, and Campaign Monitor.