Link building

Broken link building made easy

I see questions everyday on forums from people asking how they can link to their website. There are many ways to build links, but there’s one tactic in particular that I think deserves a modern update: broken link building. Rather than declaring something dead or saying it doesn’t work, SEOs should work on improving methods to be as effective as possible.

What is broken link building?

Creation of broken links is a tactic of finding resources in your niche that are no longer online, recreating a version of the content, and contacting the webmasters who link to that content asking them to replace the broken link with a link to your newly created resource. You provide value to the webmaster, helping them clean up their website and the web in general, while building links to your website.

Broken link building isn’t a new tactic, but with the explosive growth of the web in recent years and new technologies and website redesigns, the number of broken links is on the rise. I’m surprised that this type of link building doesn’t seem to be in favor anymore. I hear horrible stories of huge time invested in research and low outreach response rates. When efficiency goes down, it’s time to figure out why and look at the whole process to make it better and faster.

What is involved in creating broken links?

I will not pretend for a second that this article covers the subject as well as russ jones made in The Broken Link Building Bible and Broken Link Building Bible: The New Testament. Russ defined three main stages: prospecting, content creation and awareness. Sounds simple enough, until you realize that prospecting alone requires a lot of time and knowledge of search queries and crawling or scraping the web and Google search results.

How to facilitate the creation of broken links?

Let’s face it, link building is difficult and confusing, especially for newcomers to the industry. I think it’s much easier to fix a link to your website that’s broken than go looking for new links, and I’ve advocated fixing the links to your old pages not once, but twice in previous articles on this site.

I still believe this is one of the easiest wins for a website that’s been around for a while, but today I want to show you an even easier way to prioritize those redirects rather than redirecting everything. Instead of collecting all the pages, let’s use Ahrefs database and view broken links to our website. It’s as easy as putting in your domain and clicking a link.

Ahrefs Broken Links Report

With this, I have information about where the links are coming from and which pages they link to on my website. I can prioritize redirects based on which pages lost the most equity or which are the most important for me to improve.

While I would call this process link recovery instead of broken links, the two have a lot of similarities. After all, link recovery saves users from finding links to broken pages on your website and use of broken link building vs you.

Using competitor link salvage to perform broken link building

If we extend this process a bit and look at our competitors broken links instead, that’s where we hit the jackpot on saving time.

Take Apple as an example. As you can see in the screenshot below, they have nearly 8 million links to their domain that currently lead to pages that 404.

Creating Ahrefs Broken Links

If we export them and group them based on the pages they link to, that presents a lot of opportunities for a competitor to pursue with broken link building. We just removed all advanced queries, scraping, crawling, etc. in the data collection phase of broken link building.

The next step was to create content, right? As a competitor, we are likely to have content similar to what our competitors already had on their website. It won’t be the case all the time, of course, but if we have a similar resource, we just cut another big chunk of time in the broken link building process.

All that remains is to collect the contact details of the owners of websites linking to these pages and contact them. We’ve cut hours and hours out of the broken link building process just by using the data Ahrefs has already collected – and probably cut the time of the content building process too by using this method.

Awareness is not my strength, so I refer you to some of Julie Joyce and Andrew Dennis’ articles for advice such as the 7 Worst Manual Link Building Awareness Violations and Link Building Awareness: The preparation meets persuasion.


Speed ​​up broken link building by using the Broken Links report in Ahrefs to find broken pages on your competitors’ websites that you already have content for.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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About the Author

patrick stox is a product advisor, technical SEO and brand ambassador at Ahrefs. He is an organizer of the Raleigh SEO Meetup, Raleigh SEO Conference, Beer & SEO Meetup, Findability Conference and a moderator on /r/TechSEO.