Broken Link Building: The Ultimate Guide for SEOs

As an SEO consultant, it’s always nice to be able to give potential link prospects something in return for their links, which is why broken link building is a great approach. Not only do you get the result that you are working for, but you help clear up the increasing amount of link rot on the web and do something nice for the webmaster.

Link Rot on the Web


There are a few approaches to broken link building but here are my favourites:

Competitor Analysis

One great way of using broken link building is to actively search your competitor’s website for broken web pages. Scan your competitor’s site with the link intelligence tool of your choice for dead pages being linked to. This can be an easy way to feed off your competitor’s laziness; after all, if they can’t be bothered to fix their broken pages…do they really deserve all those links?

Guerrilla Broken Link Building

This method is a bit naughty and isn’t a tactic that you can rely on. In fact, I’ve only been able to use it twice in the past 2 months but when it’s possible, it can be exceptionally rewarding (if a little immoral).

By the very definition of a marketplace, many websites will have similar content; after all, I’d be very surprised if this was the only broken link building post written this month. But how many of you are watching your competitor’s websites for downtime?

Using a great free service called, you can get email alerts sent to you when a website goes down (and comes back up). When the alert hits your email inbox, you can contact those sites that are linking to them.

This is a great way to pick off some of a competitors top links without working too hard on warming up the prospect.

Active Broken Link Prospecting

There are a number of places to start with prospecting for broken links such as:

  • Quality industry specific directories
  • Trade publications
  • Trade associations
  • Online Industry Communities

Using search operators and a tool called Scrapebox, I am able to pull off a long list of potential prospects that meet the above criteria. I then put these pages into Netpeak to check for SEO metrics, and also social metrics to identify and weed out the spam/low quality sites.

My jaw drops every time I see someone checking for broken links page-by-page. So from here I have a list of potential directories, communities and trade bodies that I can put into Xenu to automate the crawl.

Xenu Crawler for Broken Link Building

Xenu will then crawl each of our sites and pull up any links that are broken, giving us a list of dead links as well as the pages they are linked from.

Put this list into Open Site Explorer, MajesticSEO and Ahrefs to scan for dead pages being linked to, before using the Wayback Machine to identify content that you can re-create and incorporate into your content strategy.

It’s important to take these resources and try to improve upon them as the stronger your resource, the easier the outreach for this strategy is.

And there you have it. A new piece of content, that you know will be successful and has a ready-made prospect list that has previously linked to a lesser version.

Other Resources

If you’re looking for more info on broken link building, here are a few links to other quality posts:

If you have a different approach or have ideas on how this can be improved do leave me a comment below.

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