The Lazy Man’s Guide to Broken Link Building
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I’m trying to master white hat link building – one tactic at a time.
Last month it was landing online press, this month it’s broken link building.
I was working hard at it…but…
Have you ever done it?
Broken link building is a drag man.
It’s a ridiculously time consuming task:
- Prospecting. Using search operators to find the right websites. Then, clicking through to each result and checking if it’s relevant. Repeating this process, over and over, to build a list of potential prospects.
- Dead link checking. Checking relevant content for dead links using browser plugins (Check My Links, Domain Hunter) OR creating a list of URLs and uploading them to Xenu or Screaming Frog.
- Outreach. Contacting website owners to alert them of a broken link and offering a relevant link of yours to replace it.
My quick summary didn’t do it justice – the process is tedious as hell.
Prospecting for relevant sites takes hours and the few links you may land don’t justify the time spent.
Thing is, broken link building could yield powerful results if the process were scalable.
So, I poured my energy into finding an automated solution – I found one.
In this post, you’ll learn:
- What tools to use to automate the broken link building process
- How to shorten the length of the automated process
- Identifying high quality link prospects, quickly
- Finding dozens more opportunities with a few clicks
- Crafting the perfect outreach email
1. Using Tools to Automate the Process
You can use Scrapebox to automate the entire prospecting process.
The tool utilizes proxies allowing you scrape thousands of search results with the click of a button.
Simply input your list of search operators and export the resulting URLs into a spreadsheet. This saves you hours of time manually searching Google for relevant results.
Scrapebox has an Addon which checks each harvested URL for broken links.
This saves you another pain in the ass step of uploading URLs into Xenu / Screaming Frog to crawl for 404 errors.
With Scrapebox, a few clicks delivers an Excel document full of sites with broken links.
For more information on Scrapebox and broken link building, check out this post from Jacob King. Or, watch his short YouTube video below.
2. Let’s Save Even More Time…
The Scrapebox tip alone will save you hours. But, there’s a few problems.
- Scrapebox runs on PC – I use a Mac.
- Scrapebox requires access to proxies – I have none.
- Scrapebox requires knowledge, skill and time – I have none.
Do you see where this is going?
It’s a great tool to have, but I don’t have the time to dick around with it.
We live in amazing time where people will do pretty much anything for $5. I’ve been outsourcing this work to a freelancer on Fiverr and the results have been spectacular.
Outsourcing Scrapebox tasks can save a ton of time, money and migraines – if you’re doing it right.
Providing the Right Information
The key to outsourcing on Fiverr is providing the exact instructions needed to complete the job.
That means 2 things:
- Clearly articulating what you need (your goals)
- Providing the exact search operators to input into Scrapebox
1. Articulating What You Need
Before you purchase the Gig, send the freelancer a message. You need to make sure they can manage your requirements.
Here, feel free to copy and paste what I used:
I need ongoing Scrapebox work done.
In a nutshell, I need a Scrapebox expert that can generate a large list of URLs based on the search operators I give them. Specifically:
1. Pull down a large scrape for the search operators I provide you (i.e keyword intitle:resources, keyword inurl: links, etc).
2. Use the Scrapebox broken link checker Addon to find which of those scraped domains are linking out to dead resources.
If you can handle this, please add me on $kype: ryanstewart00. We can chat in more details there.
NOTE: you have to call it $kype within Fiverr or get flagged by their filters.
I like to connect on Skype to talk about larger orders. I pay my freelancer $75 a month for unlimited use of his Scrapebox skills.
Definitely worth the money!
2. Providing the Right Search Operators
Search operators are crucial. They dictate the results you’ll get so it’s important to provide the right ones.
I keep a spreadsheet of search operators that have delivered quality results for past scrapes. Most of the operators are mainly focused on resource type pages. For example:
- “top articles”
- “top tools”
- “top web resources”
When typed into Google, the results will have those keywords on the page. In order to make it relevant to your site, you need to add a keyword.
For example, if I’m looking to build links to SEO related content, I would make the operators:
- SEO “top articles”
- SEO “top tools”
- SEO “top web resources”
For the best results, you’ll want to run Scrapebox for multiple keywords. Trying to retype 10 different keywords into 100 search operators is a bitch.
Using a simple =CONCANTENATE formula will help streamline the process.
I’m not going to do the Excel tutorial. Instead, I’m just going to give you the spreadsheet I use.
It has the search operators and CONCATENATE formula already built out.
All you have to do is replace my keywords and drag the formula down.
Then, just send your Fiverr freelancer the search operators you want and wait for the results.
3. Scrubbing Your Results
Let’s take a moment and summarize where we’re at.
In the 3 steps laid out above, we’ve cut out 90% of the legwork from the broken link building process.
- Prospecting – done
- Dead link checking – done (almost)
- Outreach – easiest part!
If you use the Fiverr method I’ve laid out, you’ll have a massive Excel book with source URLs and the dead link contained in that page.
Here’s breakdown of my last scrape (contained in the screenshot above):
- Column A – “Source URLs” – The results from the scrape based on my search operators. I gave him 100 search operators, it returned 10,000 URLs.
- Column B – “Link” – Those 10,000 harvested URLs were then checked for dead links. If there was a broken link on that page, it was saved into the final Excel file. My file had 700 prospects with dead links in their content.
In other words, your Excel workbook will only contain relevant articles that have broken links.
Trying to get this amount by hand would take you weeks.
While I’ve got a great list, we still have to clean it up.
1. Add a filter to your columns
2. Remove blanks from your list
3. We now need to review each “Source URL” manually.
I know, I know, this is supposed to be saving you time. Don’t worry! I’m going to show you how I comb through thousands of URLs in less than 20 minutes.
4. Quickly scan your list of URLs – we can cross a ton off the list without visiting the link. Let’s look closer at my list:
a. Removing Internal Dead Links
If the “Source URL” is on the same domain as the “Link”, then it’s an internally broken link. Contacting them would be a waste of time – we only want to target broken external links.
Source URL: http://www.pagetrafficbuzz.com/top-10-digital-marketing-articles-week-13th-march-2015/20740/
Don’t contact – they were linking to another page within their site. The chance of them replacing an internal link with a link to your content is nearly impossible.
Delete all of these from your Excel file.
b. Removing Authority Links
If the “Source URL” is linking to a high authority media outlet, they’re probably not going to replace the dead link with one to your site.
Source URL: http://www.toprankblog.com/2014/05/digital-marketing-2015/
Don’t contact – they were linking to Google. I don’t stand a damn chance.
Delete all of these from your Excel file.
c. Removing Irrelevant Content
If the “Source URL” isn’t related to the link you’d propose, don’t contact.
Source URL: http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/sales-marketing
Don’t contact – I have no content on my site about sales so they’d never link to me.
Delete all of these from your Excel file.
4. Drilling into the Good Results
Once you know what to look for, you can comb through thousands of URLs in minutes. You’ll be left with a handful of true targets to contact.
We need to visit these targets manually to get contact info for outreach.
I use BuzzStream to help me out with this. If you’re serious about white hat link building, I strongly advise you get it.
You can always keep track via Excel, but for the purpose of this post I’ll be demonstrating using BuzzStream.
Quickly Gathering Contacts
1. Open the first target “Source URL”. Make sure the piece of content is relevant to the one you would propose.
2. Click the BuzzMarker browser plug in. The tool will automatically find the contact information on the page.
3. Follow them on Twitter. Retweet their latest Tweet. This makes outreach 10 times easier (trust me).
4. Outreach is also easier when you tell them exactly where the dead link is. So, we need to comb the page and track down the dead anchor text.
Traditional broken link building guides tell you to use browser plugins to locate the dead link. Those things take forever to run – I have a faster method.
On the “Source URL” page, right click and click “View Page Source”.
Then, click Control + F. Copy and paste the “Link” URL from your spreadsheet into the search bar.
The search will jump to the location of the dead link on the page. Copy the anchor text from the Source Code.
Go back to the article, click Control + F. Paste the anchor text from the Source Code. The search will highlight the dead anchor text.
You need to record this! I use the details section in BuzzStream to record notes.
Again, this makes outreach much easier.
Finding Additional Dead Links
Damn it, Bill – stop stealing my thunder!
This is where this process becomes lethal.
If one quality website was linking to this dead resource, chances are others did too.
Simply take the URL of the dead resource and dump it into a backlink checker. I like Majestic, so I’ll demonstrate with that.
Sure enough, the dead URL has 6 other referring domains.
Check the “backlinks” tab and click through to view.
Majestic tells you the anchor, so all you have to do is search the page for it.
Add this domain to BuzzStream along with the notes – another relevant site ready for outreach.
Repeat this process for all of the URLs in the Excel file.
Make sure you check the links of the dead resource – you can easily take 1 target and turn it into 50.
5. Crafting the Perfect Outreach
I’m not going into a ton of detail about outreach because it’s best not to over complicate it.
- Make it easy for the website by providing them the exact location of the link, surrounding context, anchor text of the dead link and the dead resource’s URL.
- Interact with them on social media before outreach. It opens up the relationship and makes it a lot easier to land the link.
I generally wait about 2 or 3 weeks after connecting via social media to perform outreach.
Here’s the exact email I send:
I came across you guys on Twitter a few weeks ago and have really been enjoying your content – thanks for sharing.
I just wanted to let you know one of your articles is linking to a 404 page.
URL: [Insert the URL of their content] Anchor: [Insert anchor of the dead URL] Dead link: [Insert the dead link]
If you’re looking for something quick to replace it with, I actually have a great piece of content that fits in seamlessly.
You can review it here: [Insert your link]
Have a great day!
If you’re using BuzzStream you can send all of these directly from the platform – it shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes to connect with all of your targets.
Wrapping it Up
Broken link building is a powerful and easy way to land a butt load of quality white hat links.
Traditional methods work, but they’re not scalable. They take hours just to identify a few prospects.
The methods I’ve laid out present a viable solution to that problem. Outsource the legwork – you can land hundreds of links within a matter of hours.