Broken link building – a process description

“The Internet is an ecosystem. Sometimes organisms die, leaving room for new entities to take their place. In this digital “Circle of Life,” Broken Link Building is the evolution of a given piece of content. When domains and / or URLs 404, Broken Link Builders can serve the ecosystem and their rankings by building an original, quality replacement. “ (

Today we describe the principle and the procedure of broken link building using our service page from the travel area, .

For us, that’s broken link building

Broken links are basically all links that lead nowhere, i.e. that point from a website to content that does not or no longer exists; We therefore include all dysfunctional links that were obviously set by the website owner with the intention of referring to further information, for us it is initially irrelevant whether the link was set incorrectly from a technical point of view. The most common causes of broken links are likely to be that the linked content was removed from the page at some point after the link was set and that the link was not correctly forwarded to the new URL after a change to the URL of the linked page.

Broken link building as a method of link building starts here. We generally assume that the webmaster / site operator thought something when setting the link. This is a good opportunity to talk to the person responsible for the outgoing links about the fact that the goal of the link setting – the reference to further information – can no longer be reached through a broken link, but we offer a remedy. And that is the prerequisite for successful broken link building.

And this is how broken link building works – an overview

  • Identify dead links on websites that could be replaced with a link to a supervised project.
  • Contact the webmaster and offer a thematically appropriate, new link target. If the post already exists – that’s good! It goes without saying that you shouldn’t advertise content that is already “well-hung”, but rather a comparatively current one. The way to create new content in the hope of links is risky, but it can be worthwhile – a cost-benefit analysis is recommended.
  • With a little luck, the exact content of the link target, which is no longer available, can be viewed at and can be used as inspiration.
  • If the webmaster is convinced, he will ideally replace the dead link with our working link to the appropriate content.

How are broken links identified and made usable for broken link building?

There are many tools that help to find dead links: Scrapebox, Xenu, Screaming Frog, dead link checker, Netpeak Spider, SEO Tools for Excel, Domain Hunter, Check my Links for Google Chrome and Link Checker for Firefox. The more automated the system, the more expensive the license fee will usually be. If you want to use tools for free, you have to accept that you still have to do a lot of work yourself. None of the aforementioned crawlers are suitable for fully automated use, but rather for targeted research needs on a small scale, which is then also described below. The number of steps to identify the broken links depends on the tool used. Let us now go in search of dead links,

Resource Page Targeting with Keywords

We start with a keyword research : which keywords are relevant for your own page? We are looking for sites that use these keywords as link texts. The ideal keywords should be relevant for the visitors to your own site.

Now we create a list of potential linking pages. Here are a few general search strings to get you started:

  • keyword + “resources”
  • keyword + intitle: resources / resources
  • site: .de keyword + “links”
  • site: .de keyword + “recommended sites”
  • keyword + “related links”

We are looking for a page with a serious look and feel, the content of which also appears suitable for our goals and contains many outgoing links, and we use a tool such as Domain Hunter or Dead Link Checker to examine the outgoing links. We can then export the list with this data in Excel format.

example 1

  • Enter in Google: site: .de tour operator + “links”
  • Export list with the MOZ Bar or SEOquake
  • Clean up list according to usefulness criteria (we are only looking for URLs from tour operators)
  • Check addresses manually: is there a dead link to competitors?

This method is particularly useful if only a few, selected pages are to be examined. The following is a view of the examined website “”.

Screenshot of the “dead link checker” tool

Resource Page Targeting with URLs

We generate a list of competitors via Sistrix and Google (TOP 50 per keyword). Then we download all the backlinks of these competitors from Sistrix, MOZ, LRT, Ahrefs and so on. Free link tools such as Link Explorer from MOZ, BacklinkWatch and Small SEO Tools are also available. These lists are combined and cleaned up by removing the duplicates. Then we check the target pages of the backlinks for accessibility, for example with the Screaming Frog tool.

Example 2 : The competitor

With the ScrapeBox tool, several pages can be analyzed at the same time. By the way, there is a version that works faster and can search more pages at the same time (cost: one-time fee of $ 97). We checked some pages that link to the competitor “I-park-cheaper”, but the broken links we found did not lead to the competitor, so they are useless.

Example 3 : Now two files are compared using ScrapeBox:

test_ possible-links-competitor.txt

The advantage here is that you can examine more data at the same time and consequently you are not forced to enter the pages manually one after the other.

We found various “Error 404 messages”:

Two of these error messages are based on the fact that the entire website no longer exists and two on the fact that the partial pages have been removed. A cover letter because of a dead link is not worthwhile. Therefore, a little disappointment: The method works here in principle, but unfortunately not with the desired success.

How to design the cover letter to the webmaster?

The premise: Not only do we benefit from new backlinks if the approach is successful; The webmaster of the landing page also benefits from the elimination of broken links, because if a page has too many dead, outbound links, the ranking can be negatively affected. In addition, hand on heart: Which website visitor is happy about a link that leads him to a 404 page, even if it is as creatively designed as that of the world-famous Pixar studios – the pleasure is surely finally finally with several dead links …

Therefore: “Make him an offer he cannot refuse!” We point out the dead link and at the same time convey the alternative link target. It has proven useful to send the link to the content offered immediately. And in general, the truism applies: the better the content, the greater the chances that the link will be accepted.

If a new post is created for this backlink, we will of course try to outdo the previously linked post: more tips, nicer pictures, better video embedded. It is often more attractive for a webmaster to refer to new, fresh content than to existing content .

And one more remark on the general approach: In our opinion, broken link building appears to be most promising in niche areas and those in which you find that the pages are generally carelessly maintained within a segment.

A draft of a binding cover letter

Hello Mrs. Meier,

When researching the content of the topic X, I looked around your offer and wanted to call up additional information that is linked on the subpage XY. I noticed that the link (…) on your website ( leads nowhere.

Now on our website ( we also offer useful information on the topic of X. I can imagine that our website will be a good replacement for the link that is no longer working and I am happy if You could include this alternative as a link.

Thank you in advance for a benevolent examination and your answer.

Best regards

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