Link Building is one of the most controversial aspects of SEO, yet one of the best ways you can promote your content/brand. A side advantage of link building is the associated higher rankings in search.
While there are numerous link-building strategies to deploy two main strategies stand out really well:
- Guest Posting
- Broken link building (BLB)
I personally have no favourite. Seeking links for a website will depend on a lot of factors. Some of them include the status of the website, stage of the SEO campaign, and what assets the website has.
Yet, out of the two mentioned link building strategies, I usually gravitate towards broken link building when seeking links for any of my campaigns.
My reason is simple. No one wants to slave over content (either as the creator, contributor, or linker) and suddenly find out that it has “moved” or “totally disappeared” from the internet without being aware of it. Secondly, it hopefully will prevent the “content bloat” we all find ourselves in.
There are different tools, ways, and resources on how to conduct a comprehensive broken link building strategy. In this tutorial, we will take a look at how to use Xenu to conduct a simple link building campaign for a website.
This is the procedure we are going to follow:
- Identify where you want to get a link from
- Run it through the Xenu tool
- Re-create the resources
- Approach the webmaster to ask for the links
Tools you will need for this tutorial
- Xenu – You can download it here
- Your creativity
- Your resilience
Let’s go through the process in detail now.
Step One – Find the Website You want to Crawl
When conducting a broken link building campaign, you are never sure where and what you will end up with but you usually have two options.
You can either start by using search queries (prospecting) with any of your favourite search engines or you can be specific by crawling a website you have identified as a prospect.
If you begin with using search queries, you are certainly not sure where your prospecting will take you, but if you have predetermined website you want to get links from, then I recommend that you start with them.
Usually I seek large publications or magazines in the niche I am working in and then use the crawling tool to see if there are any broken links I can take advantage of. Old, large, or established websites means more content and the more content a website has, the higher the number of broken links it has.
So for this example, I am going to be crawling searchenginejournal.com
Tip: You can also crawl your competitor’s website. How nice it would be to see how many broken pages they have and what these pages are all about.
Step Two – Crawl Your Chosen Website
- Fire up the Xenu Tool.
- Click the File Menu to start
- Enter the URL you want to crawl
- Click Ok
The Xenu tools crawls the website and returns a result set. Depending on how large the website is, this process might take a while to complete. You might want to grab a cup of coffee or go watch your favourite cartoon.
Pro Tip: If you're interested in a particular category of a website then you can crawl that particular section only.
Once completed, you can export your result using the CSV option.
- Your export file will come as a .txt. Once you import it into excel you have something that looks like my result below.
- We will need only the Address (URL) and the Status-Code column. Feel free to remove irrelevant columns you do not need in order to make the data set more meaningful.
- Sort by the Status-Code.
Look for rows with code 404.
Step 3: Recreate the Resources
Once you have found a resource with the status code 404, you can throw it into archive.org to have an idea of what content was on the page.
Here is where broken link building becomes controversial. Some people simply re-produce the content word for word and pass it off as their own material.
This is very wrong. The idea of using archive.org is to find out what the content was and try to improve on it. So put in the effort to make it more relevant and better than when it was first created.
Step 4: Reach Out or Promote Your Content
This is the final stage of the whole process. Reach out to the webmaster where the content was first found to be missing and see if they are willingly to place it on their website again. Even if they are not, provided you have improved on the content, you have additional content to post on your own website.
Finally, promote it like hell. Chances are if the content was once relevant, there is another opportunity that it can be again. Make sure you do a backlink analysis to see if anyone else linked to that content previously - odds are they might be interested in linking again.
Broken link building is usually a very interesting strategy and you never can be sure what you are going to end up with. If you are still wondering if it is worth it, give it a try.
What are your experiences with Broken Link Building? Please share in the comment below.