Posted by russvirante
It was a little over a year ago that I first wrote the “Broken Link Building Bible” and it seemed like it was time for an update. If you haven’t had a chance yet, please head over to the original, as most of it is still highly relevant today, and it contains the basics which will not be covered in this post.
Table of contents
- Ethical Guidelines
- Advanced Prospecting
- Advanced Content
- Advanced Outreach
- Thou shalt not cloak: Cloaking with broken link building usually takes the form of recreating content and then using either the canonical tag or traditional IP delivery techniques to point Googlebot towards a more commercial site. You really aren’t going to get a huge boost out of using this technique, and more importantly, you are missing out on the opportunity to build a genuinely great site. If you are already creating content that’s good enough to form a successful BLB campaign, why not just expose that content on your site? It’s a big risk for a little reward.
- Thou shalt not plagiarize: Sorry, folks, but you can’t just copy the old site or page off of Archive.org and expect to get away with it. You’re asking for a DMCA complaint. How hard is it to update content? Also, link to the original creator’s website for good measure!
- Thou shalt not bait and switch: This is just like slow cloaking. Why kill really good content on your site that deserves links, only to redirect to a page that doesn’t? Use BLB as a platform for developing a great, content-rich website.
- Thou shalt not commit identity theft: This one is really egregious. If you find a whole domain that is now expired, don’t simply recreate the whole site and then send emails from that site as if you are the original owner. Seriously, I can’t believe I have to write this, but I have seen it in the wild.
- Thou shalt not automate sends: The fastest way to kill a campaign is to just send out thousands of automated emails. You will get terrible conversion rates, piss off webmasters, get your IP blacklisted, and waste good prospects. Take your time to hand-select your targets and customize your emails.
- Thou shalt not send unrelated emails: Not all broken links are good opportunities. Only send emails to prospects whose sites have a good likelihood of playing ball. I have seen campaigns where success rates are 10%+ because the link builder was careful enough in the prospecting process. If you send too many requests to unrelated sites, your deliverability will suffer.
- Thou shalt not misrepresent: There is no need to lie to your prospect. Don’t pretend to be some kid working on a project or say “I was visiting your site when…”. You will see in the outreach templates below that there are some really strong pitch emails that don’t require you lie. You’ll sleep better at night, and trust me, genuine-sounding emails do a lot better than disingenuous ones.
- Go through the normal procedures of identifying relevant BLB opportunities following the steps outlined in the BLB Bible.
- Use a backlink tool like Open Site Explorer to export the Top Pages from the site that has the broken link opportunity. For example, if you found a broken link to http://www.joesite.com/important-page.html, you would want to run a Top Pages report for the joesite.com domain.
- Export the results by setting “filter by status codes 400 or greater” (this will pick up both 404s and error pages). Finally, visit the archive.org versions of these pages to see if any are strong opportunities.
And, here are the steps using BrokenLinkBuilding.com:
- Click on the list icon next to the opportunity you want to examine for section 404s
- Click on the Archive link to look at the archive pages to see if it matches your campaign
- [Pro Tip] If you find a great opportunity, mine its backlinks for more broken link opportunities or use it as a URL campaign inside BrokenLinkBuilding.com
- Register the domain using your valid contact information
- Do not re-launch the site
- Begin reclaiming links through Broken Link Building like you always have
- If and when the original webmaster reaches out to ask why you now own the domain s/he accidentally dropped, offer to transfer it back to them and build a relationship that could earn you a link from that site as well.
- Think Panda: If you have never read through the Panda Questionnaire before, take a look at it here in the section labeled “Briefly: What is the Panda Algorithm“. Your BLB content should try and hit these guidelines with perfect precision. Make sure your content is insightful, well written, thorough, and cleanly designed. Spending extra time with your content will make a huge difference in conversion rate.
- Be obvious about the publish date: The last thing that a webmaster wants to do is replace one broken link with another. They need to feel confident that the replacement you are offering them won’t get outdated any time soon. The easiest way to do this is make it clear that the content has been updated by a certain date. In fact, I recommend including this in the outreach email, saying something like… “this one was updated recently and seems to cover the same content…”
- Be thorough: The webmaster you reach out to may only be interested in a small part of the page they once linked to. A giant resource page on cancer may have a specific statistic they are citing, or a description of a particular treatment option. Make sure that your content covers all the bases. Once again, this ties into the outreach itself and explains why the one-to-one email campaigns do better than automated campaigns. If you look at your target’s site before emailing them, you know which sections to point out in the outreach email that show why the new link you propose meets her/his needs.
- Citations: Unless your site is already a well known and respected brand, chances are you need to build up your credibility a bit before you start asking people to link to your content. Make sure your site is Wikipedia-esque in its outbound linking and citations. You will often find that many of the sites which you are reaching out to actually have great content that you can cite in your own work. Nothing increases the likelihood of a converted outreach email than the webmaster finding their own content properly cited as part of the body of research behind a strong content piece.
- Subject: found a broken link on ##page##
- Body: Just wanted to let you know there is a broken link to ##broken## on your page ##page##. Found this instead ##replacement##. Might want to fix it.
- Inbox justification
- Custom pitch
- Thank you
- Inbox Justification: Go ahead and get out on the table why you are emailing the webmaster. They don’t know who you are and the least you can do is offer them early on a reason to read your email. Don’t lie. You don’t have to say “I was reading your website and I found…”. Just say something to the effect of: “Hi, I am ##name## and I noticed that you have a broken link to ##broken resource name## (##broken resource link##) on your ##page name## (##page url##).” No need to mention the replacement yet.
- Personal Touch: Here is where you explain why your replacement is a good fit and why you are personally invested in it. Go ahead and say if you are the business owner. If you created excellent content, there is nothing to be ashamed of! Tell them why you care about people finding the right content and how yours improves upon the one you are replacing. Give them a reason to believe if they add your link that it will stay updated for the long haul. Normally, you want to touch 3 main points: it’s new and improved, it’s here for the long run, and you are personally invested in guaranteeing that.
- Thank You: Finally, be cordial and grateful that someone took the time out of their day to read your email. Don’t just say “thanks,” but actually express some gratitude for not hitting the delete button the second it showed up in their inbox. You’d be surprised, but genuine thankfulness is so rare in emails these days that many people are shocked to just have someone be nice. Honestly, when is the last time you wrote an email where the send off was something more than “thx” or just your name?
- There is a limited, although renewable, supply of opportunities
- Content creation is often necessary for success
- Quality drives conversion rates
The shortcuts just aren’t the same; they’re the very shortcuts that tend to get us in trouble with Google. I want you to think about Broken Link Building just like you might think of a natural resource. Let’s use it wisely. There is plenty to go around.
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