Outreach Monks

Broken Link Building: How to Turn Dead Links into SEO Gold?

Broken Link Building

Broken link building is a powerful but often overlooked SEO technique. It’s effective, but it can be tricky.

The hard part? Figuring out which websites to target for broken links.

Do you check the website where you want your link to go? Or do you look for websites with broken links that you can replace with links to your own site?

In this guide, we’ll clear up the confusion. We’ll explain how to use broken links for link-building and why it’s one of the best ways to get high-quality links.

What is Broken Link Building?

Broken link building is a strategy where you find broken links on other websites and offer your own link as a replacement.

It’s a win-win situation for both parties. They’re getting their site fixed, and you’re getting a quality backlink for your own site.

Did you know that over time, many backlinks become dead? This is because websites change or remove pages.

Surprisingly, in just 7 years, almost half of all links disappear.

  • After 1 month, 96.6% of links are still active, but 3.4% have broken.
  • After 3 months, the active link rate drops to 92%, with 8% broken.
  • After 1 year, 82.4% of links remain active, while 17.4% have broken.
  • After 3 years, only 71.6% of links are still active, with 28.4% broken.

Let’s take a look at the below image to know more insights:

Lost Links Statistics & Data

How to do Broken Link Building?

Broken link building is like a digital treasure hunt. You’re on the lookout for links that no longer work across the web.

It’s a smart SEO strategy that blends detective work with outreach.

While it’s a bit of effort, the payoff in boosting your site’s visibility and making new connections is huge. 

Step 1: Locate Broken Pages of Competitors

This step is about finding errors and 404s on your competitors’ entire site. This helps you spot chances to build links. Here’s a guide on how to do it with tools:

  • List Your Competitors: Start by making a list of your main competitors. These are websites with content or services like yours.
  • Pick Your Tools: There are many tools to help you find broken backlinks. Some popular ones are Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Moz. These tools can check a website and find links that don’t work anymore.
  • Enter Competitor’s Website: Choose a competitor’s website and put it into the tool. This tells the tool where to start looking.
  • Scan for Broken Pages: Let the tool do its thing. It will analyze the competitor’s website and check each link to determine whether it leads to a working page or a broken page.
  • Gather the Broken Pages: After the scan, the tool will give you a list of broken links. These are your chances. Keep this list, as you’ll use it to find places where your content can fit in.
  • Check Relevance: Look at the broken pages to see which ones fit your content. Not every broken page will be a good fit. Choose the ones that match your website’s goals.

Step 2: Identify Backlinks Leading to These 404 Pages

Once you’ve found these pages on your competitors’ websites, the next step is to find the backlinks that point to these dead pages.

  • Use Backlink Analysis Tools: Tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Moz are really useful here. They can help you find the backlinks that go to the broken pages you’ve found.
  • Enter the Broken URLs: Put the URLs of those pages into the backlink analysis tool. This tells the tool to look for all the backlinks that go to these specific URLs.
  • Get the Backlink Data: The tool will give you a list of websites that link to the broken pages. This list is important because it shows you potential chances for your website to step in and offer a new link.
  • Sort and Pick the Best Ones: Not all backlinks are equally important. Go through the list and pick the most valuable backlinks from high-quality, relevant websites. These are the ones you’ll want to focus on in the next steps of your broken link building strategy.

Step 3: Determine Contacts for Outreach

After you’ve identified those broken links and identified your replacement content, it’s time to initiate outreach.

This phase is all about pinpointing the right individuals to connect with.

  • Identify the Website Owner or Editor: The person you need to reach is typically the website owner, webmaster, or content editor. They’re the ones who can update the site and swap out the broken link with your link.
  • Use Website Contact Information: Begin by exploring the website itself. Many sites feature a “Contact Us” page or provide contact details in the footer. This is the simplest method to discover whom to contact.
  • Leverage Social Media: If the website doesn’t display contact info, delve into their social media profiles. Occasionally, they’ll offer a direct message option or list an email address in their bio.
  • Utilize Tools for Finding Email Addresses: Tools like Hunter.io or Voila Norbert are specifically designed to help you locate people’s email addresses. Just input the domain name of the website, and these tools will present you with a list of emails linked to that domain.
  • Check WHOIS Records: For harder-to-find contacts, WHOIS databases can provide contact information for domain owners. However, privacy settings might restrict the available info.
  • Prepare a Spreadsheet: Maintain a record of your discoveries in a spreadsheet. Note the website, the broken link you discovered, and the contact information for outreach. This will keep you organized and expedite the process when you begin dispatching your pitches.

Step 4: Deliver Your Pitch

After discovering the broken links and crafting the perfect piece of content to replace them, it’s time to reach out. This step is all about communication. Here’s how to deliver your pitch effectively:

  • Prepare Your Email: Start by writing a friendly and concise email. Your goal is to grab the recipient’s attention and make them see the value in replacing the broken links with your content.
  • Personalize Your Message: Use the recipient’s name if you can find it, and mention something specific about their website. This shows you’ve done your homework and are not just sending a generic email.
  • Explain the Issue: Politely point out the broken link you found. It’s helpful to include the exact location of the link to make it easier for them to verify.
  • Offer Your Content: Introduce your content as a valuable replacement for the broken link. Highlight how your content is relevant and beneficial for their audience.
  • Be Polite and Concise: Keep your message short and to the point. Respect their time by making your pitch easy to read and understand.
  • Follow-up: If you don’t hear back within a week or two, it’s okay to send a polite follow-up email. Sometimes, emails get missed, and a gentle reminder can help.
  • Handle Responses Gracefully: Whether they accept your offer or not, always respond with gratitude. Building relationships is key, and a polite exchange can open doors for future opportunities.

Bonus Step: Create New Content for Broken Links

If you don’t have any content to replace a broken link, you can create new content and pitch it as a replacement. This can be a valuable strategy, especially if the broken link is from an authoritative website.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Understand the Original Content: Analyze what the original content was about to create a relevant replacement.
  2. Develop Relevant Content: Create content that provides the same value as the broken link. Ensure it is useful and valuable to the audience of the linking page.
  3. Ensure Quality: Write engaging and informative content. High-quality content is more likely to be accepted as a replacement.
  4. Include Keywords: Incorporate relevant keywords naturally to improve SEO and make it easier for others to find.
  5. Check for Errors: Proofread your content to ensure there are no spelling or grammar mistakes. High-quality content builds credibility.

Things to Consider:

  • Link Value: Ensure the link is valuable. Only pursue links from authoritative websites where the effort will be worth it.
  • Relevance: The new content should align with the topic of the broken link and provide genuine value to the website’s audience.

By creating high-quality replacement content, you offer a valuable resource to website owners, increasing the chances they will link to your site. This approach can turn broken links into valuable opportunities for your SEO efforts.

Best Practices of Leveraging Broken Link Building (2024)

Broken link building can be a powerful strategy for improving your website’s performance in search engines. Here are some best practices to keep in mind as you implement this technique in 2024:

Best Practices of Leveraging Broken Link Building

  1. Stay Organized: Keep track of your efforts in a spreadsheet or tool. Note the broken links you’ve found, the websites you’ve contacted, and the responses you’ve received.
  2. Focus on Quality: A link from a reputable site is more valuable than several links from lesser-known sources.
  3. Be relevant: Ensure that the content you’re offering as a replacement is relevant to the broken link.
  4. Build Relationships: Treat your outreach as an opportunity to build relationships with other website owners and bloggers.
  5. Monitor Your Results: Monitor your backlink profile to see the impact of your broken link building efforts. Use tools to track the new links you’ve acquired.
  6. Stay Ethical: Avoid any tactics that could be considered spammy or unethical. Be honest in your outreach and focus on providing genuine value.
  7. Adapt and Evolve: SEO is constantly changing, so be prepared to adapt your broken link building strategies as needed. Stay informed about the latest trends and best practices to ensure your efforts remain effective.


It’s clear that broken link building isn’t just a one-time task; it’s an ongoing strategy that requires consistent effort and attention. 

You can continuously improve your site’s visibility and authority by regularly checking for broken inbound links and providing relevant content.

As you refine your approach and stay adaptable, broken link building can become a powerful tool in your SEO arsenal, helping you stand out in a crowded digital landscape.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does broken link building still work?

Yes, broken link building is still an effective SEO strategy. It helps improve your website's backlink profile and search engine rankings.

Where to find broken links?

Broken links can be found using Ahrefs, SEMrush, or Check My Links. They can also be discovered manually by checking external links on relevant websites.

What is broken backlinks?

Broken backlinks are links pointing to a page that no longer exists, resulting in a 404 error. They are opportunities to fix broken links and build backlinks.

Why are broken backlinks bad?

Broken backlinks lead to a poor user experience and can negatively impact a website's SEO and credibility.

What is 404 error in SEO?

A 404 error in SEO is an HTTP status code indicating that the requested page could not be found on the server. It can hurt a website's ranking if the error page is not addressed. Internal links were also found to have this error.

Sahil Ahuja

Sahil Ahuja

Sahil Ahuja, the founder of Outreach Monks and a digital marketing expert, has over a decade of experience in SEO and quality link-building. He also successfully runs an e-commerce brand by name Nolabels and continually explores new ways to promote online growth. You can connect with him on his LinkedIn profile.


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