Broken Link Building in Action (Strategies, Outreach Emails and Stats Revealed)

By | October 13, 2019


We talk about broken link building a lot.
In videos, blog posts, and forums. But does it really work? You’re about to find out in this video. Stay tuned. [music] What’s up SEOs. Sam Oh here with Ahrefs, the
SEO tool that helps you grow your search traffic, research your competitors and dominate your niche. Now, I know that link building can be a huge
struggle, especially for those of you that are new to SEO, so I want to share one of
my broken link building campaigns with you step-by-step. And rather than just showing you “results,”
I want to show you the exact prospecting techniques. The exact emails that I sent, and a couple
big mistakes that costed me really easy links. So here’s a quick overview: The website that I built links for is a blog
about natural health, more specifically in the aromatherapy niche. And I bought this
blog a few years ago and haven’t really touched it, outside of hiring some writers and fixing
some critical technical SEO issues. So let’s get straight to it. First, what is broken link building? Broken link building is a tactic where you
find a broken page with links pointing at it, recreate a page on the same topic, then
email everyone who’s linking to the 404 page and ask them to replace the dead link with
yours. Alright, so step one is to find a dead page
that has links. The easiest way to do it is to search in Site
Explorer for a competing website that has links. So I’ll do a search for a website in the aromatherapy
niche. Next, go to the “best by links” report, which
ranks the pages that have the most links from this domain. Then use the “HTTP Code” filter and choose
404. Now, you can see all of the dead pages on
this domain and order it by the number of referring domains in descending order to see
which topics would be best to recreate. Now, it’s important to note that the number
of backlinks that you’ll find pointing at a dead page will vary big time based on your industry. So this report might not look that exciting
with the top page having only 11 referring domains, but that’s a decent amount of broken
links in the aromatherapy niche. Now, if you’re not sure which websites to
look up, then just enter in your own domain in Site Explorer. And then go to the competing domains report. Here, you can see a list of websites that
rank in the top 10 for the same keywords as your target domain. In general, the more common keywords you have,
the more relevant these websites will be to the keywords you want to rank for. From here, you would just search for each
of these domains in Site Explorer, go to the best by links report, and then filter for
404 pages as we did in the previous example. Alright, so looking at the 404 pages in the
Best By Links report, the one that interested me the most was this one on diluting essential
oils since I already had a post on the topic that needed an update. So let’s look at the backlinks report for
this page. Here, you’ll see that all of the links are
301 redirects done from a different domain, which actually happened to be from a rebrand. Now let’s go a bit deeper through the rabbit
hole. If we click on the caret for this page, you’ll
see that the original page had 47 referring domains before the improper redirect was done. Bingo. So from here, I went to the backlinks profile
and moved on to the next step, which is to check whether the broken page is a good fit
and to qualify worthy link prospects. Here’s the thing: If you start blindly emailing all of these
people without fully knowing what the page was about before, then your chances of getting
a link decreases significantly, not to mention a whole lot of wasted time. So first, we need to understand what was on that
page before, and then get a grasp for the context of the links, so that it actually
makes sense to contact our link prospects. You can see the content that was on the page
when it was live by clicking on the caret beside the dead URL, and then click “view on Archive.org.” Now, don’t copy the content on this page.
Instead, look at some of the key points that were covered and the angle they took. And from the looks of it, this article talked
about dilution ratios and conversions for the most part, which would be easy to recreate. So since this content is a good fit, I’ll
actually narrow down our list by changing the “Link Type” filter to “DoFollow,” which
will show us only the value passing links. Next, I’ll order the data in descending order
by “Traffic.” And what this does is it puts our “best” link
prospects at the top of the list, and the quality of the links will usually deteriorate
as you scroll further down the list. So you can see here that all of these posts
seem like editorial opportunities, which is a good thing. And as we near the bottom of the list, you’ll
see a forum link, and a bunch of blogspot posts, which I would personally weed out in
my qualification process. You could also sort this by “Referring Domains,”
instead of traffic, if that’s what you prefer. So everything looks good, so I’ll export the
backlinks report. Now the next part is arguably the most important.
And that’s to look at the context of the link, meaning, why are these websites linking to
this page in the first place? You can do that simply by scanning the anchors
and backlink column for your list of qualified prospects, which is basically telling you
key points to include in your post. So yes, we can create a “handy guide,” create
a part on the different ratios for children and adults, talk about proper dilution and
include a chart, and maybe even mention that people should use one to two drops per 10ml
of carrier oil. From here, you would need to remove any pages
from your backlinks export to have a clean list of link prospects. Alright, so now we have the two main parts
that we need for a successful broken link building campaign. #1. We have the key points that we need to
add in our article, which I actually sent to my writer. And again, this will make link acquisition
much more probable. And #2, you should have manually gone through
the list of linking pages and removed all URLs that weren’t qualified as good link prospects. And I ended up with around 17 qualified link
prospects after weeding out pages from the original backlinks export. Let’s move on to the part that’s going to
make or break your broken link building campaign. And that’s outreach. There are three steps to outreach. First, you need to find the email address of your
prospects, next is to craft an email, and the final step is one that I’ll touch on in
a bit, because it’s one of the main reasons why so many link building campaigns fail. Before we tackle each step, let’s use this
spreadsheet, which I’ve left a link to in the description so you can download it and
use it for your own link building campaign. Once you open the Google Sheet, click on file,
make a copy and then click ok to save it to your Google drive so you can edit your own
copy. Alright, so the first step is to import your
clean list of backlinks, so click on the Ahrefs Import tab. Then, click on file, import, upload, and then drag
and drop your clean list there. Since we’re using just a single report, you
can select, “Replace current sheet,” then click “import data.” After your import is complete, go back to
the first tab and you’ll see some key metrics as well as the referring page URL. Now, let’s go to the first linking page. And you can see right away, that this website
seems to be from a single author blogger named Lindsey. So, I’ll add her name to the spreadsheet. Next, we need to find her email address. The
tool that I primarily use is hunter.io. They have a Chrome extension, so you can see
that it’s lit up orange, which means that they have some email addresses on file for
this domain. So I’ll click that, and you can see the email
addresses that Hunter has scraped. Now, you want to choose the most appropriate
email address. So for small companies, it would likely be
the author or founder. And for mid-sized and large companies like Ahrefs or Whole Foods,
that would be someone like the editor or content marketing manager. So I’ll quickly added Lindsey’s email address
to the spreadsheet and you would just need to do this for all of the different URLs in
this list. Alright, now we need to actually craft an
email that will hopefully result in a link back to our site. Now, when you’re writing your email, I want
you to keep these two things in mind. So first, you want to sound as organic as possible.
So to start, address them by their first name and use natural, conversational language. So you don’t want to say something as robotic
as “Hello Webmaster, Your website has a broken link and it may
be a good idea to fix it. Here s a good link to do it with. Instead, you want to somehow connect with
them in the first sentence if possible. So take the extra minute to get to know a thing
or two about the person you’re contacting. Since Lindsey has a short profile in the sidebar,
I know that she is into holistic living and loves food. Cool! Me too! So I might start off with: Hi Lindsey, My name is Sam a fellow holistic foody 🙂 Next, you’ll want to tell them why you’re
contacting them. So I might say something like… I’m emailing you because I clicked on one
of your links to Lea Harris’ blog in your “Natural Remedies For Ear Infections” post
and it looks like she deleted it. Thought you might want a friendly heads-up
to remove/update this part. Now the key part about the line above is that
I’m, saying that she can remove it or update it. Not just update it. Next, we want to pitch our resource, so let’s
continue. If you’re open to suggestions for a replacement,
I recently created a handy (yet comprehensive) guide on how to dilute essential oils safely; and then with a link, (peer reviewed by a clinical aromatherapist). Again, I’m not being pushy, but I’m making
my intention clear of why I’m contacting her. And a couple advanced tips in this line would
be to use the language they use. So if we look back at our spreadsheet, then
you’ll see that the link anchor was, “handy guide,” which is why she gave the link in
the first place. I’ve also added an additional qualification
as to why my article is worth linking to by mentioning that it was peer reviewed by a
clinical aromatherapist. Now, let’s finish the email. No pressure at all. Just thought you might
be interested in an up-to-date article. Either way, I’m glad to have found your blog!
I’ve already shared it with a few other writer friends in our Facebook group 🙂 Warmest,
Sam Now, a quick disclaimer: Don’t say that you love their blog if you
haven’t taken a second to read through their content. I actually did share their post with
a few other writer friends. Finally, let’s put the icing on the cake and
offer more value. PS. If you ever need a hand with anything,
i.e shares, feedback, or whatever, I’m always happy to help. 🙂 Sounds like a pretty solid and kind email
right? Well, there are two key points that I missed here,
which led to above average results, but nothing extraordinary. So from the 32 emails that I sent, 7 responded and
6 linked. That’s an 18.75% conversion rate, which is quite good, although the sample size
is small. But want to know what more than doubled my
conversions? Two things: First, add a screenshot of where the broken
link is. So let’s modify our original email a little
bit and add, “Here’s a screenshot of where I found it:” And the final touch is to add one follow-up
email to those who don’t respond after a reasonable amount of time. Again, we want to sound as natural as possible.
So don’t say, “this is the last time I’ll be contacting you, so I wanted to see if you
got my last email.” Instead, offer up more value. So you might say something like, Hi again! We were just setting up our Pinterest
share queue (30,000+ followers) and it reminded me of your ear infection remedies article
that would make a perfect fit for our Holistic Living board. Just wanted to check-in and see if this is
the best one to add, or if you have another that would be a better fit. Warmest,
Sam And boom. Check this out. From the next 20 emails I sent, 7 people responded.
And of the people who responded, all 7 linked to the article and 2 people actually linked
to the page without responding to the initial email, which I of course knew because of Ahrefs
Backlinks Alerts. So a total of 9 out of 20 new links, which
is a 45% conversion rate. Now, let’s do the math. So with a total of 52 emails sent, my broken
link building campaign came in with 15 links, which is a 28.8% overall conversion rate,
which is an A+ in my books. Now, all of the emails that I sent weren’t
for the dilution guide, but the result was a number one organic ranking position for
my target keyword. Now, it’s important to note that your results
will vary. I’ve seen significantly lower conversion rates in different niches and even on different
topics. Also, if your content isn’t pitch worthy,
then I recommend making sure that it’s top-notch before sending emails because you’ll likely
burn through a lot of perfectly good link prospects. Finally, I want to make one quick note on scaling this process. Everything that I just showed you can be outsourced. But certain tasks like link prospecting, and
responding to emails may be parts that you want to handle yourself until you find someone
with the right skillset to take care of it. For example, you can get people to fill in
names and email addresses for anywhere between 3-10 cents per contact. So you can find freelancers
on Upwork or another one that I’ve had decent results with is Mechanical Turk. So in this particular case, I think I paid
under $3 for the 50 or so contact details, which saved me quite a bit of time. For the outreach step, you can use tools like
Buzzstream, Mailshake, or PitchBox to send mass emails, while still personalizing them
using merge tags. So I’m sure you can see why we love broken link building,
right? From my experience, this is the easiest and most effective tactic to get high quality
backlinks to your website with as little effort as possible. Now, hit the subscribe button for more actionable
SEO and marketing tutorials, and hey, if you want to see more real-life link building and
SEO campaigns like this, then let us know in the comments below. So keep grinding away, go get more links,
and I’ll see you in the next tutorial.

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