How Do You Do Broken Backlink Building?

“Experts are experts because they teach.”

So says one of my all-time favorite marketers, Perry Marshall, the author of 80/20 Sales and Marketing.

And he’s right, you know?

Right now at AutoGrow, we’re in the process of building out our content promotion system. So I’m taking Perry Marshall’s advice and teaching you everything we’re learning along the way.

And because I understand what it means to be a busy business owner, I’m only going to teach you promotion strategies that make the best use of your time and that we know (from hands-on experience) will get you results.

When it comes to successful content promotion, it’s become almost cliche amongst the pros to say: 50% of our time should go into writing and the other 50% should go into promoting.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a lot of time spent promoting, especially when a solid piece of content may take you 10 hours or more.

So that got me thinking…

If the AutoGrow team and I want to create a robust content promotion system that checks all the boxes, we should incorporate strategies that don’t piss people off, but also ones that won’t take too much time for every post we publish.

One strategy I’ve found to be quite successful is broken backlink building.

It seems to be something on most marketer’s minds lately because after we published the post above, a client reached out to me asking about broken backlink building and how to do it.

So today I’m teaching you how to do broken backlink building.

I’m going to:

  • Define it for you
  • Teach you what types of posts to use it for
  • How to do it step-by-step while integrating it into your existing workflow (just like we are)
  • The best time-saving tools to use, and…
  • Give you several successful case study examples so you can see how well it works.

Ready? Let’sah go! (Insert Super Mario voice).

What Is Broken Backlink Building? (And the Benefits)

Let’s begin by defining broken backlink building. I know among my own team this was a new marketing term, and it may be for some of you as well.

Broken backlink building is the process of finding broken links on reputable sites in your niche, and offering up relevant content to the webmasters of those sites as a way of getting them to fix the link with a backlink pointing to your content.

Simple enough, right?

The main benefit and reason for doing it aren’t just to give you warm fuzzies for being a helpful netizen. Rather, by growing your backlinks from quality sites, you will grow your Google pagerank, increasing your site’s visibility in search results, and ultimately giving your traffic a sustainable BOOST.

When to Do Broken Backlink Building

Now that you know what broken backlink building is, you’re probably wondering when to do it and for which types of content.

Personally, I don’t think broken backlink building is necessary for every article you write. This is because it is going to require an investment of time to do right.

You only want to try broken backlink building for cornerstone content—in other words, articles that are evergreen with enduring value—or for articles that are directly relevant to your business.

For example, if you publish a piece of content that follows the skyscraper formula (as a long, resource-based list), that piece will have enduring value. Google is more likely to recognize it as a valid resource and rank it higher.

Cornerstone content should also get the broken backlink-building treatment.

Just as a refresher from our content promotion post: cornerstone content is your best-performing content, such as explainers and how-tos. This content should have a great search engine rank and a strong brand voice.

Additionally, if you have content that is directly relevant to your business (and isn’t necessarily cornerstone content or a skyscraper post), you can use broken backlink building for that as well.

For example, if I wanted to build links to an AutoGrow article, I might choose to use a post we’ve done on sales funnels, since that is more directly relevant to our business than say, email list-building.

What Are the Steps/Tools Needed to Build Broken Backlinks?

At this point, you’re ready to get started with your own broken backlink building as part of your content marketing process. Here are the steps we generally plan to follow at AutoGrow. I’ll also include some time-saving tools that you can use as well.

Step #1: Hire/Delegate an SEO Professional: We’re in the process of hiring an SEO professional who will be responsible for backlink research and outreach.

You may already have an SEO professional at your company, which is great. You may want to delegate the above tasks to them if they don’t do these already.

Step #2: Determine Which Articles Are to Be Promoted Via Trello: Here is where you need to figure out which articles you’re going to offer up to websites as replacements for their broken links.

You can either write a new piece of content using the tips I mentioned above (cornerstone, evergreen, etc.) or use one you already have in your arsenal.

The AutoGrow team and I do a mix of both. We plan for future posts that we can use in backlink building, and we also have a couple in our content arsenal that we plan to use.

We keep everything organized in Trello. I actually named Trello as one of my 30 tools for better content marketing in 2017, and rightfully so.

The way we use Trello as part of the broken backlink building process is through our promoted column.

Each blog post in our content marketing system is represented by a card. That card goes from “outline” mode to “research,” then “writing” and “editing.”

Once the post is ready for publication, it gets moved to the “promoting” column (see below).

Since we’ve incorporated broken backlink building into our strategy, this “promoting” column means the post is getting promoted via social media and through backlinking.

Step #3: Track Results: We’re keeping our outreach process manual for now. Measuring results is important, and we plan to use a spreadsheet to track the results of every broken backlink-building campaign that we do.

This will include who we reach out to, how many times, and the success rate.

Of course, you may want to use a tool for tracking short-term and long-term results. Here are some of the best ones for broken backlink building and outreach.

Ahrefs

Although it’s not free, Ahrefs is an amazing resource for finding backlinks. This tool arranges backlinks via “new,” lost,” and “broken” links.

Ahrefs will also show you the number of backlinks, referring domains, organic keywords, organic traffic, and paid keywords of that domain.

Each domain receives its own unique Ahrefs rank. As the site explains, this rank comes from “a list of all websites in our database ordered by the size and quality of their backlink profiles.”

BuzzStream

Another paid tool, BuzzStream is ideal for automated outreach. Upload an outreach list and BuzzStream will arrange it by name, domain, relationship stage (which changes depending on level and frequency of contact), and domain authority.

You can filter contacts and even remove those who are unresponsive. BuzzStream allows you to prepare pre-written templates and send the same template to several contacts.

ScreamingFrog SEO Spider Tool & Crawler Software

ScreamingFrog offers a variety of services, but it will come in handy for broken backlink building.

This tool lets you detect broken links. You can then feed those sites with the broken links into BuzzStream and send outreach emails.

Xenu’s Link Sleuth

Xenu’s Link Sleuth is free software that scans for broken links across the Internet. It can review Java applets and scripts, style sheets, local image maps, backgrounds, plug-ins, frames, and images.

SEO Quake

This Internet browser plugin, also free, is a link checker (it even inspects domains) that also does SEO audits. You can use SEO Quake to pick and choose which broken links would rank highest.

Check My Links

Check My Links, also available for free, is a Google Chrome extension. Like SEO Quake, you simply install it and then use it whenever you’re browsing the Internet and want to look for broken backlinks.

The Internet Wayback Machine

If you find any sites that have 404 errors, then you can’t see the content on the page at all. So how can you write replacement content for it?

Use the Internet Wayback Machine. This gives you an archived cache version of the site.

Outreach Tips for Broken Backlink Building

If you aren’t sure what to write when reaching out to people for broken backlink building, here’s a template that has worked in the past:

SUBJECT: _FIRST_NAME – Your post on _SITE_NAME

Hey _FIRST_NAME_,

I loved reading your post _LINK_TO_POST about _POST_TOPIC and noticed a broken link, so just thought I would let you know 🙂

Also, if you’re open to a suggested replacement, I think one of my posts with _X_REASONS/CASE STUDIES/TIPS on _POST_TOPIC would be a great fit.

Let me know if you want to look at it or would like me to pinpoint the broken link on your post 🙂

I am also happy to save you time by writing all the text for you so you can just copy and paste it in there.

Cheers,

Matt

 

Also, here are a few outreach best practices:

  • When contacting someone to replace broken links, make sure you have a fresh live link to offer and a short blurb of content for them to use as well. When a past client did this for me, I actually paid attention and responded to their outreach attempt. I typically don’t.
  • Keep your email short and sweet. Be friendly but to-the-point.
  • If you don’t hear back, it’s okay to send one follow-up email. If you don’t hear back after that, it’s time to move on. Whether you got stuck in the contact’s spam folder or they just don’t want to talk to you, focus on those who did respond.

How Long Does It Take to See Results?

So at this point, you’ve followed the steps above and just did your first round of outreach with broken backlink building. How long will it take to start seeing more traffic to your website?

The answer is…it depends.

There are a lot of factors that can influence results: whether you get a response back to your outreach efforts, how many responses you get, the kind of promotion you do on your content, how often you do outreach…there’s a lot to consider.

Richard Marriott of Clambr, who wrote an awesome piece on deep broken backlink building, saw results in a month’s time.

This is a pretty reasonable timeframe, I’d say, although it may take you longer. That’s okay, too.

Here at AutoGrow, we’re using outreach for the first time as of this writing. It’s still too soon to give a definitive timeline about when we will see results.

I’ll probably update this section in the future as more statistics about our own outreach become available.

Does Broken Backlink Building Work? Case Studies and Real Examples

Of course, we’re hardly the first company to use broken backlink building, and we won’t be the last.

If you’re not quite convinced that broken backlink building is for you, check out these case studies and examples. These companies all used broken backlink building and had measurable success.

Cold Outreach Fuels Broken Backlink Building Campaign

YourOutreach.com used a process called cold outreach for their broken backlink building campaign. This was done for Lumiere Healing Centers, a drug addiction treatment center.

Cold outreach, as the name suggests, is sending outreach emails to those you have no prior relationship with. If you’ve never done outreach to someone before, all your first attempts are going to be cold outreach.

YourOutreach relied on both their own services and Ahrefs to get their broken backlinks.

They also ran Ahrefs to organize domains by those that had the most instances of keywords like “withdrawal,” “recovery,” and “addiction.” Those were then loaded into a spreadsheet.

From there, they did their cold outreach. Out of about 496 outreach emails, YourOutreach had a 21% response rate, 57% email open rate (which translates to 287 opened emails), 108 responses, and no bounced emails.

These stats aren’t bad for cold outreach! They also shared the traffic spike in organic search traffic for the rehab center after they’d finished their outreach.

Nikolay Stoyanov Generates 15 Links with 24-Hour Broken Backlink-Building Campaign

Nikolay Stoyanov, the marketer behind Niksto.com, did a brief broken backlink campaign.

He wrote a piece of content that he planned to offer as a new link to a list of 100 websites that were linking to a broken one. (He found that list of 100 websites using that Ahrefs tool we mentioned, by the way.)

From there, he created an outreach template and reached out to all 100 sites in bulk using a Chrome plugin called YAMM.

Once he sent his emails, he received 15 links back to his content, three of which had high MOZ domain authority. It all translated to a 15% conversion rate, and he was able to do it all within a day.

Imagine the amount of links he’d get if he did this routinely?

Conclusion

Growing traffic is just the tip of the iceberg—or more like, the top of your funnel. That’s why I created this handy 11 point perfect sales funnel checklist.

Broken backlink building is something we’re experimenting with here at AutoGrow, so we look forward to sharing the results with you in the near future.

In the meantime, you should use this tutorial and these cases studies as inspiration to give it a try yourself.

To review:

  • You don’t need to do broken backlink building on every article you write, nor should you. Save it for cornerstone content and evergreen content that has long-term value, and content that is directly relevant to your business.
  • Having an SEO professional who is focused on doing the research and outreach for you is ideal. That’s what we’re doing at AutoGrow.
  • Use tools like Ahrefs, BuzzStream, the Internet Wayback Machine, and ScreamingFrog SEO Spider Tool & Crawler Software to find and manage broken links and do outreach.
  • Make sure to track your outreach results, including your success rate and how many times you reach out. It’s recommended you reach out only two times before moving on.

Had you heard of broken backlink building before this article? Is it something you plan on adding to your content promotion strategy? Let me know in the comments below.

Keep Hustlin’, Stay Focused,

—Matt

 

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