Does broken link building really work in 2019? That was the question that started this campaign. Our client wanted to get new links for their ecommerce statistics page. They already created the page with most recent marketing, ecommerce, SEO and email statistics.

Using Ahrefs Content Explorer, we found a pretty big opportunity for broken link building. A removed article with 1.1k pages linking to it.

It was a perfect opportunity for us to check if broken link building deserved the bad reputation it was getting in 2019.

Usual broken link building process

When most people in SEO hear the words “broken link building” they imagine something like this:
  1. You find a relevant 404 page with lots of referring domains
  2. Use Ahrefs to see who links to that page
  3. Scrape contact info (usually emails like contact@site.com)
  4. Use a template you found online word for word, replacing only URLs.

The problem?

Everyone in charge of maintaining these blogs you’re reaching out to, already saw all the templates. They won’t read your email. They will simply delete it.

And they will most likely get real mad if they see the words “I stumbled upon your article” and “I googled and found a replacement“.

In 2019, you need to try harder.

GFXL broken link building process

We decided to improve a few things:

  1. Find relevant page that no longer exists and returns 404
  2. Use Ahrefs “Backlinks” report to see who links to that page
  3. Import results to URLProfiler and find author of the article that linked to broken page. Use the same tool to find anchor text, 10 words before and 10 words after the anchor. It will come in useful later.
  4. Find email of the author using all methods known to man (Twitter replies, Personal newsletter subs, Youtube about pages, Hunter.io, etc); If author email is unknown, find relevant person in the company or use blog admin email. Sometimes this results in a pretty extensive detective work on Linkedin.
  5. After this, verify the emails found. This is an important step. Skip it and you will send a lot of emails that will bounce.
  6. Customize the template based on the quote / part of the article they used.
  7. And update your article so it’s a better fit for those looking to replace broken link.

Categorizing opportunities

In our case, the broken page was about email marketing stats. We analysed the text around the anchor for 1,000+ pages linking to this broken article. We noticed a trend. Most of the anchors fell into 1 of 4 categories. It was anchor mentioning “stat #1”, “stat #2”, “stat #3” and basically “everyone else”.

Finally, because our client’s page is unique, and not a copy of the broken page, we needed to make sure it had the info most of the people were linking to. In this case it was just a matter of adding a few pieces of statistics. Which we had to dig for using Wayback Machine, buy you can probably simply expand on what you find from analyzing anchor texts.

Broken link building Template

Finally, during outreach we adjusted the template based on which statistics they quoted. So everyone got a hyper-relevant email. They knew exactly why we sent the email, how to find the relevant passage in their post and what to replace it with.

This is an example of what it looked like for one of the segments:

As you can see, we were very transparent about the whole purpose of the email. And I think this is reflected in the results and emails we received back.

Campaign results

The whole funnel with all the numbers can be seen below. As you can see, we went from 1.1k pages linking to the original broken page and got our client 10 new links. Depending on how you look at this, it’s either a lot, or a fraction of the original number.

Additionally, a couple of websites requested link exchange. Which depending on your situation might or might not work for you. In 1 case the person asked for a guest post instead of replacing the link. One other site admin requested a payment of $8.60 to place a link on his DR30+ site.

Which we did and that’s why the total price for 10 links is $8.60 and not zero.

In total, we managed to secure 3 links from DR 79+ sites, 6 links from DR 40+ sites and 1 backlink from DR 30+ website.

Conclusions

Ultimately, we think the whole campaign was a success, for multiple reasons.

  1. These links will be hard to replicate for the competition
  2. Many of the links are from high DR sites
  3. Low cost for the caliber of links secured

*P.S.* We used a couple of other techniques to improve the response rates not covered here, but we’ll be happy to discuss them with interested parties over email — contact us at justas@getfoundxl.com 🙂