Garrett French has been digging deep into the reciprocity link building method written by Melanie Nathan (Check out my interview with Melanie here!). Garrett has conducted several interviews about this link building technique which I was fortunate to be apart of one of them. This post will not only discuss this link building technique but also show it in action. This post will show you real examples of this technique being used to acquire many highly valuable and authoritative links.
The Concept Behind Broken Link Building:
The name says it all. You’re looking for websites that have resources or links pages that include links that are broken (404) or are no longer pointing to the valuable information it once was. A good search operator for finding prospects involves doing a search for “NICHE + inurl:links“. You now have a list of websites that likely are in your niche and have a links page. Alternatively you can include resources in the search query. Once you get your results start going through each site to determine which ones will be worth your time to contact the webmaster.
Determining Whether Or Not A Page Is A Good Link Prospect
Once you arrive at a page that includes a list of links (resources) it’s time to determine whether its a good link prospect. The value of every page will be different. You can look for PageRank, Mozrank or just the fact that its indexed in the search engines. After determining value you want to look for signs of a way to get a hold of the webmaster. Is there an e-mail address mentioned? How about a contact form? If you can’t find a way to contact the webmaster then you shouldn’t waste any more of your time.
If you have an e-mail address then you can continue to step two: Determining if any of the links on the page are broken. I like to use Xenu broken link checker as a quick snap shot of whether or not their are any broken links. If the report comes up with broken links go and manually check them. If the report comes back clean you may want to manually click on each link within the list. Why you ask? Because Xenu does not always display a custom 404 error page or a redirected link as a broken link. These are missed opportunities you can use to pull off this link building technique! Once you jot down a list of broken links its time to contact the webmaster.
Emailing The Webmaster
You found your resource and listed out the links that are broken. It’s now time to contact the webmaster. It’s extremely important to make this e-mail PERSONALIZED. Do not attempt to template it nor start the email off with “Dir Sir or Maddam”. These are clear signals of web spam. Find a name on the website that you can address. If its a site that has a blog look for the author name. Most websites have an about us page or even include a name on their contact page. Take the time to find a name it could make a big difference in your link acquisition results.
The subject line in my opinion should be short, clear, and concise. Getting to the point you should use subject lines such as “Issue with your website” or “Found broken links”. Melanie Nathan has stated that she believes using the word “found” could imply that you were looking for broken links which breaks down the trust you have with the webmaster. You may want to consider avoiding this word. Regardless, test everything. You never know what will work.
The meat and potatoes of the e-mail is in the message you send to the webmaster. You should also try to make this short and get to the point quickly. People don’t like to read long emails let a lone emails from someone they don’t know. Explain how you found their website, where the issue is within their website and what the ‘fix’ is. You may at this point choose to give the webmaster a link to your resource as well. I personally try to build trust first and send resources within a second e-mail later. Remember that every niche is different so try different variations until you find one that works best for you.
Below is a real life example of an email exchange I did with a webmaster a couple years back that netted my client a very valuable link. (click on the images for bigger and clearer images.)
A Real Life Broken Link Building Example
After determining that this website was a good link target. I manually checked the links on their resource page. I jotted down some broken links and started with my email. You will note that this technique was a little different then what I mentioned above. Within this niche I had really good ROI with doing a series of e-mails and asking permission for reporting links and additional resource suggestions.
This webmaster just invited me to not only send over a list of broken links BUT IS NOW REQUESTING MY RESOURCE! This gets me very excited so I eagerly write an email back. Remember, your maintaining a ‘buddy-buddy’ relationship while getting to the point as well.
The ‘money’ email has now been sent. At this point all I can do is cross my fingers and hope that the webmaster is impressed with my list and is equally impressed with my suggested resource. One day later I opened up my inbox to see this email response.
SUCCESS!!! The webmaster has just informed me that my link has been added to their resources page. It sure didn’t take much time for me to pull up his website and see the active link and even the anchor text that was awarded to me. I obviously can’t share the page or too much information but take a look at this screen shot of the PR and MOZrank associated with the page the link was acquired on.
SEO and link building theory is great but actually seeing it in action is something completely different. Hopefully this successful link acquisition will motivate all of you to give it a shot. Have you had success with the broken link building technique? Please share with us in the comments any tips you may have.