5 Types of Sites That Could Benefit from Broken Link Building


Like a prodigal family member, broken link building got re-embraced by SEOs after the series of Google algorithm updates known as Penguin.

Google Penguin and a slew of manual actions Google took against “unnatural” link builders cut the number of backlink methods SEOs had at their disposal at least by half, which lead to broken link building suddenly being in demand again.

That being said, let’s see what broken link building is, how it is done and what types of sites could use it effectively to reinforce their standing with Google and human users.

Broken Link Building: The Basic Model

In practice, broken link building may be carried out in a number of ways, but it essentially boils down to this: (A) you look for relevant sites that have broken links on them, (B) you determine which of the dead links could be replaced with links to your content, (C) you reach out to the site owner and ask him/her to make the swap.

What’s great about broken link building is that, any way you look at it, it’s a win-win situation. The site owner gets broken links fixed, and you get to get a relevant link to your content. Besides, no web spam gets produced in the process.

Who Would Benefit From Broken Link Building?

Broken link building may not be for all types of sites. For example, it’s hard to picture Forbes.com or NYTimes.com benefiting from it (think of the volume and the life cycle of the content they produce). Nor can I see how a site in a highly competitive niche (think payday loans) could use it to their advantage.

At the same time, there are categories of sites that are just right for this type of link building strategy. This is particularly true of any web property that uses content marketing as part of their promo campaign.

So, let’s see which types of sites could leverage broken link building and how.

Example 1: Blog

Let’s say you are the owner of NailNerd.Com, a nice little blog lightly sprinkled with AdSense (I’m not affiliated with them).

broken link building site type 1

Screenshot from NailNerd.Com

Imagine that you’d like to get some links to this blog through broken link building. What kind of sites would you search for? Most likely, these would be:

– sites relevant to the theme of your blog (manicure blogs, beauty blogs, etc.);

– sites with a blogroll, a “recommended sites” page, or similar.

Besides, it’s better if we first look into blogs that don’t look like they are set up for money-making purposes. We better first turn to amateur blogs, sites run by teenage girls, etc.

As a rule, a broken link building pro would use footprints to search for relevant sites. For instance, we could use the following queries (replace KEYWORD with any term that best describes your blog).

KEYWORD “blogroll”

KEYWORD “resources”

KEYWORD “links”

KEYWORD “recommended”

KEYWORD “useful pages”

KEYWORD “recommended pages”

KEYWORD “recommended reading”

To perform an experiment, let’s search for:

nail art “blogroll”

The first search result I got on Google for this query was this page. Voila, so to say, but unfortunately it’s in French – not so relevant for our NailNerd site.

However, the 7th result, Lucy’s Stash blogroll, looks more promising.

Screenshot from LucysStash.com

Screenshot from LucysStash.com

The next thing we’d want to do is  (1) see if a link from this page would be profitable SEO-wise, and (2) check if any of these blogroll links are actually broken.

I explained at length how to assess a page’s SEO value for broken link building purposes in this article on my site. Basically, you’d need to use an SEO plugin (SEOquake would do) to check the page’s Google PageRank, age, incoming links, and other “telling” SEO metrics.

The next step would be to see if any of these links are broken. Instead of doing it by hand, you can use a plugin like Check My Links that will mark any broken links on a page red.

After we run the check, we can see that at least one link in the blogroll is pointing to a non-existent page.

Screenshot from LucysStash.com

Screenshot from LucysStash.com

So, the next thing you could do is to reach out to the blog’s owner, let them know about the broken link and see if they’d consider linking to NailNerd.com instead.

If you have a hard time finding the person’s contact details on the site, consider using the new gmail feature that lets you email virtually anyone with a Google+ account (provided you circle them before you do).

Example 2: E-commerce Site

For broken link building purposes, it’s better if your e-commerce site has a distinct area of specialization. If you sell a wide variety of products, it may be hard for you to execute the strategy.

As an example, let’s take GreenFingers.Com, a Scotland-based company that sells all things gardening, from garden tools, to garden furniture, to hunter socks.

broken link building site type 5

Screenshot from GreenFingers.Com

If one were to search for broken link building opportunities for this site, what kind of sites would they look into? Perhaps landscape design sites or gardening enthusiasts? Let’s see.

Alesia Krush

Alesia Krush

Alesia is an SEO and a digital marketer at Link-Assistant.Com, a major SEO software provider and the maker of SEO PowerSuite tools. Link-Assistant.Com is a group of SEO professionals with almost a decade of SEO experience.
Alesia Krush

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34 thoughts on “5 Types of Sites That Could Benefit from Broken Link Building

  1. Thanks Alesia, good advice. I have used broken link building with great success for a number of clients in competitive keword search markets. It does take time but I have found the results to be worth it.

  2. You probably should have gotten the site owner’s approvals before you used them as examples in this post…it would have been the courteous and professional thing to do.

  3. This is very helpful and insightful but you didn’t ask the owners of the example sites for permission to be criticised for your article. It would have been polite and ethical to contact them first and ask to work with them.

    1. Hi Lisa,

      Perhaps you are right, but I didn’t really mean to criticize anyone’s website in the article.
      Each ans every site mentioned in it is in fact a great site .
      As for broken links, almost any website on the web has some. That’s because sites you link to come and go, and you never know when a link may become broken,
      So, if this is perceived as criticism, let it be known that that’s the last thing I intended.


      1. Alesia, you have my blessing. I was mighty flattered that you used my site as an example. Thanks for the useful tips and thanks for the link 😉

  4. Hi Alesia,

    I am new to link building, but I have read about broken link building campaigns. I really liked your article and thought you mentioned a lot of useful tools. My question/concern is the effectiveness of broken link building. I remember reading about how getting a link on a page with 20 other outbound links does not look very good to Google (almost looks like spam), as opposed to getting a link on a page with no other outbound links. Can you expand on this at all? Thank you!

    1. Hey Joe,

      That’s why one has to analyze the page before trying to get a link from it. If it is relevant, has high PR and legit backlinks, and ranks well on Google, then a link from it shouldn’t hurt.
      Also, such pages have different numbers of links on them. Some have dozens, while some have fewer than 10.
      And, perhaps you have heard of Dejan SEO’s PageRank Split Experiment. The conclusion was that, if you get a link form a high-PR page, even if there are lots of outgoing links on that page, it still helps rankings.

      1. I’m a big user of Link Research Tools at the moment and there is one page on their site that I keep going back to all the time: http://www.linkdetox.com/faq/ this explains the rules that can signal a bad link. If you have Link Detox you can use Alesia’s broken link method to find potential links and then upload them into Link Detox in the ‘what if’ mode – then straightway you can see the real powerful opportunities as well as the dangerous ones.

      2. What would be a PR that would make getting a link worth it? So far, I have found broken links from pages ranging anywhere from 1-3.

      3. @Rick ,
        Thanks for the recommendation! I have certainly heard about the tool, but didn’t get a chance to give it a solid go. I guess I should now!

        It depends on many other factors. For example, if a page is PR2, but everything points to the fact that the link will be hard to get (no contact info, no good replacement material available), then maybe it’s not worth it.
        In bulk, even PR1 links could be worth it, especially if they are relevant and if it shouldn’t take too much effort to get them. By the way, PR3 links are a different story altogether. I’ve seen many great pages that have PR3. Again, we’re talking about PR of the page, not the PR of the entire domain. 😉

  5. That’s a very neat article. The Check My Links plugin is now installed and ready to go, this is brilliant especially on hobby/enthusiast type of sites, where all they want is a site that works 100%. I’ll follow you on G+. Thanks again :)

    1. Thanks, Rick!
      Yes, that’s a really handy plugin that can be used not only for broken link building,


  6. Wow. I rarely bother to read SEO articles, because most are repetitive nonsense and simply trumpet the words of Matt Cutts. Rarely do I come across anything and think, “Wow. I never thought of that.” Well Alesia, today I’ve learned something pretty damn good. Thanks for sharing this excellent article.

    1. Michael, thanks!
      I’m very happy to hear that. Comments like your is what inspires me to keep writing :)


  7. Often broken links are considered big cause of failure in your SEO technique. So it is very necessary to find broken links and make them search engines’ friendly. The footprints and 5 websites discussed by you are sounds helpful for the SEO experts and bloggers. Big thumbs up for your great post :)

    1. Hi Steph,

      Thanks for the thumbs-up! By the way, as far as 404 pages on one’s own site are concerned, it’s good to check for those from time to time, and see if anyone important is linking to them. This way you will not be handing over a broken link building opportunity to a competitor.


  8. This article is really amazing. I’ve installed the tools you’ve mentioned. Now we can consider benefitting from broken links on other web pages.

    Thanks Alesia.

  9. I am new to link building, but I have read about broken link building campaigns. I really liked your article and thought you mentioned a lot of useful tools.

  10. Love the combination of good footprints and the “Check my links” plugin for 404 pages! Already found a couple of good ones , thanks!

  11. This is great, thank you for sharing. This is quite important for my site. I really believe in your tips and I get many ideas for site of mine.
    I was just searching for this and what do you know it came up in my feader just then :-)