Step by step guide to broken link building

This step by step guide to broken link building is the process I used to repeatedly earn high quality and industry relevant links to my website.

It works for me and it will work for you provided you following this process and are persistent.

Before the guide, I set the scene about why backlinks are important, what they are worth and some of the problems many business owners, content creators and SEO experts face.

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What are backlinks worth to a business?

Personally speaking, building links to my own website results in around 30 new subscribers per month.

Nothing fantastic.

But I've only been focused on marketing my own website for the last 3-6 months.

My business model is currently going through a period of transition.

I feel I have more to offer web professionals than building websites for local businesses.

The market I operate in is bigger than Glasgow, Edinburgh and Scotland.

One link building campaign that's worth £36,000 a year.

I have a client that earned £448 a month from 583 organic visits last month.

That's about 76 pence of revenue earned per visitor from Google.

Poor performance; but he has admitted that he neglected SEO.

So, I found him a keyword opportunity.

This keyword has a high monthly volume search and low keyword difficulty.

Ahrefs keyword explorer tool shows the difficulty and search volume of a keyword.

Should he create a great web page around this opportunity, his page will need about 15 links to rank in the top 10 search results.

Ranking his page in the top 10 in Google would earn about 4200 visits per month.

Based on his current organic search conversion rate that’s about £36,000 in additional revenue per annum.

This  guide shows you how you can build 10 or more backlinks in a few days.

So a one week time investment is worth £36,000 in product revenue per annum for this client's business.

Sounds good.

Do a link building campaign.

Earn the links.

More organic traffic, more revenue.

Repeat.

Go to Ahrefs.com and look at the organic search of a page and you can estimate what a top 10 ranking is worth to a business.

Enter a search term into Ahrefs keyword explorer tool, scroll to the foot of the page and look at the traffic for each page.

Look at the organic traffic for that page, multiple that number by an industry average conversion rate and multiple that by the average product revenue and you have a revenue value for being in the top 10 search results.

And the number one reason a page appears in the top 10 results is backlinks.

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The average cost of a backlink

Ahrefs recently did a backlink survey and estimated that the average cost of buying a backlink was $352.

These links were from websites with a similar domain authority to my website.

So, the 10 backlinks I built would cost $3520 if I paid websites for a link.

Website owners know the value of a backlink and charge

Website owners and those who own blogs are fairly smart.

They know the value of a backlink and charge accordingly.

There's nothing wrong paying for backlinks

As long as you don't abuse it, there's nothing wrong with paying someone that owns a valuable, relevant website for a link to your website.

One method of paying for backlinks is called guest posting.

It works.

It's fast.

It's easy.

It's scaleable.

If you know, with a high degree of certainty from your keyword research, that you need 5 relevant backlinks to boost your page into the top 10 search results and you know your organic search conversion rate then it makes good business sense.

However paying for guest posts or backlinks is pretty darn expensive.

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Backlinks are the number 1 ranking factor

A backlink is when another website links to your website.

Ideally the best backlinks are links from trusted and highly authoritative websites in your industry.

When my accountant refers one of his clients to me for online marketing or website help, that's a very trusted recommendation his client has.

A backlink is similar to a recommendation or a vote.

My accountant is not going to recommend or vote for a web company in the Philippines or India he doesn't know well.

The guys in Philippines or India may be good but my accountant doesn't know them, doesn't trust them and doesn't want to risk his reputation on the unknown.

My accountant trusts me; I do good web work for his clients and thus I make him look good in the eyes of his clients.

Why do websites link to other websites?

Adding an external link to a relevant resource or article can help to explain to Google what your web page is about.

If you are commercially orientated that can help boost your position in Google a little.

I wrote a blog post about making websites mobile friendly.

The first link on my page points to a Wikipedia article about responsive web design.

Now take this BBC News article written about a company fined for providing poor broadband service.

Hovering over the coloured text on a page shows a link. This link goes to an external website; a backlink for Ofcom.org from bbc.co.uk.

The writer of this BBC article has linked to a news article from the telecoms regulators; Ofcom.

Journalists generally have to cite the source of official news to back up their story.

Therefore Ofcom gets a backlink from the BBC.

Reasons why people share and link

Research done by Johan Berger highlighted the main reasons people share online.

  • It makes them look good.
  • It is highly useful.
  • It is awesome.
  • They remember it.

To over simplify, people link to pages because the page resource is about them, not you.

Golf and Backlinks

Another small golf analogy.

Today's top golf pros can boom the ball 350 yards.

It is simply amazing to watch.

Yet one 350 yard shot counts the same as one 3 foot putt into the hole.

Putting is not sexy.

Putting accounts for 30-40% of the shots played in a round of golf.

If the average golfer wants to improve and get better he should focus on taking less putts.

But the whole golf industry is built on selling the latest $399 Callaway or TaylorMade driver so the average golfer can boom it 350 yards like Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson.

The average golfer hasn't got their golf priorities right.

Same as the business owner focused on sexy design or sexy new content.

Of course design and content is important but if a website owner wants to improve their organic search traffic, they must get their priorities correct; building good, relevant links is an important one.

The best place to start link building

When you have a brand new website you want to start with 'citation' link building.

Getting your links from your Facebook page, Google My Business page, Yelp, Yellow Pages and local industry directories are the foundation signals and links you need to put in place to show the search engines you are a legitimate business.

I've published a detailed list of citations and backlinks on my website.

The next step is to get links from industry body websites.

Some of these industry bodies will charge you an annual fee for using their accreditation and most have a directory of suppliers on their website where you can add and earn your high quality industry link.

Beyond citation and industry body backlinks, many businesses and web professionals stop link building.

The next stage that website owners and content creators turn to is writing content to get backlinks.

Let's see how that works out in the next chapter.

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I write great content but don't get links

I registered the Platonik domain name in 2010 when I started being serious about building and designing websites.

Previously I had a blog and I moved over the blog posts to beef up my website content.

Then over the next 4 years I wrote around 700 blog posts.

I was so proud telling people how much content I'd written.

My content strategy was to share an insight or observation from my work life.

I was very much influenced by Seth Godin's short blog posts and so my blog posts tended to be short and sweet.

Share Content Socially

When I had completed writing a blog post I would load it up on a social sharing service and send it out to my Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages.

It was exhausting coming up with new ideas and creating graphics and sharing.

I would get a few spikes in traffic from these social platforms but little improvements in organic traffic from Google.

And when I did rank in Google for search terms they weren't really relevant to my business or services.

Then I invested in a couple of SEO training courses

In terms of on page optimisation, I first learned and implemented this around 2003/4 when I got involved in an e-Commerce development agency.

I tried article spinning in 2012 where you write articles and pay to submit those articles to a network of blogs.

This tactic worked; for a short while.

It boosted positions in Google and then 3/6 months later came the Google Penguin update.

I didn't fully understand domain authority.

My website had lots of crap links coming from low quality websites.

About 3 years ago I invested in an SEO training where the focus of the course was about creating better content and backlinks.

I learned how to improve the quality of my pages.

But it turned out the SEO training was just trying to sell students link building services.

  • Buy guest posts.
  • Buy pyramid links.
  • Buy tiered links.

Having been slightly burned with article spinning and throwing money down the drain, I did not want to pay for links and I was almost ready to give up.

Then, I found Brian Dean and read about his SkyScraper technique about creating Power Pages.

If you have a few thousand pounds invest in his course.

And still I created more content; only this time 3,000 to 5,000 words blog posts instead of 500 word posts.

Yes I got a few backlinks but, upon reflection, I just got lucky.

Even though Brian's SEO course tells you to focus on the people who create links I, and many people like me, still create great content and don't get many backlinks.

It's a competitive world

We are all fighting for attention and the people we want to read or link to our content get exposed to thousands of marketing messages every day.

It's little wonder that so few link to our web content.

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You don't "get" backlinks, you "earn" them.

When you follow this step by step link building strategy in the subsequent chapters you will learn that you have to earn a backlink.

You do not 'get' backlinks.

You are not entitled to any links.

I do not want to link to your website.

I do not know you.

I do not trust you.

I am far too busy with my own business and priorities to care about what you want.

You have to change your mindset about link building

If you do a search on Reddit for SEO you'll often see questions such as "how do I get backlinks" and the like.

When I started doing broken link building and interacting via email with real website owners and content creators my mindset changed.

I was invading their email space; unannounced.

I became more humble.

I realised the way they could link to me was to be helpful.

I realised for them to replace their broken link with my link I had to be helpful and resourceful.

I had to earn the link.

You cannot email a bunch of people that you've never spoken to before and tell them they have a broken link and just update it with your website link.

The minute you change your mindset from 'get' to 'earn' you will realise you earn backlinks by being a helpful resource.

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You wouldn’t hire a mechanic on Fiverr to fix your Rolls Royce

I've only ever met two other SEO guys in person.

When I worked in an e-commerce agency 12 years ago the owner employed an SEO guy.

When he talked about SEO, our team of project managers, designers and developers had virtually no idea what he was talking about.

The second SEO guy I met is now head of a large SEO agency in London.

He did some SEO for a client of mine about 6 years ago.

He delivered good results for their website.

He asked me to build a website to help him sell his SEO services.

He was trying to sell SEO to small business owners.

When I did the maths of his business I told him to go and pitch web agencies and get them to outsource their SEO to him.

I'd like to think I pointed his career in the right direction.

I am sure you could find a mechanic on Fiverr to fix your Rolls Royce but I wouldn't recommend it

When I started my web business I got web developer referrals from Adobe.

Adobe recommended a web agency that Jason and Tom worked at.

They were great.

Then Tom left that agency I approached him directly.

He did some great web development for my client projects but the time difference was an issue and he was working on my projects in the evenings.

So I started looking around for other web development resources and found an Adobe partner based in India.

Today, in 2017, these guys are awesome.

They work super fast.

They have a work ethic that would shame most of us in the UK.

They work till the job gets done.

They never complain.

They can solve most problems my clients throw at them.

They have great pricing too.

But 5 years ago I had doubts about working with a company in India

Sadly many companies abroad get tarnished with the bad brush of others.

You probably get emails every day of the week offering you low cost web design and development.

Or emails offering guaranteed top 10 or number one positions in Google.

"I have been checking your website quite often. It has seen that the main keywords are still not in top 10 rank. So I would like to have opportunity to work for you and this time we will bring the keywords to the top 10 spot with guaranteed period."

They email you from a Gmail account.

No link to their website.

Broken English.

Non personalised emails.

I am sure they get lucky once every thousand emails they send.

Quick Glance at SEO on Fiverr

I just did a quick search on Fiverr.

I will build SEO links in 24 hours for £3.98.

I will do SEO with Senuke xCR to create 6000 backlinks from £3.98.

When you owe a Rolls Royce you want a trusted mechanic to service your car or add and replace reliable parts.

Yes you may get lucky on Fiverr but is it worth risking your website and brand reputation?

Tangled in Thailand

A friend's father in law runs a business in Thailand.

I quickly reviewed his website and backlinks.

It has over 2000 other websites pointing to it.

Then I looked at who was linking to his website.

There are 100 links that mention his company name.

Good start.

But then the other backlinks mention "motorola processor" and "declutter fast" and "cycling dvds fast" and "gala mp3" and hundreds of foreign language characters.

These anchor text links have nothing to do with his business or services.

I don't know the history of the backlink work done but there are thousands of irrelevant, low quality links pointing to his website that is hurting it.

13 high quality backlinks for the search query "construction jobs" to rank top 10 in Google.

I looked at some keyword opportunities over the weekend and there's 42,000 global searches for "construction jobs".

His business is recruitment and being in the top 10 search results for 'construction jobs' would do wonders for his business.

25,000 searches a month in the USA and 13 backlinks to rank in the top 10 search results.

4,800 searches a month in the UK and 9 backlinks to rank in the top 10 search results.

The search term 'construction jobs' is an ideal keyword search term for my mate's father in law.

If you f**k up SEO and backlinks, people’s mortgages are at stake.

Good SEO is not cheap and cheap SEO is not good.

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SEO is not on page, SEO is 90% link building

If you look at the features pages of companies like WordPress, Magento, Shopify, SquareSpace, Adobe Muse and Business Catalyst they all say something like "We support SEO best practices like customisable H1, title, and meta tags".

Many business owners think that adding a page title and meta description to a web page their SEO work is done.

On Page SEO is dead !

The marketing director of Ahrefs posted a link to their blog post that on page optimisation was dead.

He caused a bit of controversy.

What his study really meant to say was just putting your keyword in your page title, page header and meta description won't help much in trying to rank high in Google.

Every research and study I've read points to backlinks being the number one factor in ranking web pages higher.

So now let me guide you through the one link building strategy that consistently works for me; broken link building.

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Step by Step Guide To Broken Link Building

When you inform a website owner that a link on their website goes to a page that does not exist anymore, you are doing the website owner, the person visiting the website and Google a favour.

You are actually helping and providing real value.

It is very annoying to read a page, click a link on the page and the page doesn't exist anymore.

I reached out to a website owner last week and told him his website had a broken link but he was too busy to fix the link.

So I scanned his website and found it had over 800 broken links.

I don't have the facts or proof if Google penalise websites with lots of broken links.

However, from my extensive search for broken link opportunities, there are millions and millions of broken links out there that need to be fixed.

Even my website had 20 broken links on it last week.

There are 7 steps to the broken link building process.

  1. Find a page that no longer exists with lots of websites linking to it.
  2. Go back in time and re-create or improve upon the content of the broken page you found on your website.
  3. Export and filter the list of broken links.
  4. Find the name and email address of the people who own the website or wrote the article.
  5. Send an email offering to fix and replace the broken link.
  6. Reply to the email, show them the broken link and offer the replacement.
  7. Repeat.

Here are the tools you need:

  1. A subscription to Ahrefs.com.
  2. Excel or Google Sheets.
  3. A subscription to YourOutreach.com.
  4. A subscription to Headreach.com.
  5. A screen capture software such as Snagit or Jing.
  6. The ability to create a page or blog post on your website.

There are other tools you can use but I'm sharing the method and tools that have worked for me.

I said good links aren't cheap.

Ahrefs.com subscriptions start at $99 a month.

I use the $179 a month plan.

They also offer a free 14 day trial so you can experiment and try out.

You need Excel or Google Sheets to sort and filter the list of broken backlinks that you will export from Ahrefs.com.

Then I use YourOutreach.com that enables you to import a list of web pages and they will try and find the contact details of the website owner or writer.

Then the software enables you to compose an email and send a personalised email and follow up emails.

When I cannot find names and emails of website owners I use Headreach.com.

You enter a website, company or name and their software will try and find contact information from LinkedIn.

Finally, you need the ability to create a web page or blog post on your website.

I use WordPress and Business Catalyst for the 2 websites I run.

If you are not familiar with creating web pages I recommend you create your page or article in Microsoft Word or Google Docs and get your website content editor or webmaster to create the page in your content management system.

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Step 1 - Find Popular Broken Pages

The broken links you are looking for

You are looking for a popular page that doesn't exist anymore that lots of other websites are still linking to.

These popular pages or resources tend to be case studies, guides, list of facts, tips, research studies or surveys.

My website is about online marketing and I re-created a broken page about infographics and earned links to it.

This page had broken links from 732 websites (referring domains).

Infographics is not a subject I would normally write about.

However the broken link I found had 732 websites linking to it.

My next broken link building campaign was about A/B testing.

This page had broken links from 610 websites (referring domains).

My next campaign was about Video Marketing Statistics.

This page had broken links from 610 websites (referring domains).

I had never previously considered writing about video marketing.

But I knew enough about all these subjects to re-create and improve a broken page someone else had created.

First way to find broken links

I have a recruitment client so I did a google search for "human resource magazine" and found www.hrmagazine.co.uk.

Subscribe and login to ahrefs.com and enter the website address in the site explorer search box and hit enter.

Select the Broken Links tab on the left hand menu.

Select Dofollow from the Link type dropdown menu.

From the anchor and backlink column, select the down arrow button at the end of each page and look for a high number of Ref. Domains.

Broken links to ignore

You want to ignore 'about us' pages and news stories as they don't get many links.

Ignore commercial pages such as product category pages or service pages.

Keep an eye out for case studies, surveys, white papers, industry reports, lists, resources and guides; they tend to get the most backlinks.

Manually scan each broken link

Scan the description of the page and when you've clicked the down arrow key look at the Ref. domains number.

Click the down arrow key then look at the number next to Ref. domains; ideally you want a high number.

I scanned through most of the pages and found a couple of pages with 11 Ref. domains at the most.

So this website isn't going to help me find a popular broken page.

Now click on the competing domains link.

Click the competing domains link on the left side of the page.

This report will show lots of similar websites to the previous one you examined.

Personneltoday.com looks of interest and is related to my client's recruitment consultancy business.

Click the arrow next to their website, click Overview and then right click to open in a new tab.

Click the Broken Links tab, select Dofollow from the Link type dropdown and start reviewing the 3758 broken links.

Second way to find broken links

Select Mentions from the Alerts menu.

Click Add Alert

Enter a search query, select Add and wait 24 hours.

Get email alerts sent for these keywords daily

I received 461 new articles for one keyword alert; these are sources to find broken backlinks.

Click View Entire Message at the foot of the email alert.

Copy relevant urls

Right click a url and choose copy (not copy link address) and paste the urls into a text file, document or spreadsheet.

Ignore Blogspot and Medium pages and Instagram links.

Use Ahrefs broken links tool.

Enter a url from your alerts into Ahrefs site explorer and hit enter or return.

Select broken links on the lower left menu.

Select DoFollow from the link type dropdown.

The anchor and backlink column shows this website has broken links, but we don't want one broken link we want hundreds. Select the little green arrow at the end of the url.

After selecting the green arrow key, the box will show the number of other websites linking to this broken page under the Ref. domains row.

This broken page has 16 other websites linking to it and that's not enough to start a broken link building campaign.

I scrolled further down the list and found this page has 270 websites linking to a broken page.

This page has 270 broken links (referring domains)

I found a popular industry website (entrepreneur.com), I looked at their broken links, I found 270 other websites also linking to the same broken page.

Entrepreneur.com is a popular general business website, in my industry, that gets millions of visitors a month.

So their website content will tend to link to popular resources.

Look at the content that attracted these links

When you scan broken pages, look at the url and the description for mentions of tips, resources, statistics, surveys as they tend to contain the most number of broken links.

270 websites linked to content about tips and statistics and the page is now broken.

This is a helpful resource the website owner created that earned them their backlinks.

For whatever reason that page does not exist anymore.

This is an opportunity for someone to create their own up to date resource page about these tips and statistics and reach out to all 270 websites owners and earn a replacement link.

3rd way to find broken links

Go to Ahrefs.com and enter a popular website address in your industry.

Select the competing domains link and look at the websites that are shown.

Click the arrow next to each address and then right click overview to open the website overview in a new window.

Click the Broken Links menu.

Select Dofollow from the Link type menu.

Scan the page descriptions and urls in the anchor and backlink column (on the right)

Click the green icon and look for a high number of Ref. Domains.

This is a potential broken link opportunity, copy the url and number of Ref. domains to a document.

4th way to find broken links

Set up a Google Alert.

You can set up an alert for any keyword or topic.

For a company.

For a technology.

Then Google sends you an email with websites and pages that you can pop into the Ahrefs broken link tool and check for potential broken link opportunities.

A list of potential broken pages

You should have a list of 20-30 pages with 200 or more broken links with subjects relating to your industry.

My list of websites with broken links

Create a text file to store and save your list of potential broken pages.

500 broken links is an ideal number but for your first campaign 200-300 will work.

Industries to find broken link opportunities

Let's say you run a golf website, a related industry is sport and fitness.

You are going to have a hard time getting a link from another golf brand or golf club or golf teacher.

For solar panels, look at the building industry or home improvement websites.

For recruitment businesses, look at student, college or university websites and general business (like entrepreneur.com and forbes.com) websites.

Imagine your website is your hand, connected to your hand is your shoulder and the shoulder is a larger and more powerful part.

So think about more powerful industries and websites connected as they represent the better sources to find broken link opportunities.

Now you need to inspect the content of these broken pages by going back in time using a website called Archive.org.

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Step 2 - Archive.org and Page Creation

Once you have your document with a list of broken pages, you now need to inspect the content of these pages.

You want to feel confident that you can create, re-create or improve these pages and add the content to your website.

First, manually check the page is actually broken by copying and pasting the url into your browser address bar.

If you see a 404 page not found message or page cannot be found then this is a broken page.

Go to archive.org and paste the url (broken link) into the search box and go back in time to find a old stored version of the page.

You may have to select different dates or years until Archive.org displays the old page.

Don't go any further back than 3 years.

Now read through the page content.

You need to consider if you or your team are able to recreate or improve this page and if the subject matter fits with your business.

I know enough to write about call to action buttons and A/B testing so this broken page was a good fit for my business and website.

Page Content Creation

Other websites previously linked to a now broken page did so for a very good reason.

They thought the page was useful.

When you improve an old broken page and reach out to these website owners they are going to look at your page to see if it's relevant or better than the old broken page.

The page needs to be well designed so you make a good first impression with the people you want to a replacement broken link from.

To upgrade the broken page I copied and pasted the page text from my browser into a plain text document.

Then I found additional research, case studies and statistics about call to actions and A/B testing.

I could have outsourced this work to a writer but if you are just starting out broken link building you should create the improved page yourself.

It took me 2 to 3 days of research, writing and sourcing images to create my page as a potential replacement for people linking to the broken page.

In addition, I improved the page layout and enhanced it with some better graphics.

The broken page had 10 case studies.

My improved page has 31 case studies.

Then I created a video and step by step guide demonstrating how to set up your first call to action button A/B test.

I went above and beyond to show people, who had the broken link, that my page offered them even more value than the old broken page.

You can view the page I re-created and improved here.

The page I created and offered as a replacement link.

And, upon reflection, my 'new' improved page ranks on page 1 in Google for 'call to action case studies'.

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Step 3 - Export and Filter Links

My current domain rating is 48.

An average rating.

Ideally you want links from websites with a domain rating higher than yours as this will help improve your overall domain rating.

I would happily accept a website with a domain rating of 40 and above.

Now you download all the broken pages you found.

Ensure 'Dofollow' is selected from the Link type dropdown menu and press 'Export'.

Select 'Full Export' and Start Export.

The file will be available in the top right corner of the dashboard.

When ready, click the link to download.

For Excel users

For Excel users, click the file to open in Excel.

For Google Sheets users

Go to Google Sheets and click the green + sign to create a blank sheet.

Select File - Open or Command and O on a Mac.

Select Upload and either drag the file into the box or choose 'select a file from your computer' to open the file in Google Sheets.

How to Filter in Excel

Select the little triangle green icon between the A and 1 cells to select all the file cells.

Select Data from the main menu then Filter.

Go to the Domain Rating column (should be the 3rd column) and select 'Descending'.

Select the empty cell between the 1 and A cells to select all cells.

Select 'Data' then 'Filter'.

Select 'Sort Z - A'.

Scroll down to the low rated domains and select all the rows you wish to delete then right click and delete.

If you are using Excel, save the file by selecting 'File' then 'Save' on the excel menu, then name the file in the 'Save as' box and choose 'Excel Worksheet (.xlsx)' from the File Format box and choose a file location such as your documents folder and then press Save.

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Step 4 - Find Email Addresses of Website Owners

Go to https://YourOutreach.com/register and enter your name, email, company and password and select register.

www.YourOutreach.com

You should get an email to confirm your registration.

Email Accounts

You need to add an email account from which you will be emailing those with a broken link.

Go to Email Accounts and Select Add Email Account.

Choose an email provider from which you will send emails.

Adding a Gmail account is very easy.

I chose Other since I want emails to be sent from fraser@platonik.co.uk rather than be less transparent with a Gmail or Hotmail address.

I want people to know I am real.

You then need to complete the email address, display name and email server settings to set this up.

Complete these email settings or ask your IT manager.

If you need help from your IT manager then take a screenshot and ask them to send you these details.

I recommend you use a separate email account dedicated to your linking building effort.

My main email address is fraser@platonik.co.uk and I also set up fjm@platonik.co.uk for my link building email.

Billing

Now select the billing tab.

I am using the £29.99 a month subscription.

Press the upgrade button and you'll be directed to the PayPal account where you can either login and pay or enter your credit or debit card details.

Projects

With this subscription you can have 5 projects and 5 campaigns and 350 prospects per campaign.

In other words 8750 emails you can send per month.

You will never reach this limit in your first few months.

Select Projects and Add New Project

Name the project, add a description, leave the default 'On' options to On and save.

Campaign

Within a project you now need to create a campaign.

Select Add New Campaign.

Choose Start Campaign under the Blank Campaign option.

Name and describe the campaign, select timezone, email account and press save.

Enter a campaign name.

This could be the name or url of the broken page.

Enter a description.

You could write something like "Outreach to pages linking to domain.com/page.

Select a timezone, email account and use the default "On' for the outreach and enabled options and press save.

Now select the Upload Prospects tab.

Select the Upload Prospects tab and press paste urls

Go to your Excel or Google Sheet, select the column with referring page url to select all url's, right click and press copy.

Put your cursor in the past url box, right click and press paste.

You have a limit of 350 on the £29 a month plan so bear that in mind.

Remove 'referring page url' row of text, leave the 2 tick boxes selected if this is your first campaign and press Import.

YourOutreach.com will now process these pages and try to find a contact name and email address associated with the website or page.

You will see a spinning wheel as the software looks for the names and email addresses.

Prospect Screen

After 15 to 30 minutes your prospect screen will show information about each page url you imported.

The only information you need to be concerned about at the moment is the 'contacts found' column.

Look for contacts that have a numbered green button then Select Contact.
Press select to add this contact to your contact list (the people you will email about their broken link).

This was too easy.

You may find a generic email address and no first name like the one above. If so, press X in the right corner as we don't want to send unpersonalised emails.

When you have more than one contact, use Headreach.com to identify the most appropriate contact.

You may find 2 or 3 contacts for each web page.

You want the email address after the @ to be the same as the page url you just selected.

In this instance, I have 2 email addresses and I think it's fairly obvious what their first names are.

I could choose one person at random, enter the first name in the first name field and press Add Contact.

When I am unsure who the best contact is then I use Headreach.com.

Headreach will offer you the first 10 names and email addresses for free when you sign up.

They have 3 price plans.

  • $19 a month gets you 100 credits
  • $39 a month gets you 250 credits
  • $79 a month gets you 500 credits.

A credit is used every time they find a verified email address from LinkedIn.

You can search for thousands of people but only when you click the button to get contact details will you use up one credit.

Once signed up to Headreach, I want to find an email address associated with a website.

Enter the url into the Search People by Website box and click search.

I did not find a contact.

Use the search by company name option.

I can see the first result matches the email address of the contact in YourOutreach.com

"Darren"

Headreach tells me Darren is a director.

I don't even need to use a credit in Headreach since I already have Darren's email address from YourOutreach.

I have just verified he is the most appropriate contact to reach.

If I previously added a contact in YourOutreach I can press the x button to remove the previous contact and press select.

Enter the new contact's first name and press select.

Look at the blog post for name clues

If no email addresses have been returned from YourOutreach sometimes you will need to visit the page and see who wrote the article.

Click the url and look at their page.

Sometimes the author is mentioned at the foot of the page.

Sometimes, the author is listed at the top of the page.

Now that you know the website, company and name of the author you can go to Headreach.com and search by name, company or website address.

Don't spend forever trying to find the name or email address; spend a maximum of 5 minutes then move to the next contact on your list of broken links.

Remember you are playing a numbers game; you don't need every contact detail.

First Name and Email Address Improves Open and Response Rates

There are going to be times when you find the website is owned by one person and you find their name but the email address is contact@domain.com.

It's worth the risk to put their first name (eg: Jane) in the first name field for an email address such as contact@domain.com.

But always ensure you find a first name.

I am sending emails from my email account to people I don't know so I don't want to risk my reputation.

I do not want to be perceived as a spammer.

The 3 pillars of permission marketing

Seth Godin coined the term 'permission marketing' and said the best emails you want to receive are those which are:

  • Anticipated
  • Personalised
  • Relevant

The people I email about a broken link certainly aren't waiting to hear about a broken link on their website but I believe I meet the other two permission marketing criteria; the emails I send are personalised and relevant.

So treat those you are going to email with respect and invest the time, no matter how boring this part of the process is, in identifying the author's name and email address.

A good set of headphones and a good music playlist helps this monotonous process enormously.

The more the merrier

The more names and email addresses you can find from your list of websites with the broken links, the better.

This campaign earned 11 backlinks.

You can see from this campaign that 331 websites had the broken link found in Ahrefs.com and I managed to find 162 names and emails using YourOutreach and Headreach.

That's a 70% + open rate from people who've never heard of me.

That's an open rate way beyond what most commercial email marketing campaigns can deliver.

A 19% response is high.

And I am converting nearly 30% of responses into new backlinks.

10 backlinks per month x 12 months equals 120 additional, highly rated and industry relevant backlinks per year.

A link profile like that is going to have a considerable impact on your page rankings and organic search traffic.

Here's the screenshot showing the gradual increase in backlinks to Platonik from July 2016 to March 2017.

And here's the gradual increase in organic search traffic from my Google Analytics account.

Cause and effect.

More relevant, quality backlinks equal more organic traffic.

The next step after we've exhausted finding names and email addresses is to compose the email to send to our contact list.

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Step 5 - Write and Send Email Message

On the 3rd tab of a campaign in YourOutreach is the schedule tab.

The schedule tab is where you compose and schedule your email campaign.

You can choose to send the email campaign automatically or select schedule from the dropdown box.

If you select schedule then you can determine the days and time of day when these emails are sent.

Choose automatic or schedule; if you select schedule choose the day and time option to send.

Personally, I've always selected the 'Automatic' option.

The Automatic option means YourOutreach will send my personalised emails after I have previewed the emails and pressed the send button in the 4th tab (Preview & Send).

To add a follow up email attempt, select Add Attempt and the gap in hours between the first and subsequent email attempts you set up.

I usually send 2 attempts although Atiq from YourOutreach.com recommends 3 attempts.

You can include the previous email to be included at the foot of the follow up email.

Personally I don't like this option when I receive emails like this.

Now to compose the email. You'll love this feature !

I just leave the attempt name as Attempt 1 by default.

From the copy from template dropdown box choose 'Broken Link - simple'.

The software populates a proven tried and tested broken link building email message for you.

Once the template message populates the box, alter the wording to suit your campaign.

All you need to do is slightly alter the wording.

Let me explain what the subject line and email message mean.

Subject : [[ if (FirstName != '') { #=FirstName# - Your post on #=host# } else { Broken links on #=host# } ]]

What does this mean?

If the first name field is empty then the subject line will be "Broken links on website.com".

If the first name has been added then the subject line will be "Fraser - Your post on website.com"

If you want to tweak this subject line you could add something before the word 'post' eg: Your A/B Testing post on website.com.

That's provided you are sure all the pages are about A/B Testing.

This is what the message means.

Message:

[[ if (FirstName != '') { Hey #=FirstName#, } else { Hi, } ]]

This means that the email will be personalised as Hey Fraser if the first name field was entered; if not then the email will be titled 'Hey'.

If you are uncomfortable with the informalities change "Hey' to "Dear" or your own preference.

Address the email the way you feel is an appropriate tone of voice to address people.

The body of the default message is as follows.

I was looking through your excellent post on #=host# about losing weight and noticed a few broken links, so just thought I would let you know :)

Also, if you’re open to suggestions, I think one of my post published recently on the best way to lose weight would be a great fit.

Let me know if you would like to have a look at it or want me to send the list of broken links on your post :)

All the Best,

-Paul

I changed #=host# to #=prospecturl# as this will insert the full url of the page with the broken link; so they can visit the page with the broken link.

I've highlighted in bold below what I've changed in a recent email.

[[ if (FirstName != '') { Hey #=FirstName#, } else { Hi, } ]]

I was looking through your excellent post on #=prospecturl# about video marketing and noticed a broken link and some out of date stats, so this is your lucky day :)

Also, if you’re open to suggestions, I have compiled 99 of the latest, hot off the press YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat video stats that are going to WOW you that may just be a great fit.

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

All the Best,

-Fraser

Make sure you hit the save button.

Attempt 2, 3 etc

Now follow the same process for your 2nd and 3rd emails.

Select Add Attempt, then from the 'copy from template' dropdown choose 'Broken Link - simple' to populate default message.

Or simply copy and paste the subject line text from the first attempt into the subject line of the 2nd attempt.

And then copy and paste the message text from the first attempt into the subject line of the 2nd attempt.

And Save.

Previewing the emails

Now you want to preview the emails before you send them.

Select the Preview & Send tab.

Then press Process All Customised Prospects.

Select the Preview & Send tab then press Process All Customised Prospects to preview the emails you are going to send.

Press the Previous and Next buttons to slide through and preview all email messages.

You only need to check a few emails; just for piece of mind before sending.

You can press cancel and nothing will happen.

Now review the outreach steps.

Go through each tab again and check the campaign details, list of prospects, the schedule and email message.

Then come back to the preview and send tab.

Press Process Campaign Now to schedule and send the email campaign.

YourOutreach will process the emails, add them to the outbox tab queuing them up to send now or according to the delivery schedule you selected.

Now be prepared for your email responses.

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Step 6 - How to reply

Now you have sent your email message to prospects that have a broken link on their page you have to be ready to reply, promptly, to those you emailed.

You will receive an initial burst of replies that you need to act upon swiftly.

These replies will be your best new link opportunities to replace the broken link with yours.

Then you will receive a small drip of emails over the next week before the second attempt is sent out.

If you recall in earlier chapters I am positioning myself as being humble and serving those I email about a broken link.

Here are the typical responses and replies you can expect to receive.

Typical responses

The majority will read and not reply to your email.

I get good open email rates because I send personalised emails to personal email accounts.

If you don't get many replies, don't worry that's where the second email attempt will prompt the people you emailed.

It’s a number game; have patience.

Remember to get 10 backlinks you'll only need 30 to 50 email replies.

You will get some out of office replies.

Ignore them.

You will get some bounced emails; again ignore them and delete.

If you are getting a lot of bounced emails you need to re-think or revise what you did in Step 4 where you searched for names and email addresses.

Screen Capture Tool to highlight the broken link

Have you screen capture software open and get ready to take a screenshot and highlight the broken link when people ask where to find the broken link on their page.

Draw an arrow or link from the url to the broken link and put a mark next or box around the broken link.

Use screen capture software to highlight the broken link then reply to the email, attached the broken link and suggest the page you created as a replacement link.

Typical replies

Our guest posts started at $200

I reply with a message like this "I'm just starting out with building links. Can I add you to my contact list for future link building opportunities that client may be willing to pay for?"

Here's the new link to replace your broken link.

Thank you, please send your link

Just go ahead and send your link and thank them.

I have forwarded your message to our team

Fantastic. I've taken a screenshot of the broken link and attached it along with a suggested replacement link; can you forward this message to them as well ?

Right now we are not interested in adding more links to our website.

Not a problem, I'm not adding links, I'm suggesting you replace a broken link.

Here's a screenshot of the page with the broken link and a suitable replacement for you.

It would be nice if you’d mention our website

Not a problem. I've added a link here for you.

No thanks, we’ll take care of it

Not a problem, have a good day.

Please remove me from your mailing list

My apologies, you're not on a mailing list, this was a one off email sent from my personal email account.

I was just reaching out to you since I found a broken link reading your page that may give readers a poor experience.

You won't hear from me again.

How to remove and block emails

If you get an email reply such as 'remove me from your mailing list' or an angry response, I recommend you block the user's email address.

Log into YourOutreach.com and select blocked emails from the top right corner of the dashboard and add new.

To prevent emailing anyone again, select Add New from the Block Email menu and enter the user's email address.

I’ve forwarded your email to our team for their consideration.

Fantastic. I've taken a screenshot of the broken link and attached it along with a suggested replacement link; can you forward this message to them as well ?

Are you open to a link swap or exchange?

Why not ! What's the page you want to link to and I'll add a link on a relevant page on my website?

We don’t have time to revisit old posts and fix links

You can reply 'not a problem' or you could run their entire website through a broken link tool like Screaming Frog.

I found the website had 853 broken links so I emailed back.

Not a problem but be aware your website has 853 broken links that I just scanned.

Not a good experience for users or Google.

Here's a screenshot of the broken link report.

May I suggest you or your web manager do some 'spring cleaning' soon.

All the best, Fraser

Thanks, the post/link has been updated.

Great, have a great day.

We have removed the link and happy to replace with your suggestion. Please write new copy and send your link and a new image.

In this case I wrote the copy in my content management system and added in my link and then sent him the html code.

Here's the copy in html to save you time updating your page and a replacement image.

I hope that works for you.

Any questions just let me know.

No problem, not a problem

I use 2 phrases to diffuse any negative responses.

No problem.

Not a problem.

There is no sense starting a bad email exchange with someone when they say no thank you or won't replace their broken link.

I'm 50 this year; life is too short for arguments or damaging your reputation.

YourOutreach Inbox functionality

When a person you contacted replies they will not be sent your 2nd Attempt emails.

But for peace of mind, I like to go to the Inbox tab inside YourOutreach and switch the influencer status to off.

And mark the status as follow-up, not interested or finished; if I achieved a backlink.

This is simply good house keeping so you or your team know the status of your link campaign.

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Step 7 - Repeat

My first broken link building campaign was a success.

I got 20 backlinks within the first week.

I created the Video Marketing Statistic link campaign and I honestly thought it would be an outstanding success.

One backlink.

So even if you fail the first time around, do not give up.

Repeat the process.

The more I practice, the luckier I get !

Analyse each step of this process and consider where you could improve.

  • Can you find a broken page with more than 500 websites linking to it ?
  • Can you significantly improve the page content, design and layout of the page you've re-created?
  • Are you finding enough authors, first names and email addresses to contact about the broken page?
  • Review the subject line and email message you are sending them ?
  • Are you being perceived as helpful or are you coming across too pushy and strong?
  • How are you replying to emails ?
  • How many follow up attempts do you have lined up ?

Campaign Summary Dashboard

Use the campaign summary dashboard if you are doing link building for a client and use to review your own campaign performance.

Campaign dashboard in YourOutreach

You can see what part of the process needs improvement.

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Finally

Broken link building is an incredibly time consuming but rewarding process.

I estimate that I take around 40 hours for one link building campaign.

But I justify the hours I spent against the cost of buying links.

40 hours x £75 per hour = £3000

versus

10 links x $352 = $3520.

The time you take will reduce as you get better at finding broken pages and recreating content on your website.

I re-use the same layout for most web pages.

Broken link building is not a tactic for the managing director or marketing director within your company.

I recommend you use this guide for another member of staff.

Marketing assistant, marketing executive, content manager.

Do not outsource broken link building to someone you don't know or trust until you have tried this with success yourself.

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Broken Link Building Book and Training Videos

You can purchase my broken link building book and training course here.

www.platonik.co.uk/blbbook

Good luck.

Fraser.

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