Prospecting for broken link building opportunities typically begins with a “seed set” either of competitor/relevant sites to check for 404s, relevant pages with lists of links and old/niche directory pages.

You can also use the new Broken Link Finder tool for industrial-strength broken link prospecting.

1) Finding relevant resource pages with lists of links

Managed collections of hyperlinks provide some of the best “hunting ground” for rotted resource pages. Here are some methods for finding these kinds of pages.

>> Queries for links + resource pages

  • [SMP] intitle:links
  • [SMP] intitle:resources

>> IBLs to relevant resource pages, site sections and sites (broken or not)
URL Filter Tool – Add a list of IBLs from OSE/YSE and filter out URLs that contain the word “link,” “links,” “resource,” or “resources.”

2) Finding old and niche directory pages

Old directories and niche directories can lead you to a treasure trove of dead sites, now-parked domains and link network sites.

>> Queries for niche directories/lists

  • [SMP] intitle:directory
  • [SMP] intitle:association

>> Yahoo Directory (or others…) in
Yahoo mostly blocked, except for a bit in 1997. Wow! What a treasure trove. Try your favorite directory in too.

Read through this forum discussion for more thoughts on sourcing dead sites from directory pages.

3) Finding competitor and relevant sites to check for 404s

Some folks prefer to start with competitor sites and catch them slipping right on their own site. I think this approach is probably a little slower way to start the process but could help in terms of relevance and the thrill of sniping your competitors.

Here are some ways to find sites that could be down, defunct or contain broken pages.

>> Turn back Google’s date rangeDate range search in google

>> Check pages 5 and up in GoogleWil Reynolds explains that this is the best place to find now-defunct sites.

>> OSE of competitors’ sitesFabio Ricotta describes how to use OSE for 404 link building.

4) More Queries to Try

Some of these will help you find some winners. Some not. Give them a shot and see what turns up!

  • [SMP] intitle:”404 page not found”
  • [SMP] “HTTP 404 with URL”
  • [SMP] “dead links”
  • [SMP] “dead sites”
  • [SMP] “dead pages”
  • [SMP] “This domain may be for sale. Buy this Domain”
  • [SMP] intext:”dead link”

Learn more: Broken link building resources

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