Big thanks to Napoleon Suarez of SEO Company Seer Interactive for generously contributing to my education on broken link building… I will be citing both him and expert broken link builder Melanie Nathan in my upcoming webinar: The Content Marketer’s Guide to Broken Link Building.
Keep your eye on Napoleon Suarez – he’s got mountains of heart, a thirst for learning and a willingness to work hard. Yup – all the makings of success. Hit him up on twitter with your thoughts on his approach to broken link building!
Broken Link Building Subject Line
Q: do you have a sure-fire subject line?
A: I am finding that nothing is surefire in this industry, but if I had to choose something that works well, I would always include “Broken Links on Your Site” (or some variation of that) in the subject. It strikes an emotion in people and it doesn’t sound salesy. It is as if I am doing them a favor by pointing out the broken resources. Often times, the site owner may not replace the broken links with my client’s resource, but they will still email me back with a thank you message.
Broken Link Building Templates
Q: is there anything you ALWAYS make sure of in your campaign that seems to help responses?
A: I ALWAYS point out the broken links in the original message. I like to do as much as I possibly can for the site owner so that I make it really difficult for them to tell me no. Imagine being a webmaster and having to go click 100 links just to find a broken one or two. If I had to do all that work, why would I want to add your resource? It’s all about showing value. I also don’t like to use the word “link” in the body of the message. I feel like webmasters are starting to hear more and more about SEO and it isn’t the white hat stuff.
Q: if a page has more than 2-3 broken links (let’s say they have 25) do you tell them ALL the broken links?
A: EVERY SINGLE LINK. That’s value right there. It takes me 30 seconds to run my tool, copy the broken links and paste them in an excel spreadsheet. Why not pass this along? Webmasters don’t know it took me 30 seconds. They think that I spent an hour clicking on every single link and preparing the document and it makes it more difficult for them to tell me no. These extra steps are what Wil Reynolds taught me. He always tells me that nobody has ever been successful by cutting corners. I think of that every day.
Broken Link Building Outreach Tools
Q: do you email by hand or use a blast service?
A: I always do it by hand. I like to add that personal touch. I think that I am a little behind the ball with this one, though. Ross Hudgens wrote a really good post about trying to automate as much as possible when it comes to link building. I think this is the area where I can use the most improvement. Hand writing 100 emails just isn’t an efficient use of my time anymore.
Q: what about email vs. contact-us forms? Any thoughts/preferences?
A: I definitely prefer the email. It loses that personal touch when it goes through a contact form – unless the contact form is on a blog that is operated by only one person. I also like the email because I can use this new tool I found called Boomerang. It gives me the option to automatically send a follow up email if I haven’t heard back within a certain amount of time. One thing to keep in mind when sending emails through contact forms is that you better make sure you include a reference to the site you are reaching out to in the message. I have been embarrassed way too many times when I asked a webmaster to remind me of the site they were referencing – not cool at all.
Tracking Broken Link Building Campaigns
Q: is there an easy way to track links earned?
A: We use RavenTools’ Link Manager here at SEER. It has a few hiccups (mostly load time issues) but it’s great for keeping track of things. It will even alert us when a link has been removed or changed. TON of value in Raven if you can get past the lack of speed during peak business hours.
Q: managing the campaign – can you share the spreadsheet, or columns you use?
A: Pretty much everything that I use (along with the strategy) can be found in this post. There is even an outreach template that you can tweak for your client’s needs. I use a new broken link checker, though. It works great in Chrome and you can download it here. Does everything that I need it to do in no more than 10 seconds. I never knew this post could be so helpful. I still get inquiries about the tool that I used for this – very flattering
Managing Broken Link Building Responses
Q: do you ever get links from people who don’t respond?
A: Rarely. If the site owner thinks my client’s resource is a good one and they take the time to add it, they are pretty excited to reply back and tell me about it. There was a time where I followed up with a site that hadn’t responded back before I checked the site first. Never do that. I felt like a jerk when they wrote back “The link is already live.”
Q: is it primarily the responders who link?
A: 99% of the time.
Q: if responses are low what is the first thing you check/change? (pitch email, subject line, actual content promoted, sites targeted, etc…)
A: The first thing I check is the template. Here at SEER, we have found that we get a better response rate when we reach out from the client’s domain using a female alias. I have been embarrassed a few times to realize that I was sending a message as Jackie, but I was signing the email as Napoleon. I have since taken a page from G. French’s book and now I send a few messages, re-read the template and then keep going if everything pans out. Also, don’t be afraid to be honest with yourself and your client. If you emailed a ton of people and got no response, maybe the resource just isn’t that good. Learn from it and offer something better the next time around.
Q: do you email non-responders again?
A: Only the juiciest links. Before I do outreach, I prioritize all of my opportunities. If I go through 100 of them, I usually have between 5-10 that I am salivating over and I’ll reach back out to those via another email or a phone call. I call only about 5% of the time, though.
Q: what questions am I missing? what have I not asked?
A: I think something that people want to know is how successful this strategy really is. I read a lot of things within the space that speak about really good link building strategies, but not many of them spill the beans about the success rate. My success rate for this is probably between 8-12% and to be honest, that is pretty good for me compared to other strategies. There will never be an easy 100% sure fire strategy out there. The only way to ensure that those links keep coming in is to keep at it. I may send 200 emails one day and get no responses The next day, I may send 30 emails and get 20 links. It just works that way sometimes. Oh, and Shoutout to Melanie Nathan for birthing this idea. Without her original post, I wouldn’t have anything to offer here.
Broken Link Building Tools
Check My Links Chrome Plugin
Broken Link Building Tool
More Broken Link Building Resources
Broken Link Building Tips: an Interview with Melanie Nathan
Need Links? Make Up for Your Competitor’s Shortcomings
Broken Link Building – Feast on Your Competitors This Thanksgiving
The Reciprocity Link Building Method
Fixing the Web’s Lost Content: An 8 Step Guide for Link Builders
The Content Marketer’s Guide to Broken Link Building
Link Rot Resources
“Link Rot” and Legal Resources on the Web: A 2011 Analysis by the Chesapeake Digital Preservation Group