In preparation for my upcoming webinar – The Content Marketer’s Guide to Broken Link Building (August 25th 8:30 AM – 9:30 AM PDT) I sent some “best-practices” questions over to Edmonton SEO Melanie Nathan, creator of a formalized broken link building process.

You can (and should) follow Melanie on Twitter for fantastic link building resources.

Lastly, do check out the new Broken Link Finder tool for industrial-strength broken link prospecting.

The Email Opener

Q: do you have a sure-fire subject line?

A: Broken Link Feedback – TheirSite or Site Errors – TheirSite

Q: is there anything you ALWAYS make sure of in your campaign that seems to help responses?

A: When it comes to first contact, the initial email is ALWAYS a simple inquiry as to where I can report some broken links I ‘encountered’ on their site. Some things you won’t learn without trial and error though. For example, I used to use the word “found” instead of ‘encountered’ (within my email), but I realized that it implied I was LOOKING for bad links and it was making the wrong impression, which was damaging my chances.

You’ll always get the best response rate if they believe that you’re just an innocent visitor who inadvertently clicked on some bad links and thought they might like to know about them ;)

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: Not initially, no. I used to do that in the beginning, until the majority of site owners starting just taking the pages down rather than removing all the broken links! Now, I simply report just enough for them to want to fix it, then, after my link has been added, I ‘innocently’ encounter a few more bad links on the page and report those too. This is because, now that I’m listed, the benefit to my site is even greater if I can get them to clean their page up even more.

Responses and Conversions

Q: do you ever get links from people who don’t respond?

A: Yes, sometimes I won’t get any response but then I’ll check their links page and find that they’ve removed the offending sites and added mine. Other times, they won’t respond OR give me a link, yet they’ll still remove the links and clean up their page. You take the good with the bad.

Q: is it primarily the responders who link?

A: Definitely. My best success rate is with site owners who are genuinely friendly and chatty and they don’t give you the vibe that you’re ‘bothering’ them in any way.

Q: do you email non-responders again?

A: I send 1 follow up email along the lines of “I didn’t receive a response to my first email. Trying one more time in case it had been flagged as spam. Is this where I would report broken links I encountered on TheirSite? Thank you kindly.”. If they don’t respond after that, I just move on.

Q: do you email by hand or use a blast?

A: By hand… I’m not sending out hundreds of Reciprocity emails every day though. If I were, I might consider the use of a blast service, for the initial email only though, as this technique clearly requires a personal touch.

Campaign Trouble Shooting

Q: if responses are low what is the first thing you check/change?

A: Definitely the pitch & email subject line. Overlooking something as simple as the inclusion of a url (such as in a signature), can demolish your response rate by increasing the chances that your email will go directly to their spam folder. This happened to me a lot in the beginning and it’s primarily why I no longer include the .com in their domain within the subject line, or the list of broken links, within the initial email.

Campaign Tracking

Q: is there an easy way to track links earned?

A: I still use Excel and a color coding system, pretty much like I laid it out here.

Q: can you share the spreadsheet, or columns you use?

A: I’m planning a future post at my blog. Stay tuned.

Thanks Melanie! I’ve already started adjusting my broken link building campaign approach!

More Broken Link Building Resources

The Reciprocity Link Building Method
Need Links? Make Up for Your Competitor’s Shortcomings
Broken Link Building – Feast on Your Competitors This Thanksgiving
Fixing the Web’s Lost Content: An 8 Step Guide for Link Builders
The Content Marketer’s Guide to Broken Link Building
the Broken Link Building Tool

Link Rot Resources

Link Rot
“Link Rot” and Legal Resources on the Web: A 2011 Analysis by the Chesapeake Digital Preservation Group
Fighting Linkrot

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