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Broken Link Builder

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Broken Link Builder Tool Guide – How to Use

Getting Started

New User Questions:
What is the Broken Link Builder?
How do I create a campaign?
Who should use the Broken Link Builder?
What does the Broken Link Builder do?
How much does the Broken Link Builder cost?
How do I determine a broken link building content strategy?
What broken link building outreach tactics should I use?

Tool Support Questions
How can I get more results?
How can I get more accurate results?
Why am I not getting many email addresses when I click “Export Links & Contacts”?
Why is there a question mark or clock next to the Relevancy grade?
How does this work for ultra competitive niches like diet/weight loss/dating/finance?

What is the Broken Link Builder?

The Broken Link Builder tool was developed to help online content providers build SEO & backlinks by providing a helpful service to existing websites.

Millions of websites and links directories unknowingly link out to now-dead pages. This isn’t helpful for the site’s visitors, and it makes the site look outdated. Broken link builders email the owners of these sites to notify them that their pages have links to 404s. And it’s even more beneficial if the email includes a suggested replacement for the dead link. Owners can keep their page fresh, without having to do any more research.

On the Broken Link Builder’s end, when someone replaces a broken link with your recommendation, you’ve just benefited from a new backlink to your site. Now imagine you found a few thousand broken links and were able to reach out to 500 of these site owners. With a return rate of even 10%, that’s 50 new links to your site.

Whom is the Broken Link Builder for?

Broken Link Building is not for everyone. For inexperienced SEOs or Link Builders, or for those working within tight brand guidelines, Broken Link Building may prove less effective than traditionally linkable content creation and outreach.

But for agencies and individual site owners with the resources to create well-researched informational web content and with the flexibility to adapt to market needs, broken link building is a great way to find (and fill) known content gaps. On that note, we highly recommend that all new broken link builders check out Garrett French’s free Webinar: Broken Link Building in 2015 before starting their first campaign.

Sites are much less likely to link out to sales-y content, so the more informational the content you create, the more likely it is to be linked to.

What does the Broken Link Builder do?

The Broken Link Builder finds now-dead web pages, based on topical searches, and provides a list of other pages currently linking to them, along with the full domain, anchor text and, when scrapable, contact information.

Cost of Broken Link Builder:

We have three cost tiers for the Broken Link Builder.

  • Starter: $67/month – 15 monthly credits

  • Pro: $277/month – 65 monthly credits

  • Agency: $1000/month – 305 monthly credits

Credits are used in two ways.

1) Each keyword entered for a broken link search campaign costs one credit.

2) Credits can be used to “reserve” broken URLs, so other users can’t come behind you and make the same discovery. The cost to reserve depends upon the number of links to that URL.

How Do I Create Content for Broken Link Building?

There are two philosophies when it comes to outreach and content generation:

METHOD 1: Pitching Content Replacement

We also call this the 1:1 replacement method. For a small-enough broken page (or if you have large enough resources), you may decide to create document thorough enough to entirely replace the broken page. It’s not enough to copy the version of the old page – if the site is old enough to be broken, the content is likely outdated (and that practice is also unethical and will lead to anger from the Internet gods). So a 1:1 replacement campaign means doing the research and building the landing page or website equivalent to the broken page before reaching out to potential backlinks.

This method will get you lower return on content, but higher return on outreach, so it’s a best practice for broken pages that have a high number of backlinks.

Since it’s impossible to know what pages are going to be broken before prospecting, those planning on creating 1:1 Replacement campaigns need to come into broken link building with a very open mind, and not with previously created content. Unless you’re very (very) lucky, you’ll have a hard time finding broken content that your pre-created content perfectly replaces.

METHOD 2: Pitching Related Content

Creating and pitching related content is a common practice for link builders who don’t have the means to create a 1:1 replacement of a broken page. This is probably the more commonly practiced of the two broken link building approaches.

A related content campaign involves creating a strong piece of informational content on a broad topic, such as “Gardening in the American Southwest” or “The History of Gun Control Legislation in the US.” (Check out our series on linkable topic creation for more info on brainstorming & creating this type of content.) Broken link searches on this topic can produce hundreds of broken pages related to the guide. Pitches to the backlinkers of these pages usually inform the linker that a link on their site is broken and mention that the pitcher has recently written another piece on that topic, if they’d like to link to it. But it does not pitch itself as a 1:1 replacement, as it often does not cover the same information as the original piece.

This method will get your a higher return on a single piece of content, but will get you lower return on outreach.

First Broken Link Builder Campaign – Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Create Campaign

Upon login, you’ll arrive at your dashboard.

Create a new campaign by either typing the name into the box on the right-hand side of the page and clicking “Create Campaign” (this automatically creates a Keyword-based campaign) or by navigating to the folder icon on the left-hand side and choosing either a Keyword Campaign or a URL-based campaign.

NOTE: “Keyword Campaigns” v. “URL Campaigns”

Most Broken Link Builder campaigns will be keyword based, meaning the search for broken links pages will be performed based on one or more keywords of your choice. URL-based campaigns search for all sites that link to a particular URL and then runs a 404 search on all of their outbound URL’s.

It’s typically more productive to run a keyword-based campaign, but a URL-based campaign can be a good addition to a keyword campaign when you’re trying to be very thorough in a topic area. Be sure to use a relevant and high authority website, possibly a competitor.

2. Grade Keywords

Remember, keywords use credits! To help you vet keywords before spending your credits, we developed the Keyword Grader. You can find it on the left-hand column of the main dashboard, or by typing keywords into the “Create Keywords Campaign” page and clicking “Test Keywords.

NOTE: On Choosing Keywords.

Many first-time users make the mistake of choosing keywords that they’d like their page to rank for. However, these choices are often too specific and may not result in as many quality broken link options as you’re looking for.

Instead, think BIGGER. What greater category does your content fit into? How can you make additional content, or restructure your current content, to fit within a broader vertical?

For an example, see the results for SEO-specific v. Broader Keyword choices in the campaign below. In this pretend campaign, I’m trying to place an article on great shampoos for curly hair.


The SEO keywords turn up scores of around 1000-3000, with my lowest being 74! As a rule of thumb, we say any keyword with a grade under 1000 isn’t worth the search. Two of these tow the line, and the third definitely isn’t worth my credit.


Now check out the scores for my broader key terms – they’re 50-200 times more effective, meaning I’ll get more results for my money.

One other note – the order in which you enter your keywords into the campaign is important. Results’ relevancy scores are determined based on their relevancy to the first keyword in the campaign.

3. Run Campaign

Once you’ve chosen your keywords, enter them into your campaign and click “Add Keywords.” It may take a couple hours for your campaign to be fully ready.

Once it’s finished, you’ll see a list of dead domains, sorted by number of backlinks. Each will have a relevancy score, which is graded based on that page’s nTopic-determined relevancy to your first entered keyword.

Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 2.48.06 PM

Click on the file folder to the left of each URL to see the version of that URL.

To sort your results by relevancy or other metrics, click the “Export” button at the top of the page. The file will download as a CSV that you can open as a spreadsheet in Google Docs or Excel.

Expect to spend about 30 minutes per report, sorting through the results for the best find. This tool automates as much as possible, but human eyes are still needed to determine final fit.

4. Export Email Addresses & Find Contacts

The broken link builder provides email addresses that it’s able to scrape from some sites.

To export the full list of sites linking to a particular broken page, as well as all found contact addresses, click on the envelope icon to the right of the broken page. This will export all domains that link to that page and any found contact addresses for those domains.

Note – to get the most number of email addresses, you’ll need to wait about 30 minutes and re-export, as our email scraper does not activate until the first time you click “Export Links & Contacts.” 

To export a broken site’s email list to Buzzstream, click on the Buzzstream icon under the exports column, and we’ll do the rest. This feature does require an active Buzzstream account.

5. Outreach

Check out the links below for outreach advice from a few broken link builders in our community.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I get more results?

You may not be using broad enough keywords. Try using the Keyword Grader before your next campaign, and think of broader key phrases related to your content. The history of an industry, “Tips on” _______, et cetera. SEO people are so well trained to think narrow, we forget to reprogram our minds to think broad when it comes to broken link finding.

Why is there a question mark or clock next to the Relevancy grade?

We only grade results up to a certain threshold, so your lower-ranking results will not have a grade.

Why am I not getting many email addresses when I click “Export Links & Contacts?”

To get the most number of email addresses, you’ll need to wait about 30 minutes and re-export, as our email scraper does not activate until the first time you click “Export Links & Contacts.”

How does this work for ultra competitive niches like diet/weight loss/dating/finance?

This is a GREAT tool for very competitive verticals. In fact, the more content-heavy a vertical is, the more results you’ll get. But even with these content-heavy niches, there’s no way to predict what’s going to be broken. It’s still a best practice to peruse results with an open mind, not with a commitment to already planned content.

Other Helpful Broken Link Builder Reviews, How-to’s and Tutorials:

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