You know that links are an important part of SEO and that attracting those links has something to do with creating great content, but how do you put those two things together? Many people make the mistake of starting the question: How do I Build Links to My New Content? The problem with this question is that it implies that people are only starting to think about link building and promotion after they’ve created their content. A far more effective approach is to start with the end in mind and only create content for which you have a clear plan for promoting and attracting links. Read on to learn two techniques that use this approach.
The two techniques we are going to focus on are;
- Broken Link Building
- The Skyscraper Technique
Broken Link Building
Broken Link Building follows this basic process;
- Find websites that have linked to a page in the past (and are still linking to it) and that page is now broken (‘broken’ means it no longer exists online or has moved location without being redirected)
- Recreate the now broken page, or a similar page on your website
- Contact all of the websites linking to the broken page (identified at (1)), let them know that they are linking to a broken page and suggest your new page (created at (2)) as a replacement or additional resource to link to instead
This white hat link building strategy is effective for a few key reasons;
- Your link targets are already linking to a website similar to yours (or that was similar, before it broke) which shows that they both can and do link out to websites like yours which are two very important indicators of websites that you have a decent chance of getting a link from
- You are helping the target website by pointing out their broken links and therefore they are more likely to open to considering adding a link to your website
How to Do Broken Link Building (BLB)
Step 1: Find broken pages which have a lot of websites linking to them
You can do this manually or by using the Broken Link Building tool (we use the tool). The manual process goes something like this;
a) Use Google to search for link lists related to your topic/industry. You can do this by searching using these queries: “[related keyword] + inurl:links” or “[related keyword] + inurl:resources”
b) Open each link list and use the Check My Links chrome extension to check if any of the pages linked to from the list are broken
d) Open your favourite backlink checker (we use Majestic) and plug your list of broken pages into the tool to learn the number of links each broken page has
Step 2: Select a few broken pages to investigate further
e) Identify the URLs of the pages with the most backlinks (specifically ‘referring domains’) and plug them into the Archive.org to see what the pages used to look like before they were broken
f) If the archived version of the page looks like something that you could recreate or create something of a equal or better quality and topically similar, add them to the shortlist with a ‘1’ next to them in your spreadsheet
g) Go back to your backlink checker and plug in each website from your shortlist one by one and take a look at a sample of their backlinks (the pages linking to it) to see if they are relevant to your website and also pages you have a decent chance of getting a link from
h) Select a broken page to focus on for the rest of this campaign
Note: this serious of steps, particularly (f), (g) & (h) requires some judgements which will take some time and trial and error to learn.
Step 3: Create a new page on your website to replace the broken page
I can’t give step by step instructions for this because its going to be vastly different depending on the resource you are (re)creating. Here is some general advice that will help your content perform better;
- Comprehensive content generally performs better (think 2000 words or more)
- Involve a copywriter to improve the quality of your content if you’re not a very good writer yourself
- At a minimum you should include images in your content but for the best results, invest in custom graphics that enhance the content and make it unique
Step 4: Contact all of the website linking to the broken page to let them know and suggest your new page as an alternative
i) Go back to your backlink tool and download all of the backlinks the broken URL has. If your tool has the option (as Majestic does) you can choose to select only one link if there are multiple links from the same domain. This is probably a good idea because your focus should be on getting links from multiple domains rather than multiple links from the same domain.
j) Go through each website to find contact details so you can reach out to them. Ideally you want to get the first name of the contact person and their personal email address. You can still get results without a contact name and a generic email address or contact form will also work but the success rate usually won’t be as high.
This process is time consuming so you should prioritise the higher quality websites to use your time better, especially if there are hundreds of websites. Use the built in domain scoring metrics provided by your backlink checker (Trust Flow & Citation Flow or AC Rank for Majestic) to sort the websites. You can also significantly shorten this process by using software to automatically find the contact details, such as Buzzstream (Buzzstream can actually be used to manage the whole outreach process).
k) Contact the websites for which you’ve been able to find contact details. Use templates to make this process more efficient, we use Buzzstream to manage this. There’s a few different ways to approach this but we’ve had success using a two step approach where the first email simply mentions that you’ve found some broken links on their site and asks whether the website is still being updated and then the second email (if they replied with ‘yes’) identifies the broken links and suggests your resource as an alternative/addition.
l) You’ll need to monitor the replies and probably do some follow up with different people who will be asking questions but some percentage of people will end up adding your link at which point you can give yourself a pat on the back ;).
The Skyscraper Technique
The skyscraper technique was pioneered by Brian Dean from Backlinko. The process is fairly similar to broken link building except you start with an existing resource which is not broken but can be improved. The process looks like;
- Find a number of online resources (preferably some kind of written content) which are related to your website and/or industry
- Try and identify ways that they could be improved e.g. updated with new information, made more user friendly, additional images and better design etc.
- Use your backlink checker to see how many backlinks and referring domains each resource has
- Select one resource which has many people linking to it and you think you can improve enough that those people linking to the old resource might consider changing over their link to your new resource or at least adding a link to your resource
- Create the new and improved resource
- Contact all the websites linking to the old resource and let them know about your new resource
How to Do the Skyscraper Technique
I won’t go into great detail about how to do this technique because its already fairly well covered by Brian Dean here and the process is very similar to broken link building which I’ve described above.
Never create a piece of link building content without having a clear plan for who is likely to link to this content and how are you going to execute that campaign.
Start with the Broken Link Building technique and the Skyscraper Technique as they are white hat, proven strategies for getting links.