The Ultimate Guide to Broken Link-Building in 2024

The Ultimate Guide to Broken Link-Building in 2024
Do not index
Do not index
Broken link-building can boost your website's backlink profile – provided it's executed correctly.
This guide will show you how to do that and make the most of this strategy. We’ll explore:
  • Three proven tactics for finding broken links
  • A robust approach to verifying link quality
  • The “Skyscraper” technique for creating replacement content
  • A simpler, more innovative way to do outreach
But first, let’s understand what broken link-building is and how it benefits your website.
Broken link-building involves identifying dead links (links that point to “404” pages) on another website and offering to replace them with your own content. It relies on cultivating goodwill with other websites and creating valuable content to repair broken links.
Here’s an example of a broken link on
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Did you know broken link-building was the fifth most widely used technique for gaining backlinks in 2022?
Here are a few reasons why it's so popular:
  • Opportunity to gain quality links: You can gain backlinks from authoritative websites by replacing broken links with your own content. These links can improve your domain authority and search engine rankings since Google sees them as votes of confidence.
  • Improved user experience: Fixing broken links on other websites improves their user experience. It also helps you foster goodwill with their admins and pave the way for future collaborations.
  • Builds Relationships: Informing website owners about broken links enables you to establish connections within your niche.
To do broken link-building successfully, you need to:
  • Find pages with broken links
  • Verify the quality of those links
  • Create content to replace the broken page
  • Send a compelling pitch to web admins (or automate your outreach)
Let's dive into each of these steps.
To follow this portion of the guide, you must have access to an SEO tool. You can also use a Chrome extension like Check My Links or an online broken link checker (although, note that these options aren’t scalable).
To get started with broken link-building, you need to:
  • Find broken links on a competitor’s website
  • Find broken links on resource pages
  • Identify broken pages on your website
Let’s take a look at how this works:
a) Find Broken Links On a Competitor’s Website
Many of your competitors have broken links on their websites as a result of deleting or relocating pages. Your job is to identify those links, scan their content, and find the most relevant topics to create content.
Here’s how to go about it:
  • Get a list of your competitors' dead pages using an SEO tool. In the image below, we’ve used Ahrefs’ Best by Links report in the Site Explorer option to find “404 Not Found” pages on
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  • You can also use an online broken link checker to find dead pages (although that’ll give you limited results).
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  • Once you have a list of broken pages, filter them for topics that align with your content strategy. Also, repeat the process for other websites to find more opportunities in your niche.
b) Find Broken Links On Resource Pages (Recommended by Us)
This is our go-to approach for finding broken links.
For best results, you need to find pages with lots of links. This includes how-to guides and listicles (that curate several products or services).
The easiest way to find resource pages is to pop the following strings into Google search:
  • Target keyword + intitle:resources
  • Target keyword + intitle:links
  • Target keyword + inurl:resources
  • Target keyword + helpful resources
Here’s what you can expect in terms of results:
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Once you find a relevant resource, you can run it through Check My Links to find potential opportunities. The image below shows our analysis of a page on Neil Patel’s website. We found 7 broken links on this page, one of which was relevant to our niche.
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c) Identify Broken Pages On Your Website
It’s easier to fix links pointing to your website than those pointing elsewhere. After all, you already have a relationship with websites hosting those links and perhaps a viable replacement.
This is a three-step process that requires you to:
  • Audit your website for broken links (you’ll need an SEO tool for this)
  • Identify a replacement for a broken page or create new content
  • Request the replacement of your broken link with a working page
Let’s get one thing straight: you can’t replace every broken link you encounter on the web. Why? Because:
a) Fixing broken links requires considerable time and resources, and everyone has a limit on how much they can invest.
b) Not all broken links are equal. Ideally, you’d only want to pursue opportunities that attract high-quality backlinks.
That’s why, you must analyze a broken link’s quality using an SEO tool or a free backlink checker. In the image below, we’ve used Ahrefs’ Backlinks feature to evaluate the link we found on Neil Patel’s website.
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Note that we’ve used filters to fine-tune our analysis. The free backlink checker does not have this option but offers a complete list of domains linking to the dead page with their DR (domain rating).
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When assessing a broken link, you need to consider three factors:
  • Domain ranking: DR shows the strength of domains linking to a broken page. Ideally, you’d want to pursue pages with links from high-DR websites.
  • Traffic: Links hosted on popular websites (sites with high organic traffic) should be on your priority list.
  • Dofollow links: These links pass link equity (or authority) from a website to the destination page. If a broken link is marked “dofollow” on several pages, it’s probably a quality resource.

3) Create Replacement Content

Now that you know an opportunity is worthwhile, it’s time to create a valuable replacement.
Here’s how to do that:
a) Analyze the Original Piece
Websites link to pages because they’re informative or insightful for readers. When a page gets deleted or relocated, its readers lose access to that information.
To fix this issue, you must offer something similar to the original.
The best way to do that is to access the original page in the Wayback Machine and analyze its content.
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This will give you all the information you need to create an outline for a replacement.
But remember, this won’t be enough to compete with other websites vying for the broken link. For that, you’ll have to create a resource that’s far better than what’s already online.
b) Use the Skyscraper Technique to Improve Your Content
The Skyscraper Technique involves improving an existing resource and pitching it to websites linking to it.  In broken link-building, we’re only concerned with the first part of the technique, i.e., improving our content.
Here are a few ways you can do that:
  • Add more details: If a broken page features “20 Hacks for Project Management,” create a replacement with 30 or even 40 hacks.
  • Add up-to-date information: Update any statistics or facts that are no longer applicable.
  • Improve user experience: Add images and videos to keep readers engaged. Also, use bullet points and short paragraphs to enhance readability.
  • Make it more in-depth: Support your claims with research, actionable advice, and personal experiences.

4) Do Outreach

Outreach is where you inform a website about a broken link and offer an alternative.
There are two ways to go about this:
a) Reach Out to People Manually
This approach requires you to identify a point of contact (POC) and share a personalized pitch with them.
Webmasters and SEO specialists are great POCs for broken link-building, but you can also consider content marketers and writers – since they’re easier to get ahold of.
For instance, if you targeted a broken link on the following page, you could contact its author.
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Since her contact details are already in her author bio, you wouldn’t have to look them up on LinkedIn (although, that’s also an option).
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If these details were inaccessible or you wanted to target someone else, you could pop their name into an email finder to get their work email address.
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This is exactly how we find contact details to share our proposals.
Pitching your offer
It’s time to craft a compelling pitch for your replacement.
This is a fairly simple process.
All you need to do is specify the name of the blog and the URL of the broken link. While you’re at it, offer your own page as a replacement. If you’ve discovered some other issues with the page, point them out as well.
You can refer to the following template to structure your email:
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b)  Automate Your Outreach
When it comes to broken link-building, manual outreach can only get you so far. After all, many websites target the same broken link and share pitches – that look all too familiar to SEOs and site admins.
There’s also a trust factor that needs to be considered. Most website owners ignore broken link-building requests because:
  • They know their transactional intent
  • They don’t have a rapport with the sites seeking to replace their links.
This trust deficit makes an otherwise convenient and scalable link-building strategy hard to implement.
Fortunately, you can use a link-building tool like Smartlinks to fix this problem.
Here’s how it works:
  • Upload replacement content to your account.
  • Go to the dashboard and select the Find Opportunities option.
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  • Look up the site with the broken link in the search bar. If it’s already a part of Smartlinks, you’ll see a list of its articles.
  • Send a one-click backlink request. Use the Chat option to specify that you want to replace a broken link.
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Smartlinks admits only trusted websites to its ecosystem. It also leverages Karma points (read more about them here) to facilitate all transactions.
In other words, Smartlinks increases your odds of building a broken link. It incentivizes other sites to accept your requests while encouraging you to contribute to the ecosystem.
Don’t take our word for it, though. Try Smartlinks for yourself and see if it's the right fit for you.

Next Steps

Broken link-building is just one of many ways to earn backlinks. To drive more traffic to your website, combine it with other link-building tactics, like HARO link-building, digital PR, guest posting, and podcasting.
To learn more about them, check out the following resources:
Or, consult our Tiered Link-Building Guide to leverage your existing backlinks.

Written by

 Divya Mathur
Divya Mathur

Senior Content marketer at and Passionate about B2B SaaS and Artificial Intelligence. I’ve been in the content space for over 6 years and have first-hand experience in how On-Page and Off-Page SEO affect a site's traffic. These articles enable me to share my learnings and help you achieve better search results.