Using Broken Backlinks To Help Your SEO Score
Every SEO agency would say backlinks are not forever, which is why regular website audits are necessary for search engine optimization (SEO). Broken backlinks can result from a number of circumstances, making it impossible to avoid them as you grow your website. Fortunately, fixing them is easy.
This guide covers everything you need to know about using broken backlinks for SEO.
- A brief review of backlinks and how they work
- How to find broken backlinks on your pages
- Three quick fixes to address broken backlinks
There’s a lot to discuss, so get ready to take notes.
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How Backlinks Work and Why They Break
Backlinks are links from another website pointing back to yours, often to cite your content. They naturally occur as people find your valuable content or as a result of off-page link-building tactics. Likewise, backlinks naturally become broken over the course of a website’s life.
Broken backlinks happen for several reasons, such as:
- An incorrect or incomplete URL
- The owner deleted the page
- Change in the reference website’s structure
- Blocked or restricted page access
Whatever the case, it makes the linking content look outdated. Moreover, you lose the boost to your website’s domain authority, which is a shame.
Both points above are what make broken backlinks a potential goldmine for SEO opportunities. Whichever way you look at it, these links present a win-win situation for everyone involved. The linking website benefits from sharing quality information with its users, and you get a backlink.
This strategy splits into two categories that serve different purposes:
- Backlink Reclamation, for retaining existing links
- Backlink Building, for securing backlinks that competitors have overlooked or abandoned
Find Broken Backlinks on Your Website The Easy Way
Building on broken backlinks starts with using tools like Ahrefs' free Broken Link Checker to look into your website in depth. You can even use them on competing sites. Premium features help immensely, though free versions often have enough power to do the job.
You can also check backlinks through your content management system (CMS). For instance, WordPress plugins allow you to view this information right on your website dashboard. Once you have your list ready, carefully pick which ones you feel are worth the effort to get or keep.
While not technically a backlink, it is also worth your time to review internal links for any errors. Both are equally harmful to SEO because they tell crawler bots that your website is poorly maintained. Besides, leaving internal links broken wastes the boost they give to your pages.
3 Quick Broken Backlink Fixes to Boost Your SEO Rank
Finding broken backlinks is the (relatively) easy part of this SEO strategy, even though it is a time-consuming process to sift for the worthwhile ones. Depending on your end goal, strategies for this aspect of SEO can be hit or miss. Email outreach is a prime example of that.
Here is how the process typically looks:
- Check your backlink profile
- Find worthwhile linking websites
- Prepare your outreach emails
- Send out personalized emails
- Wait for the person’s response
To some extent, the frustration that goes with reclaiming or building backlinks is inevitable. However, do not let the tedium of backlink building scare you from adding it to your strategy.
After all, there are quick and easy methods for fixing broken backlinks. It all depends on the nature of the link and what you want to accomplish with your strategy. The three methods below for fixing backlinks should cover most scenarios you come across without too much trouble.
1. Implement a 301 Page Redirect
As mentioned, broken backlinks sometimes result from changes in your website structure. For example, installing a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate changes your website URLs. Even a small change, like switching from http:// to https://, can break backlinks by accident.
This quick fix works best when you simply want to restore the connection from broken backlinks to your website. It also functions as a way to turn the new page URL into the canonical URL for that piece of content. That allows you to retain, or more accurately, carry over, all SEO benefits.
Plus, you do not have to spend time sending emails to the linking sites. The only concern here is making the redirect link as close to the old one as possible.
2. Reach Out to the Linking Site
Email marketing sounds easy, but much thought and consideration go into it. Writing an effective email takes a lot of work because of the many odds stacked against you. You must optimize tone, intent, and call-to-action while avoiding spam triggers and filters.
Best email marketing practices also call for personalized messages rather than cookie-cutter ones. Even for efficient workers, adhering to such a strict formula is highly exhausting. Thus, it works best when you want to reach out personally to reclaim a backlink.
Use this for small batches or with discretion when you want to network with the linking website.
3. Survey Broken Links for Ideas
Using broken backlinks for SEO is not limited to those pointing to your website. You can just as well take advantage of backlinks your competitors have neglected. Find ones that are similar to what you already have and then offer them as an alternative.
The fastest way to find these is to use these search operators to narrow your results to the ones most relevant to your target keyword or content:
From there, use broken-backlink checker tools to assess them, then follow the same steps for backlink building and hope for a positive response.
Broken backlinks present a unique challenge to website owners. They frequently occur unintentionally or as a result of oversight and have a negative impact on SEO. Avoid wasting your hard work by capitalizing on broken backlinks, whether your own or a competitor’s, for additional domain authority points.
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