Link building is a popular and very important SEO strategy, yet it’s something that lots of business struggle to do effectively. In particular, broken link building is the key area where many fall down.

Now, despite the title, we’re not saying that this is because broken link building doesn’t work. In fact, it can be quite beneficial – but only when done right.

In this guide, we’re going to take a look at why your broken link building strategy isn’t working and offer some tips on how you can make positive changes.

This will help you to get a stronger link building strategy in place and begin to see better results from your SEO efforts.

What is broken link building?

Before we begin looking at why this strategy can be tough, let’s first take a quick look at what broken link building is for anyone who might not be completely familiar with the strategy.

Broken link building is a strategy that involves finding online resources from your niche or related industries that are no longer live, for example, a blog post that is no longer online, and then recreating a newer version of this content.

Then, reaching out to websites that have linked to this content in the past (and might not be aware the link is no longer live) to ask if they want to replace the old broken link with a new one to your adapted content.

When done right, this can be a very beneficial SEO tactic, and we’ll look at why in more detail in the next section.

Why should you use broken link building tactics?

For anyone who has attempted a link building strategy, you’ll already know how important they can be for moving the needle – but broken link building takes this one step further. It allows you to strengthen your existing link building strategy and increase your visibility.

Some of the other key benefits of broken link building include:

  • Effectively building links on websites with higher domain authority
  • Searching for broken links can quite often lead to the discovery of new content opportunities
  • Most other sites that have already linked to older content will be happy to update the link, especially with the old link now be defunct
  • Broken link building also gives you a chance to check your own backlinks and make sure these are all working
  • Finally, this can give you the competitive edge you need to overtake competitors, particularly if they haven’t got an effective link building strategy in place

So as you can see, there are a number of benefits to be had from a strong broken link strategy; you just need to make sure you’re avoiding some of the common mistakes outlined below.

Why your broken link building strategy isn’t working

As we said, broken link building needs to be done correctly to achieve maximum results. Unfortunately, lots of businesses fall at the same hurdles.

So to help you overcome these, we’ve put together a list of six things you could be doing wrong.

Read on to find out more.

1. The pages you’re targeting don’t have authority (and you’re not using the right metrics to determine this)

Determining page authority can be one of the more fiddly and time-consuming areas of your broken link building strategy, but it’s an important one.

You want to be targeting the right websites, but determining their authority using metrics can be tricky. This is because back in 2016, Google removed access to the PageRank scores, leaving SEO professionals to focus on other metrics instead.

Some of these include:

  • Page-level links
  • Page/domain rating
  • Trust flow
  • Citation flow
  • URL rating

But what metrics you choose will depend on the tools you use. Some of the most popular include Moz, Majestic and Ahrefs. But no matter which platform you choose, you need to make sure you’re looking at a variety of metrics to determine the authority of a website or blog post.

Any external tool you use to evaluate the authority of a website or webpage will be an educated guess as they aren’t privy to all of the factors that search engines use to determine the authority or value of website, page or link. As search engines assign different ‘weight’ to links based on several factors, by evaluating as many of these metrics as possible, you get a better understanding of just how valuable a broken link could be.

It’s a good idea to use metrics only as a guide and to focus on other factors such as the keywords a page is ranking for and the amount of traffic it sends to the pages it is linking to. This will give you a far more accurate picture of how strong a webpage is and how valuable a link from it will be for you.

2. You’re targeting older and uncrawled pages

You might be thinking, of course we’re targeting older pages as many of the newer ones don’t have any broken links. However, there should be a limit to how old the pages you target are. A good rule of thumb is to look for blog posts or websites that are less than three years old.

This is because archived or outdated pages are unlikely to have a good authority, and Google probably won’t crawl those pages anywhere near as frequently as you want them to.

So, by using the ‘tool’ functionality on Google, you can sort results by the date they were published/last updated. This can help you to organise your search results.

Not only this, if you’ve found a website or blog post that you think could be great for you, but you’re not sure on the last publish date, you can also use the drop-down menu in the URL to look at the cache.

This will show you when the last version of the page was cached, which is as close to a crawl estimate as you can get. This can give you a better idea of whether Google is still caching that page and, therefore, whether it’s a relevant target or not.

3. The websites you’re targeting aren’t contextually relevant to your business

A key reason for link building is to drive quality traffic to your site. This means that you need to secure links back to your website from other relevant web pages or content that is going to be relevant to your target audience.

So, although sometimes one particular blog post or web page might look like the ideal place for a link to your products or pages, in reality, if the site’s typical content is completely different it could actually be irrelevant to your audience.

This means you’re unlikely to get the traffic, leads and ranking you hoped for.

This can happen because a website has written a one-off blog post about a topic relevant to your niche, product or service, but the rest of their content is completely different. So you need to make sure that you’re selecting not just content, but websites that are contextually relevant to your brand and target audience.

Even if the one post is related to your offerings, this won’t offer any long-term value. Not only this, but if you find a site that shares a lot of content relevant to your audience, you can build long-lasting relationships with them and they might be more inclined to link to you again in the future.

So, in order to avoid wasting your time chasing links that aren’t relevant, use your chosen SEO tool to identify what keywords are most relevant to that site, and compare these to your own target keywords.

That way, you can be sure you choose websites that are relevant to your audience and campaign.

4. You’re hoping to link directly to product pages

One of the key challenges with link building is that lots of websites don’t want to be blatantly promotional as this might annoy their readers. Therefore, they’ll only link back to content that isn’t an exact product or service page.

And when it comes to broken links, this becomes even more challenging because you need to make sure you’re offering them content similar to the original page they linked to.

As such, you often need to create a piece of valuable content that is closely related to your goods or services instead. That way, you can link to the page you want to rank for in your own content instead.

An example of this might be if your business sells homemade jewellery, instead of trying to get a link directly to your product pages, you could create a piece of content about the best gifts to give your sister/mother/friend this year.

This gives you a chance to then link to one or more of the product pages you want to rank for but also adds some genuine value to those who might be reading your guide. As such, other sites are more likely to replace broken links with your content rather than turning you down.

5. The content you’re pitching isn’t valuable enough

We’ve briefly touched on creating valuable content above, and we’re now going to look at the importance of this in more detail.

One of the most common reasons that businesses struggle to secure a replacement for a broken link (or secure any link for that matter) is because the content their pitching isn’t valuable enough to garner interest.

Just throwing together a piece of content that might be semi-relevant to the other website isn’t enough. Instead, you need to create valuable content that can stand alone and is genuinely worthy of a link.

Therefore, your content needs to be engaging, helpful and well-written. This increases the likelihood of a website linking back to you.

6. You’re not thinking enough about your outreach approach

Following on from this, you might have found that you’re not getting a great response rate when reaching out to other businesses to try and secure links on their website. And this is likely due to your outreach approach, as well as the content you’re pitching to them.

Your first mistake could be that you’ve created a generic template for an email pitch, and you’re just firing this off every time you’re chasing after a broken link. This generic, bulk email approach is unlikely to get you many responses.

Instead, you need to make sure you’re doing your research and reaching out to prospects on a one to one basis. Link building is all about building relationships in the hopes of them linking to you on multiple occasions and seeing your website as a valuable and authoritative resource.

So, be sure to avoid generic emails and instead, try to find out the name of the person you’re emailing and get to grips with the type of content they share on their website as a whole.

Your second mistake could be pitching out content that actually contains a conflict of interest. It is no good pitching out your blog post to a website that is a direct computer of yours. Similarly, you’re unlikely to convince them to share a blog post that is full of links to any of their other competitors.

As such, you need to think very carefully about what you’re pitching and who you’re pitching it to. Before sending an email, make sure that the company isn’t a direct competitor or they aren’t working with any of your direct competitors.

Again, following this advice will increase the likelihood of securing a link.

In summary

As you can see, there are a number of reasons that your broken link building strategy might not be working. Most commonly, this is because of one or more of the following reasons:

  • The pages you’re targeting don’t have high enough authority
  • You’re not using the right metrics to determine the authority of a website
  • You’re targeting old and uncrawled pages
  • The websites you’re targeting aren’t relevant to your brand
  • You’re hoping to link directly to product pages rather than relevant content
  • The content you’re pitching isn’t valuable enough to the businesses you’re targeting
  • You’re not thinking enough about your outreach approach, so you’re not getting many responses

However, if you follow the advice we have given above, you will find that you are able to produce better content, target more authoritative and relevant websites, and generally stand a better chance of securing more backlinks for your business. Ultimately boosting your SEO efforts and the visibility of your web pages.