How do you ease the competition when everything has the same content as yours? One robust search engine optimization (SEO) technique is building backlinks.
And we have one ninja move you can use: using your competitors’ broken links.
What Is a Broken Link?
A broken link leads to a dead, missing, or error page. When you click on it, the Website sends you a 404 (page not found) response. Sometimes it says that you cannot access the article.
It happens for many reasons:
- The website owner has accidentally (or deliberately) deleted the page but did not remove it from the sitemaps.
- They deleted and removed the page from the sitemap, but search engines continued to store the error page.
- They renamed the page.
- The website owner forgot to set up a canonical URL or create a redirect.
A broken link causes many SEO issues, from poor user experience to lost traffic. These impacts can potentially lead to lower search engine rankings.
Broken-Link Building and Why It’s Worth It
Interestingly, another website’s problem can be your ticket to better SEO through a tactic called broken-link building. Now, what is it?
The short answer is swapping your rival’s dead page with your active one. This way, you pass on the link juice to yours. You can still benefit from more traffic if it is a no-follow link.
This technique is resource intensive, especially time. But Marina Turea of Digital Authority Partners (DAP) strongly believes that it is worth the effort because:
- It is a passive link-building strategy. Once you have your healthy link in lieu of the broken one, you do not have to do anything else. You can take advantage of the traffic it sends your way.
- Many website owners do like it. It is an intelligent way to build good relationships with other publishers, from bloggers to influencers and industry leaders. After all, they, too, want to provide an incredible user experience to their readers. They cannot achieve it if they lead their market to missing pages.
- You can piggyback on other people’s authority and credibility. In the SEO world, a link pointing to yours is a vote of confidence. If you can get one from a reputable website, then it is easier to convince your leads you are trustworthy.
5 Steps to Steal Your Competitor’s Broken Links
The broken-link building is a powerful SEO strategy that can give you outstanding results. But how do you exactly do it?
Follow the steps below.
1. Identify the Link You Want to Promote
You can never sell without a product. Of the many links you have, though, which ones should you offer to other website owners or publishers?
Find those with growing traffic, domain authority, and ranking.
Remember, most link-building tactics are quid pro quo. You should be able to answer their question, “What’s in it for me?” Besides, you are not the only one using this tactic.
You can analyze SEO to determine which pages are doing well and for what keywords.
What if your page is new? Does it mean you cannot do broken link building?
The answer is no; you still can. However, you must ensure that your content is significantly better than your competitors.
Use these ideas to help you:
- Please search for the keyword you want to compete with and check the articles your rivals have been publishing about it. You can do this manually (go to Google and view the search results) or use an SEO tool.
- Identify gaps or opportunities to make your copy different.
- Is the article old? Then, present new data in your copy.
- Are the ideas similar to other published articles? Use your expertise, experience, and knowledge to provide a new perspective or angle.
- Are they using stock photos or videos? Perhaps you have your own media assets that can make your articles more original and credible.
2. Search for Sites That Could Have Your Competitors’ Broken Links
The next step is to know the websites that could have some of your rival’s broken links. You can reverse-engineer this one by checking their backlinks.
- Use your preferred SEO analysis tool or hire an SEO agency to look at your competitor’s performance across multiple platforms for more accurate data.
- Input their domain.
- Generate a broken-links report. This one gives you two crucial pieces of information: 404s and the number of referring domains (or sites linking to them). Note that a site can connect to several pages of your competitor.
When identifying potential sites, do not limit yourself to blog posts. Also consider:
- Resource pages (Usually one of the easiest to do broken-link building with because of the number of links they contain. More likely, some do not work anymore.)
- Social media posts
- Forum sites
- Newsletters (Subscribe to the publisher’s mailing list to make this work.)
3. Perform a Technical SEO Audit on the Website
You already have the link to promote and the referring domains. What is the next step? Verify the credibility and authority of the latter through a thorough technical SEO audit.
This process entails checking various aspects of the publisher’s site, such as errors, backlink quality, content, and link-building strategy. The data can help catch some red flags:
- Thin content
- A massive number of links in every article
- Poor schema or site structure
- Plagiarized content
- Low domain authority
- Insecure Website
- Suspiciously high traffic, which could be due to spam referral
You want to avoid sites with these problems because they are less likely to comply with the industry’s best practices and search engine guidelines. They will bring you down if they get penalized.
4. Reach Out to the Publishers
Let us say that you have successfully identified a few websites after your audit. Now, you are ready to tell them you have a better alternative.
The steps below do not guarantee that the website owner will agree to your proposal or even bother to make changes. But they can increase your chances of success:
- Study the publisher and the Website. What types of content do they have? Do they align with yours? Will your link make sense to their articles?
- Reach out personally. While it is easier to leave a public comment, a more practical approach is via email or the contact us form if you cannot find an email address.
- Write an email that resonates. Here are a few tips:
- Make it short but concise. They also have busy schedules, so you should not take up much of their time.
- Tell them what you love about their content. Even better, specify the articles you like the most and why.
- Pinpoint the problem. Segue to the page with a broken link. Explain why it could be an issue for them and their readers.
- Offer yours. Detail the reasons why they should change the dead link to yours. Does it have information that jives with the rest of the article? Do you have updated data?
- Be open to feedback. Remind them that you are open to questions and further communication. Invite them to check out your Website.
5. Monitor Page Performance
Fortunately, the publisher uses your link instead of your competitor’s. Is your job done? The answer is no.
Now is the best time to monitor page performance.
- If you are getting hefty traffic, it pays to build stronger connections with the referring domain. This way, you can offer other pages to them.
- You can use the data for your future outreach campaigns. It tells the publisher that your link can also support their SEO efforts.
- You want to ensure that your content continues to offer something valuable.
Platforms such as Google Analytics can generate data and reports in real-time, but if you want to understand the numbers better, work with a digital marketing firm.
The broken-link building is hard work, but the benefits make it worthwhile. Plus, we have five steps to help you get started.
However, if you want to skip trial and error, collaborate with an SEO team specializing in your niche. They possess the tools and know the best techniques to make your content attractive and decrease the likelihood of rejection.