Tool Review: Broken Link Finder

Ptolemy's map of the world SEO

Nick Bernard Mar 12 2013

Ptolemy's map of the world

Some people need help with their maps.

I’m a huge fan of Garrent French’s link building tool, the Link Prospector, so I was jazzed when he released the Broken Link Finder. I wanted to give an overview of why broken link building is important and how this tool can save you a ton of time and effort.

What is broken link building?

As the web grows, it changes: pages gets moved around, deleted, or simply neglected. The content is gone, but the links to these URLs remain. The result is a 404 “File Not Found” status, which is a pain for users but a link builder’s dream. Broken link building is the practice of asking a webmaster to change those links to point at relevant, replacement pages (that just so happen to be on your client’s site).

Think of it this way: say you’re a pizza connoisseur, so you pick up a map of the best pizza joints in town at your local pizza community resource center. You follow the map to one of the pizzerias, only to find that the place is closed, the building is permanently destroyed, or, worse, there’s a new establishment in its place that’s selling generic Viagra pills—either way, you’ll probably be disappointed.

Broken link building is like contacting the map maker and suggesting a different Italian restaurant to replace the delinquent one. The pizza cartographer updates the map, and the new establishment enjoys the benefits of leveraging resources and connections that were already in place.

Scalablility

Like any other SEO strategy, broken link building takes time. Using the Check My Links extension to discover dead links on resources pages can be tedious work. The enterprising minds at Citation Labs thought, “There must be a way to make this process scalable….”

Enter the Broken Link Finder. This tool does most of the heavy lifting for you by returning dead pages based on keywords you provide. Here’s an outline of how it works.

1. Create a campaign

Users familiar with Link Prospector will be comfortable with the interface of the new tool. I organize my campaigns by the types of linkable content I’m hoping to find, rather than by client or website.

Pizza Resource Links chart

2. Choose your keywords

Link Prospector allowed for a lot of trial and error for picking keywords to use for search queries; however, because the credit structure is different, your pocketbook will be in a world of hurt if you dump keywords in willy-nilly. Thankfully, they’ve provided a tool to help choose keywords that will yield the most results.

Graphic of keyword grades for Alaska

As you can see, it’s better to think broadly and more abstractly than you would for classic link building queries. It’s important to remember that you’re searching for opportunities for replacing dead content; these aren’t necessarily immediate wins.

3. Vet opportunities

After you add the keywords for the campaign, some sort of link wizardry happens and the tool produces a report.

Alaska opportunities

What would have been hours of sleuthing and a significant amount of luck is just sitting there for the taking. You can filter the list to see URLs by the number of referring links or by the link opportunity’s “grade,” which is based on its relevance to your target keywords. They even provide a link to the cached version of the page from the Wayback Machine so you can see what content your page should offer!

4. Reserve and outreach

Once you find the pages you want to contact, you can reserve them. This removes the URL from the tool’s index and prevents link builders from moving in on your territory.

Reserved Opportunities screen shot

You can also “dive” URLs, which creates a separate campaign that generates new opportunities based on that specific page.

Of course, premium prospects carry a premium price tag. At $7.50 per credit, this tool gets expensive very quickly. It forces you to be calculated with your research and content strategy.

To link builders, however, the value should be clear. In the example above, the report produced a page with 303 dead links. It could’ve taken me hours to find the same number of quality opportunities that the tool found in 15 minutes. This is scalability—without sacrificing relevance or value.

The future of link building

What I like most about this tool is it gets us to think about what’s really important for SEO: content and user experience. Fixing links helps users avoid the dreaded 404 page, and if you can create great content to fill that gap, everybody wins.

Thinking in terms of what content could be helpful to our users is the only way link building can be successful in the future. The Broken Link Finder is a great tool to help us do just that.

Have you used the Broken Link Finder? What strategies do you use for broken link building? Let us know in the comments!

tags : internet marketinglinkbuildingSEOtools

3 Comments

  1. I still like using Google Alerts for branded keywords, phone numbers, etc. to find link opportunities.

  2. Ah, takes me back to the good old days, when my mom would give me $10 in quarters and drop me off at the pizza community resource center.

    Nice take on an interesting tool for link-building, Nick.

  3. Very thorough post, Nick. I’ve seen broken link building work very well and I believe it will continue. I don’t see a footprint developing nearly as much as other “link building” tactics and you begin to associate yourself with competitors on “list posts” or taking over your competitors links when content disappears. This is beneficial for everyone. However, the outreach request needs to be professional and mutually beneficial. Without a mutual benefit, it turns into link begging. To shy away from that, I recommend skipping certain “opportunities” where the site owner and/or audience will not benefit as much as you.

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