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What Is Broken Link Building? The Pros, Cons & Alternatives

By the Rhino Rank team
5th Feb 2024

Having broken links on your web pages is terrible news to your technical SEO stats and website visitors. Readers typically click on links within content in the hopes of learning more and are likely to get frustrated when they click on links that aren’t working.

And while hosting services like WordPress typically include access to SEO-enhancing technologies, broken links require extra attention to boost your site’s search engine rankings. 

As a result, most site owners go above and beyond to ensure all links in their web pages are functional. 

This is where broken link building comes in handy! 

This article will explore why looking for and fixing broken links is essential. Then, we’ll walk you through the different strategies for detecting and repairing broken links to boost your site’s performance.

Short Summary

  • Broken links are detrimental to technical SEO and user experience.
  • Broken link building is great for finding and offering replacement links on other websites.
  • There are alternative link building techniques you can use if you identify a broken link.

What Is a Broken Link?

Broken links are hyperlinks that lead to an invalid page or resource. In most cases, the referenced pages have been deleted or relocated without a redirect being set up.

If a user or crawler tool tries to access a page that no longer exists, the server will display a response code of 410 (Gone) or 404 (Not Found).

Broken links are broken up into two categories: 

  • Broken outgoing links: Links from your website that point to an external website.
  • Broken incoming links: Links link from external websites that point back to your website. 


What Is Broken Link Building?

The term “broken link building” refers to tracking down “dead” links (broken hyperlinks) on other web pages and replacing them with working links pointing back to your website.

Usually, this involves reproducing the content initially used in the link or creating new, high quality material that may be used in its stead.

It’s safe to say that it’s a tried-and-true white hat link development strategy with boundless potential; there are a lot of dead ends on the web.

Websites are dynamic and ever-evolving entities. As a result of page relocations and content removals, a trail of dead (or broken) links is left in its wake.

You can help a website owner by pointing out their broken links to enhance their on-page SEO and earn a strong backlink in exchange.

However, it’s important to note that the success rate of a broken link building campaign could be higher. A response rate in the 5-10% range is excellent. Luckily for you, there are tactics listed below that you can use to win a ton of free working links for your site.

These approaches will help you discover chances for niche-specific edits and construct authoritative links from authoritative academic and government sources.

PRO TIP: You can use this method to discover high quality niche-editing possibilities and to construct authoritative.edu and.gov backlinks.

What Are the Top Causes of Broken Links?

Numerous factors might lead to broken links, most of which are unintended side effects when pages are modified, relocated, or result from minor human errors. 

You should know the most prevalent reasons for broken links to improve your SEO and linking methods.

1. Typos

A typo occurs when a person inadvertently misspells a term in a link’s URL. An error page will be shown if the server cannot decipher the link’s intended destination. You can prevent this problem by simply checking the spelling of your URLs.

2. Deleted Pages

If the page from which the link originated has been deleted, the link will no longer work, and an error will be shown. One of the most typical causes of broken links is removing a page without a defined link structure or redirect plan.

3. Renamed Pages

When a page is renamed, the URL changes, and if the old URL is still in use, the server receives requests it can’t fulfill and displays an error page. Therefore, if a page’s URL changes, you should update any links that reference it.

4. Site Restructuring

Pages can be renamed, deleted, or material amalgamated when a site is reorganized or a new site is launched on the same domain. Because of this, you’ll need to alter any links that take you to pages in the old structure.

5. Change in Domain Name

Sometimes, internal links are lost when a brand’s domain name changes, as happens with rebrands and mergers. The search term success of your linking structure depends on your ability to anticipate and prepare for domain name changes.

6. Moved Downloadable Content Links

The destination of some links is not another web page but a downloadable file (PDF, eBook, or Google Doc). If the content is deleted but the links remain, the browser will display an error message because the dead link will no longer lead anywhere.

7. Broken Code

Code, whether CSS, Javascript,  HTML, or other plugins, can also be broken. Keeping an eye on the code is crucial since broken links and error messages indicate that the code needs to be fixed.

What Are the Benefits of Broken Link Building?

The value of link building is well-known, and only some people need to pay attention to the broken link building opportunities.

Broken link building work can help you get to the top of your field if you’re committed to doing everything you can to dominate. Here are eight reasons why you should start using broken page building in your SEO efforts. 

1. Quality Backlinks

Each website, including yours, will have a unique Domain Authority (DA) ranking score. The greater the DA, the more highly regarded the site is by search engines. If you can contribute to one of these sites, you can also reap the rewards. 

For instance, if you have a backlink on an authoritative website, Google will assume that your business is legitimate and trustworthy. As a result, your standing will improve.

Using broken page building, look for relevant pages of high DA websites and see if it has any broken links. 

With this newfound information, you’ll be more equipped to create relevant content and initiate contact with the site’s audience. If they say yes, you can enjoy the benefits of ranking on a high DA site with relatively little work.

2. Improves Website Traffic

Fixing broken links on high traffic sites with backlinks to your site can increase visits from qualified users. People who follow these links are more likely to be interested in what you say, which means you’ll get more high quality visitors.

3. Improved User Experience

A poor user experience might result from links on a website’s page being broken. You can help an admin of a comparable resource enhance their content and visitor experience by locating and reporting broken links. This way, the original page can help the entire site’s trustworthiness and the overall user experience.

4. Relationship Building

Repairing a website’s broken links requires contacting the site’s owner. This is a great chance to network with influential people in your field and the owners of relevant websites. These connections may result in future broken link building opportunities for joint projects, guest posts, or even partnerships.

5. Enhanced Content Relevance

You should provide valuable and applicable alternatives when proposing relevant content to substitute broken links. This can increase the site’s overall usefulness to visitors and, in turn, the likelihood that your link will be allowed.

6. Competitive Advantage

Compared to other link building strategies, broken link building is used far less frequently. Meaning you can obtain an edge over competing websites if you employ it successfully. Your website’s SEO and natural search engine rankings can also benefit from this.

Building links from broken links takes patience, investigation, and strategic communication. However, its backlinks, user experience, traffic, and relationship-building benefits make it worthwhile.

7. Enjoy Expanded Opportunities

Looking for damaged linkages can lead to unexpected broken link building opportunities and the ability to connect with an entirely new demographic. This is because searching for these links by site and keyword, topic or search strings is possible. You can identify sites you were previously unaware of and sites that already have your target demographic as a user base. 

It’s possible only to find one broken link when searching, or it’s possible to find 10 or 20! With each new website, you can check out if there are more broken links, opening up a world of possibilities. Meaning successful link building chances will be revealed to you.

8. Most Will Accept Your Offer

Your expectations might not be met if you only contact a single website, as the site could reject your submission or not respond at all.

However, the beauty of broken backlink building is that you can create content for broken links across multiple sites and simultaneously reach out to them.

If you make a lot of offers, some of them are bound to be accepted. The vast majority of sites will probably agree since having a broken page on their site will hurt their SEO efforts, raise their bounce rate, and provide a negative experience for visitors.

However, coordinating all of this on your own will likely be very time-consuming. Therefore, contacting agencies that offer broken link building services is a good idea because their professional blogger outreach staff can simultaneously manage corresponding with numerous web admins. They can also create custom-made content of the highest standard for you.

What Are The Disadvantages of Broken Link Building?

1. Potential conflict of interest with the broken link site

This occurs when your interests align with those of the hosting website. Take skin care as an example; if this is also the focus of the hosting site, you have a natural fit. This means potential leads may spend longer on the host site before clicking the hyperlink that would take them to yours.

2. The Google crawler hasn’t touched broken links in a while

Google is unlikely to crawl a page with a broken link, reducing the page’s SEO value. If a highly-ranked link on your site suddenly stops working, it will fall in the rankings because it will never be crawled again. While fixing this is as simple as replacing the broken link, it may take a while before the page rises in the rankings again.

3. It’s time-consuming

You’ll need to scour through hundreds of external websites looking for broken links and then begin checking to see if there is any alternative resource. you will also need to use different search strings. Therefore, a considerable amount of time is required.

4. Missing Out on better alternatives

There are a ton of better options that exist for generating opportunities to build links. Instead of looking for broken links, it’s better to start from scratch by writing a new blog post and linking to it.

Alternatives to Broken Link Building

1. Curated Links (also known as Niche Edits) 

Curated Links (Niche Edits) don’t require you to create new content. Instead, the process involves getting authorization from website owners and bloggers to add a backlink to pre-existing content that links back to your website.

This behavior used to be commonly referred to as “link begging”, however, Vadim popularised the term “niche edits” quite recently.

Curated link building

Instead of writing a new guest post, website owners today are more likely to agree to embed relevant links in their pre-existing articles. Including credible sources in your work increases its perceived value and breathes new life into old blog entries. 

These factors increase traffic to your website and indicate greater user involvement. By working with a link building agency like Rhino Rank, you’ll be able to lean on their expertise and see your search engine rankings and website traffic reach new heights as a result.  

2. Guest Posts 

Guest posting is one of the most well-known and widely-used strategies for increasing the quality and quantity of inbound links to your site from authoritative sources.

Although you may have heard that Google discourages guest posting, that doesn’t imply you should ignore the practice. It simply means you should focus on building links based on quality instead of quantity. 

Guest post link building

There are a ton of ways you can use broken link building strategies to win over site owners and get them to publish one of your guest posts. 

In this sphere, you can identify credible, high traffic sites that cover your niche and are open to publishing your work.

Rhino Rank also excels in guest post outreaches. They can help you identify pertinent links pointing at broken pages and will write a 750+ word guest post to go in its place, driving strong topical relevancy signals back to your website.

3. HARO 

Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is a free service that connects reporters with sources for quotes and commentary. 

The HARO service is a beautiful approach to gain dofollow backlinks from similar resources, as it is used by many reporters from significant news publications such as Mashable, CNN, Forbes, etc.

After signing up (for free), HARO will send you daily media queries in the categories you select, where you can provide answers to gain exposure for your business and earn a backlink. 

4. Link Reclamation 

Finding broken links and creating new ones can be challenging. There is absolutely no denying it.

However, you should know that you almost certainly lose backlinks regularly. Of course, you can fight this inevitability by creating a steady flow of fresh links. However, recovering invalid links is typically considerably simpler than establishing brand-new ones.

Here are two frequent explanations:

  1. The link was deleted from the page
  2. The linked page is no longer available

There is always a good explanation for why pages delete backlinks from other sites. The author may have done some maintenance and deleted your link as part of the process.

To confirm if this is the case, you can look for links marked as “link removed” in the Lost Links report of Ahrefs’ Site Explorer.

5. Content Repurposing and Syndication

Outreach is just one method of developing links; there are others. Simply posting content to relevant locations, such as graphic directories, video-sharing sites, and so on, will help you gain links.

However, this requires that your content is in a suitable format. The concept of content repurposing can be applied here.

Now, imagine that your interactive infographic is genuinely remarkable. You want people to see it since you put so much of yourself into making it. Why not transform that text into an infographic or a video instead? You can upload the finished product to online video or infographic-sharing platforms.

It’s a good idea to have links like this, especially considering how simple it can be to repurpose similar resources.

In addition, a larger audience will see your content as a result of your efforts. The more people see your content, the more links you’ll get.

6. Community Site Link Building

The standard practice is to create high quality backlinks. The net effect of this is positive. A natural link profile should include just-followed editorial connections from highly authoritative websites. This is why it’s also crucial to work on acquiring links from outside resources.

Promote your site on discussion boards, Q&A, social media sites, etc., to increase traffic and broaden your backlink profile.

There will always be a mix of “nofollow” and “dofollow” links in a natural link profile. In addition, the “nofollow” property on links within lively conversations is sometimes removed on sites like Reddit.

Leaving relevant blog post comments is another effective strategy for increasing your link’s popularity.

Examples of Broken Links

Although a 404 error page is the most typical indicator of a dead URL, additional error codes may appear. 

404 Page Not Found

This means the page has been removed from the server, although it still may be helpful in some cases.

400 Bad Request

This error occurs when the server encounters a URL it does not recognize.


The host machine either did not correctly configure the link or was too busy to handle the request, so communication was broken.


The link check failed because the HTTP request timed out.

Bad Host

When a hostname is invalid, the associated server is either no longer operational or cannot be reached.


The problem lies in the URL, which may need a bracket, have extra slashes, or violate other incorrect protocols.

Bad Code

The server has marked the HTTP code as non-compliant with the HTTP specification.


This means the server did not find any data to return in its reply to the request and is providing an empty response.

How to Find and Fix Broken Backlinks

Step 1: Discover Broken Backlinked Pages (using Ahrefs)

Ahrefs’ free link checker is available, but your work will be much easier with paid tiers. 

Find Competitors’ Broken Backlinks 

  1. Navigate to Site Explorer
  2. Type in your competitor URL / rival domain
  3. Review the broken backlinks report 
  4. Go to pages with “404 not found.” 
  5. Sort the list from the highest to the lowest domains

Search for Topic-Related Broken Pages 

  1. Key in broad topics 
  2. Change the mode to “In the title”
  3. Click search
  4. Filter to find broken pages 
  5. Look for pages with more than 20 referring domains 

Check Competitors’ Websites for Broken Links 

  1. Navigate to Site Explorer 
  2. Key in the rival domain 
  3. Navigate to Broken Links report 

Find Broken Links on Resource Pages  

Resource pages are a great source of broken link opportunities because:

  1. They’re rarely updated and often have dead links 
  2. They use valuable resources that have backlinks from useful resources

You can use Google search operators to identify broken resource pages by searching for:

  1. Search Term intitle: links inurl: sources.html
  2. Search Term intitle: sources inurl: links.html
  3. Search Term inurl: sources intitle: sources

Next, check for broken backlinks on the pages, available for free on Ahrefs SEO Toolbar.

  1. Go to the target page
  2. Hit the toolbar button
  3. Navigate to “Links”
  4. Hit the “check status” icon
  5. Filter the broken links 

Step 2: Assess Link Prospects 

Check Link Quality 

  1. Navigate to the “Site Explorer” tab
  2. Key in the URL of the dead page 
  3. Navigate to the Backlink report 
  4. Set to “One link per domain” 
  5. Set to “Don’t show history”

Check Link Reasons 

Link reasons include: 

  1. General links are when individuals suggest the overall resource. The link context needs to explain why they referred to that resource.
  2. Deep links are resource recommendations for a specific cause. The context of the link explains why.

Step 3: Make a New Page 

Create a Rough Outline 

You want to design something comparable to the dead page without copying it. This involves writing about similar topics that serve the same aim but are superior.

Embed Linkable Points 

Ensure accuracy in everything you write. If a deep link uses an outdated statistic, incorporate a newer one.

Explore Alternative Ways to Enhance It 

Most dead page links are general backlinks. They need to cite the content with an explanation of the working link. You can’t personalize your material for these people because you don’t know what they loved about the original. But you can improve overall.

Step 4: Do Outreach

Pitching Deep Linkers 

Every outreach email you send should use a unique broken link email template. For instance, if you work in the wealth industry, you could have three different email templates for three different target audiences: 

  1. People mentioning wealth-building advice
  2. People citing net worth definition
  3. People mentioning net worth calculations

Pitching General Linkers

Sending a generic pitch is your best shot without knowing why they linked to the defunct page. It should work like deep linkers. One distinction is the generic value proposition. Use your dead page improvements for this. 

Broken Link Building Best Practices

1. Use Check My Links

Check My Links is free and should be your go-to tool for discovering broken links. Plus, it has a Chrome Extension option. Clicking on the Check My Links icon will automatically check the links on that page and report the broken links. Using Check My Links while browsing websites within your niche will help you find broken links. However, you should actively find pages with dead URLs and fix them to scale the process. 

2. Discover Pages With Multiple Links

You’ll need to focus on web pages with multiple external links; the more links on a page, the higher the chances of getting broken links. 

3. Find Owners of Websites With Broken Links

It’s time to contact the web admin and offer your links as a replacement resource. You can find the list of pages with dead links by simply popping the dead links into a backlink analysis tool like SEMRush.

4. Use the Wikipedia “Dead Link” Technique

Next, use the Wikipedia technique to get many pages with 404 errors that many people are linking to. The Wikipedia links are no-follow, and your link will be deleted within hours unless relevant. Instead, use the backlink analysis tool to find other useful resources that have also linked to the page.

5. Unlock SEMRush’s Top Features for Broken Link Building

SEMRush has two reports, “Broken external links” and “Broken Pages” reports, that can help you find more broken links. 

Start with finding a competitor’s site; you can search for keywords you rank for before adding sites within your industry to the list. Then, enter one of the websites in the “Site Audit” feature on SEMRush. Next, navigate to warnings to find all broken links on the site. 

Also, you can use SEMRush to discover who else is linking to the broken links in your competitor’s site. Simply put competing websites in SEMRush > “Backlink Analytics” tab >” Indexed Pages.”

These SEMRush features are spectacular for your SEO. 

6. Provide a Near-Perfect Replacement

After finding the broken links, it’s time to make your move. You can send the web admin short messages to link back to you. But if you want to optimize your conversion rate, you need to offer a replacement for the dead links. 

7. Recreate Dead Content

You can also opt to recreate content to replace the dead links. Most bloggers will copy the same content on their own website anyway, which is shady. Instead, you can use the existing content as your template to create a more relevant and up-to-date resource.

8. Boost Your Outreach Effectiveness

While pointing out broken links in an outreach email is helpful, pointing out all page’s broken links and their details can be very effective. 

9. Skip Over Dead Sites

It is easy to stumble upon broken links and still need to get replies after sending incredible outreaches. Experts advise that you shouldn’t persist if the owners don’t reply. Instead, approach your next target. 

10. Don’t Be Pushy

Pushy behaviors don’t help, especially in the Broken Backlink Building. Instead, you can gently nudge the person without asking for the links. 

11. Find the Right Person

Your emails will end up in the spam folders if they don’t find the right person. Always send your emails to people who can change the dead links.

For instance, an outreach to single-author sites can be sent to the email listed on the Contact page. But you’ll need to dig deeper if you’re targeting blogs with many authors.