Broken Link Building: A Backlink Strategy That Works

By Last updated on:
broken link building

I’ve been getting a lot of requests to talk about the backlinking strategy I used for my recent big niche site.

So, in the next few weeks, I’m going to be discussing a few of my favourite link building strategies. I WON’T be talking about PBN’s, guest posting, or software spamming. There’s been more than enough discussion about these already.

All I’ll say about them are:

1. I still do build PBN links, although not as much as before. They’re still very effective, but I don’t build any more sites where PBN links make up the majority of the site’s link composition.
2. I don’t do guest posting – It’s just not an effective use of my time for a single link to a niche site.
3. I don’t use any kind of backlink building software for any of my main sites.

Again, I won’t be talking about any of those. There are many other ways to get strong links. Some are worth the time, and some aren’t. I’ll talk about a few of my favourites.

Starting with…

Broken Link Building

Broken link building is one of my favourite ways to build links, and it’s one of the main strategies I’ve used to rank my recent big niche site to the #1 spot. Also check out my whitehat link building guide to see even more link building strategies.

Broken link building is exactly what it sounds like: you’re looking for and replacing broken links on the web.

A broken link is a link to a page that doesn’t exist anymore.

I love it because it gives you endless opportunities/sources to build links, helps you create content for your own site, and is a whitehat method that makes the internet a better place.

This is a far better use of your time than something like guest posting because you’re producing this content on your own site rather than someone else’s. Additionally, it’s a lot less work, easier to find thousands of sources, and faster to implement.

Here’s the breakdown of the method:

1. Find sites in your niche.
2. Find broken links on their site.
3. Re-create the dead page on your own site.
4. Inform webmaster of broken link, and your new page.

The best part is, even if you don’t get a response to your email, you didn’t completely waste your time. You still have a brand new page of fresh content on your own site.

There are a few different methods to the steps involved, but I’m going to show you how I like to do it. It’s what’s worked the best for me and we’re only using free tools so we don’t have to go and buy any software.

Here’s how it works.

Step 1: Finding the Sites To Get Links From

Before we go about doing anything, we need to locate these sites that have these broken links to dead pages.

All it involves is a few easy Google searches.

Take your subject/niche/keyword and type it into Google without any quotes.

Right after it, type in any of these parameters:

“useful links”
“useful resources”
“useful sites”
“useful websites”
“recommended links”
“recommended resources”
“recommended sites”
“recommended websites”
“suggested links”
“suggested resources”
“suggested sites”
“suggested websites”
“more links”
“more resources”
“more sites”
“more websites”
“favorite links”
“favorite resources”
“favorite sites”
“favorite websites”
“related links”
“related resources”
“related sites”
“related websites”
intitle:”useful links”
intitle:”useful resources”
intitle:”useful sites”
intitle:”useful websites”
intitle:”recommended links”
intitle:”recommended resources”
intitle:”recommended sites”
intitle:”recommended websites”
intitle:”suggested links”
intitle:”suggested resources”
intitle:”suggested sites”
intitle:”suggested websites”
intitle:”more links”
intitle:”more resources”
intitle:”more sites”
intitle:”more websites”
intitle:”favorite links”
intitle:”favorite resources”
intitle:”favorite sites”
intitle:”favorite websites”
intitle:”related links”
intitle:”related resources”
intitle:”related sites”
intitle:”related websites”
inurl:”useful links”
inurl:”useful resources”
inurl:”useful sites”
inurl:”useful websites”
inurl:”recommended links”
inurl:”recommended resources”
inurl:”recommended sites”
inurl:”recommended websites”
inurl:”suggested links”
inurl:”suggested resources”
inurl:”suggested sites”
inurl:”suggested websites”
inurl:”more links”
inurl:”more resources”
inurl:”more sites”
inurl:”more websites”
inurl:”favorite links”
inurl:”favorite resources”
inurl:”favorite sites”
inurl:”favorite websites”
inurl:”related links”
inurl:”related resources”
inurl:”related sites”
inurl:”related websites”

That list might look overwhelming at first, but after a while you won’t even need it. If you’re not too familiar with Google’s search parameters, inurl means the keyword is in the url and intitle means the keyword is in the title. Quotes help you specify your search by returning only results containing exactly what are inside the quotes.

You don’t have to go in and do a search for every single one of these. Just start with a few.

For example, if you wanted to find link opportunities for your site about soccer games, you can type in: soccer games inurl:”resources”.

Try it now for any keyword. You’ll be amazed at how many opportunities come up.

Step 2: Scan For Broken Links

Okay, now that we have a bunch of sites to look through, it’s time to scan them for broken links.

This is the part where a lot of people decide to do things differently. Some of these pages can have a LOT of links on the page.

The good news is that you don’t need to visit every single link to find the broken ones.

There are a lot of different tools you can use to scan for them. Some are paid, some are free. Some are effective, some are useless. What’s awesome is that the best tool for the job is a free one.

Here’s what I use:

I use Chrome as my default browser and I use a link checker plugin. All I do is visit the page and run the plugin and it shows me every single link on the page and which one is broken.

You can download the free plugin here.

Now, when you visit a page, just click on the link checker icon and it will scan all the links and reveal broken ones in about 1 minute.

This is what it looks like:


link checker

If you don’t use Chrome, then get it and use it at least just to find these broken links.

Other tools either require you to pay, or it involves a few extra steps that turn a simple job into a complicating one. This is by far the easiest way, as you can just click a button to scan all the links in real-time.

Step 3: Rebuilding the Dead Page

Next is to re-build the dead page on your own site. To do this, we need to see what was on the original page.

Go to and input the URL of the broken page.

Find a snapshot of the page when it was live.

You can copy and paste the content, but make sure it hasn’t been re-published elsewhere. The best option is to just re-write it. It’s not that hard.

Add images, and make it look nice and presentable because the webmaster you contact in the next step is going to manually go through it. If it looks spammy, you’re likely not going to get the link.

Step 4: Contact The Site Owner

After you’re done building out the page, the next step is to contact the owner (the owner of the website where you found the broken link) by email. You can find this on their site (usually on the contact page).

A simple email is good enough. Don’t write an essay about why they should fix their link, and don’t make it sound like you’re begging even if you’re REAAAALLY hoping they give you the link.

Here’s a template I use to get links. Short and simple, and enough to get a response.

Hi ______ (Use their first name if you can find it on the site. Just makes it more personable.),

I was reading through your site today and stumbled upon your ________ (whatever the page is about) page: (copy and pasted link).

I discovered a broken link leading to a 404 page: (copy and pasted broken link)

Thought you would like to know and get that removed. I see a lot of great resources on the page and would imagine it gets quite a bit of traffic.

Also, I’ve recently created a guide on ______ (topic of broken page). I think it would make a nice addition to the list ๐Ÿ™‚

Thanks, and keep up the great work!

Best regards,

That’s usually enough. Notice that we’re not directly saying, “Hey. You have a broken link. Here’s my page. Now replace it.”

You’re simply helping them improve their page by notifying them about the broken link. Afterwards, you’re just softly mentioning you have a similar page. You’re not begging them to add it onto their list or anything like that.

Step 4: Checking Backlink Profiles

Step 3 is usually the end of the broken link building strategy, but we’re going to take it a step further.

We spent the time to build out this new page, why not maximize our results?

The next part is checking the backlink profile of the dead URL to see all other pages that are linking to it.

Remember, we’re checking links to the page, not the domain. To do this, just go into a backlink analysis tool like Moz’s Open Site Explorer and input the exact URL of the broken link.

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 12.27.26 PM

The list of links presented are all opportunities for you to get even more links to your new page.

Finding Expired Domains

Something interesting you’ll find is, a lot of times these broken links will lead to entire sites that don’t exist anymore. That leads to a ton more opportunities for us, and a lot of options we can choose to take.

This actually happens more often than you might imagine, and it’s a pretty cool way to find expired domains that aren’t being hunted down by other SEO’s.

For one, we can take the domain and throw it into a backlink analysis tool like Ahrefs or Majestic. It’s going to be up to you to analyze and decide what to do with it.

If it’s an expired domain, first check if it’s available.

If it’s got a lot of good links, purchase it. Instead of re-creating every page on our own site and then contacting each individual webmaster who linked to it, it’s going to be easier to just re-build the site.

Get the domain and use a tool like Moz to check its “Top Pages.” Then use again to re-create the pages. This time, it’s safe to just copy and paste since it’s where the content originated from.

Make sure to make the URL’s exactly the same.

Then, you can link to your own site from those re-created page and you can also control what pages they link to. Alternatively, you also now have another site in the same niche that you were able to pick up very cheaply compared to if they decided to list it on Flippa or something.

Note: If you do decide to purchase these domains and re-build them, don’t turn them into PBN link-farm type sites. If you re-create it and it’s a high quality site, you don’t necessarily need to go through the PBN steps of hiding your footprints just because it has a link to your main site.

Important Final Thoughts

One question you might be asking is: But these links are going to inner-pages. How will that help rankings for a page like the homepage?

Deep links help your SEO throughout your entire site and not just for the particular page the link is pointing to. It increases your domain’s authority and also creates a natural link profile that isn’t just concentrated towards the homepage.

Also, the broken link building method is versatile. You don’t have to stick to a concrete strategy for it to work.

For instance, you don’t always have to re-create the page of the broken link you find. Often times, you might determine that you’ll be fine just to ask for a link to your homepage or another page on your site.

That will largely depend on the type of site you are looking at, and by assessing the other links on the page.


  • Reply
    David T
    February 20, 2015 at 1:58 am

    Hi Chris,

    Great post. Very thorough and informative, and has all of the steps to apply it ourselves. I’m looking forward to the other posts in the coming weeks too. Keep up the great work, and I hope you keep getting great results.


    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      February 20, 2015 at 7:34 am

      Thanks, David ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    March 6, 2015 at 3:06 pm

    Very Useful and Cool
    I’ve never heard of this method before.

    I’am adding it to my todo list ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      March 6, 2015 at 5:34 pm


  • Reply
    Ruban Kt
    May 11, 2015 at 1:32 am

    Hi Chris,

    Searching for broken link foot prints and i got it here, great post and thanks for the huge list of foot prints.

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      May 11, 2015 at 2:31 pm

      Thanks for reading, Ruban.

  • Reply
    July 3, 2015 at 9:38 pm

    is it possible to do a video on this blog post? the video will compliment the blog post very well.

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      July 4, 2015 at 3:06 am

      Good idea for a part 2 ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    July 11, 2015 at 4:51 pm

    love your posts, each and every one of them!!

    However, as to the broken link method , i wonder how those links to your newly made pages (replacement of the broken pages) would help to improve your main posts? Just by doing internlinks? Look forward to your answers.

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      July 11, 2015 at 8:39 pm

      Thanks Richard.

      Any links to your site improves your overall domain authority, which does play a big role in your rankings overall throughout your entire site. Also, I’ll usually straight to my main pages from the newly created page used for BLB.

  • Reply
    July 12, 2015 at 9:16 am

    thank you Chris. “Also, Iโ€™ll usually straight to my main pages from the newly created page used for BLB.” I am not quite sure about this. You mean, you link to your main pages from the newly created pages used for BLB? So you are referring interlinks? Sorry for so many questions! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      July 12, 2015 at 3:08 pm

      Haha, no problem Richard. Yes that’s correct.

  • Reply
    Cao Hung
    August 29, 2015 at 7:55 am

    I think your post is stolen here: {link deleted}

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      August 29, 2015 at 2:43 pm

      Thanks for letting me know, I’ve contacted their hosting.

      • Reply
        Cao Hung
        September 1, 2015 at 5:55 am

        Do you think Broken link building will working in 2016?

        • Reply
          Chris Lee
          September 1, 2015 at 1:58 pm

          Yeah, definitely.

          • Cao Hung
            September 5, 2015 at 11:24 pm

            Hi Chris Lee,

            I am following this strategy. When I start outreach, with ratio conversion approximately is 5%, I think I must send about 100 emails daily. Do you any suggest tool or tips for how find email address of 100 domains.

            Thank you.

          • Chris Lee
            September 6, 2015 at 1:39 am

            You can try buzzstream or ninja outreach.

  • Reply
    john paul
    October 26, 2015 at 8:45 pm

    wow Chris this is gold or say diamond

    there are softwares for this like xenu but your post makes it all free and really easy…aside from getting links to your new page you also have the chance to get a pbn

    wow hitting 2 birds in one stone.. no wonder you are earning a lot of money from adsense …once again thank you very much

    i really thought id be stuck forever on creating expensive pbns and pay for its expensive yearly renewal…lol … this is way cheaper and pure white …Chris you deserve a lot of good things to your way

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      October 27, 2015 at 8:32 am

      Thanks, John Paul!


  • Reply
    November 15, 2015 at 12:25 am

    Hi, chris, what is PBN by the way,

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      November 15, 2015 at 5:32 am

      Hey Bhuboy, PBN means private blog network.

  • Reply
    November 15, 2015 at 12:38 am

    And when you say re create the page do you mean , make a new page or make a post?

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      November 15, 2015 at 5:31 am

      Doesn’t matter, really. It can be whatever you like ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    December 15, 2015 at 11:49 pm

    Hi Chris… Amazingly helpful post… I’ve subscribed to your blog… I just have a question….

    When I find a broken link on a site, I’ll create the content for that page (which has got 404 error). Now after getting the approval from the site owner, he’s going to replace the link which is pointing to the broken page with the new link of the content of my site which I’ve created. (I may be wrong).

    Now my question is, what’s the purpose of checking the backlink profile of the Broken page? Should not we check the backlink profile of the page (of the site owner) which is now pointing to our newly created content?
    (Please correct me if I’m wrong)


    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      December 16, 2015 at 4:43 am

      Thanks Sam. We check links to the broken page because there are other sites linking to it, and those are all link building opportunities as well.

  • Reply
    Zhe Yan
    December 25, 2015 at 2:04 am

    Hi Chris,

    I just try this method today. I found there are lots of dead links and send some Email to the webmaster.

    This is very cool way to ask a link, so may I know what’s the successful rate for this method?

    When your course open on 2016?

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      December 28, 2015 at 5:38 pm

      Hey Zhe. You can expect around a 10% success rate with this. Course is opening again mid January.

  • Reply
    Erika M. Cabler
    June 12, 2016 at 6:53 pm

    Awesome.I think I have found the right road to building link. I have a new niches site but I can’t rank it from google. I will try to use Strategy for my site. Thank Chris Lee .Thank for share.

  • Reply
    September 1, 2016 at 1:18 am

    Awesome, very helpful post especially for newbies

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      September 4, 2016 at 6:51 pm

      Thanks KUK!

  • Reply
    Vini Flesch
    November 10, 2017 at 10:59 am

    Damn Chris,

    This is genius!

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      November 11, 2017 at 12:46 pm

      Thanks Vini ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    October 4, 2018 at 3:45 am

    A thorough and easy process to build powerful links. Great stuff Chris! Keep it up.

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      December 14, 2018 at 2:21 pm


Leave a Reply

Zero To 100K With SEO

A FREE 5-part SEO email course that will show you step-by-step how to grow traffic from zero to 100,000 visitors per month (with search).


Zero To 100K With SEO

Enter your email to get Lesson #1.


Enter your email below to get the Zero To 100K Mini-course