How to Link Build from Lost or Broken Links

How to Link Build from Lost or Broken Links

If you’ve ever been to the beach, you may have seen old men in bucket hats waving metal detectors over seas of sand, hoping for an inordinate line of beeping to suddenly become static.

It’s not much different if you’re trying to link build by claiming broken links.

You scour through websites and look for any broken links that may be relevant to your site, craft nicely worded emails asking webmasters to fix them, and hope in a few days or weeks that they oblige and boost your SEO.

It’s an alternative to guest posting for link building that has its value in volume; however, it can be hit or miss as many webmasters may ignore emails or not choose the piece you’re offering to replace the broken link with.

It can be tedious to build the database for it as you’ll need to mine through potentially hundreds of website’s tracking down contact info for reaching out to webmasters, but they payoff is worth it if you can earn some extra link power.

Webmasters get an easy page fix and you get a link that will boost your content’s SEO rankings.

Sound good?

Here we’ll outline the steps needed to build your backlink profile from lost or broken links.

Build a Database of Target Websites

You may already have a good idea of some websites you want to target for link building through link reclamation.

If you don’t, then you can start by perusing through websites in your target niche that aren’t your direct SEO competitors.

Targeting Blogs

A good way to find target websites to claim broken links from is to use the following formula in a Google search:

inurl:blog intitle:[keyword]”

inurl google search for similar websites with keywords in title

This will give you a series of blogs that feature the keyword you select as a title.

From there you can go through and catalogue each blog to be used later when performing an on-page seo check for broken links.

Industry Intelligence

There a variety of tools out there that are great for competitor research; however, you can get a multitude of domains listed by adding in a group niche of keywords and then having a domain list populated based on rankings for those keywords.

This SEO beta tool does just that.

The higher the overlap percentage, the more keywords in common they have with the keywords submitted.

From here you have a large list of websites you can target for link reclamation.

You can put them in a spreadsheet after you’ve found a decent amount and begin running tests for broken links.

Scanning for Lost Links

You’ll need a decent toolset to scan through for lost or broken links of a website.

Some tools that are great for this include:

These tools offer different starting points in regard to how you’ll spot broken or lost links.

If you’re using Majestic, you can enter the site blog URL as a path URL and begin your scan.

You’ll want to look at the lost links section to find links that were pointing to this blog and go to the pages where the links were lost.

You can also do this on your own website to reclaim any links you may have lost.

This is a reverse-engineering kind of method where you’ll work backwards to try and steal links that your competitor websites have lost.

Add these pages and the links to your database so you have distinct pages you want to target to claim the broken backlinks from.

If you’re using a tool like Screaming Frog, you can take the path blog URL and scan it. Once you scan it you’ll get a full list of links and their corresponding pages.

You’ll want to hit the external links and check specifically look for 404 errors. Add these pages to your database to reach out to the webmaster owners of them later to replace the broken links with links to your content.

Screaming Frog is a great tool that is free for up to 500 links a day.

Reaching out to Webmasters

After you’ve compiled your list of pages that have broken links that need fixing, it’s time to craft a nicely worded email to ask the webmasters of those pages to replace the broken backlinks with links to your content.

Sometimes they’ll just ignore the request. Sometimes they’ll choose just to remove the link all together.

But other times they’ll oblige if they have the time and care enough that their readers have access to great content that supplements their own.

A good outreach email will get straight to the point. Here’s an example:

The email works well by:

  • Identifying the page with the broken link
  • Explicitly stating the anchor text of the broken link
  • Providing a new link to replace the old one
  • Giving an explanation of why the new link is a good solution

It’s short, sweet, and to the point.

Set up a nice template like this that you can paste the links and other relevant information into to save time and begin a campaign that reinforces the point two or three times if the emails aren’t responded to.


The process to claim broken backlinks can be difficult and time consuming, but building a database for it can be used for guest posting opportunities as well if they’re not interested in replacing the broken link with yours.

In terms of value, reaching out and getting a few links a week that point to specific content can do wonders for driving it up the search engines.

Good luck!