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Broken Link Building: Why Suggesting Your Own Content Isn't a Smart Strategy

Ken McGaffin
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Quality Control RejectedIn broken link building the general model is to find resource and links pages, check them for broken links, and then suggest a resource of your own.

Sounds simple, but it's rare that a piece of content that you've created previously will fit the bill as a comparable replacement.

Most times, your content will be an inexact replacement, which reduces the success rates of your pitches. You've got to look elsewhere for quality replacement content.

The higher the quality of the replacement content you suggest, the higher the likelihood that your pitch will succeed. By limiting your replacement strategy to just your own content, you reduce the chances of your pitch being successful. Here's why:

  • Content that you have already created may not always be a good match for the content that is broken. Content pieces are very specific. If your piece doesn't closely match the piece that is now broken, you have to go through contortions to justify suggesting it. That's something your target will notice and will be less likely to link as a result.
  • Suggesting your own content as a replacement for something that is broken may be perceived as too self interested. In other words, you aren't suggesting the content because of the value to the target webmaster or her audience: you're suggesting it because you want a link in return.
  • To create a specific piece of content that is going to match what is broken will take time and effort. Time and effort that you may not have budgeted for – and for which you have no guarantee of success.

You Don't Have to Suggest Your Own Resources

In broken link building, the first step is to find lots of resources and links pages. You then check which of the resources on these pages are broken and this gives you the raw material for your campaign.

But this research gives you something else that is potentially important.

It gives you clues to which pieces of content attract the most links. Suppose you gather 100 resource pages, and of those pages, 50 percent link to the same piece of content. You can then be pretty sure that piece of content is a quality piece that has attracted a lot of links.

Collect the best-linked resources in your marketplace and you have a store of great quality content that you can suggest as replacements in your pitches. Knowing such resources also means that you understand your marketplace.

So when you start approaching broken link prospects, you can go through your collection of best-linked resources and suggest a top-notch resource that has the potential of being even better than the resource that's broken.

The structure of your pitch becomes something like:

  • "I've found a broken link on this page..."
  • "Here's a piece of content that is even better..."
  • "We've also published this resource that you might find interesting..."

With this approach, you're showing that:

  • You clearly know your market and the best content in it.
  • You're suggesting a piece of replacement content that you have no direct association with.
  • You're suggesting your own resources as an additional resource, not as a replacement.

This approach is helpful and non-transactional. It is likely to ring true and be attractive to the people who curate and publish lots of resources.

Hidden Gems of Content

You can take this approach further by looking for hidden gems of content.

The resources that are best-linked will probably have been well promoted and therefore may be well known in the industry. Your target may already have heard of them.

However, when you're researching such content you will often find hidden gems. Valuable pieces of content that have not been well promoted and have not won the level of links they deserve.

Find resources like this and you're suggesting content of high quality that has been overlooked by influencers in the industry. Your target may feel they gain a certain kudos from sharing it with their audience – and that makes them even more likely to link to you.

Image Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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