It’s happened to all of us at some point. We’re casually surfing the internet, and we see a link that grabs our attention. We click on the link, and before we know it we’ve encountered the dread “404 – Error Page”. Yep, it’s a broken link. Broken links are frustrating for online users. It may be a small frustration, but it’s frustration none the less. But broken links can be a real boon to the savvy webmaster, if only he or she knows how to take advantage of them. It takes a little time and a bit of hard work, but rebuilding broken links can help you tap into some prime SEO juice from links that are already garnering some valuable online attention.
Rebuilding Broken Links – A Primer
At its most basic, rebuilding broken links is simply a taking a 404 error page and rehabilitating it. In essence, what you are doing is finding dead links that previously led to content that would have been of interest to your niche demographic. Using the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, you can get a snapshot of the old page, suss out its content and value, and rebuild the page from scratch. The goal is to improve and update the page. Once you’ve rebuilt the page, making it stronger and more valuable, you contact any sites that still have active links to the old page. You let them know that you have a similar page that offers more current information, and that they are welcome to replace the broken link with a link to the new and improved page, this is a service that Cube offer to their clients.
Rebuilding Broken Links – The Nitty Gritty
Rebuilding broken links begins with finding suitable 404 error pages from websites and blogs that have a direct connection to the type of business you are operating. Look for older websites that are closely related to your own. You want to choose a site that is still getting a good flow of traffic, but it should be old enough that it is likely to have a few broken links and 404 error pages. Once you have found a few potential sites, use an application like Windows A1 Website Analyzer to locate any broken links and to identify any 404 redirects. This will take some time, but eventually your will a few pages that are worth rebuilding.
Once you’ve found a page that looks good, you will want to check its link profile. You can do this using an application like Fox SEO or SEO Quake. You want to choose pages that have a positive link profile, and that still offer some SEO juice. If the page passes muster, visit the Internet Archive Wayback Machine and look at a snapshot of the old page before it redirected to a 404 error. Now, it is simply a matter of recreating the page, making it better and more desirable to both webmasters and online users.
Rebuilding Broken Links – Contacting Webmasters
Once you have recreated the page in question, and hopefully improved upon the original, it’s time to contact the webmasters who had existing links to the old page. Remember to be polite and respectful. Send the webmaster and email, and let them know that they have a broken link that has defaulted to a 404 error page. Tell them that you have a new page that offers more current information, and invite them to replace the broken link with your new and improved active page. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get a reply from every webmaster you contact. Some will jump at the chance to replace a broken link, others may not be bothered.
Rebuilding broken links is a good way to tap into some existing SEO juice, and redirect it to your own website. Remember, the pages you are rebuilding are already generating interest online, and you can take advantage of that traffic and drive it to your own site. Rebuilding broken links take some time and effort, but it can be an effective way to generate natural and organic links for your website.
Leslie runs Cube Online Marketing and loves working in the SEO area.