Broken Link Building: Does It Work? How To Do It RIGHT?

Broken link building, BLB, also known as “dead link building,” has been the source of division among SEOs for a while now.

Aira’s State Of Link Building, 2022, claims it (broken link building) is the 5th most used tactic in link building. In other words, it works.

Despite the report, other SEOs claim that broken link builders are wasting their time. But is that true?

Which of the two divisions is right?

This article will bring you closure.

Let’s delve into the details already!

Short answer: yes, but if only done rightly!

Like any link building tactic, “broken link building” works if done rightly. Meaning: it takes time, careful planning, and consistency.

When the effort does work, broken link building can be a gold mine. Here is why:

Unlike other link building like PR, forum posting, and blog commenting, BLB helps the source. Huh?

Yes, with broken link building, you’re helping the source retain prospects. Instead of people bouncing off their (the source’s) page because of “error 404,” you’re fixing the issue for them.

In other words, you’re fixing a problem and getting a backlink. Sweet, right?

That’s only the tip of the sweetness. It gets better!

You can use broken link building in an expanded way. Here is how:

When you fix the “broken page” with top-notch content, you can reach out to other pages referring to that page. That’s an extra soft landing for your next guest posts.

But remember, all these processes – though seemingly easy – take time and aren’t a breeze. More importantly, you must execute all the steps correctly.

What steps?

  • For starters, you need to find the broken pages
  • Then, check if the pages are worth your time
  • Next, create a replacement to fill the missing spot
  • Lastly, reach out

Now, let’s take each of the steps one after the other.

How To Find Broken Pages

Here’s a simple rule:

The more external links a page or post has, the higher the occurrence of broken links. In other words, target pages with lots of external links.

Fortunately, there are several ways to find broken pages. However, we’ll only talk about 3 (the best of the lot).

And for easy comprehension, we’ll start from the easiest to the most tasking.

Let’s get to it!

Using Resource Pages

Resource pages contain several articles (and links) on a particular topic. Fortunately, they (the resource) are hardly updated.

Meaning: there is a likelihood of finding several broken links on resource pages.

The BEST part: since all the links are on a single page, you might not even need Ahrefs. A Chrome extension will suffice.

Regardless, we’ll show you how to use the two methods. But first, let’s find the resource pages.

Use the template below on Google search:

KEYWORD intitle:resources inurl:resources.html

For example, let’s use the template for “digital marketing.”

Broken Link Building Method Using Resource Pages

What next?

Let’s use the Google Chrome extension method!

The extension we’re using is Check My Links.

  • Add the plugin to your Chrome and activate it
  • Head back to the resources page
  • Then, click the plugin icon (a tick sign at the top right corner of your Chrome)
  • You’ll find something like this: 
Broken Link Building Chrome Extension Method

From our example, the resource page has two invalid links (the broken links). So, how can you find them?

Scroll through the page until you see something like this (links with a red background and the 404 tags):

broken links

There you have it. Follow through the link and verify!

Note: while this method is easy, it is time-consuming and “too manual.” For mass link finding and fast results, use Ahrefs. Plus, the latter is more accurate.

Fortunately, this method is also FREE — even with Ahrefs.

So, how can you use Ahrefs to find broken links on resource pages?

  • Download Ahrefs SEO Toolbar for your Chrome
  • Now, go back to the resources page
  • Click the Ahrefs toolbar from the icons in the top right corner of your Chrome. 
  • Click “outgoing links” from the drop-down list. Look towards the left!
  • Now, change the default “Status” to “Broken,” then filter the results by “external.”
Broken Link Building using Ahrefs Tool

Simple, eh?

Now, let’s try more complex methods for finding broken links.

Using Competitors’ Broken Pages

Frankly, resource pages are not effective for maximizing broken links. You’d only be creating random articles that might not necessarily affect your rankings.

What you must do is see your competitors and leverage their broken links. That is the fastest way to rank higher.

So, how do you go about this method?

We’ll be using Ahrefs. However, you’ll need a paid account, unlike in the “resource pages” method.

Now, log into your Ahrefs Dashboard and follow the instructions below:

  • First, you should already know your competitors. In the case of our example, the competitors are the other websites on the search results.
  • Next, click Site Explorer on the Ahrefs dashboard and input your competitor’s domain.
  • Go to “Best by links” — you’ll find it on the left tab toward the end of the list.
  • Lastly, change the “HTTP code” filter to “404 Not found.”
Broken Link Building Using Competitors' Broken Pages

Pro tip: if you don’t know your competitors, type your domain into Site Explorer. Then, click “competing domains” on the left tab.

Using Ahrefs Content Explorer

Using resource pages and competitor research to find backlinks are COOL hacks. However, they can be limiting.

What if there are no resource pages in your niche?

What if there are no competitors yet?

In that case, focus on specific topics relating to your niche. For that, you’ll need Ahrefs Content Explorer.

This method is similar to finding broken links using resource pages. Unlike the latter, we’ll be doing the search on Ahrefs.

That said, let’s get to the “how.”

For starters, head to Ahrefs Content Explorer. Then, follow the steps below:

  • Input a broad topic (keyword) into the search bar. Then, change “Everywhere” to “In title.”
  • Filter the results by “only broken.” Change the default “live & broken.”
  • Add an additional filter for “referring domain. Make the “from” at least 20. Why?

It’s best to work with broken pages with some backlinks already pointing to them.

Ahrefs Content Explorer Tool

Pro tip: don’t limit the deciding factor by just “referring domains.” Check the traffic coming to the broken pages. If the pages were never visited, don’t waste your time.

Now, you know how to find broken pages and links. However, you can’t work with all the results. You must prioritize the ones that are worth your time.

Qualifying The Broken Pages To Work With

Finding the broken pages to work with is only the first step for banking on their linking power. Qualifying the pages is also a priority.


  • For starters, you must understand why people link to the broken page. What is so important about the page? Is it worth your time?
  • Secondly, and most importantly, you must verify that the broken page has GOOD backlinks. Who are the sites linking to the page?

Understanding The Reason

Without this step, you won’t be able to create a replacement page that would grab attention. So, let’s ask again.

Why do people link to a broken page?

The “reasons” are often classified into two.

  • General links — these have no particular context to the source page. Even their anchor texts give them away.
  • Deep links — these have contexts to the source page. More importantly, their anchor texts are concise and self-explanatory.

In summary, work with “deep links.” But how can you find such links?

  • Go to Site Explorer > Backlinks > More filters
  • Click “Anchor with surrounding text” and add actionable, power words 

Verifying If A Broken Page Has GOOD Backlinks

After rounding up the “deep links,” check if there are live pages pointing to them. More importantly, verify that the live pages are top-quality.

Otherwise, your site is better off.

That said, here is the “how”:

  • Type the broken page URL into Ahrefs Site Explorer
  • Click “backlinks” under the “Backlink Profile” at the left bar.
  • Leave the “one link per domain” at its default setting
  • Change the “show history: last 30 days” to “don’t show.”
Qualifying The Broken Pages

Now, you should have a list of the broken pages to work with. However, you can still reduce the list further by adding the following filters:

  • Dofollow links only
  • 20+ Domain traffic
  • 5+ DR
  • Exclude subdomains

Including such filters will disqualify links from forums and directories. Also, it will disqualify spammy, low-authority sites.

By now, you have qualified broken pages that are worth your time. At this stage, you can create the replacement page.

Creating The Replacement Page

Since replacement pages are the content you’d pitch as the better version of the broken links, they must be indeed better.

So, how can you make your replacement pages BETTER?

  • For starters, you don’t have to copy the title of the broken page. Write something similar — that talks about the idea of the content.
  • Create a stellar outline. Check similar resources online and get ideas. Or you can use AI tools for inspiration.
  • Update the statistics and figures. This is an opportunity to make your replacement page better and refreshed.
  • Add other insights to back your points. You can use journalists’ comments and articles.
  • If possible, add YouTube embeds.

Outside our suggestions, find other ways to make your replacement page stellar. You can even get insights from podcasts and events.


Now, go back to your backlink reports. Round up the sites linking to the qualified, deep broken links. Then, reach out to them.

To get the most results, personify your pitch. You can adapt the template below:

Hi [name],

I saw your post on [keyword] — an INTERESTING read, BTW. However, you recommended this article: [title of broken page].

I checked the link. But unfortunately, it was broken.

If you’d like to update your article and fix the issue, I have a similar article on the same subject. Plus, it includes updated statistics.

I even interviewed experts in [keyword] to bulk the facts. You can take a look here [link to your replacement page].

Let me know if this is helpful

[Your name]


Against what gurus say about broken backlinks, they still work. You can even get more results here than in other forms of link building — because of the value involved.

Nevertheless, do “broken link building” correctly — as described in this article. Otherwise, it won’t work for you.