How to Find Broken Links for Link Building

In SEO, leveraging broken link building can notably elevate your site’s authority. Spotting and modifying broken links on external sites is crucial for effective link building. It enhances user experience, boosts search rankings, and retains link equity.

This guide will offer a thorough understanding of the importance of broken links and the methods used to find these link-building prospects. Let’s delve in.

Understanding the Value of Broken Links for Link Building

One of the underutilised yet highly powerful strategies in the SEO arsenal is broken link building. The idea behind this approach is to find broken (or dead) links with relevant anchor texts and intent on 3rd party websites and then ask those sites to link to your content. Let’s delve deeper into why broken links hold significant value for link building and how they can aid your SEO efforts.

The Benefits of Broken Link Building

Broken link building offers multiple benefits for your website:

  1. Enhancing Website Authority and SEO Rankings: When you replace a broken link on a reputable site with a link to your site, you inherit some of that site’s authority. Search engines, like Google, regard these backlinks as votes of trust in your content, thereby boosting your site’s authority and SEO rankings.
  2. Leveraging Existing Backlink Opportunities: Broken links on other websites present a unique opportunity. By offering a link to your site as a replacement, you can acquire a backlink without the need to create an entirely new relationship with the site owner. These are pre-existing opportunities; you just have to seize them.
  3. Preserving Link Equity: When a website links to another site, it passes on some of its “link equity”. If a site that is linked to another site ends up with a broken link due to content removal or website restructuring, the link equity is lost. By suggesting your content as a replacement, you can help the linking site preserve its link equity while also gaining some for your site.
  4. Capitalising on Lost Opportunities: Every broken link on a high-quality site is a lost opportunity for that site to provide value to its visitors. When you help them fix that, you not only gain a valuable backlink but also establish a positive relationship with the site owner.

How Broken Links Impact SEO

Broken links create a poor user experience, which is something search engines want to avoid. When a user clicks on a link and lands on a 404 error page, they’re likely to leave the site. This increases the site’s bounce rate, a factor that search engines weigh when indexing websites.

According to Digital marketing consultant, Julien Vidal, “addressing broken links isn’t about quick fixes. It’s far more than just a ‘Page Not Found’ error. It involves safeguarding a seamless user experience, ensuring steady SEO health, and preserving and enhancing reputation. The ripple effects are substantial. Understanding their unseen impact and finding strategies can turn potential SEO setbacks into setups for success.”

Moreover, broken links can lead to a wasted crawl budget. Search engine bots, while crawling a website to index the pages, might end up wasting time on broken links, leading to less efficient indexing of the site.

As such, website owners have a strong incentive to fix broken links, and you can assist them in this endeavour. By providing a new and relevant linking opportunity to replace the broken link, you present a win-win situation: the site owner improves their site’s user experience and SEO, and you gain a valuable backlink.

Different Ways to Find Broken Link-Building Opportunities

The next step in this SEO journey is identifying these broken links. The following are some compelling ways to do this:

Manual Competitor AnalysisAnalyze competitor websites for broken external linksHigh-quality, targeted link-building opportunities; competitor insightsTime-consuming and requires patience
SEO Audit Tools (Ahrefs, SEMrush)Automated reports on broken linksComprehensive, in-depth analysisMay require paid subscription
Desktop Software (Screaming Frog, Xenu’s Link Sleuth)Crawl websites to identify broken linksPowerful functionality, advanced featuresRequires installation and setup
Online Broken Link CheckersFree and easy to useStraightforward, good for beginnersMay not be as comprehensive as other methods
Chrome Extensions (Check My Links)Identify broken links while browsingEfficient, saves timeLimited functionality compared to other techniques

1. Analyse Competitor Pages Manually

An important yet often overlooked strategy to find broken link-building opportunities is to analyse competitor pages manually. Although this method requires a significant amount of time and patience, the reward can be immense in terms of gaining valuable insights into your competitors’ link-building strategies and potential broken external links.

Start by making a list of your leading competitors and visiting their websites. Look for resources or blog pages related to your niche, and manually check these pages for broken links. This can be done by clicking on the links and observing whether they lead to live pages or trigger a 404 error page. Keep a spreadsheet of these broken links for outreach or to devise a strategy for similar content on your site.

Remember, patience is key here, as manual analysis can be time-consuming. But it can also reveal valuable insights about how your competitors’ sites are structured, their backlink profiles, and possible gaps in their content where your website could step in.

Also Read: What is SEO and Link Building Services?

2. Use SEO Audit Tools

SEO audit tools such as Ahrefs and SEMRush are indispensable for an automated, comprehensive approach to finding broken links. These tools provide an in-depth site audit, including crawling the entire website and generating detailed broken link reports.


Ahrefs, for instance, provides a FREE Broken Links Checker, which shows all the pages on a site that contain broken external links. It will analyse the anchor text and surrounding text to give you context for each broken link, making it easier to fix or replace them.

3. Desktop Software

Desktop software, such as Screaming Frog and Xenu’s Link Sleuth, offer robust functionality for identifying broken links on a website. These programs crawl the website’s pages and check the status code of each link, helping you identify which links lead to 404 error pages.

For instance, Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider tool can crawl a website’s URLs and identify the status code for each. It highlights any links leading to 404 error pages, allowing you to locate them quickly. The software also allows for advanced features like custom searches and extraction, making it an all-in-one tool for SEO professionals.

4. Online Broken Link Checker Tool

Online broken link checker tools such as Broken Link Checker and Dr. Link Check offer an easy and free way to identify broken links on any site. These tools review the website and deliver a comprehensive report on internal and external broken links.

The process is straightforward – enter the website URL, start the scan, and the tool will crawl the site for broken links. These tools can be a reasonable starting point for small websites or those just beginning their SEO journey.

5. Use Chrome Extensions

Combining manual link checking with the power of browser extensions can make the task of finding broken links a lot more efficient. Chrome Extensions like “Check My Links” can be useful in this regard, as they can quickly identify broken links on any webpage.

These Chrome extensions work by crawling through web pages and checking each link. The extensions will highlight the working links in green and the broken ones in red, making it easy to identify potential broken link-building opportunities.

When used in conjunction with the manual method of checking competitors’ pages, Chrome extensions can significantly streamline the process. As you manually explore competitor websites or resource pages, activating these extensions can help you quickly identify broken links without clicking on each link individually. This not only saves you time but also allows you to compile a more comprehensive list of broken link-building opportunities.

Using a Chrome extension to aid your manual checking efforts is a simple yet effective strategy for any SEO specialist. This allows for quickly identifying broken links on competitor’s pages, providing a starting point for your outreach efforts. Plus, these extensions are usually free, making them an efficient and cost-effective tool for your SEO strategy.

Also Read: How to Create a Link-Building Plan


Broken link building is a secret weapon for SEO. It helps search engines see your site as a trusted source. By fixing broken links on other sites, you can replace them with links to your relevant content. This improves your website’s ranking and authority.

Do You Need Help With Link Building?

Link building is a demanding task, even for the seasoned professional. Are you struggling with building high-quality and relevant links for your website? ACERO is here to help!

Our seasoned SEO professionals can assist you with comprehensive SEO audits, including identifying and fixing broken links. We leverage state-of-the-art tools and techniques to enhance your website’s SEO, leading to improved search engine rankings, increased traffic, and higher conversions.

Get in touch with us today for a free trial, and let’s start optimising your website’s link equity for a stronger digital marketing presence. Whether you need help outreach for backlink opportunities or managing your overall SEO optimisation, ACERO can be your go-to partner for all your link-building needs.

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