Over the past 6 months I’ve been experimenting with broken link building. Essentially, I've been playing with different approaches and techniques to find which one works best. I’ve also been messing with CitationLabs broken link tool over at So far, I’ve had some mixed results (with this tool), but in the right circumstances have achieved some excellent results. The following outlines how I was able to earn a great link from a DA 100 .gov website using this technique and tool.

The Site -

My father is an avid gardener and over the past few years has worked to share his passion with others view the Rogue Valley Gardener. I’ve helped him out in different situations and as part of the deal have been able to use the site for some SEO testing. Before we dive in, I will say this is largely an informational site, but it does have adsense integrated on key articles and there have been multiple efforts to monetize the site in different ways, so it’s not a total clear-cut informational site. 

The Goal

A few months ago my dad and I entered into a conversation around different ideas on how to build/earn links to the site in hopes of improving it’s domain authority. The site has had little attention in the last year, and his desire is to have a fresh go at promoting it and gaining new levels of organic search traffic. The crux of the situation is that he has very little budget, or even time at the moment to invest in it (not a recipe for success...) I suggested giving some broken link building a try as it fit the goal and constraints - perfect chance to actually test it out.

The Process

After playing with the CitationLabs tool to refine the query and return decent results (gardening resources, gardening tips, etc.) I quickly landed on a keyword that brought up a variety of very related, very strong pages each with 10-100 links from strong domains pointing to them.

I grabbed the URLs of the pages that looked most promising (starting with .gov and .edu’s, as they were the most likely to have the strongest links into them) and utilized the wayback machine to get an idea of what the page looked like before it died. I should note here that if you use the Citationlabs tool, the wayback machine will be linked to from your results. I quickly narrowed the list down to 1-2 options that I thought would work well and went to work pulling backlinks for the specific, now defunct URL using OSE and MajesticSEO.

At this point I combined the links from both sources, removed duplicates and went to work examining the site’s and pages that housed the links pointing to the dead page. If the link looked legitimate and like it would be logical for the site owner to update, I gathered contact information. When it came down to it I ended up with 10-20 domains and names to contact, with the potential of earning some 30-40 links to the page if all the links across the targeted domains were updated.

After pulling this data, I grabbed the information from the wayback machine and rebuilt the page on my site. With a simple CMS and largely pre-defined content this only took ~10 minutes.

I then crafted a template outreach letter with some easy points for customization and went to work. After sending out the initial round of emails I had invested approximately 1.5 hours of time into the effort - not bad at all if it returned results.

The Results

Fortunately, it did return results. Within 12 hours of sending out the emails I received multiple confirmations/thank you’s from site owners and a few requests for more details. Within 48 hours and after clarifying a couple of questions (the last .5 hours invested) I had earned the following 2 key links:


A few days later I received another note from a different site owner expressing their gratitude and letting me know they had updated their links. A few more trickled in after a follow up letter for me, and I ended up with a total of 6-7 linking root domains (ignore OSE’s blindness :) ) and 10-15 links, with the gems including the .gov and multiple strong .org’s.

Here are some quick statistics that I tend to think about when recapping success of a link building effort:

  • Total time invested: ~2 hours
  • $ Invested: $0
  • $/link: $0
  • Total Links: 10-15
  • Average DA: ~60
  • Average PA: ~40
  • Penalty Risk: Low
  • Relevancy: High Equity: High

While this certainly won't always be the case, broken link building presents a very unique opportunity to develop links efficiently that you might never earn otherwise. It also goes to show you that getting links from relevant, extremely high-quality sites is very doable if you know how to approach the situation and have the right hook. It doesn't have to start with broken link building!


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