To rank highly with Google, you have to play by their rules, and they won't tolerate bad behaviour. You may get away with it for a bit, but this is not something you want to do if you're looking to use organic search as a long term traffic generator. Google sees itself as a way to disperse quality information and will not risk sending users to poor sources of information as this impacts their core business.
One way to ensure sites are kept in line is by placing a big emphasis on natural and high-quality link building as a search factor. This helps weed out bad practices like blog networks paid links, and comment spam won’t work. Backlinks, if done correctly, will help you carry plenty of favour with the search engine giant.
There are various ways to source backlinks; an SEO can look at:
- Creating backlinking opportunities
- Finding backlinking opportunities
- Salvaging backlinking opportunities
Salvaging backlinks is probably the strategy most ignored by most sites but can have a high impact if done correctly, which is why I label it a growth hacking strategy. Going on a link salvaging expedition can be highly rewarding but also an extremely time-consuming process, and there is no guarantee that the site you will find will be willing to link back to you. In SEO, however, the margins can be so small in differentiating yourself that taking a week to build one powerful, relevant deep link could be worth much more than creating a months worth of content.
Creating a well distributed and authentic backlinking profile is one of those tasks that takes time but can be hard to replicate by competitors, which is why sites with consistent link building efforts can quickly break away from the pack.
Finding dead sites
In order to find and eventually leveraging dead competitors and you need to start somewhere. The first place I would recommend would be a high level/high profile site that has shut down. To find these sites you can look at the following strategies:
- Go to AlternativeTo.net to source a list of your competitors.
- Check dead links using browser plugins (Check My Links, Domain Hunter, Link Analyzer etc.) to find dead competitors.
- Go to Google.com and Google “link: deadcompetitor.com” replacing “deadcompetitor.com” with the website you’re looking to replace.
You can then find and list all the sites linking to a dead competitor and start offering your relevant link to replace it.
Find dead local alternatives
Depending on your type of business you may find quite a few people have tried to create this service online and failed and while this is unfortunate, it is an opportunity for you. Start by looking for local service providers who have gone belly up and then expand into various provinces/states and see if there were local versions of your service in those areas.
You can then scrape those sites for backlinks and win those links and perhaps their customers too.
Find dead international alternatives
If you offer a SAAS service, a multi-national or you're a blog you can then look to expand internationally and look at sites that had a footprint in regions you're looking to gain a foothold in.
Find dead indirect competitors
Once you've identified all your direct competitors both local and international that have called time on their service you don't have to stop there. A real dead site link builder will take it even further and look for indirect competitors both locally and internationally and try to source relevant links. While most link builders will stop with direct competitors going after indirect competitor links is what could set you apart from all alternative sites and see you boost your ranking ability higher than you ever thought possible.
Find domain squatters
Domain squatters are pests of internet real estate world, they buy popular domain names only to do nothing with the site but wait for an offer they find favourable. Often times, sites, bloggers and journalists have made mistakes and linked to the incorrect domain sending valuable link equity to a dead domain being squatted on.
Check out exact match domains names that would apply to your business or service and if you spot a squatter on the domain scrape the site for backlinks and let those sites know they're linking to a dead site.
Dead link building outreach email example
Now that you've compiled your list of links you want to convert to link to your site its time to knock on some doors. Prepare an email and start making friends. Be sure to mention that you find their content valuable and as a favour, you wanted to let them know about this broken link/error before offering your service as an alternative. If you're not sure how to do this, please refer to my example email below.
Hi *Wesbite* Team My name is Che, I am the SEO team lead at xyz.com. I've been doing research online regarding what people are saying about *insert industry or business* and I happen to come across your article - *Article Name/link* and thought it was a fantastic resource. The reason I am reaching out to you is while reading your post I noticed one of the brands you've linked to is now defunked and is no longer in operation. To maintain the high relevancy of this article you should consider adding an update to let your readers know the site no longer exists. In addition I would also like to intorudce yout o our brand, we offer a simliar service to that of the *defunked brand* and we really think your readers would benefit from using our services. If you could add our service to your article as an alternative for consumers looking for *type of service or product* we would really appreciate it. Hope to hear from you soon Regards Che
Bring links back to life
Link building is a painful exercise that many websites, webmasters and SEO's tend to ignore which is why those that do will receive a massive boost as a reward for putting in the effort. There are various ways of finding links to grow your websites, and dead links should be one of your strategies for 2019.
Make sure that one man's loss isn't a loss for everyone and ensure your brand becomes the go-service for customers and links of failed competitors.
Have you ever heard of SEO growth hacking? Have you been salvaging links to improve your traffic? Share your stories or tips with us in the comments. We would love to hear from you.
If you enjoyed this post and have time to spare to dive deeper down the rabbit hole that is link building, then we suggest you check out some of our previous posts:
- How To Build Local Links To Your Website
- 10 Off-Site SEO Strategies You're Business Is Ignoring
- 4 Types Of Links That Drive Real Referral Traffic