No doubt Google is really tightening the knot on link building activities for us SEOs. And when many of our doors get sealed off, we are only left with the real time-consuming, effort-extracting and non-guaranteed ways to acquire links. Once such way is Broken Link Building; the whole process of searching the web for relevant pages that link to 404 (Not Found) pages and rather get them to link to our site. I have tried to explain the traditional way to go about doing broken link building here if you feel like refreshing your memory.
But as mentioned before, the thing about the traditional way of broken link building is that it is really time consuming. First you need to find a relevant page with links for which you need to try endless series of 'intitle:', 'inurl:' + Keyword combinations and once you find the pages; you need to check if any of the links are broken. And what if they are not? Then you need to go back to Google and find yourself another page. Then again, when you find a broken link leading to a 3rd party website; now you need brush up your negotiation skills to convince the webmaster to link to you instead of the other 3rd party website. All and all, it’s a lot of work without the certainty of finding a prospective broken link or acquiring it for you.
Well, I have thought of a way to bring upon some amount of certainty in the whole broken link building process. In this process all you need is access to your website’s Google Analytics account and the knowledge of how your website’s 404 (Not Found) page looks like.
Step 1: Know your site’s 404 Page title
To do this, just go to your home page and append random letters after the trailing slash. Essentially force yourself to a page that you know does not exist on the website. Once you reach a 404 page, make note of the page title.
Step 2: Access your websites Google Analytics Account and go to 'Custom Reports'
Step 3: Once in the Custom Reports menu, create a new Custom Report and name it as per your choice. Select the following Metrics and Dimensions
Set a filter to take only Referral traffic.
Hit save and you are ready to go.
Step 4: Once you are in your new reports data screen, click on 'Secondary Dimension' and select 'Page Title'
Once you are done with this you should get a report that looks like this:
Step 5: Just put in an advanced filter to 'Include' Page Title 'Containing' the page title of your website’s 404 page.
Hit 'Apply' and you are done. Now you should have a 3rd party site that is linking to you but it is leading to a 404 page. (Tip: Be sure to select a large date range so that you find maximum links)
Since you are in Google Analytics, you can do a whole lot more data analysis on this framework to help prioritize the links that you need to fix first.
And the best part is that these 3rd party website is already linking to you, just not to the right page. So this can mean that you can convince him a lot easier to update his link to the right page on you website.
Please understand that this may not work for all websites, there could be a chance that you won’t find any referral sites linking to a 404 page on your website. And this is an exhaustible source, once you use all of them up, new such opportunities will emerge very slowly so I suggest you dig in on this data on a 4-6 month basis. And lastly, the traditional way is still the most awesome way to go because there is always the probability that you will find something across the whole World Wide Web. This method is just to get things on a roll or hygiene exercise so that you don’t loose on any obvious SEO value that is ready at hand.
So there you have it! Nothing fancy just some common sense and a pinch of data analysis.