A broken backlinks is a link between two websites that no longer works. The reason for this could be that the link’s landing page has been moved, or removed completely.
The method of “broken link building” consists of two main steps:
- Finding links in your niche that are broken, and
- Reaching out to the website owner to tell them and suggest that they replace the broken link with a link to something on your website.
If you have relevant content on your site, it can be an easy way to build some quick links without much work.
Here’s how you can use SEMrush to find broken links on a competitor’s website.
1. Create a Backlink Audit campaign for the competitor's site
To do this, start a Project based on your competitor’s domain and launch the Backlink Audit tool. The Backlink Audit tool is normally intended to use to audit your own website and then disavow the backlinks on your site that are coming from dangerous websites, and could in turn hurt your site.
While configuring, don’t worry about adding any specific keywords or countries, as you’re doing this for a competitor’s website and not actually disavowing their links. Set the campaign scope to the root domain and start the Backlink Audit tool. The tool will take a few minutes to finish crawling the site’s links depending on the size of the site.
2. Filter the Audit report with "target url error" checkbox
Once the tool is running, you can filter through their backlinks in the Audit report. The target url error filter allows you to look for links that have error codes associated with the link.
Keep in mind, a 4xx error code means there is an issue with the website, a 5xx error code means there is an issue with the server, and a 3xx code means there is a redirect involved. For the full list of HTML status codes, read this article.
The 404 error code indicates that a link is broken, so the previously live backlinks that point to a 404 page on your competitor’s site are the links you’re looking for.
3. (Bonus Step) Add those links to your Remove tab to reach out to them via a connected email address
The nice thing about the Backlink Audit tool is that it includes an email outreach interface allowing you to reach out to ask for a link to your site to replace the broken one on your competitor's site.
To do this, select the links with the “Delete” action and choose “Remove.” This places the link into the Remove tab of the tool, which is where you can do your outreach.
Click on the green Send button and it will open an interface for you to compose your outreach email. SEMrush will also automatically look for the email addresses associated with the webpage, making it easier to send your email directly to the most relevant person that works for the site.
There you have it! A process for finding your competitor’s broken links and reaching out to the referring domain directly.
Needless to say, you can also check for any broken links going to your own website if you made the project focusing on your own domain.
Fixing any broken links that were previously going to your site will help your SEO and also prevent any of your competitors from using the broken link building process via broken links to your site.