How To Create Backlinks Using Your Competitors’ Broken (404) Pages?

If you are familiar to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), you must have known how important it is to build backlinks for any successful SEO and digital marketing campaign. However, we believe there is an untouched resource out there for great link building: finding your competitors’ broken pages that have been linked to by external sources.

It is not an easy task to find a perfect backlink easily and may take few hours, days, weeks or considerably longer time. That’s where the link building technique we have outlined below can be used. Our SEO Experts at F5 Buddy use it on a regular basis to create related backlinks from competitors’ 404 pages.

Know about the entire link building process below:-

First, you have to find who your competitor(s) are? Finding them is as easy as searching for the targeted keyword on Google and selecting websites that are on the top in the SERPs. Once you have a list of your competitors, list them in a spreadsheet according to their rankings and the date you listed them.

In the next step download a freemium tool Screaming Frog SEO Spider. This software will help you to crawl all of your competitors’ website and revealing all their 404 pages. To do this, you just have to enter your competitors’ URLs in the search bar, like this

Once the crawling is done, click on “Response Codes.”

Then, select “Client Error 4xx.” by clicking on the dropdown arrow next to “filter”

After this, you’ll be able to see the competitor’s 404 pages.

After completing the step above, simply click the “Export” button for exporting all of their 404 pages into a file. Then, import this file to create a spreadsheet in Excel or Google Docs. Now create tabs, named as “Citation Flow,” “Trust Flow,” “External Backlinks.” and “Referring Domains,” on this part of the spreadsheet.

Now that you’ve imported all your competitors’ 404 pages, you must dissect the external links and images if they are present. A fast way to do this is to highlight the cell block by pressing on the particular cell at the top, then clicking “Filter” under the “Data” tab.

Search and click the drop-down arrow on the first cell of that block. Under the “Filter by values,” you will see two links: “Select all” and “Clear.”
Click on “Clear,” like this:

This will clear all preset options. Now, type competitor’s website URL in the search box and click “Select all.”

This will help to filter out all external links and leave you with only 404 pages. Go through the entire list and highlight the pages you think you can rewrite.

This will filter out all external links and just leave you with their 404 pages. Go through the whole list, highlighting the pages you think you can rewrite.

Now that all relevant 404 pages are in place, run them either through a freemium tool Moz’s Open Site Explorer (OSE) or a paid tool Majestic to check if external links are actually present (that we’re ultimately searching for). Add all details to the spreadsheet. In spite the matter which tool you use (We use OSE), hit “Request a CSV” for the backlink data. (You may create a new spreadsheet or Import the data into a new tab in the current spreadsheet)

Find all relevant backlinks linking to (X’s) website. Once you’ve have discovered all of the relevant websites, you can either highlight them or remove the ones that aren’t from your spreadsheet.

Having 404s and various link opportunities in hand, focus on creating content that’s relevant for the brands you desire to earn a link from. Find someone’s contact details from the brand you want the link from. You can find it through their website; but if not, you can use tools like VoilaNorbert and Email Hunter to collect the information you require. Once you have contact details, you need to send them an email similar to this one:

Hello [CONTACT PERSON’s NAME],
I am [YOUR NAME], and I carry out the [INSERT JOB ROLE – i.e., MARKETING] at [YOUR COMPANY’S NAME or WEBSITE].

I have come across one of your blog posts regarding [INSERT THEIR POST TITLE] but when I clicked on the links of that post, it went to a 404 page. As you’re possibly aware that links redirecting on 404 pages is bad for user experience, which is the reason I’m emailing you today.

We recently published an article regarding the same subject of the broken link you have on your website: [INSERT YOUR POST TITLE].
Here’s the link to our article: [URL].

I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind linking to our article instead of the 404 page you’re currently linking to, as our article will give a better user experience to your readers.

We will keep updating this article so we can keep readers provided with the latest information.

Thank you for reading this email and I look forward to hearing from you.

[YOUR NAME]
[The above written email is just an example and may get tailored to your own purpose and style of writing]

At last, remember to maintain detailed notes of the conversations you have with people during your outreach, and always be active to follow up people you connect with. I hope this Digital Marketing tactic from our Digital Marketing Experts help your SEO efforts in the future.

Contact our Digital Marketing Experts to know some more beneficial tactics for your SEO and Digital campaign.