Back From the Dead Link Building: A Quick Way to Reclaim Lost Backlinks

19 January 2016

It can be tough and very time consuming to get good quality back links these days but they are still vital to the visibility of any website. The top two ranking factors from the latest Moz study were domain level link signals and page level link signals:

(Image Credit: Moz)

Back From the Dead link building is a way to reclaim historical backlinks that have been lost over time. Websites naturally “lose” backlinks periodically when pages on a website are moved or taken down and the URL is not redirected, If that page had external links pointing at it, then those links are now pointing to a 404 page and any value that they were passing to the domain is lost.

Link building in the modern SEO world is a tough and time consuming process, but this method below can be a great way to quickly regain historic backlinks that have been lost due to onsite changes and pages being moved or deleted.

Step 1: Go to Google Analytics and select the landing page report.

Step 2: Set the date range from now to as far back as possible (as far back as there is data)

Step 3: Set show rows to 5000 (the maximum) and then export.

Step 4: As exports from Google Analytics do not include this can be added in Excel using CONCATENATE

Step 5: Upload the list of URLs to screaming frog and run a crawl of the URLs.

Step 6: Export the data into an excel file and filter on “Status Code” for 404s:

You now have a list of all URLs past and present which are serving a 404 header response and any of these could have links pointing at them.

You may want to redirect them all if there are only a few, but you can also analyse further to see which ones are worth redirecting.

Step 7: Run the list of URLs through the Majestic bulk backlink checker:

This will give the number of links to each URL. Or you can just jump straight to step 9 and redirect everything, Majestic will not give you all the links so if there are not a large amount of URLs it is probably best to do this.

Step 8: Once you have the list you can filter for pages which have external links and then you have your list of pages to redirect.

Step 9: Take the list of URLs and implement 301 redirects for each one to a page which has similar content, or to a top level page which is relevant to the old URL.

And that is it, a quick and easy way to pick up some backlinks. If you have a large and/or very old site this could result in hundreds or even thousands of links.

Note: you can even go a step further and check the links to the old URLs. Check out the links they have pointing at them to decide if you want to redirect them.

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