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The broken pages and link reclamation technique might be familiar to you as they are quite old school strategies. However, it has sparked quite a lot of controversy, with a lot of SEO practitioners classifying this technique as a great white hat one, while others having not so very positive feelings about it. A lot of content has been written about this matter and we can conclude from it that it’s a matter of high interest among digital marketers. Despite the extensive documentation, few solutions are given in order to improve work on these techniques.


As we are always interested in improving our tool and our user’s experience with cognitiveSEO, we’ve worked on a new feature we’re glad we can now share with you:

New Feature – Identify & Recover Lost Link Equity Using the Linked 404 Pages on a Site

For the moment this feature is available in the Site Explorer but it’s going to be added in the inBound Link Analysis in the near future. Identifying Broken Pages has a lot of benefits we’re sure you’re going to see for yourselves, however, as repetition is the mother of all learning, allow us to highlight some of them.


Link Reclamation - Recover 404 Pages Link Juice Now!


Rebuild Broken Pages and Broken Links – A Ranking Gold Mine


Within cognitiveSEO’s Site Explorer you won’t see all broken pages, but only the ones which have at least one external link. Basically, the very pages that can bring those lost links and rankings back home.

As stated from the beginning, fixing broken pages and broken link building are techniques that can be really effective if understood and used correctly. How is the newly implemented Broken Page working? Quite simply. Run a website within the Instant Backlink Explorer and you will be immediately listed with all the broken pages that site has.

Microsoft Broken Pages Backlink Explorer cognitiveSEO

Knowing those broken pages is a really ace in the sleeve, especially when you can export all those pages. Yet, something needs to be done in order to fully take advantage of the opportunities a broken page can bring. In order to get back all the ranking juice from the broken pages, two easy work outs can be done:

  • Create a landing page with dedicated content, letting the users now that the info is not available anymore on that page but they can access similar data on some other place.
  • 301 redirect – is the best way to ensure that users and search engines are directed to a page with correct info. A 301 redirect is a permanent one which passes the link juice to the redirected page.  Therefore, just like in nature nothing is lost, just everything changes.

You can always go further an take a look at what your competitors are doing. They might have a lot of broken pages and therefore, a lot of links associated with those pages, all good opportunities for you. You can dig deeper, find those broken links, recreate that broken content, and replace broken links with your corrected link. The way broken link building works is fairly simple and includes 3 apparently simple steps:

  1. First, you need to find those broken pages and links. Until now, a lot of analysis was involved here as you needed to manually identify those worthwhile pages relevant to your business that have broken links. Now half of your job is done as you can instantly see all the Broken Pages with the feature we’ve just developed. You will also be informed about the number of links each broken page has.
  2. Then, update or re-create the content of the website the broken link originally led to. If there are other broken pages and not your own you are analyzing, you can even include your own site in the alternatives. Archives such as Wayback Machine or Warrick can help you recover the original content (which you can improve on, of course).
  3. Last and not less importantly, you can contact the webmaster who has the broken link on his/her site and recommend your alternative (quite a bit of outreaching and networking is involved here). The more you can come off as acting in good-faith and interact as a real human (as opposed to a SEO-churning bot), the higher the chance of success.


Of all the possible link building (and generally SEO tactics), this might be the least selfish, as it ends up giving something back to the web community, aside from creating value for your own purposes (hey, there’s no such thing as 100% altruistic SEO practices).

Why is this still a good link-building strategy? First off, because it is a relatively a low-risk strategy. You’re targeting successful, authoritative pages from the get-go, meaning you’re working with tested and tried recipes. Secondly, because you are in fact saving time. Yes, there is work involved, but this is very goal-oriented work, where you know all the specifics of what you want and what you’re trying to get (and half the work is already there because the content doesn’t have to be re-created from scratch).

Thirdly, although you are still looking out for your own interest, in the process you are creating content that will benefit not only you, but also other businesses and ultimately other users.

How to Get Higher Rankings and Happier Clients with the Broken Page Feature

As stated before, cognitiveSEO allows you to see all the broken pages that have at least one external link. It’s impossible to see these pages just by looking at a website’s internal structure.

What we offer you is the possibility to see all the pages that can be converted into traffic and ranking opportunities for you. You can have 10, 100 or 1000 broken pages. Each of them can be translated into hundreds or thousands of link juice. So, why let all this link juice go to waste instead of taking advantage of it?


In the digital marketing world, at some point the same rules apply to all sites, regardless of their size or amplitude. Broken pages should be a matter of interest, whether you are managing amazon.com or the website of a neighborhood coffee shop. For a better understanding, let’s see exactly the Broken Page Feature’s Super Power at work.


As we brought big names into discussion since the beginning of the post, we thought to continue on the same note. Therefore, we took for analysis a website you’ve probably accessed at least once, even out of mere curiosity: apple.com. With an astounding number of high authority links undoubtedly, Apple’s website is well-off. Yet, like with most of the things, there is always room for improvement. The site has no fewer than 227 broken pages that have around 1,7 million links. Just for you to make an idea, starbucks.co.uk has 130k links altogether.


cognitiveSEO broken page apple

The great thing about the Broken Page feature is that you will have a list with all the broken pages and the number of referring domains and links they have. Therefore, you will get even a “top” of the broken pages you should be most focusing on. Of course, each broken page is a lost opportunity that can hold you back some rankings and you should keep all of them in mind. Yet, a broken page with 2.000 links might be more “profitable” to work on than a page with 20 links.

You need to remember that along with the link juice you might also lose customers/visitors as a broken page also means a bad user experience.

Therefore, take advantage of the top broken pages list. Firstly concentrate on those which are on the top of the rankings in terms of number of links and referring domains but don’t forget that all of your broken pages need your attention.

cognitiveSEO Apple Broken Pages

While we try to access one of Apple’s broken page with no less that 37.000 links, intuitively, we are taken to the page you can see in the screenshot below. From the URL of the page we can figure out that we should see some iTunes store content. For those of you who are not familiar with Apple’s products, iTunes is a media player, media library, online radio broadcaster, and mobile device management application developed by Apple Inc. which is used to play, download, and organize digital audio and video.

Apple iTunes page

Bringing a staggering profit to the big company, iTunes still exists, unlike the page above, and it’s a highly known and used service. The page from the screenshot above also brought around 2000 referring domains and 37.000 links. These are some numbers that many companies would only dream to have for their pages. Meanwhile, Apple neglects this page and along with it  thousands of links and unhappy customers. As you can see in the image below, a dedicated iTunes page does exist. So, why does the multinational technology company choose to lose all those links and rankings opportunity? We don’t know. Most likely, they are not aware of the problem.


However, some work outs can be done in such a case: Create a landing page with updated content or a 301 redirect.  In our case, there still is a dedicated page for Apple iTunes, as you can see in the screenshot below. Therefore a simple redirect can be done here, letting the user see a content he/she can really get info from. Also, such a redirect passes almost all the link juice to the redirected page.  Therefore, just like in nature nothing is lost, just everything changes.

Apple iTune Overview Page

If you are really interested in how your or others broken pages used to look like in order to update or improve them, you can always check it with Wayback Machine. In the screenshot bellow we can see how the actual broken page apple.com/itunes/store used to look like sometimes in 2010. This info can be  very useful, especially when trying to offer a better user experience and figure out what your customer is looking for.

iTunes wayback machine

Instantly Analyze Pages You Are Most Interested In

Another feature that we’ve implemented within the Instant Backlink Explorer, which is available for the Broken Pages feature but not only, is the direct analysis of all your links. How is this working? Simple. Let’s take the broken page list, for instance. You can visualize a list with all the broken pages a site has, ordered by the number of links and referring domains that page has. Near the URL you will see a magnifying glass icon. Once you push that icon, that specific URL will be analyzed and  a page with the in-depth analysis will be presented to you, just like in the screenshot below.

Instant Backlink Explorer cognitiveSEO analysis


Even if you are not a cinema fan, you are most probably familiar with the worldwide icon Charlie Chaplin. More than 100 years have passed since the English comic actor, filmmaker, and composer who rose to fame in the silent era, made his debut in a motion picture. He definitely won his fame due to his talent and his high ingenuity as well as his innovative style. However, an interesting urban legend started circulating during the ‘20s and can still be heard to this day. It is said that a Charlie Chaplin look-alike competition was held in California, with some 40-something competitors. Charlie Chaplin himself entered the contest under a false name, as a joke. Only the joke was on him, as he did not win, but only came in 2nd (or even lower, according to some accounts).


Whether this is a true story or not remains up for debate (as there is no official record of this). However, some lessons can be drawn from this anecdote, if you indulge me. It often happens to all of us, regardless how big or small we are, to be outsmarted by our competitors – even at things we think we are supposed to excel (much like that Chaplin fellow). There is nothing strange about it, as there can be many reasons for why this happens. Yet, when we’re being overtaken by our competitors with “the victory in our hands” (in our case, with “the links in your own hands”), we get this uneasy feeling that we should have won and we’ve been unjustly defeated (sort of like coming in 2nd in our own look-alike contest).


And this is one of the reasons we’ve developed the Broken Page feature that could help you, by flipping the story on its head. This feature might help you to become better than your competitors at the very thing that they were supposed to excel. The way to do this is to start using a strategy they may not be aware of as they don’t have the proper means to identify what you can with the blink of an eye: broken pages.

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