Purgatory Link Building Strategy
Building links in an efficient way has been something that I have enjoyed systematizing for almost 10 years online now!
This purgatory link building strategy is on track to be one of my all time favorite strategies!
As “white hat” link building goes this is a great strategy since it…
- is scalable across many sites
- get you niche relevant links
- doesn’t require a cost per link (typically)
- doesn’t require you spamming the entire internet
- is an efficient use of your teams time.
It does require you to use a few tools, act reasonably quickly and create a solid piece of content…but what are you doing running an online business if those stop you 🙂
Enough talk… let us get to the details of what the Purgatory Link Building Strategy is all about…
Basic Link Building Concept:
Stealing backlinks from your competitor is great but really hard!
Stealing competitors links when they are almost dead is easy!
Why is it named “Purgatory” Link Building – These are links that still have unfinished business, the pages they link to are not quite dead and the links themselves have a lot of life left!
For other link building guides:
- 99+ dofollow link list
- Blog Network Link Building (if that is your thing)
- Find expiring/auction domains with a lot of links and are reasonably relevant to your site
- Create an improved version of the pages that people were linking to (quickly – time matters with this strategy)
- Outreach to get people to link to you instead of the almost expired and now useless page
How is this different from Broken Link Building? Broken link building is about finding a resource that a lot of people linked to that is no longer available. The difference is in timing and scale… when you do broken link building you are reaching out to people who have had that broken links on their site for a number of weeks/months etc… when we are reaching out to domains that are about to expire it may be the first time that they know about the asset they were linking to no longer being active. Often the expiring domain will be a landing page and never actually show up as broken. Plus, you can do this at scale for smaller resources resulting in a lot more opportunities. This is much more scalable with a lower level of overall effort since you don’t need to find a page in your space with 100’s of links to it.
How is this different from the SkyScraper Technique? With the skyscrapper technique you need to create a resource that is sooo much better than the page the website owner is currently linking to they are willing to either add your link or replace the link. This is a much tougher ask and not as scalable since you need to invest heavily in each piece of content. With purgatory link building you don’t need to create a 10x better piece of content.
How is this different from my 301 Building Block Strategy? The 301 building block strategy is related where you leverage a micro site of your content on an expired domain and then move that site to be a content cluster within a larger site leveraging the links to the expired domain to raise the authority of the entire larger site. The 301 building block strategy requires you to actually purchase the domain and create a small cluster of content on the topic. Purgatory link building strategy allows for a more efficient/scalable approach to achieving a similar result.
Step by Step Purgatory Link Building Process:
Part 1 – Find Expiring Domain:
In this step you are going to find a domain that has people linking to it, they may not yet know that the link on their site is useless since the domain they are linking to is in “purgatory” not yet expired but the page is no longer live.
We will identify a domain, the optimal page on that domain and the type of asset to create to then reach out to.
1-1 – Find Domains
In this stage we want to identify domains that have solid real links… the best way to do this is to filter on TrustFlow from Majestic and verify it has at least a little traffic. This shows it has quality links and likely not terribly abused from an SEO standpoint since it ranks in Google (meaning the links we are going to want to get are ones that are actually useful).
- Go to SpamZilla
- Enter into the search term
- TF > 15
- Keywords > 1
- Pick the Topical Trust Flow Category if you want to ONLY look in your niche
One other filter to apply is to select “MarketPlace Domains” and then only select GoDaddy Auction
You will be using this filter a lot so be sure to save it!
Open up each of the domains that look like they might make sense for you first in MajesticSEO looking for a site that has “real” and “relevant” links to the URL. Looking at both the Ref Domains and Pages that links have been built to help show what site would make a good target.
We need real links to a decent resource.
Here is an example we will do real time… publishing the alternative page here for these 1,414 domains to link to instead here at the same time I publish this article.
In the pages tab we are looking for a page that can be created better then it was before which received several links and had a high Trust Flow. Often building a page to be an alternative to link to instead of the homepage is hard however many sub-pages will be a lot easier to build a similar page to. In this case we are targeting people who linked to the homepage and now need an alternative.
Now we have an idea of a page or an article that could replace the homepage to recreate on a reasonably relevant site.
1-2 Verify the Content in Archive.org is Recreatable
The next step is to check to see if we can recreate content that is superior to the expiring content.
If we were to execute this example we would need to re-write and add some additional value add that would have people taking the time to link to it.
Checking in Archive.org to see that the page can be re-written/created anew…
Note – Archive.org and TheWaybackMachine are often down or not working and here are some alternatives.
1-3 Build Outreach List using MajesticSEO and ahrefs.com
This step is about preparing for the link building outreach plan.
Using MajesticSEO and ahrefs build as complete a list of everyone who links to that page…
- Enter the URL in Site Explorer
- Go to Backlinks
- Export Data
- Enter URL
- Select Backlinks
- Export Data
Part 2 – Create a Link Worthy Piece of Content
Creating “just” an article may not be enough. The goal isn’t to just match the quality of the content but to top it to provide the extra incentive for the site owner to replace the useless link with your own.
Certainly matching the article quality is important. Doing a little bonus keyword research at this stage so that the article is being created to both be a suitable link alternative but then have a reasonable shot at ranking for a keyword that matters in terms of organic traffic.
The link juice makes this strategy often worth it on its own but if you can find an angle that will move the needle for traffic that is even better!
Make sure you are using strong internal linking strategies from these pages to the pages that matter most for your site so that you can pass the link juice along to the pages that really matter.
If you can get a decent infographic created in a matter of hours for $5 (via Fiverr) with the research already done (share the archive.org link for the data) then it is a great means of getting some additional link love!
If there is a simple video that can be created that will also fulfill the searchers query that might be enough to reach out and share.
Tool / Aid:
If the opportunity is large enough there could be a simple template or tool that would make the effort to swap out the link worthwhile.
Publish the content and be ready for the next step.
See example – 10 Best Note Taking Apps for Windows
Part 3 – Outreach
If you want to build a really robust outreach machine then have a look at this B2B Lead Generation article!
However, for this relatively efficient outreach system focused around linkbuilding than the outreach tool from SEMRush fits the bill.
- Upload list
- Create template
- Start sending
- Monitor and follow up if needed
To see a detailed post on how to do cold outreach for link building checkout this guide.
More on this Content Marketing Strategy…
This is just one of several strategies we have been developing and scaling within the ContentRefined.com team to be able to REALLY push a site!
Fun Story About the Inspiration for This Strategy – I am a Terrible Loser!
I was buying some expired domains with traffic and lost one I REALLY wanted… being a terrible loser I decided to quickly create some superior quality content then what the site had and “steal” the links going to the domain that I just got outbid on. Yes, I am a petty and a terrible loser! But now hopefully you can be too!
Later talking with the ContentRefined team we decided that this wasn’t just something to execute on a one-off basis but to scale and hence the reason for this post existing.
Very interested in hearing your thoughts on this strategy and more importantly the results you are able to achieve with it!
The strategy really addresses a couple of the reasons why broken link building just never worked well for me. It was hard to find a resource that was the right size not too big and needing a massive content investment or too small and only good for 1-2 links. Excited to test this strategy out and thanks for sharing so much.
Thanks James, yah it is an exciting strategy because of how systematizable it is.
Can you talk about what your conversion rate is on this? I get you did this when you missed a domain, but it sure sounds easier to buy the domain if you can, as most of those links will not bother to transfer.
I have seen a 10% response rate with 1/2 of those turning into links. Typically it is the better links that are getting swapped so assuming a 80/20 split (ie 80% of the backlink value comes from 20% of the links) I am confident I am capturing about 20% of the value for a fraction of the cost. Whether or not it makes sense to buy the domain vs do this strategy comes down to the cost of the domain. If the domain is going to go for under $100 and you only care about the links then just buying it likely makes sense. If the intent was to scale this effort having a TON of domains can become a larger management challenge then just having one more piece of content. Very valid point and appreciate the comment.