Investis Ltd.

09/14/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 09/14/2021 07:54

What is Backlink Reclamation?

Just as the name implies, link reclamation is the process of reclaiming lost or broken links to your website. Maybe a webmaster updated their site and your link was removed in the process. Maybe the URL structure on your site changed and existing links are now resulting in redirects or error codes. Regardless of how the links were lost, a link reclamation project can help continue to send users to your domain and prevent a potential loss of traffic to your site.

Why is backlink reclamation important?

While most link building strategies focus on acquiring new links to your site, it's also essential to monitor and maintain existing links. During website upgrades and migrations, pages can move and URLs can change-next thing you know, a link that was directing users to your site now leads to a 404 error or an irrelevant page from a 301 redirect. This is where link reclamation comes in!

By re-securing outdated links to your site, you:

  • Ensure the best possible user experience
  • Maintain the SEO value of the links you've acquired over time
  • Continue to drive referral traffic to your site

Suggested tools

The following tools may be useful for your link reclamation project:

Ahrefs and Majestic are SEO tools that can be used to pull a list of your website's existing backlinks, while SEMrush is great for looking at keyword rankings and website traffic. When it comes time to start sending emails to webmasters, BuzzStream is an outreach tool that can help you keep track of your correspondence.

The process of reclaiming backlinks

Step 1: Gathering backlinks

The first step to any link reclamation project is to find the links you want to reclaim. You can do this using a backlink analysis tool like Ahrefs or Majestic (or both!) to gather every link pointed towards a redirected or broken page. Here's the process:

  1. In your backlink analysis tool, enter your site's redirected or broken URL. Your tool will bring up every backlink that points to that page.
  2. Set your tool to only show 'one link per domain' so that you're not getting duplicate backlinks listed. If you find a website that links to a broken or redirected page multiple times, you can always address that in your outreach.
  3. Filter your results to make sure you are only viewing backlinks that are still live.
  4. Once you've fine-tuned your backlink list, export the file to your computer.

Step 2: Qualifying backlinks

Not every link to your site needs to be reclaimed. Some links can be quite harmful to your link development efforts (that's why disavow files exist!). Manually reviewing the backlinks you want to reclaim is a great way to ensure you're maintaining only relevant, quality links to your site.

Once you've downloaded your full list of backlinks pointing to broken or redirected pages, you can start removing opportunities that don't meet your standard for what you consider a quality backlink. These metrics and standards will differ from site to site, but here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Relevancy: Take some time to assess if the page linking to you is still relevant to your site and its content. If you can't determine the relevancy by quickly reviewing the page, you can use SEMrush to check what type of keywords the site is ranking for. Keep an eye out for spammy keywords here!
  • Domain Authority: Backlinks with a low Domain Authority (DA) score probably won't add a great deal of SEO value to your site. We recommend being skeptical of any site below 15 DA. Unless you have a reason to think these sites will drive valuable and relevant traffic to your site, it may be best to pass on these opportunities.
  • Forums and Comments: While these links may have driven visitors to your site in the past, chances are they didn't provide much SEO value. For the most part, links found in forums and comment sections of blog posts are nofollow and do not influence search engines. Even if you find a valuable broken link on a forum, contact information will be nearly impossible to track down since these links are shared by the site's users rather than webmasters.
  • Spammy Sites: There's no surefire way to identify a spammy backlink at first glance, but there are some things you can keep an eye out for. The first thing is to look at the URL. If the domain name or URL structure is filled with random numbers and letters that don't make sense, this could be a sign that you are dealing with a low-quality website. We also recommend looking at any other websites linked on the page to see if they are legitimate and relevant. You can use SEMrush here to help identify and weed out any spammy keywords you don't want to be associated with your website.

Step 4: Reaching out

So, you've narrowed down your list of the backlinks to the best of the best. Now it's time to reach out to webmasters to see if they're willing to update the outdated link.

It's important here to explain to the webmaster why they should take time out of their day to update a link on their site. The good news is that since they were already linking to you before, they know who you are and the value that your link provides!

Since you'll be reaching out to multiple sites for the same reason, it may be best to create a template. You'll want to create a template that doesn't take too much time to customize for each email, while still feeling personal and, well, not like a template. Some things to keep in mind are:

  • The webmaster probably knows who you are. Unlike a traditional link building email, there is no need for a lengthy description of your website and its contents. Even if you have not communicated with the webmaster before, they should at least be aware of your organization. You were already listed on the page, so chances are they know the value that your link provides!
  • Keep it short and simple. If you can condense your email without losing your meaning, it's typically best to do so. If you can get the same message across in a few sentences rather than a few paragraphs, you have a better chance of your email being thoroughly read and not just skimmed.
  • Mention how this update is beneficial to the webmaster. While your main goal of reclaiming outdated links is to help your SEO performance, take some time to explain how the update would be helpful for the webmaster! Broken links are not only potentially bad for their SEO but also negatively affect user experience.

Take these tips to create a template that explains to the webmaster why the broken link should be updated, making sure to include specific details so they understand what changes you are being asked of them.

Step 4: Following up

So, you've sent out your emails and haven't heard much back. Don't worry. There's still hope. Just remember how many times you've lost an email in your inbox, or how many times you've read an email and forgot to respond because you had other pressing issues. We've all been there, and webmasters are no different. If haven't heard back after a few weeks, consider sending a quick follow-up email to remind webmasters of the outdated link.

For this, you're also going to want to use a template to ensure you can send follow-ups in an efficient manner. Consider sending the follow-up emails on a different day of the week or at a different time. This tactic may increase the odds of your email being seen.

Case study

The Investis Digital link development team has long used, and sometimes they are tasked with large-scale reclamation projects. Our link development team delivered one of those projects for a B2B performance marketing and advertising company.

The challenge

Our client recently asked us to conduct a link reclamation project after acquiring the business portion of the website Top Ten Reviews. They decided to create one-to-one pages and do a site migration to their domain. However, a few of the pages did not redirect. That's where Investis Digital stepped in.

This project was a little different for our link development team. As mentioned previously, the typical method for discovering backlinks to reclaim would be through a backlink analysis. However, when the client came to Investis Digital, they already had a list of more than 1,700 opportunities to pursue.

The link development team sifted through all those opportunities to determine if the backlinks should be reclaimed. The team considered multiple metrics and standards such as overall SEO value, relevancy, and DA and PA.

After that process was complete, the team disqualified roughly 1,330 opportunities and determined that 576 backlinks were suitable for outreach.

Reasons why the team decided to disqualify certain opportunities included the following:

  • The link was already reclaimed
  • Broken (404 error) pages
  • Unable to locate the proper contact information
  • The site was low-quality (this included directories, forums, and low DA sites)


Once the reclamation campaign was complete, the team analyzed the data and found some impressive results. Out of the 576 outreach emails sent, 150 of the backlinks were reclaimed-an acquisition rate of 26%. For comparison, our average acquisition rate for traditional link building campaigns is around 6.5%.

Furthermore, the link development team was able to uncover 131 additional reclamation opportunities on top of the ones our client had provided. The team was able to reclaim 30 of those backlinks for an acquisition rate of 22.9%.

However, acquisition rate is not the only metric the team uses to determines the success of a campaign. The Domain Authority and Page Authority of secured backlinks is an important metric for estimating potential SEO value. For this project, the average Domain Authority of reclaimed links was 43.9, and the average Page Authority was 25.3.

Another quality metric the team measures is Trust Flow. Trust Flow is a metric provided by Majestic that determines the quality of backlinks on a website. The average Trust Flow for backlinks reclaimed during this project was 29.4.

Looking beyond individual metrics, overall SEO impact is always our main goal when conducting link reclamation projects. This project performed by our link development team for our client started in November of 2018 and was completed in early February of 2019. By the end of 2019, we discovered that site-wide traffic to the domain jumped by 25%. In addition, organic keywords had increased by six percent. This was achieved in part due to the quality backlinks we were able to reclaim for the website.

Achieve link development success with Investis Digital

Do you need assistance with your link building campaigns? Download our free whitepaper, 'How to Build Quality Backlinks That Impact Organic Search Visibility'. Or, reach out to Investis Digital today. Our team of SEO pros would be happy to discuss how we can help you build high-value links that move you up in the SERPs.