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Just Like Detroit: SEO Can Be As Easy As Fixing Broken Stuff

The city of Detroit is rebuilding itself as we speak, and quite a bit of that work is going into rebuilding things that were once great and aren’t anymore. As The Architectural Record put it last September:

In Detroit, the statistics are jarring: The city has 26 jobs for every 100 people, 47 percent of residents are functionally illiterate, and, with 344 homicides in 2011, its violent-crime rate eclipses that of any other major U.S. city. Twenty-three percent of the housing stock is vacant, and though municipal tax rates in Detroit are 2.5 times the national average, services are spread thinly across the city’s expansive 143-square-mile footprint. As industry left town in the second half of the 20th century, the population declined steeply, leaving a city of 700,000 people to foot the bill for infrastructure designed for 2 million

These statistics have improved dramatically over the last 9 months, in part due to a powerful rebuilding-through-reemployment plan initiated by the Detroit Works Project — a group devoted to finding broken things and not-busy people and bringing them together for everyone’ benefit. It’s working out!

Jared? This is an SEO Blog?
Right — as much as I love Detroit, SEO is kind of the point, isn’t it? Here’s the thing: like rebuilding Detroit, SEO can be as easy as finding broken stuff and fixing it. Think about it: do you want to spend an afternoon composing 16 letters to 16 different blogs asking if they’ll accept your proposal for a top-notch guest blog post — or finding and fixing 136 broken or nonexistent links on existing blogs and other pages?

How? With a broken link analysis — something as easy as a Chrome or Firefox extension. Essentially, you look up industry-relevant pages known for linking, and you do a broken-link analysis for them. If any come up, you turn over the report to them, and request that the put a link to your website in place of one of their broken links. As long as your page is similar enough to the page you want to replace, they’ll often do it as a ‘thank you’ for pointing out their other broken links.

You can also often get a decent amount of backlinks by searching for your URL, business name, reverse-image-searching for your logo, and looking up other business assets. Every time you find a website that mentions you without linking, ask them if they’d be willing to change that mention into a link. Oftentimes they’ll do it for free, but if they’re resistant, ask them what their one minute is worth to them. These links are going to be valuable because the page has been there for a while, mentioning you for a while — it just hasn’t been a link yet.

Now, to be honest, this tactic obviously won’t work for everyone. Sites that haven’t been around for a while, or don’t have mentions or links already, aren’t going to benefit from this process. But if you’ve had a site around for a decade and you want an inexpensive boost to your SEO, it’s a great trick to have up your sleeve.

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