In SEO phraseology, this is called a broken link. For your website, they are both a problem and an opportunity. The problem arises if there are broken links on your website. You should run your site through a broken link checker tool to find and fix them as they impact on user experience. Google doesn't like them either.
The opportunity from broken links is more exciting as they can help you get valuable backlinks to your website. You have to find good quality broken links first though, which is where Wikipedia comes in.
You will probably have seen broken links on Wikipedia before and never registered what they were. They appear in the References section at the bottom of a page where the editor includes citations to the facts or information included in the content. Over time many of those links break. When a Wikipedia editor finds a broken link like this, it stays on the site but is listed as a dead link.
Dead links are the secret to using Wikipedia for SEO.
Summary of the Strategy
Here is a brief overview of the strategy:
1. Find dead links on Wikipedia pages related to your niche or industry.
2. Identify a specific dead link URL that has a good backlink profile.
3. Create content on your website that is even better than the original.
4. Contact everyone who linked to the original to tell them about the broken link, and let them know about your new and improved page on the same topic.
These four steps are outlined in more detail below.
Finding Dead Links
The easiest way to find dead links is to simply go to Google and do a search. Wikipedia has a dead link page where they are all listed, but this can be cumbersome to go through. Sometimes you will find something that you haven't thought to search for, but the quickest approach is usually just to search.
In the Google search box, enter a search query like this:
[keyword] + "dead link" site:Wikipedia.org
* Keyword - a keyword you want to rank your website for
* "dead link" - contains an exact match for "dead link"
* Site:Wikipedia.org - limit the search to Wikipedia only
You will be presented with a list of pages on Wikipedia with dead links. Browse those pages, and check them out.
This part can be a time consuming part, but it is beneficial in the long run. What you are looking for is the best dead link (i.e., the one that links to a now non-existent page that has the best backlink profile). You can use tools like Majestic SEO's backlink checker to find this. You might have to go through several to find one with plenty of backlinks from good-quality websites.
Creating New Content
Once you have selected the dead link URL that has the best backlink profile, you have to find the original content. The Wayback Machine is a good way of doing this.
Retrieve the content from the old page, and study it to determine what made it good enough that a Wikipedia editor and all these other websites decided to give it a link.
You now have to create new content based on the same topic. It should do the following:
* Include the key points and information that you think generated the popularity in the past
* Be better than the original - substantially better
Make sure you don't skimp on the second point. Later you will ask website owners to replace the broken link on their website with your new content, so make sure you wow them. You can do this by following these tips:
* Bringing the information completely up to date
* Including graphics and video
* Making the content longer
* Including outgoing links to authoritative websites
Because this content is designed specifically to win backlinks, you should strive to make it the best page on the topic anywhere on the Internet.
The easiest thing you can do with this new content is go back to the Wikipedia page you found earlier and replace the dead link with a link to your website. You should be cautious doing this if you donâ€™t regularly edit Wikipedia pages though. If you are in this situation, you might be better editing a few other pages first and adding links and citations to websites you have no involvement with. This will build your credibility.
While the Wikipedia link is good, it is a no-follow link. You might be able to get do-follow links by reaching out to website owners who linked to the original article and now have a broken link on their website. These are people that have an interest in the topic and have included outgoing links before. It is a carefully curated target list of websites to engage your link building efforts.
You will first have to research their email address and then make contact. The best advice is to be straight with them - tell them you found a broken link on their website and that you have a page on the same topic. Ask them to review it to see if it is a good fit as a replacement for the broken link.
You won't get a positive response from everyone, but some will change their links. Many will even be appreciative that you have pointed out an issue on their site along with a quick and easy solution.
Obviously, this is not a strategy that will work for every keyword or in every niche. It is a strategy that is not difficult to deploy, however, and it doesn't take long. The worst-case scenario is that you will have a new piece of content on your site, which is loosely based on a now non-existent page that won lots of backlinks. Chances are your page will win backlinks naturally too.