While reading this, make sure you continue to breathe – I almost forgot to when I first got a glimpse of the capabilities this tool offers.
I know I’ve gone through phases with different dead link checkers, such as Linkchecker for Firefox and Check My Links for Chrome, but hands down, Domain Hunter Plus beats them all, and then some. It makes Check My Links look like a kids toy.
Domain Hunter Plus just changed the game. It used to be all about speed, but they turned it into a game of link analytics, abandoned domains, and CSV reports. Here are a few of the capabilities DHP offers:
Link building will never be the same again.
To get started, go here and hit the huge Download button at the top of the page. Just in case you didn’t know, DHP is a chrome extension.
Once downloaded, you should now have a green bulls-eye icon to the right of your address bar. When you hit the icon on a page you want to check the links for, you’ll get a screen like this:
Obivously, hit the “start scan” button to start checking for bad links. Here’s what you get when a check is finished:
I know there is a lot going on here, so I’ll break things down:
If you choose to export the broken links to a CSV, here’s what it will look like in excel.
Since this tool is called “Domain Hunter”, and since every link builder likes finding a diamond in the rough every once in a while, I think it’s appropriate to explain how I best use this tool to find abandoned domains, which, conveniently, I talked about last week. Here are a few places to start your hunt.
Since it’s nearly impossible to get a link from the Open Directory Project, why not snag a domain that already got one? Head on over, but before you get started, here are a few things you need to know/do.
You’re not the first one to do this.
Guess what? As great as this sounds, finding abandoned domains on Dmoz is nothing new. Heck, there might be better tools out there than Domain Hunter Plus, so keep in mind this won’t exactly be a home run for everyone.
Go broad, then broader.
If you’re a Geotechnical publishing website, don’t expect to find an abandoned domain on your exact category page. Actually, I checked, and (shockingly) there isn’t one. Since most of Dmoz is pretty picked over for this very reason, go as broad as possible in your niche. This is where Dmoz’s breadcrumbs are outstanding. Back track to a relevant topical category, then start hunting.
Use Google for opening all category pages.
Let’s go back to the geotechnical publishing website example. Lets say I backtracked to the topical category of Civil Engineering. First I’ll grab the URL of that category (http://www.dmoz.org/Science/Technology/Civil_Engineering/) and then I’ll plug that in to Google like this:
This will give me a list of every page in that category. Instead of clicking on each individual link and following them until you’re as deep as possible, you can do this to make sure you don’t miss any. In this example, I got 77 results. Now, here’s where we get really efficient.
There are a plethora of tools to open up a group of URLs, but I use a feature built into Chrome. First, make sure your search settings are set to 100 results per page. Then select all of the results by clicking & dragging over them, right clicking on one of the URLs, and then clicking the “Open URL” option like in the picture below.
Now you have every one of those pages open in different tabs. Note that some URLs will be broken (don’t know why this is) and some might not even be from Dmoz.org (I somehow got a few doing a search like this), but overall this is a great solution to save you a ton of time.
Go and run DHP on each page, wait 5-10 minutes for them all to get checked, and then sift through your results to see if you find any gems.
Also, don’t get discouraged. I spent a couple hours looking for abandoned domains in Dmoz, and I only came across 5, and only one of those was really worth registering. When you seem to can’t find one, keep looking, because when you do, it’ll all be worth it.
Outside of Dmoz.org, here are a few other high quality directories to try this same technique on:
Yes, I have found abandoned domains on all 3 of these. For BOTW and the Yahoo! Directory, some sites were added for free towards the conception of each directory, so the skeptics who say, “if it were broken, the site owners wouldn’t continue to pay!” are wrong. Although that might be correct for a lot of cases, you’ll still find an abandoned domain in there every once in a while. For the BBB, I’ve found abandoned domains, and I agree this is ridiculous (yearly fee is $599), but again, take advantage and don’t ask questions.
While those are the most credible sites that come with at least one high quality link, here are a few other old directories that you can hunt through too. While they don’t have the initial quality link that other sites you find through Dmoz, BBB, Y! Directory, and BOTW, already have, they’re still great places to hunt for relevant abandoned domains.
Just like any dead link checker, this can be used for broken link building. However, with the OSE metrics provided, you can now get a lot more creative with your BLB. I laid out a couple paths you could take.
Here’s a 4-step process to creating a master spreadsheet of broken links:
1. Find relevant (not broad in this case) directory pages on Dmoz, Yahoo! Directory, BOTW, etc.
2. Check those pages for broken links
3. Export all of the DHP reports as CSVs
4. Clean up the list (i.e. get rid of broken links to sites like directory.google.com, search.aol.com, search.yippy.com, etc.)
You now have a decent list of broken domains. These are entire sites that are no longer up & running, and ones that you can’t register the domains (if you can, then do so). Check each of the sites out to make sure they are in fact broken, because some of the directory listings could point to website.com/index.php when now the site is just at website.com/. It might be a little tedious, but it will be worth it.
Next, plug them each into Open Site Explorer and export them as a CSV. The “Download CSV” button is in the bottom right corner in the picture below.
Finally, take all of the CSV reports and put them on one spreadsheet. All you need to do this is some simple copying & pasting.
The end result is a long list of pages that have at least one broken link to them. Sort these by page authority and build links happily ever after.
Note that if you did this correctly, you’d have a list of pages with broken links that are relevant. This is key to BLB; if your replacement link isn’t relevant or similar to the broken one, then good luck trying to get the link.
Using advanced search queries, you can go straight for the top pages, but there are no guarantees of finding broken links. Here’s a quick 5-step process for this method:
1. Go to Google, allow 100 results per page, and start using the follow queries to find relevant links pages:
There are a ton of queries out there for this, but these are the ones I use the most.
2. Make sure you have the Mozbar installed to get OSE metrics for each result so you can pick & choose prospects.
3. Check each page for broken links.
4. Be on the lookout for broken links that have a high number of links to that particular broken URL. This number is the left one out of the two being displayed next to the domain registration info in DHP.
If that number is high, go to OSE and export the CSV to your master spreadsheet, or if you don’t have one, start one. These CSVs will be a list of pages linking to this broken resource.
Spoiler alert: There is a brand new tool that automates the first two steps of the above method, which will be released within the next 10 days right here on this blog. Stay tuned!
This tool is just weeks old as I’m writing this, so as expected, it’s not perfect. Here are a few problems I ran into:
Slow loading links stop the process at 99%
This is an issue I’ve had with other broken link checkers (most specifically LinkChecker for Firefox). When a broken link is found that loads very slowly, the entire process stops. In this case, these slow loading links are saved for last, so you’ll hit 99% and stop there for a while. In some cases, it never finishes. I’ve waited hours on occasion for a couple pages that never did finish.
As I said at the beginning, Check My Links beats DHP in speed. DHP still has its moments for being quite fast, but overall it can’t compete with Check My Links. It is, however, faster than LinkChecker for Firefox by a good margin.
Has trouble checking links on pages with frames
Here’s a good example. With Check My Links, it easily checks the links, but with DHP (at least for me) it can’t.
False positives on abandoned domains
I came across a few “abandoned” domains that had built up a decent amount of link equity just to find out they were in fact registered. It can be a little frustrating. The domain registration data could be updated on an interval basis (i.e. every 3 months), so that might be the reason.
As I said, the tool is brand spankin’ new, so flaws are expected. Don’t let these scare you though: the positives far outweigh the negatives. It’s not even close.
This truly is the link checker of 2013. The capabilities it has, and not to mention the fact that it’s free, is absolutely remarkable. As some of the kinks get worked out, and as new features are added, it’s only going to get better. For example, Adam Henige, the man behind it all, told me that in the future he’s looking to add the ability to see if the domains are pending so you can snag them via GoDaddy’s domain auctions.
I hope you’re as excited about this tool as I am. What you need to do now is:
Thanks for reading! Make sure you comment below to tell me what you think of this new tool :).