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Domain Hunter Plus – Next Generation Link Checker

by Jon Cooper
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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:

  • Open Site Explorer metrics of each dead link.
  • Information regarding whether or not the domain is free to register, and the ability to take you straight to GoDaddy to register them.
  • The ability to export all broken links to a CSV file.

Link building will never be the same again.

Let’s do this!

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:

  1. At the top the number of broken links is stated, and below that each one is listed.
  2. A black box underneath the URL lets you know if the domain is registered or not.
  3. Next to the domain notification box, two numbers are listed. The first number is the amount of links to the page, and the second is the total amount of links to the root domain. Click on the #s to go straight to OSE.
  4. You can export this data to a CSV by checking which results you want the metrics for.
  5. You can register the available domains by selecting the appropriate ones and hitting the “register” button. It takes you straight to the GoDaddy checkout page.

If you choose to export the broken links to a CSV, here’s what it will look like in excel. 

 

Abandoned Domain Hunting

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.

Dmoz.org

 

 

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.

  • www.chiff.com
  • www.pegasusdirectory.com
  • arakne-links.com
  • familyfriendlysites.com
  • www.awesomelibrary.org
  • www.domaining.in
  • www.stpt.com/directory

General Broken Link Building

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.

Option #1

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.

Option #2

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:

  • Keyword intitle:links
  • Keyword intitle:resources
  • Niche site:.edu intitle:links
  • Niche site:.gov intitle:links

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!

 

Room for Improvement

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.

Speed

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.

 

Conclusion

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:

  • Follow me on Twitter to get updates on the top link building news & posts from around the Web.
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  • Get access to my link building newsletter, which gives out some of the best, exclusive link building tips and strategies you can’t find on the Web. I can guarantee you’ll absolutely love Monday’s email; I’m giving out the best strategy I’ve ever used (no joke!). Oh, and no ads, sales pitches, or spam. I promise!

Thanks for reading! Make sure you comment below to tell me what you think of this new tool :).

This post was written by...

Jon Cooper – who has written 122 posts on Point Blank SEO.

Jon Cooper+ is an SEO consultant based out of Gainesville, FL who specializes in link building. For more information on him and Point Blank SEO, visit the about page. Follow him on Twitter.

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34 Comments
  1. Casey says:

    You had me at CSV!

    Great post Jon! Downloading the extension now, I can’t wait!

  2. Ben Jackson says:

    Darn I’m not going to even bother finishing my post on DMH :P

    Seriously though great post, the tip on getting the URLs straight out of Google is ingenious. This is going to help me kick it up a notch.

    I got a thematic domain with DA of 29 a few months ago – pretty good pickings for $10!

    P.S. Any tips for redirecting best practices?

    • Jon Cooper says:

      Use the wayback machine to find the content that was on those pages, and then make sure you put in a couple links wherever you can. Also think about linking out to some other pages that link to you.

      I say this, and I’m against 301s in some cases, because you won’t lose and value over time and it’s 100% safe. Also, as long as the content isn’t republish anywhere else, it should be counted by Google as original.

      Would love to hear your thoughts Ben!

  3. Adam Henige says:

    Thanks for the great review Jon. We know it’s not perfect yet, but hopefully when we get around to version 2.0 we’ll have enough feedback to make this tool even better. As always, great tips for prospecting here as well!

    And while I’m sort of the face behind this whole thing, I must also give some credit to our Director of Online Marketing, Jerod Karam – as his ideas were the starting point for DHP, and our pals at Nicholas Creative for bringing it to life. A team effort for sure. Please keep the feedback coming, we’re glad to see people are getting excited about this!

  4. Kane Jamison says:

    Killer Jon,

    Love the insight into how you’re tackling broken link building – definitely adding value to the link building conversation with these posts. Broken LB definitely works better with specific clients, though. I’ve taken on a new client recently that is perfect for it, but I’ve got a few other who it just isn’t right for.

    • Kane Jamison says:

      Also, Check My Links will timeout and freeze on huge pages. Domain Hunter just checked 5000+ links for me on a single page without blinking. Just added it to my link building resources list along with your post: http://www.hoodwebmanagement.com/resources/

      • Jon Cooper says:

        Wow! You’re awesome Kane :)

        Glad to know that DHP is outperforming CML in some cases. I have seen this a few times, which is great news of course, but it would be even better if it did it more often!

        • Kane Jamison says:

          I found the timeout point for DHP. If you try to run it on multiple tabs at once, only the first one or two will succeed. So, you can’t stack them up to complete in order, you need to start each one manually. Not the end of the world by any means, just an observation.

          Also, it has reported a few false positives for links that weren’t 404, but I have emailed Adam about it and I’m sure it’ll get worked out.

  5. Ben Johnston says:

    Nice post, Jon. The tool looks incredible – downloading now.

  6. I got so excited about this tool but it doesn’t seem to work that well. Found 4 domains not taken but when I whois them it shows they are all registered. Oh well, I will keep playing :-)

  7. Adam Henige says:

    Hi Richard. Yeah, definitely the biggest issue we haven’t been able to clear up is the false positives for domain availability. We wanted to roll this out for free and options for an API were few and far between. Hopefully we can get that to work a bit better in future incarnations. Thanks for giving it a spin and we appreciate the feedback.

  8. Devin Harper says:

    Excellent post! I find myself frequenting your blog more and more these days. Downloading now.

  9. Neil says:

    Cool – a new tool to play with in my link building arsenal. This blog gets better and better by the day! Keep at it Jon! :)

  10. Neil says:

    I don’t have the “open URL” option on Chrome. Has anyone else got this issue?

  11. Adam Henige says:

    Neil, I don’t have that option either. I’m wondering if this is specific to Chrome for Mac?

  12. Jon Cooper says:

    Oops! Didn’t know that was specific to just Macs :(. Try using the Cool wHip chrome extension to open up all google results at once, but for this extension, don’t show 100 results on one page; do 10, because if you do more, your browser might crash.

  13. Adam Henige says:

    I tried running Cool wHip but nothing happens, even with only ten results. Am I missing something?

  14. Adam says:

    I’ve used your suggestion of going to DMOZ. Out of the 7 dead links it found.
    3 are internal links to DMOZ
    And 4 aren’t actually dead links?

    Also the 1 it is showing as available for purchase is not.

    • Jon Cooper says:

      Adam, unfortunately finding abandoned domains in DMOZ isn’t easy! I found 2-3 in about an hour, checking well over a 100 pages.

      Again, there are bugs such as false positives, but the guys behind DHP are working on it Thank God!

      Really appreciate you leaving a comment Adam! Hope to see you back on the blog soon :)

  15. Adam Henige says:

    For those who are wondering, we’ve updated the plugin so there’s no more “scan now” button – just press the crosshairs and DHP starts running. We’ve also tweaked the timeout issue so there should be no more stalling at 99%. The false positives on the domains is still an issue, not sure if we can find a better API than what we’re using, but we’ll definitely take suggestions.

    Thanks for all your feedback!

  16. Darren says:

    Hi,

    Thanks for bringing to my attention this chrome extension, I like the concept however for me it is not really working well.

    On virtually every page I check I get a list of domains back which are apprently broken but when I check the domains manually they work fine. I may be mis-understanding the previous comments by Adam however the problem is not that it is telling me domain names are available to purchase when they are not, the problem is it is telling me links are broken which are not. In some instances every link it says on a page that is broken is not.

    I’m not trying to be too negative, I love the concept and if the above issue could be fixed it would make the tool very useful indeed.

    If you could also see the anchor text of the broken link on the page, and make the link clickable to double check that it was infact broken then I’d happily pay for such a tool.

    Darren

  17. Have you ever thought about turning off javascript/css/images when opening up all these pages?
    1) you can open more
    2) you’re not there for the gfx of the site, you’re checking the quality of the site based on the way you qualify a domain.
    3) just better, do it – like that!

  18. Keith says:

    This might just be in the niche that I am currently working in, but I am getting identical results from Domain Hunter on multiple pages in DMoz. As an example I did a search in DMoz and got a Domain Hunter report that there were 6 dead links found on the page. When then wne to to pages, 2,3,4,5 and so on the same “dead links” are being reported by Domain Hunter. I am wondering if anyone had this issue, and if there is a way to refresh or something the tool so that it will report new information on new pages.

  19. Vince Lin says:

    Just so I understand this Jon: The domain has to have a 404 error or otherwise abandoned…… otherwise you can’t register it and replicate the original linked URL, right?

  20. Dick Ingersoll says:

    I just went to download this extension and when trying to load it from the site, I’m told that I have to load it from the Chrome Store but when I search there, I’m not able to find the extension.

  21. Maximus says:

    Hey Jon! Awesome post man, did that tool ever launch that took care of step 1 and 2 of the option#2 you outlined above? If so, do you have a direct link that that page? Can’t seem to find it.

    Thanks!

  22. Joe says:

    Hi Jon, I was champing at the bit to try out this extension. Unfortunately it seems that Chrome now only allow extensions to be downloaded directly through Chrome Web Store and Domain Hunter Plus is not available there atm. I’ll keep an eye out for it!

  23. Adam Henige says:

    Sorry for the delay everyone, DHP is now in the Chrome store at https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/domain-hunter-plus/ifnkckdlnkmcmlmleoiofljanabhmjgg if you want to download.

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