You See A News Story, I See An Opportunity

by Jon Cooper
NOTE: A lot of the 404s were corrected and now have redirects. I wrote this post about 5 days ago while they were still 404ing; I wanted to publish it immediately, but because of an unforeseen issue, I couldn’t get it out until this very moment. I still wanted to publish it because you can learn something from this example, regardless if this specific example is no longer a reality.


And this year’s biggest SEO screw up goes to… Digg!!

Not everyday do you see a whopping 14 million 404s on one website.

But after reading this post on the aftermath of the new Digg launch, I immediately saw something that most probably wouldn’t think about: that many 404s screams paradise to link builders everywhere. 

Operation Digg-404

So, if I had enough time on my hands, here’s what I’d do.

Step #1: Create a new site. It doesn’t need to be anything more than cheap hosting and a free WordPress theme. I do however advise you go to Fiverr and get yourself a custom logo, something like “The Digg Archive”.

Step #2: Plug www.Digg.com into Open Site Explorer and hit “Top Pages”. Seeing that the top 20-25 or so results are Digg.com/submit?something (active pages), you’ll need a PRO account. If you don’t have one, get the free trial.

Step #3: Find the most authoritative pages that are 404s, plug them into Archive.org, and attempt to recreate them on your site. Granted that it’s not actual content and that Digg is a voting site, it’s going to be a little difficult, but if you’re serious about this, you’ll do your best to recreate whatever content was on those pages.

Step #4: Do some outreach to the most authoritative websites linking to those pages. Let them know what happened at Digg, and that because the link they have to that specific news post is critical to their article, they should switch out the link to Digg with one to your recreated news story.

Do this as much as you want, but make sure you’re only recreating pages that have valuable links to them. For example, this page was a PA 85 and had over 9,000 links to it, but none of the links are really worth pursuing. The issue here is that Digg gets a ton of links, but not many are high quality.

Once you’ve got an amount of authoritative links you’re happy with, you can do whatever you want with your site with a simple 301. After that it’s up to you with how creative you get with making the most of that juice.

Further Applications

I just used Digg as an example, but you can do this if a content heavy site goes down (DoshDosh is a good example) or if a domain expires on an old, heavily linked to site. I bet there are other scenarios as well.

Possible Issues

There are two main issues you might run into when doing this. The first is the copyright of the brand. For example, if I bought DiggArchive.com, I might run into some legal issues with Digg.

Another is the copyright of the content on the page. If you recreate it in it’s entirety without the original site’s consent, you could be in trouble. So if it’s a heavily linked to article, consider going the route of rewriting it and making it even better.

Final thoughts

Broken link building is all about creativity and finding opportunity in messes like this. That’s why it’s by far my favorite link building strategy.

What do you think? Is this wrong & immoral or just plain awesome? Regardless your thoughts, (hopefully) this is going to stir up some much-needed conversation 🙂

This post was written by...

Jon Cooper – who has written 129 posts on Point Blank SEO.

Jon Cooper is a link builder based out of Gainesville, FL. For more information on him and Point Blank SEO, visit the about page. Follow him on Twitter @PointBlankSEO.

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  1. Anthony Pensabene says:

    Jon, you and Pete Attia.. mad linking scientists.. (that’s a compliment)…

    Immediately, the idea is creative and I dig your creativity.. Being one mindful of branding and orm, I might suggest, in a pro bono fashion, helping the original webmaster solve a short term problem.. maybe even passing the juice back to the og site once it’s back up..

    This reminds me of Shure’s “if I was doing SEO for..” posts. He’s gotten two clients from it thus far. If you did something like this, the link opportunity could turn into a client opportunity.. also, I think others would be impressed at the savvy nature of your solution and selflessness.. my 2 cents.. I’m glad you went ahead with the post..

  2. Takeshi says:

    Some sneaky ideas there. Whatever happened to DoshDosh?

    • Jon Cooper says:

      Good question, I’ve always wondered the same thing, and it looks like others have too. Just Google “Dosh Dosh” and a few posts come up on this topic.

      Thanks for stopping by Takeshi 🙂

  3. Tanner says:

    Probably not a technique I’ll use myself, but it’s definitely clever and creative. Every time I read your posts I think twice about how closed minded I’ve been when it comes to attracting/building links. Keep the ideas comin, I like it.

    • Jon Cooper says:

      Thanks Tanner! Thinking outside of the box is what I spend hours each day trying to do, so it’s nice to hear SEOs like you appreciate my ideas every once in a while 🙂

  4. MJ Monaghan says:

    I’ll admit, Jon, I don’t truly understand fixing the links. I just don’t have enough knowledge yet. But I subscribed to your newsletter and am enjoying your posts and information toward learning more. Thanks for sharing with us.

  5. Hey man,

    You could get around the legal issues by going with DuggArchive or spelling Digg with one G couldn’t you?

    With Digg re-branding themselves, I don’t think they would really care about the broken pages and lost PR as they could easily build it back up.

    Rather than trying to re-build Digg and channelling all the PR juice to the home page to then possibly redirect, a more viable tactic would be to find an only funny related picture/article and then host a similar one on your site and then contact the sites to link to your page instead.

  6. Rick Noel says:

    Very creative indeed Jon. Link building and SEO in general is more of an art that a science in my opinion and creativity seems to be the difference between OK link builders and great link builders. Your technique could definitely yield some interesting results and though it would take some work to pull off, it would make for a good tactic to get some links from some high authority pages on some high authority domains. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Ana Hoffman says:

    Creativity – yes, Jon, but also, of course, a lot of work; hence you are not doing it yourself. lol

  8. Ricky says:

    Hello John,
    I would like to know whether creating 1000s or 301 redirect from 404 pages to homepage is really worth? Even, I got a site with too many 404 errors. The worst part is that the site was completely deindexed from the SERP, but due to backlinks GWT is showing 404 errors. Even, all old posts are gone due to hosting issue (the site was down for almost 3 months and got deindexed completely).
    What should be done in such case? Should I leave te blog or try to revive it? The domain is 3 years old and has 55DA (not something to brag about)

  9. Nick LeRoy says:

    Great post Jon – Very similar tactic to the one you read and commented on from my site. (http://nickleroy.com/how-to-build-links-with-free-expired-content). This technique definitely carries its own risks but could be VERY valuable as you have described.

    What I would truly be curious about is how many links you would retain after a 301 redirect from the “archive” site is sent to a non related site?

    • Jon Cooper says:

      Yep, definitely got the idea from there.

      That’s a good question. Unfortunately when your site is unrelated and you start doing the 301s, value diminishes quickly, but for those in ultra competitive niches with few opportunities, this would be something they could explore.

      Thanks for the comment & tweet Nick 🙂

  10. Vince Lin says:

    I don’t get it – why would the webmaster want to link to your page again? They can just remove the link. This assumes the content from Digg you created was really useful?

  11. Haha. Nice one. You could use a service like http://pingability.com to moniter your competitors websites. If they ever go down, you can go to work, and swipe a few of their links. On a more benevolent note, you can moniter potential clients sites.

    You come up with the most creative ideas.

  12. Jane Fox says:

    This one really help me. A good marketing strategy for web developing. Gonna check out more topic about this one.

  13. Karthik says:

    It’s tactics like this that make SEO’s hated among the internet community 😉

    Who cares, though? Dog eat dog, they say… Right?

    Good post!

  14. Never found such informative articles

  15. Blog Tips says:

    Thanks for sharing this very interesting information………. your website is very nice with great tip.


  16. Soma says:

    Hey Jon, You are talking about 301 redirection link, can you please explain me when we can use it and also about canonical redirection.

You See A News Story, I See An Opportunity - Point Blank SEO