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Hyperlink Reclamation: Easy methods to Simply Discover (and Reclaim) Misplaced Backlinks

Constructing hyperlinks is troublesome. Which is why it’s so irritating when hard-earned hyperlinks disappear with out warning.

Sadly, this occurs on a regular basis.

Right here’s a screenshot of a hyperlink to Ahrefs Content material Explorer in an article by The Hoth:

ahrefs content explorer link hoth

Hyperlink to Ahrefs Content material Explorer in an article on

It is a good hyperlink from a web page with a URL ranking (UR) of 22 that lives on a web site with a Area Ranking (DR) of 66.

However check out that very article now. The hyperlink isn’t any extra. It’s gone.

ahrefs source link not found

No hyperlink within the supply code at

That might certain be a pleasant hyperlink to reclaim, proper?

Sure. It could. Similar goes for the lots of of different hyperlinks we’ve misplaced in previous couple of months. Which is the place hyperlink reclamation is available in.

What Is Hyperlink Reclamation?

Hyperlink reclamation is the method of reclaiming misplaced hyperlinks. You had a hyperlink. You misplaced it. You need it again. So you are taking steps to attempt to reclaim it.

What steps, I hear you ask?

It relies upon why you misplaced the hyperlink within the first place.

Listed here are 4 frequent causes for hyperlink losses:

  1. The creator removes your hyperlink from the linking web page;
  2. The linking web page now not exists (404 error);
  3. The linking web page will get (301) redirected;
  4. The linking web page is now not listed in Google*

Sidenote. I’ve starred

that final motive as a result of it’s not not technically a misplaced hyperlink. It nonetheless exists. However as a result of the web page isn’t listed, it most likely isn’t going to be as useful.

Your job is to grasp the nuances related to every “motive.” Solely then can you start to take acceptable actions to reclaim the hyperlink.

I’ll speak extra about this later within the information.

Hyperlink Reclamation VS. Claiming Unlinked Model Mentions

Right here is an unlinked model point out:

ahrefs unlinked 1

Unlinked point out for Ahrefs on

Ahrefs is cited, however there’s no hyperlink.

You would argue that this ought to be a hyperlink. Through which case, making an attempt to transform this to a linked point out could be a type of hyperlink reclamation, proper?

Earlier than I began penning this information, I made this precise level to Tim, to which he responded:

tim slack link reclamation

Tim’s response through Slack

Thoughts. Blown.


You may’t reclaim a hyperlink you by no means had within the first place.

NOTE. Right here’s our in depth information to changing unlinked mentions to hyperlinks.

So this information is all about reclaiming misplaced backlinks.

Let’s get to it!

Easy methods to Discover (And Reclaim) Misplaced Backlinks

There are 3 ways to do that.

  1. Discover misplaced hyperlinks with Website Explorer;
  2. Discover (and reclaim) hyperlinks pointing to 404 pages
  3. Discover stolen content material (lacking an attribution hyperlink);

Let’s begin on the high.

1. Discover Misplaced Hyperlinks with Website Explorer

Website Explorer > enter your area > Backlinks > Misplaced

You’ll now see all of the backlinks you’ve misplaced throughout the previous seven days.

For, I see 572 misplaced hyperlinks.

572 lost links ahrefs

By way of the Misplaced Backlinks report in Ahrefs Website Explorer

However seven days isn’t a really very long time. Let’s use the drop-down and change this to the previous 60 days.

60 days lost links ahrefs

Now we’ve four,740 misplaced backlinks, sorted by the date misplaced (most up-to-date first).

professional tip

Do you need to see misplaced backlinks for a interval better than 60 days?

Attempt deciding on a date vary on the calendar.

lost links date range ahrefs

Date picker, through the Misplaced Backlinks report in Ahrefs Website Explorer

As a result of I solely care about pursuing “dofollow” hyperlinks on English-speaking websites, I’ll use the filters to refine the checklist.

lost backlinks filters

I’ll additionally type the checklist by URL Ranking (UR) in order that the high-authority linking pages rise to the highest.

lost backlinks ahrefs url rating

You’ll discover that we label every misplaced hyperlink with a motive for the loss.

4 of those align with the explanations I outlined above. However there are two different hyperlink loss causes we report on that you need to be conscious of, that are:

  • “Damaged redirect”: The linking web page and hyperlink nonetheless exist. However that hyperlink was reaching your goal through a couple of redirects and one in every of them now not works. So the hyperlink is now type of “disconnected” from the goal web page;
  • “Non-canonical”: The linking web page has a rel=“canonical” tag to another web page, which implies it’s now not a novel web page. So we don’t depend hyperlinks from it.

Beneficial studying: Understanding “hyperlink misplaced” causes (Ahrefs Assist)

Received that? Good.

Now I like to recommend exporting report back to Excel/CSV. That method, you’ll be able to filter by the hyperlink loss motive.

export ahrefs lost links

Simply make sure that to do a full export and tick the “Embody redirect chains” field—the explanation for this may grow to be obvious later.

Having this filterable export is helpful as a result of the hyperlink loss motive will dictate which steps you are taking to attempt to reclaim the hyperlink.

Let’s deal with the way to deal with the explanations for hyperlink loss one after the other.

1. Hyperlink eliminated

Let’s return to that first instance from The Hoth.

thehoth link removed

You may see that Ahrefs reviews the hyperlink loss motive as “hyperlink eliminated.” That is true. There was a hyperlink to us from that web page. Now it’s gone.

The query is why?

It often comes all the way down to one in every of 4 causes:

  1. They applied a brand new exterior hyperlinks coverage: search engine optimisation misinformation is a strong factor. A blanket ban on hyperlinks out to low-DR websites (e.g.,
  2. They refreshed their content material: We do that on a regular basis. We rewrite articles from scratch (e.g., our checklist of 75 search engine optimisation ideas), typically eradicating some exterior hyperlinks within the course of;
  3. They changed your hyperlink with one thing higher: Heard of the Skyscraper Approach? If somebody occurs to create a greater model of your linked-to web page, they are able to steal your hyperlink;
  4. They’ve a private vendetta in opposition to you: That is uncommon, however it may well occur. They may not just like the content material you’ve been placing out just lately. Or possibly you probably did one thing to bother them? (e.g., spammy outreach)

To determine which motive it’s, open up the linking web page in The Wayback Machine. You are able to do this by hitting the caret on the linking web page within the Misplaced Backlinks report, the press the hyperlink to

wayback machine lost links

Sidenote. You gained’t see the hyperlink seem in the event that they web page hasn’t been archived.

Now evaluate the archived model of the web page with the present one. Take a look at them facet by facet.

  • If a bunch of exterior hyperlinks have disappeared, it’s motive #1: There isn’t often a lot you are able to do about this. Blanket coverage is blanket coverage. You would attain out and attempt to educate them however I wouldn’t advocate it.
  • If the content material is totally totally different/new, it’s motive #2: They’re not being spiteful right here. They improved their content material and your hyperlink acquired eliminated within the course of. Likelihood is they didn’t even realise. See if there’s an acceptable place on your hyperlink within the new content material (trace: it MUST add worth). If that’s the case, attain out and recommend that they add the hyperlink again—simply don’t be pushy!
  • In the event that they’ve changed your hyperlink with one thing higher however every thing else is identical, it’s motive #three: Is the substitute hyperlink actually higher? Then it’s time to up your recreation. Attain out and ask why they really feel that content material is best than yours. Get suggestions, enhance. This may forestall extra hyperlink losses. They might even reinstate your hyperlink in case you can 1-up their substitute hyperlink.
  • In the event that they’ve fully eliminated your hyperlink however every thing else is identical, it could be motive #four: Construct bridges. Don’t burn them.

Simply don’t attain out with the entire “you deleted my hyperlink, can you place it again pls?” schtick. That gained’t reduce it. You might want to work out the actual motive why they eliminated your hyperlink and take any acceptable motion.

2. Damaged redirect

Right here’s a hyperlink that acquired reported as misplaced resulting from a “damaged redirect.”

broken redirect

These are reported within the Misplaced hyperlinks report if:

  • The redirect chain is damaged: You’ve a hyperlink from Website A → Website C → Website B, however what if the web page on Website C fails to reply? The hyperlink is misplaced resulting from a damaged redirect chain. The truth is, if any of the pages within the redirect chain fail to reply (together with the beginning and finish URLs), it will get reported as a Misplaced hyperlink.
  • The redirect now not exists (or is modified): Let’s say you had a hyperlink from from Website A → Website B however the hyperlink was first redirected by means of a number of different URLs (e.g., Website A → Website C→ Website B). If the linking web site was to swap this hyperlink out so it linked instantly, somewhat than going by means of a redirect chain, it will be reported as a Misplaced hyperlink. Similar goes if the ultimate URL of the redirect is modified to redirect elsewhere.

In order you’ll be able to see, these aren’t really misplaced hyperlinks.

What’s extra, these are generally reported due to non permanent points.

For instance, if, whereas crawling the positioning, we discover that one of many hyperlinks within the redirect chain doesn’t reply, we’ll report the hyperlink as misplaced. However in a couple of hours time, that unresponsive web site/web page might return to regular, so the hyperlink is now not technically damaged.

We simply gained’t “notice” that till we recrawl the linking web page. We’ll see it as a misplaced hyperlink till then.

The answer? Do that:

  1. Set up the Hyperlink Redirect Hint Chrome extension;
  2. Go to every linking web page;
  3. Find the hyperlink (simply seek for the anchor or pre-link textual content);
  4. Click on it

Did it take you to your web site? Good, the hyperlink continues to be working. (If not, preserve studying)

However even when it really works, there should be a prolonged redirect chain in place. To test this, simply hit launch the redirect tracer in Chrome.

link redirect chain

Right here, the hyperlink isn’t misplaced… however it does undergo one too many redirects.

It’s all the time value lowering the size of the redirect chain wherever attainable.

Oh, and in case you see any third-party websites within the redirect chain (e.g., or different related companies), it could be value reaching out to the positioning proprietor and asking them to hyperlink to you instantly as a substitute.

three. 404 not discovered

Right here’s a hyperlink that disappeared as a result of the linking web page now not exists—it 404’s:

gotch seo 404

Misplaced backlink from to our white-hat hyperlink constructing information, through Ahrefs Website Explorer

Wanting on the web page in Wayback Machine, I can see that it was an inventory of websites the place the creator (Nathan Gotch) was featured. Ahrefs was a kind of locations.

ahrefs link gotch seo wayback

I’d solely advocate pursuing these alternatives in case you suspect that the web page acquired deleted by chance.

The tell-tale indicators of this often are:

  • The web page has loads of inbound hyperlinks pointing to it: No one with an oz. of search engine optimisation information would delete a highly-linked-to web page with out redirecting it. So have a look at the variety of referring domains within the Misplaced Hyperlinks report. Are there tons? If that’s the case, then chances are high it could have been by chance deleted. Or, it could have been deleted by somebody with out a lot search engine optimisation information or entry to a software like Ahrefs. Both method, it’s value reaching out with a fast “Hey, Simply seen that your ____ web page is damaged. Did you imply to do that?” In the event that they didn’t, they’ll most certainly thanks for letting them know and reinstate it. In the event that they did, it could be value letting them know the search engine optimisation affect of their choice—simply attempt to not sound too condescending.
  • The web page continues to be being internally linked-to: You by chance delete an necessary web page and UX suffers. Inner hyperlinks to stated web page now not work, and guests are left annoyed by 404 errors. How are you aware if the web page is being linked-to internally? Take a look at the URL Ranking (UR) of the web page. If it’s excessive in relation to DR and the web page has no (or only a few) referring domains, it’s most likely resulting from inside hyperlinks.

Closing tip: if the positioning is linking to you elsewhere, it’s often not value pestering individuals in regards to the removing of a single hyperlink.

Simply let it go. It’s not value burning bridges over.

four. Noindex

Right here’s a hyperlink that disappeared as a result of addition of a “noindex” tag on the linking web page:

noindex lost links

You may confirm the presence of this tag by looking out the supply code of the linking web page for content material=“noindex.

noindex source search

The presence of this tag issues not as a result of Google doesn’t see or depend these hyperlinks. It is a frequent false impression. Google has publicly acknowledged that they do nonetheless see backlinks on no-indexed pages and depend them.

It issues as a result of if a web page isn’t listed, fewer individuals will come throughout it. And if fewer individuals come throughout it, fewer individuals will hyperlink to it (you’ll be able to’t hyperlink to a web page that you simply don’t know exists!).

The end result? Your backlink will nonetheless exist and be seen by Google. However it’s going to exist on a weak web page and be much less useful.

However right here’s the factor: lots of people add “noindex” tags by chance.

How are you aware if so? Two strategies:

  1. Test if their homepage additionally has a “noindex” tag: No one of their proper thoughts needs to de-index their homepage. So the presence of a noindex” tag on the homepage nearly all the time signifies that they’ve added a sitewide noindex tag by chance. Double-verify this by checking a couple of different pages, too;
  2. Look out for indicators of search engine optimisation: Why would somebody optimize a web page they deliberate to “noindex”? They wouldn’t. So if the web page exhibits any indicators of optimization (e.g., focusing on a high-volume key phrase, key phrase current in meta tags, and so forth), the likeliness of an unintentional “noindex” is excessive.

Did you see both of those two issues? Be useful. Attain out and provides them a fast heads up.

“Hey, Simply noticed a “noindex” tag in your web page about _______. Unsure in case you did this on objective but when not, you may need to repair it. Including this tag removes the web page from Google. :(“

If it doesn’t appear unintentional, go away it—don’t be a pushy jerk.

5. Not canonical

Right here’s a hyperlink that acquired reported as misplaced as a result of the web page is “not canonical anymore:”

not canonical anymore 1

You may see the canonical model of the URL by looking out the supply code for

not canonical anymore 2

Beneficial studying: What’s Canonicalization?

9 occasions out of 10, these are nothing to fret about. Typical causes for canonicals embody:

  • Canonicalization to HTTPs (from HTTP);
  • Canonicalization to a standardized model of the URL (e.g., with/with out trailing slash);
  • Self-referential canonical

In all of those situations, your hyperlink will nonetheless exist on the canonicalized model of the URL.

However generally, canonicals are indicative of a mistake.

Right here’s one in every of our current “misplaced” backlinks that took place because of a canonical tag being added to the web page.

not canonical anymore

Wanting on the supply code for this web page, I can see that the canonical factors to the weblog homepage.

blog canonical

Fairly unusual. The weblog homepage clearly isn’t the canonical for this URL—it’s a special web page.

Having checked out a couple of different weblog posts, I see that this can be a sitewide canonical. Each weblog publish has a canonical tag pointing to the weblog homepage, which is clearly an error.

professional tip

Need a straightforward technique to test the canonical “kind” for all reported misplaced backlinks?

Make a replica of this Google Sheet, export the Misplaced Backlinks report from Ahrefs Website Explorer, then filter the “Backlink Standing” column for “Not canonical anymore” errors.

Paste the referring pages into column A within the Google Sheet. It is going to inform you what “kind” of canonical has been applied.

google sheets canonical checker

Additional examine any with the label “Guide test required.”

Google is often good sufficient to determine this out and ignore the canonical. Through which case, this isn’t actually something to fret about. Your hyperlink nonetheless exists and the web page might be nonetheless listed in Google.

However it may well nonetheless be value reaching out to the positioning proprietor to allow them to know. It’s a useful factor to do and stands out as the catalyst to forming a relationship, which might result in extra hyperlinks additional down the road.

5. 301/302 redirected

Right here’s a hyperlink that acquired reported as misplaced as a result of the web page is “301 redirected.”

301 redirected link

You may see the place the URL redirects by visiting the web page. The browser will take you to the redirected URL.

Beneficial studying: What’s a 301 Redirect?

Very similar to canonicals, these are sometimes nothing to fret about. Typical causes for redirects are related too. They embody:

  • Redirect from HTTP (from HTTPs);
  • Redirect to standardized model of the URL (e.g., with/with out trailing slash);
  • Redirect to new location of web page (e.g., to

In every of those situations, the redirected URL will often nonetheless hyperlink again to your web site. So it’s not actually misplaced.

However generally, pages are deleted after which redirected elsewhere—this typically results in a real misplaced backlink. You may simply test whether or not that is the case by looking out the supply code of the redirected URL for

301 redirect source code search

No outcomes? The redirected web page doesn’t hyperlink again to you.

professional tip

Need a straightforward technique to test whether or not the 301/302 redirected pages hyperlink again to you.

Make a replica of this Google Sheet, export the Misplaced Backlinks report from Ahrefs Website Explorer, then filter the “Backlink Standing” column for “Redirected 301 moved completely” and “Redirected 302 redirect” errors.

Enter your area in cell A1 of the sheet labelled “Settings,” then paste the referring pages (from the Misplaced Backlinks report) into column A within the sheet labelled “Redirects.” It is going to present whether or not every ultimate redirected URL incorporates a hyperlink again to your web site.

link status spreadsheet

Additional examine any with the label “Hyperlink misplaced :(”

NOTE. This sheet is an edited model of the one created by The Tech search engine optimisation right here.

Right here’s a 301 redirect I discovered the place the redirected web page doesn’t hyperlink to us: →

ahrefs no link

I’d solely advocate pursuing these alternatives if:

  • The redirected web page incorporates an unlinked point out: This was the case with the instance above. By likelihood, it occurred to say Ahrefs… however there was no hyperlink. Such situations are unlinked point out alternatives and needs to be handled as such. Be taught extra right here.
  • There’s a transparent hyperlink alternative on the redirected web page: Would a hyperlink to a useful resource of yours add worth to the web page? Attain out and recommend it.

Nevertheless, if the redirected web page is completely irrelevant (e.g., an outdated weblog publish is now redirected to the positioning homepage), go away it and reduce your losses.

2. Discover (and Reclaim) Hyperlinks Pointing to 404 Pages

Are you an Ahrefs person? Then you definitely’ll know which you could entry Ahrefs Website Explorer at

However test this out: 4 individuals are linking to

4 people linking to 404

Overview for, through Ahrefs Website Explorer

That is a straightforward mistake to make. They clearly didn’t format the hyperlink fairly proper. The issue is that this web page kicks again a 404 error.

404 error ahrefs site explorer

Hyperlinks to damaged (404) pages like this are wasted hyperlinks. There’s nowhere for that hyperlink juice to go.

If we have a look at the Finest by Hyperlinks report in Website Explorer for and filter for 404 pages, we see that this isn’t a one-off both.

Website Explorer > enter your area > Finest by Hyperlinks > add a 404 filter

404 errors ahrefs best by links

404 pages on, through Ahrefs Website Explorer

I counted lots of damaged pages with a mixed complete of 1000’s of referring domains pointing to them.

Proper now, these hyperlinks are being wasted. However fortunately, reclaiming them is so simple as both:

  • Redirecting the damaged pages to their meant useful resource;
  • Redirecting the damaged pages to a special useful resource (and even the homepage, if it is sensible to take action);
  • Reinstating the damaged pages;
  • Reaching out to the linking web sites and asking them to alter the hyperlink vacation spot.

Be taught extra in our full information: Easy methods to Discover and Repair Damaged Hyperlinks (to Reclaim Precious “Hyperlink Juice”)

three. Discover Stolen Content material (With out An Attribution Hyperlink)

Individuals typically steal content material and take away/neglect the hyperlink again to the unique supply.

For instance, right here’s a unbelievable definition of the time period content material advertising and marketing from CMI:

Content material advertising and marketing is a strategic advertising and marketing method centered on creating and distributing useful, related, and constant content material to draw and retain a clearly outlined viewers — and, finally, to drive worthwhile buyer motion.

Let’s see what number of occasions this has been quoted utilizing the intext: Google search operator.

21000 results google operator

~21Okay occasions!

Right here’s one web page quoting the definition that doesn’t hyperlink again to the supply.

cmi stolen definition

You may view this as extra of an unlinked point out. That’s honest. However in my e-book, it’s a misplaced backlink as a result of the supply hyperlink (which needs to be there) has been eliminated.

However how did I discover this this anyway?

Nicely, I may have scraped these Google outcomes from the intext: search and pasted them into the spreadsheet to focus on unlinked domains. However on this case, I used Content material Explorer as a substitute.

Content material Explorer > enter excerpt of probably stealable content material

Having carried out this for the CMI definition, I acquired 458 outcomes.

cmi content explorer search

However right here’s the issue: we’ve no clue whether or not these pages hyperlink to the supply or not.

We may hit the “Solely highlighted unlinked domains” field in Content material Explorer. However this solely highlights unlinked domains. It gained’t inform us if the web page contains the hyperlink or not.

professional tip

Did you get loads of outcomes from Content material Explorer? It might make sense to prioritise the unlinked domains first.

It’s because there’s a transparent correlation between the variety of referring domains to a web page and the search site visitors it receives.

referring domains vs organic search traffic ahrefs content explorer 1

To do that, hit “Export” and go away the “Solely highlighted unlinked domains” field checked.

export unlinked domains

This provides you with an inventory of all unlinked domains in a spreadsheet.

After I did this for the CMI definition, I discovered 95 unlinked quotes on domains which have by no means linked to CMI.

95 unlinked definitions

To seek out that out, we would want to test for hyperlinks on a page-level.

You are able to do this manually. Simply open up every web page and search the supply code for the area in query (e.g.,

However that is time-consuming, which is why I like to recommend automating this course of. I clarify how to do that in my unlinked mentions information right here.

Now, I do know what you’re pondering…

“Josh, that is all nicely and good. However how do I determine ‘probably stealable content material’ on my web site?”

Good query. Right here are some things that are likely to get stolen with out attribution:

  • Definitions;
  • Quotes;
  • Stats/details/figures;
  • Distinctive ideas/concepts

For those who’re nonetheless struggling to determine such content material, you’ll be able to all the time run your net pages by means of Copyscape. You’ll have to do them one-by-one (except you’re utilizing their API), so I like to recommend beginning together with your hottest pages. The Prime Pages report in Website Explorer can assist with this.

Website Explorer > enter your area > Prime Pages

top pages report ahrefs site explorer

Prime Pages report for, through Ahrefs Website Explorer

Paste every of those URLs into Copyscape and it’ll search for stolen snippets throughout the net.

copyscape cmi

Sidenote. Watch out, as Copyscape does generally tend to chill some false-positives. Nevertheless, when you determine a snippet that seems to have been stolen many occasions, simply seek for it in Content material Explorer or utilizing an intext: search in Google.

Closing Ideas

Hyperlink reclamation isn’t a one-time course of. You’ll lose hyperlinks on a regular basis for a many various causes. It pays to commonly test for misplaced hyperlinks and reclaim any which you could.

It might even be smart to re-allocate a few of your assets away from hyperlink constructing and in direction of hyperlink reclamation. It’s because reclaiming misplaced hyperlinks can typically be simpler, much less time-consuming, and finally less expensive than constructing new hyperlinks.

My ultimate piece of recommendation? Decide your battles properly. Don’t attempt to reclaim hyperlinks that had been misplaced for good motive. Pursue these you stand likelihood of reclaiming.

For extra hyperlink constructing techniques that don’t require new content material, try this publish.

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