Link Building Guide – Creating Your Link Building SEO Plan

Building links towards your site is the basic idea behind ranking in search engines. Optimizing your web structure as well as your content should be done with care, as these are things we do once and modify only if necessary, but link building is an ongoing process that needs to be dealt with care.

Massive link building is not good; campaign link building is also not good. When we build links we need to think of link quality, link velocity, link anchor text diversity, which also goes for the do follow – no follow ratio. Actually there are plenty of things to keep in mind when building links for your website, which is why you need a link building SEO plan. It makes things easier and with time you will get better at it. Let’s go over the idea of link building step by step and help you create the link building plan for your website or blog.

link building guide

The first thing you need to consider is the type of links you need, brand links, anchor text diversification and placement. You also need to think of the no follow vs do follow ratio, going only for do follow links can hurt your site, no matter the popular belief. Keeping the 80/20 ratio is a great breakdown that will signal the search engines about your natural link profile. And of course there are the landing pages you need to consider, not all of us can benefit from linking only to our homepage, so make sure you identify your linkable assets right.

With all this in mind let’s go over certain things in detail, the things you should consider individually when creating your link building plan. The first thing to think about is usually the anchor text and the landing page. Make sure that each landing page has a few anchor texts to cover the natural link building side, also keep the 80/20 ratio in mind regarding do/no follow links.

After that comes the link placement. Google as well as other search engines have a value system for link placement. Links in sidebars and footer are least appreciated, the most relevant links come from the content, but like with everything else a good variety is needed here as well. So make sure you have a few footer links, don’t go just for in-content link types.

link building

To make your link profile even more natural you should also pay attention to branded links. Going for the desired anchor text is great, but too much can hurt, so make sure that you use company name as the anchor text here and there or just use the URL as you link.

There is of course the relevance to worry about. Now you don’t need to be really specific about this, even close relevance counts. In other words if you have an internet marketing blog you can get a link from an SEO blog or affiliate blog, both are highly relevant, but you can also get a link from a tech or web design blog.

So now you have your SEO link building plan, you know what type of websites to look for and what links to go for, the next step is to get those links and find real link opportunities for your linkable assets.

The first thing I always look for are competitor links. You can use SEO tools like Yahoo Site Explorer or Open Site Explorer to gather required data, or you can use advanced operators to look up your competitors manually. Going for competitor links will boost your link profile, but to rank up your competitors you need to find new links that you competitors don’t have, for that you will definitely need to do advanced searches.

Aside advanced link building you need to follow the simple lines that every website needs to have. The first thing is directory submission, although people tend to avoid this lately you shouldn’t. Submit your website only to a few but highly relevant or directories of high quality. That will give you brand links that will add to your natural link building profile.

Next step is blog commenting, this will add to your no follow link percentage. But don’t spam or post general comments, add value in your words and people might notice your comments and follow the links, which will lead to a certain amount of traffic each month.

The last things are guest posting vs article marketing and contacting webmasters. Article marketing can be beneficial for you, but the idea is to get quality articles submitted so you can hope for syndication. The second part of the article marketing strategy is submitting to various article directories, you will gain more from submitting 5 articles to various directories than submitting 5 articles to one directory.

Guest posting can be a great way to get the best possible links. By providing a quality guest post on a blog considered as authority in your niche you will get a quality link from the content that will be a great asset to your link building profile. You will also get direct traffic from that link. Needles to say, this is my personal favorite form of link building.

And the mother of quality links is contacting real webmasters. Now this is the tricky part and everyone has their own approach. The idea is to go for a personalized mail each time suited for the website you are contacting, going with templates stopped working a few years back. But then again, my guess, from a personal experience, is that most of your mails will be ignored, the only way to get such links is if you make some connection first. That can be done either by commenting on a certain blog often or through social media, in most cases people that don’t know you will ignore you, so keep that in mind before approaching webmasters.

The only thing left is to track your progress from month to month and tweak your link building strategy here and there. The only thing you should actively think about is the link velocity, so plan ahead the number of each type of link you wish to get from month to month.

This is pretty much everything your link building SEO plan needs to have. Remember that every website needs to have a personalized approach. Even the same niche websites will not benefit from the same strategy, so make sure you understand your own website, your landing pages, your audience and your market before you start implementing this knowledge.

About The Author

is the founder and CEO of Practical SEO and also a passionate blogger. All of his free time he dedicates to his Practical SEO blog and giving free advice as well as participating in the blogging community.

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29 Response to Link Building Guide – Creating Your Link Building SEO Plan

  1. Tweets that mention Link Building Guide – Creating Your Link Building SEO Plan -- on February 12, 2011

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Zarko Zivkovic, Zarko Zivkovic. Zarko Zivkovic said: Link Building Guide – Creating Your Link Building SEO Plan [...]

  2. Maria Pavel@CNA Training on February 14, 2011

    Hi Zarko,

    Excellent article! Following a link-building-seo plan is a very hard thing to do, it requires a lot of passion, commitment and patience with, of course, huge huge huge work. Following a schedule is always the solution for having things clear and in order. Following a link-building-seo plan is an excellent way to stay relaxed and follow a plan step-by-step, safe and steady. I totally recommend following Zarko’s excellent article about link-building. Keep up the good work!

    Best regards,


  3. Edric Wage on February 15, 2011

    Hi Zarko,

    Wonderful article. It is important, after doing SEO analysis, to have an organized plan on how to do offpage optimization.

  4. Danielle Lynn on February 16, 2011


    Excellent post as always. Other than article writing and blog comments, I haven’t been doing as much link building as I should be. I think I’m going to try guest blogging, press releases, and maybe a little link bait!


    P.S. Thank you for the visual element, helps us visual learners :)

  5. Mark @ TheBitBot SEM Blog on February 16, 2011

    Great article Zarko. You highlighted several key points that I have been trying to implement such as building a natural looking inbound linking structure.

    One thing I have been doing lately is as much deep linking as I possibly can. Personally, I have found that this easily and naturally tends to vary you linking text.

    Oh and by the way, I noticed that one of your favorite link building techniques is guest posting.

    If you get a chance, please stop by and do a guest post or two…I would be honored…:)


  6. Redouane on February 17, 2011

    Very good write-up, but I will apreciate if you elaborate more on “link velocity” on your next articles.

  7. Zarko on February 17, 2011

    Hi Redouane, I will. For now you need to understand that the number of acquired links each month is what we call link velocity. Google and other search engines tend to look at the number of links acquired in a certain period, let’s say you get 300 links a month for a single page and your competitor gets 600, assuming that the links are of some quality and not spammy, who do you think will rank better? The competitor, because he attracted more links, and to Google that says something, it says that he has better content that is more useful to his visitors. But, you also have to think of overall link velocity, for 3 months, 6, or even a year, if you suddenly stop with building links that will tell Google that you have stopped producing content and they will drop your rankings, really simple. Link building is a constant and ongoing process.

  8. Kyle @ on February 17, 2011

    This is great advice for linkbuilding for a company or client that has a positive or neutral reputation, but I’d be interested in your thoughts on white hat linkbuilding strategies for a company or client with reputation issues. Obviously things like Guest Blogging spots and even in content links are much harder to come by in these kinds of situations.

  9. Zarko on February 17, 2011

    @Kyle, that is a great idea for a new blog post :)

    Long story short, if it is just online reputation that is in question first fix the reputation, the rest will be easy. If we are talking about general reputation, well there is not much you can do, unless the company has a great budget to work on their image online and offline.

    Personally, i would start with a few press releases and a new look, re-design the website, come up with a better slogan and approach, do the whole 9 yards, and turn over a new leaf. maybe the company didn’t change but they have changed their look and approach, that can do miracles for your link building campaign, not to mention that it is a promotion on it’s own. So I guess you get the picture, hope it helps :)

  10. Felicia @ No Deposit Poker on February 21, 2011

    Hi Zarko,
    I have always been curious as to why other people make quality posts for other people’s site and not post it on theirs. It never really occurred to me that guest posting can be relevant as to creating, as you mentioned, best possible links. I think I will try considering guest posting as part of my approach into link building. Thanks!

  11. Maria Pavel@CNA Training on February 21, 2011

    #Felicia: Guest posting is also a good method to get some targeted traffic, not only backlinks. If you find good blogs for guest posting, go for it:)


  12. Zarko on February 21, 2011

    @Felicia, Maria gave you a perfect answer. It’s not just about link building and SEO, but direct traffic and exposure as well. By guest posting you are advertising your brand and establishing yourself as an authority in the field!

  13. Alex@gifts for wife on February 22, 2011

    Thanks for the detailing of what link builiding is, but commenting for this sole purpose takes a lot of time and work, what’s your opinion about buying batch links? They won’t be relevant, but few niches have relevant blogs (like SEO), so you’re not losing much.

  14. Jesica Wills on February 22, 2011

    Thanks Zarko, for teaching a wonderful link building strategy. Guest posting is the best link building method to get backlinks. Wonderful writing. thanks.

  15. Zarko on February 22, 2011

    @Alex, building quality links takes a lot of time, yes, but it pays off! As for link buying, unless you are well aware of what you are doing and you know the person from who you are buying links I would advise against it. there are plenty of things to consider when buying links, most of them will cause you more trouble then benefit, check this article I wrote:

  16. Alex@gifts for wife on February 23, 2011

    Zarko, i read most of that article and i understand what you’re saying, but i’m just wondering how big SEO firms build links when they have a dozen clients and they also have to do other optimizations, not only link building. It’s physically impossible to naturally build that many links. Don’t they buy them?

  17. Zarko on February 23, 2011

    Well, i can’t say for other companies, but no we don’t buy links. It is very simple in fact, let’s say that each big client has three people working on the link building. on is in charge of low level links, the other is in charge of articles, press releases, guest posts and blogging type of links, which are really valuable in content links from very good sites, and the third one is looking for real partnership sites, link exchanges, and sponsorships. So this is the basic concept, now, I don’t know what number of links you have in mind per month, but most clients are satisfied with 10 high quality links, which are followed by 20-30 article related links and around 100 LL links per month. Now, is that too much, or physically impossible like you suggested, not at all, in fact, I work on several websites during a month without any trouble! As for the on-page optimization, there are always a few dedicated team members for that, but once done there is not much to do there, while link building is an ongoing process!

    Hope this answers your question, there is no need for buying links when you know what you are doing :)

  18. Patel@Diabetes in dogs on February 24, 2011

    Most of people didn’t realase that link building requires a lot of work and a very good plan. Without a plan probably you will fail and this is the last thing you want. One good link building plan will keep you concentrate on the work and you will know where you are and if you have the results what are you waiting for.

  19. on March 1, 2011

    Zarko, you hit the nail on the head! I’ve talked with so many “so called” seo gurus that scoff at No Follow links. I’ve been building sites for many years and yes…Google does like to see No Follows. They create a natural link structure behind the site. 80/20 is a great ratio of do’s to no’s. Great post!

  20. Krish@ Cheap Eurostar Tickets on March 5, 2011

    Thanks for sharing such a wonderful and informative post regarding SEO. Being a ew member to SEO, it will surely help me.

  21. Nabil@cancer on March 5, 2011

    The strategy you shared in this post was wonderful. Too bad it can’t be applied to my MFA- and affiliate-websites! :)

    Nobody wants to link out to those. Sucks…

    /Nabil, from Sweden.

  22. Zarko on March 5, 2011

    Hi Nabil,

    This strategy can be applied to any type of site, trust me, I have worked in every niche with every type of site there is, and this strategy works, yes there are a few tweaks here and there, but the concept remains the same!

  23. Ali Mujtaba@Tinnitus on March 21, 2011

    Commenting is the most common way to get relevant link, but the most commonly abused too. But it’s more important not to only work hard for yourself, try to expose yourself so that others can help you too. One good example is guest posting for other famous bloggers. Their reputation can help you gain respect too from their visitors so grab all possible opportunities.

  24. Samantha@teeth grinding on March 30, 2011

    Link building seo plan is one of the toughest thing to do so you can get a positive result for your site. However, having an effective seo plan can also give you all the benefits that you wouldn’t expect in the long run. All efforts will pay off once everything is settled.

  25. Pratish@free on April 11, 2011

    Hello Zarko, thanks for mentioning some of the best tips for backlink building. I agreed with you that massive link building is not good at all. Never use any blackhat tools for backlink building for your main websites. I really learned from my last 4 years of SEO experience that ‘Slow and steady wins the race’

  26. Ed@WebMarketing Group on June 22, 2011

    Hi Zarko – that’s a pretty comprehensive round up of generic link building strategies. Have you got any plans to do a series of advanced linkbuilding tips? I’d be interested to share some views and techniques – what do you think to a guest post on the subject by yours truly? Tweet me @SEOGentleman

    @Kristoffer – that’s a nice document that you’ve created! I tell you what would be nice is to see a collection of task specific docs – a bit like what Distilled did with their excel series? Who votes for that?

  27. Saksham Talwar on February 7, 2012

    Well, I must say nice link building methods you’ve mentioned here. Among the methods mentioned here, my favorite one is guest posting, article marketing & blog commenting (to some extent) :)

  28. Anuj Sharma on March 16, 2012

    Thanks for this great information! I’ve recently started a blog, and working on the SEO side of things to get any type of search traffic whatsoever is very time-consuming. The ideas you’ve posted here give me areas to focus on to get the most bang for time/buck. I’ve bookmarked this post to refer back to! Very much appreciated!

  29. Bueler on April 12, 2012

    How long would you recommend before starting your backlinking plan? I am really trying to figure this part out since it can make or break your ability to rank. Some people say don’t build any links earlier than one month. It is hard to figure out which information to follow.

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