Complete Link Building Plan

Link Building — If You Fail To Plan, You Can Plan to Fail

This article goes into detail about the value and necessity of having a link building plan in order to accomplish your SEO goals. We will discuss what exactly a link building plan consists of, what happens when you don’t have a plan, and how to prepare a link building plan for your website.

Table of Contents:

What Is a Link Building Plan?
What Happens Without a Link Building Plan?
The Benefits of a Well-Made Link Building Plan
Improved Efficiency
Increased Rankings
Better Relationships
The Elients of a Proper Link Building Plan
Backlink Analysis 1: The Competition
Backlink Analysis 2: Yourself
Moving Forward
How To Prepare a Link Building Plan
Conclusion
(Click any section title to return to the Table of Contents.)

What Is a Link Building Plan?

A link building plan is…well, it’s a plan to help you build links. That sounds simple enough, but in truth a link building plan is an extraordinarily complex document. It’s kind of like saying that an architectural schematic is a drawing that shows you how to build a skyscraper — it glosses over a vast amount of complexity.

The link building plan itself is a relatively simple thing; it’s a document that tells you what the best kind of links you can be building are, even down the level of how to contact major sites in your niche to obtain links from them. The amount of information that has to be processed in order to make those decisions is huge. A link building plan starts with careful analysis of your site, your competitors for each and every keyword you’re aiming to take over, and the complete backlink profile for each of those.

By looking at every one of those tens of thousands of links (every single backlink coming in to every single one of those sites), a professional will find holes in your site’s link profile and patterns in your competitors’ link profiles that can be exploited. Only then can he suggest what the best link to build at any given time should be.

What Happens Without a Link Building Plan?

When you do SEO without a link building blueprint in place, you risk running into a bewildering variety of problis. Here are just a few of the things we’ve seen our clients doing before they sat down with us and built a proper plan:

  • Spending thousands of dollars on SEO to try to earn the first place — when their competition for first place was a government site that had more than forty thousand high-PR .gov backlinks.
  • Purchasing the services of freelancers who built hundreds of completely identical links that did almost nothing to help their site’s authority.
  • Targeting the same keywords with their anchor text and LSI for several months after they had attained the number one spot for that keyword.
  • Targeting different keywords with every single backlink, not ever gaining significant pull with any given keyword.
  • Trying to compete with a site that had hundreds of very high-PR backlinks by building thousands of no-PR backlinks and wondering why it wasn’t working.
  • Getting scores of backlinks from websites that have no relevance to their core market.
  • Failing to check that the links they were building are still around three weeks later.

There’s more — many, many more — mistakes that people who don’t have a plan make on a regular basis. It might seem like you can do SEO on the fly, but there are simply many too many ways to screw it up.

The Benefits of a Well-Made Link Building Plan

On the other hand, when you DO have a solid link building roadmap showing you the way to move forward, there are several things that happen. Your business gets more efficient, you get better rankings, and you build relationships with other businesses in your market — all of which builds traffic (and thus sales.) Link building plans are extraordinarily beneficial in that regard.

Improved Efficiency

In short, when you have a backlink analysis of your competition and a backlink analysis of yourself, you know exactly what each new backlink you create should be. It should be something different from whatever both you and your competition already have. That way, it makes your site stand out while also increasing your own link diversity.

When every link you build serves multiple purposes like that, and you can plan out what links to build ahead of time because you have the plan written out right in front of you, you’re improving efficiency twice. First, because you’re not wasting any of your effort unnecessarily duplicating existing links (or links that have qualities much like existing links). Second, because knowing what you’re doing next prevents excess flailing.

Increased Rankings

Needless to say, when you are better able to diversify your link profile and ensure that none of your backlinks are getting penalized by Google for being too similar, it improves your rankings. More importantly, when you are able to see when it’s appropriate to focus on which keyword in terms of anchor text, you can focus on more than one keyword at a a time and rank for several terms at once.

A webmaster with a well-made link building blueprint will also find several areas of opportunity to use the internal linking capacities of his own website to better focus specific landing pages on specific keywords. Internal linking strategies don’t necessarily improve theoverall value of a website in Google’s eyes, but it can change the way specific pages rank. A clever webmaster can take advantage of that effect to target specific markets with specific offers based on the keywords they search from.

Better Relationships

When you have a link building plan, you have a list of several — usually dozens of — sites in your niche along with strategies for ingratiating yourself to them. The nominal intention is to get a link from their site to yours, but many of our more people-skilled clients have found that they end up sparking a relationship with that other site that can go on for years.

Having a solid relationship with some other sites in your niche can be hugely beneficial. Not only can you help each other out with news about your market or advice on internet business in general, but you may also find yourself referring business that isn’t quite right for you over to them and vice versa. Just don’t pick a direct competitor; that can cause more its problem than it’ worth.

The Elements of a Proper Link Building Plan

A link building plan comes in three basic parts. The first is an examination of what your competitors are doing. The second is a look at what your site already has going for it. The third is a step-by-step plan for moving forward. All three parts combine to give you a detailed idea of exactly what you need to do in order to claim your spot on the top of the SERPs for your chosen keyword(s).

Backlink Analysis 1: The Competition

When you do a backlink analysis on your competition, you use a variety of tools to learn where all of their backlinks come from. The reasons for doing this are several.

  • First, you can learn what resources they aren’t taking advantage of — that can give you the edge when you exploit those resources yourself.
  • Second, you can determine if they’re on top because they’re using blackhat SEO — if they are, you can turn them in to the search engines and get them sandboxed.
  • Third, you can find sites that are in your industry that your competitors are developing relationships with — and you can pursue relationships with those same sites yourself.
  • Finally, you can find out what anchor text your competitors are linking with, and from them you can extrapolate what keywords your competition thinks are worth ranking on. That can give you some excellent options for other search terms to be working on yourself.

Backlink Analysis 2: Yourself

Backlink Analyses on your own sites have a different purpose — they’re function is to make sure that your link profile is as ‘natural’ as possible, and that you’re focusing on an appropriate spread of keywords. Frequently, for example, our clients will discover that they’ve inadvertently used a single keyword for fully 33% of all of their anchor texts — in most cases, a pretty classic waste of effort.

Similarly, we might discover that our clients consistently turn in links during the same few hours of every week — that kind of thing seems suspicious to the search engines. We might also find out that 50% of your links are from directory submissions; that won’t fly with the search engines, either. A diverse array of anchor text links from a diverse array of sources posted at a diverse array of times from a diverse array of IP addresses — that’s the goal. The second backlink analysis tells us exactly where more diversity can — and should be — created.

Moving Forward

The last part of the link building plan involves building databases full of websites, including contact information for those sites. But they’re not just any sites — the experts who create these plans do careful research, finding only those sites that are the ones you would do well to approach and discuss linkbuilding with.

Not every site out there is appropriate for you to try to get a link from; part of the purpose of a link building plan is to make sure that only sites that meet specific criteria. Among those criteria are the site’s authority within your niche, its level of competition with your site, and its history of partnering with successful websites to assist one another.

The point is that a link building roadmap gives you the tools that you, as a webmaster, need to reach out and build honest connections with people in your industry who can (and are likely to be willing to) help you. We even include with some entries suggestions on possible tactics you can take to form a lasting connection with these other sites.

How to Prepare a Link Building Plan

Preparing a proper link building plan involves spending hundreds of man-hours manipulating several high-end tools to gather information about the backlinks in question. We utilize a combination of Yahoo! Site Explorer, Google Webmaster Tools, Open Site Explorer, Majestic SEO, Cemper Link Research Tools, and Market Samurai depending on the precise needs of our clients.

Once we get the raw data on backlinks for the clients’ site and their top three competitors for each of their major keywords, we start sorting. We look at a wide variety of factors including link diversity, link age, number of links from unique root domains, and dozens of minor factors to determine just how powerful the competition is, and then we write up exactly what we believe needs to be done in order to unseat them.

We then pour through all of the unique backlinks that the competitors have and we look for other in-niche sites that we believe our clients can ally with. We look at the ally sites’ needs and sometimes we do backlink analysis on them as well — all to try to find a way that we can give our clients an ‘in’ with them.

Finally, we examine our own clients’ sites for any problis they might have with their link profile, their internal linking structure, the sites they’ve already linked with, the methods they’ve used to build links in the past, and of course any basic on-page SEO issues that we can fix. The entire process can take our forty-man team nearly a week to complete, but the time and expense are well worth it in terms of ensuring that our clients dominate their target markets.

Conclusion

Make no mistake — building a link building plan from the ground up is a very significant undertaking. It takes a lot of time, and because of that, it generally costs a respectable amount of money. At the same time, it is virtually impossible to overstate the benefits of having a solid link building blueprint at your disposal.

When you are ready to commit to your site’s ultimate success, it’s time to stop taking shots in the dark. Get yourself a link building plan, and start every day knowing what you have to do in order to climb a little further up the ladder toward complete domination of your market.

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