Efficient Link Building With Planning and Tracking

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Every webmaster knows that you need a lot of links pointing to your website in order to get some traffic. Some of it comes directly through the links, and some results from improved search engine rankings.

There are literally dozens of ways to find and negotiate new links to your website. Unfortunately, not all of them are equally productive, and most of them are very laborious and time-consuming. So, it is hard for a webmaster to find a truly efficient mix of methods. Some website owners give up and only do link building occasionally, and some obsess themselves with a single method and stop considering anything else.

Recently, I decided to update my knowledge of link building techniques and find out which ones work best today. I did some reading, but then decided that wasn’t enough and started asking around in forums. I wanted to hear about real results from real people. That proved very helpful.

One online poll I set up was particularly informative. As of this writing, the results looked like this:

Link building poll results

You can see the current results and vote at the original DigitalPoint.com forum thread:
Proven link building techniques you use regularly?

Also, you may want to read an article I wrote based on that poll thread, as well as my other recent findings:
Top 10 Most Effective Link Building Techniques

With these poll results, I had some grounds to review my usual link building habits. But how could I be sure about the results? After all, it is natural that asking around in forums produces responses skewed towards social media.

Being the author of Web Tracking Guide, and having a habit to test and track everything before jumping to conclusions, I developed a method to track and optimize link building campaign performance that I want to share with you today.

Structured Link Building

The core principles of my method are really simple:

  1. You need multiple diverse link sources. You want to be safe if some of your sources stop working in future. Also, you don’t want search engines to see that all your links are coming from the same 10 domains.
  2. You want a steady flow of fresh links. Not only will this grow your traffic and restore what you lose from the old disappearing links, but this will also prove to search engines that your content is in demand today.
  3. You don’t want to waste your time. Why spend time and money on techniques that don’t work? Find the most efficient methods, and discard the rest.

The solution is also simple. Every week, you plan to find a specific number of links from each technique you use, and write down your actual results. I use a spreadsheet for this type of accounting – feel free to borrow my template:

Link building goals and results table

You can see several columns corresponding to different link building techniques. It doesn’t matter what techniques you start with – maybe just whatever you use today. Simply setting a weekly goal and tracking your actual performance will make you more motivated and improve your results.

Each technique has 3 columns: find, try and result. You fill them with the following numbers:

  • How many potential links you can find in a week using this technique
  • How many of these you can pursue (write an email, submit a form, etc.)
  • How many actual live links you receive as a result

How do you find the last number? I recommend two official tools for that purpose:

I personally like to also record the total figures from these tools in the same table every week. This gives me some sense of instant gratification to keep me motivated, and this is also useful for additional analysis in future.

Please notice that the last technique in my table is “something new”. That is not a placeholder. I believe it is essential to try something new on a regular basis. Then, you can add new permanent columns for new findings that work, and discard old methods that are getting less efficient.

You can adjust your weekly goals / expectations as time passes, and you learn more about your link building performance. All figures do not have to match perfectly. The main thing is to approach link building thoughtfully, and work smart rather than hard.

I hope my method will help you get better traffic and search engine rankings. Good luck!

Val Danylchuk
Val Danylchuk is the author of Web Tracking Guide - an easy, step-by-step tutorial on tracking and maximizing your online profits.
Val Danylchuk

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  • Dhirendra

    Proper planning and tracking makes you smarter. Press release is another good way to create quality content links and drive very good referal traffic.

    • Anonymous

      You’re right, at least 3 people also recommended press releases in that poll thread. Too bad I could not add new options to the poll.

  • Lovely

    Dhirendra as we discussing and u have point out here about press release its realy a good way to get some inbound links. Some of the press release sites are really good and if get links from their they will help to get rank.

    • Anonymous

      Yes, you have a valid point, links from PR sites are good in their own right. In addition to that, you can get syndicated on sites that follow them, and catch the attention of some journalist from big media if you’re lucky.

  • Motoare Electrice

    I never thought article submission was so important in a link building strategy.

    • Anonymous

      A lot of forum visitors at Digital Point come from SEO outsourcing shops which deal in article submission, forum posting, blog commenting and similar high-volume link building methods. So take these responses with a grain of salt.

      However, I recently had some good experience with article submission for my own site, and I confirm that it works, although not as good as 8 years ago.

  • Ewing Enterprise

    thats tough call between articles and commenting! I enjoy blog commenting alot more than writing articles! any good article writing services you use or recommend for making the process faster?

  • Anonymous


    Great post, as a linkbuilder it really does get difficult to keep track of linkbuilding efforts, especially if your not an “excel guru” haha.

    I have had real good results from article submissions, due to the fact that they get syndicated on other websites which help me find even more linkbuilding opportunities.

    One question I had was, do you recommend any software or tools to track linkbuilding?

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for your kind words! No, I do not currently use any special tools to track my link building, except Yahoo Site Explorer, Google Webmaster Tools, and that little table that I fill in by hand.

  • AlexRamadan

    I am really surprised “guest blogging” was so far down on the list. I guess it is one of the more time consuming methods but also one of the better ways to get quality links.

    Thanks for the study.

    • Anonymous

      I agree with you on link quality. I guess it is not so popular because not everyone appreciates the idea yet, and a lot of people have some sort of a mental block when it comes to writing. They perceive it as being harder than it actually is. Although I think if you have a website to promote, you should already have either writing skills or a hired writer.

      Also, a lot of people are focused on quantity rather than quality. I personally think you need both. I try to get quality links as much as possible, but I also do not discard the easier methods that pump up the total number.

      • luckychinatown

        i agree. guest blogging can bring quality links, and “mental block when it comes to writing” that’s really not a good excuse, cause i think article submission is also writing !

      • Anonymous

        Well, to be fair, it is easier to start with posting to article directories, because their editorial standards are much lower. However, when you get some experience with that, you should proceed to guest blogging, as it brings much better results.

  • Anonymous

    Yea Alex,

    Generally the more effort or time consuming the linkbuilding method is, the less it actually is being used by people or linkbuilders.

    And the best links to acquire are usually those hard, tough getting links that take time, relationship building, and hard work to acquire. But than again those hard to get links are absolutly worth it, if you have done your linkbuiding homework properly 🙂

    • Anonymous

      Yes, I think you nailed it regarding number of people willing to take extra effort. I think that actually, considering the amount of effort required for guest posting, it received a reasonably high score on this poll.

  • Anonymous

    People who have an opinion on the poll – please notice that it is still open, the link is right there below the chart, and you can add your vote, too!

  • Sherman Unkefer

    I’ve been doing link building the majority of the time to help build my PR and that seems to be the most effective. I think that was an excellent response to the poll. Thanks!

  • Thinkerati

    I would agree that PR is very productive in generating links. Furthermore, the resulting links are very organic and contextual as only interested parties would adopt the articles.

  • Michael Real

    The poll says it all and I agree on the results. The first three are really the effective ones to generate traffic. I had copied your template since it is simple enough for me and will just add some columns to suit my data. Very informative, thanks.

    • Anonymous

      You’re welcome, I’m glad that you find it useful.

      Of the first three, I still have to figure out how to use social bookmarking for link building efficiently. I had little success with it so far.

  • Florida SEO

    Cool post … I like the fact that you ran a poll to get a consensus

    • Anonymous

      Thank you! I really believe SEO community should share more real-life case studies, test results, polls and such. There is too mush guesswork and anecdotal evidence going around.

  • John Mendel

    In this generation, link building is very helpful to make one’s site visible. It is therefore important to have strategies in link building.

    • Anonymous

      I think you’re right, having a strategy for link building is really important. It doesn’t even have to be very sophisticated – the main thing is to think through all your options, plan ahead and verify the results.

  • Bruce Michael

    Nice post very informative.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you! Nice to know that you appreciate, I’ll surely share more knowledge when I have something interesting.

  • Manu T Raj


  • Justine

    Exactly the sort of information I was looking for, pity I’d already spent 60hours of computer time to understand what is explained so well here.

  • gantssoftwares

    wonderfull post, sounds great noted your work sheet to make a work followup in my duty.
    thanks for sharing, greatly helpfull.

    • Anonymous

      You’re welcome! It’s nice to see that you find this useful, hope this really helps.

      Good luck with your link building!

  • abanggun

    thanks for the information .. I never thought article submission is very important in link building strategy and HOW is appropriate for web posting articles gadget?

    • luckychinatown

      based on the poll, article submission is most used. i’d like to consider press release the same effect but more formal.

      • Anonymous

        Article submission is more popular than press releases because there are more free major article directories than PR agencies. Most PR distributors charge a fee, which can be from $30-80 to hundreds of dollars.

        Free press release services indeed have an effect similar to article directories. Paid distribution can supposedly get you published in major media outlets, but I don’t have personal experience to comment on how likely that may be.

  • Pipon Search Marketing

    Interesting post. I think I need to rethink on my link building strategy, Thanks

  • Navya

    Hi Val,
    Nice Post… I’m a newbie, the details regarding Link Building are really good. Now I clearly understood the importance of it. Thank You……

  • Navya

    Hi Val,
    Nice Post… I’m a newbie, the details regarding Link Building are really good. Now I clearly understood the importance of it. Thank You……