Link Building Checklist to Earn More & Better Links 2020

    If you want to rank well in organic search, you need links.

    Google has told us as much, revealing that links are one of the top 3 ranking factors.

    Quality links increase the overall authority and trustworthiness of a page.

    Quality links to multiple pieces of content regularly can increase domain-wide rankings with time.

    Not too long ago, creating links went through a few dark seasons where almost every link we built was boring and spammy. No personalized email, content not needed, and only a dab of brand mentions.

    Link building was all about quantity instead of quality.

    But then the term “link building” began to transform.

    We heard new terms like link earning, link giving, link acquisition, and relationship building.

    Link earning is about building relationships, being a part of a community, and developing content ideas that are actually worth sharing.

    This emphasis on quality, meaning, and engagement has restored balance to the link building universe.

    But you also need a diverse link profile.

    That’s where this link building checklist comes in.

    What follows is a recap of everything we will discuss in our link building guide so far, with tasks broken down by month and week.

    Rather than rehashing all the same information again, I’ve provided links to the relevant chapters of the guide so you can get more detailed information about whichever topics interest you the most.

    Happy link building!

    Do Not Pass Go Without Technical SEO

    Ask yourself these questions:

    • What happens when you build links to a poorly built website?
    • Can you rank a website based on backlinks alone?

    This might be my problem, but I’m willing to bet that I’m not the only one that leans to “nothing” and “no.”

    The colossal pool that is search engines fills up with fast, mobile-friendly, clean websites.

    Will Google rank your poorly designed website with high-quality backlinks?

    Or, will Google rank your fast, mobile-friendly, clean website with high-quality backlinks?

    Do the technical SEO work before you start to worry about backlinks. Or, work in tangent to get both done at the same time.

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    Plus, a webmaster is more likely to link back to your website naturally if it’s technically sound with clean user experience.

    Breakdown of Link Building Activities

    I created this handy yearly calendar of all the link building activities listed in the chapters below.

    Link Building Calendar

    Here is a link to the template. Please make a copy for yourself to edit.


    Here are the link building tasks I complete monthly:

    Backlink Audit

    Export a full list of your backlinks from Google Search Console. Then, begin to manually review the sites, adding irrelevant, low-quality sites to your disavow file.

    Update Disavow List

    I always review my disavow file quarterly. It’s a good chance to remove sites or add more to the list.

    Competitor Backlink Analysis

    Every quarter, I pull the backlink data for three of my top competitors. I analyze the data and build a list of sites that would be good for my clients.


    These are the link building tasks you should plan to do every month:

    Email Outreach

    Depending on the size of the site, I aim to pitch at least 10 new sites per month along with maintaining my ongoing editorial relationships. This also includes emailing websites I’ve mentioned or linked to in my articles.

    Brand Mention Monitoring

    Set-up Google Alerts or mention tracking to review competitor mentions, brand mentions, and even your CEO’s mentions are a good place to start.

    Guest Blogging

    Writing authentic, high-quality guest blog posts is a great way to earn links. The goal is to build ongoing content relationships with editors to maintain a monthly contribution.

    Content Syndication

    If you’ve for really amazing content, like Larry Kim-worthy style content, you can work with publishers to syndicate content that you’ve already written. Win-win!

    Testimonials & Reviews

    Testimonials and reviews are an untapped link building activity that is easiest done monthly. If you provide a testimonial for another brand, you could gain a link back to your website. Spread the love!


    Directories are not so outdated when it comes to gaining foundational links. After you’ve submitted your site, you still want to continue to monitor the NAP.

    Affiliate Links

    Growing a loyal, affiliate audience is another awesome way to start building links. Plus, your backlink’ers will add a little coin to their bank too!

    Broken Link Building

    An oldie, but a goodie! Broken link building is one of the quickest and easiest ways to gain backlinks. Finding a broken competitor link is like finding a burrito with your name on it!


    As we all know, content still reigns supreme. But, using ego bait, controversy, or data to create quality content that will generate backlinks naturally, is one of the best ways to use content to build links.

    Charities & Events

    Charities and events are another good way to build backlinks. By donating your time or money to charity, you’ll get lucky with a .org or .gov backlink.

    And, with events, you could co-sponsor an event. Plus, you’ll gain access to other sponsors that make for quick wins.

    Breakdown of Weekly Link Building Activities

    Week 1 & 2

    Link builder runs an internal backlink audit and competitor backlink audit to identify topics for different verticals of link building.

    Week 3

    Brainstorm article titles for creating content.

    • Send article titles to the client for approval.

    Week 4

    Prospect link opportunities.

    • Build out email templates for client approval.
    • Find opportunities for co-citation.
    • Outreach to 50 high-quality prospects.

    Week 5

    Start writing

    • Get the client to review content.

    Here is an example of my favorite link building spreadsheet.

    Ready to Acquire & Earn More Links This Year?

    Search Engine Journal’s must-read link building guide just got a major refresh.

    Our updated guide, Link Building Guide: How to Acquire & Earn Links That Boost Your SEO, will teach you effective link building strategies and how to do them right this year.

    Download it here.

    Forget about those old-fashioned (and ineffective) link building tricks.

    Today, it’s all about earning and acquiring quality links with a fully integrated marketing strategy.

    In partnership with Purelinq, Internet Marketing Ninjas, and Base Search Marketing, we created this ebook to help make every link builder’s life easier.

    This comprehensive guide will show you why, when, and how you should execute each link building technique to get the results you need to grow your business.

    Our Link Building Guide is divided into 39 easy-to-digest chapters authored by some of the smartest SEO and link building practitioners today, including James Brockbank, Anna Crowe, Andrew Dennis, Jessica Foster, Brian Harnish, Adam Heitzman, Jason Hennessey, Kristopher Jones, Julie Joyce, Jeremy Knauff, Julia McCoy, Jesse McDonald, Tom McLoughlin, Roger Montti, Brock Murray, Maddy Osman, Chuck Price, Kevin Rowe, Alexandra Tachalova, and Shelley Walsh.

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