When planning a link campaign it’s important to set some goals for the campaign so you can accurately track progress. You can’t just wing it. You need to be precise in how you target your campaign or else it will look artificial, or worse yet, spammy.
The best method for tracking your link campaign, as far as I’m concerned, is a good excel spreadsheet. You should track where you found the link partner, what date you requested a link, when the link went live, the URL of the actual linking page, link type, the advertiser network (if relevant), and the last date you checked the link. I found this to be quite useful when I had a text link campaign from a third party. We would periodically review the campaign to make sure the links were live and found that we were paying a lot of money every month for links that were no on sites even though their system told them they were.
As the link campaign builds steam it’s important that you maintain the same pace throughout the campaign. The number of link acquisitions in a period is tracked by Google and it’s best to keep the linking campaign on a steady pace with no spikes or lags in activity. This is why I keep a separate spreadsheet containing the number of links for a site on a given day and update that sheet daily. Using the data I’ve collected I have excel create a line chart of the number of links over time, then apply a trend-line to it to set a goal for the campaign. The trend-line will show if you are making the progress needed or not.
Another important thing to look at is the number and types of links that your competitors have. Once you’ve established what they have you can try to build a similar campaign. You should evaluate the number of links from each different PR, ie., 340 links from PR 2 pages, 400 from PR 0 pages, 65 from PR 5 pages, etc. The goal is to make your link base look as natural as possible, yet still competitive, to avoid unwanted attention from Google. Remember: All sites will have a number of “nofollow” links pointing to them. Best to keep that number on par also.
The last factor I’ll mention here is link decay. A Google patent application I read mentioned the fact that Google evaluates the decay rate of a site’s link base. You need to make sure that your decay rate isn’t too high. Link decay is when Google can’t find a link on a page anymore. This can happen when a blog entry that links to you moves off of the homepage and Google doesn’t see it anymore.
A sustainable link campaign is critical to long-term success of your SEO efforts.