For every SEO there’s a different link-building process. All of the good ones have a research phase.
In my work, the research phase typically comes AFTER the agonizing and brain busting strategy phase in which me + client determine who our target audience really is. It’s the difference between trying for links from gizmo bloggers and kitchen gizmo bloggers in the metro Atlanta area.
Then we create content that will resonate with the target audience (sometimes this is as simple as rewriting a press release; sometimes not).
Once we’ve got it figured out, the research phase starts.
(Some SEOs encourage folks to START with a research phase rather than audience identification – this is a great idea too because you’ll get some great brainstorms out of digging into a space.)
Here are some resources to help you along in your link building resource phase.
Link Building Research Links:
Long List of Link Searches
finding links your competition is using to rank well
Finding Link Sources & Building Topical Authority Links
Ten Ways to Earn an .edu Link
Finding the Most Powerful Links