Are You Still Using Outdated Link Building Methods?

The world of link building, just like digital marketing, is forever changing.  The methods that use to work for link building have quickly become outdated.  To help make sure you’re not still in 2011 when it comes to link building, here are 6 old strategies to ditch and what to replace them with:

Old: Repetitive Anchor Text

Once upon a time, you could build several links using the exact same anchor text for the keyword you were looking to rank for time and time again, and you ranked for it.  Slowly, Google started introducing penalties for this behaviour.  These days, you can’t get away with it.  The giant search engine doesn’t like unnatural patterns in your link profile and a heavy dose of one keyword raises suspicion.

If you think about it, links you naturally obtain are often using either the business name as the anchor text, the domain, “click here” or “their website” etc.

Pie Chart of Anchor Text Percentage

New: Vary your anchor text and concentrate on building a high-percentage of natural-looking links, such as your brand name.  On occasions, mix your brand name in with the keywords you are targeting.


Old: Link Exchanges

The original method of link exchanges was to create specific “links/resources/friends” pages and dump all of your exchanges in there.  The person you were exchanging thing would do the same on their site.  Hopefully you ditched this method a long time ago.  Having your link on a page with several others, some of them probably not even related to the site they are on, isn’t serving as a benefit to you.


New: Webmasters have been clever with their way of exchanging links more recently.  Exchanging articles with a link in the content has taken off and is a more sensible approach and one less-likely to get you penalised.


Old: Blogroll and Footer Links

For a short period of time, it became fashionable and effective to build links in the blogroll and footers of external websites.  Often, this included paid links.  In today’s game, having sitewide links in the blogroll and footer are often frowned upon by Google.  It’s rarely worth taking the risk anymore.  An exception being where you can get your link in a blogroll of a high quality website of course.Blogroll links

New: This method was replaced by building in-content links and is one of the most successful methods still working.  As with all links these days, get your links within articles from good, relevant websites, whether you attract them without much effort, or via guest posting.


Old: Article Directories

I was never a big fan of this method, but submitting articles into directories such as Squidoo, Ezine Articles and Hub Pages gave out some small link benefit at one point.  Nowadays they’re generally filled with spam and the amount of link juice coming from them isn’t worth your time.  And you’ll need to put a lot of effort into them to get traffic.  Google’s updates over the past year have also seen a number of these sites lose their own keyword rankings, which suggests they may have lost their value too.

Article Spinner

New: Instead of writing numerous articles for the sake of 1 link at a time, produce much better content that can attract links into your work that give you more link juice.  Doing this means you can put some of this work on your own blog to attract links, as well as writing articles for third party websites that have a link or two pointing back to you.  The phrase “content is King” is coming back into fashion.


Old: Directory Submission

Directory submission used to be the first-port-of-call for many link builders to get a website off the ground.  This was mainly because they were quick, easy links to get.  Easy for one, easy for all.  Submitting your website to low-quality directories these days is a no-no.  Especially if they are paid.  Google don’t like you paying for links remember.

If you’re in these poor directories, your link is likely to be placed amongst low-quality websites.  These could be adult websites, casinos, online pharmacies etc.  Do you want your link amongst those?  No you don’t.  Aside from the low-quality directories, there are a couple of human-edited, niche directories out there that can give you a tiny benefit.

Example of Directory Link Building

New: You’re probably only submitting to directories because you don’t have time or creativity to do some proper link building.  That’s when you may want to consider outsourcing it.


Old: Why You Shouldn’t Setup Social Profiles Solely for Links

Some social networks allow you to include a DoFollow link in your profile, and services such as KnowEm make it quick and easy for you to setup more than 100 social networking profiles with a link back to your site.

I’m unaware of this working as a link building strategy, but I’ve certainly come across instances of it being used to try manipulate Google rankings regardless.  This method really does not work and is not advised.  Think about it, your profile is likely to be just 1 of 1000s of other profiles on the site, so the quality of the link you are receiving from your profile is going to be filtered down substantially.  On top of that, if you’re not using your profile, you’re probably not going to have many followers and therefore a lack of links pointing to your profile, making it one of the weakest pages on the social network.

Example of Twitter link

New: Instead, sign up to all of the social networks you plan on using and use them.  If they give you a DoFollow link, great.  Social networks should be used in this way for social media and not link building.  By all means use them to get your content out as link bait.

Need help with your link building?  Call me.

PS – I hope you enjoyed the 90s clip art :)


Barrie Smith

Barrie is a very experienced marketer, with notable successful campaigns in the gambling, e-commerce, travel and many other industries.

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  1. it appears that you have placed a lot of effort into your article and i require more of these on the net these days. i only wanted to comment to reply wonderful work.

  2. Thanks for the tips Barrie! I would say guest posting is the best link building method that will never get outdated. So, try to write more guest articles and submit them to related blogs :)

  3. You cannot say that one type of link is bad. Back it up with facts rather than saying “I’m unaware if this works or not”. The only thing this article has done is made me comment, which is worthless really. For a website such as Receptional to give ‘advice’ despite not ranking for any decent keywords I would take all of this with a pinch of salt. Looking at your link portfolio, I’d say whoever is in charge of your own SEO has zero clue about link-building. I say that from experience and have many very happy clients.

    • Hi “Dan” (thank you for verifying who you are),

      Thank you for your constructive comment.

      What is wrong with saying “one type of link is bad” when we have seen that type of link negatively affect a number of sites in Google rankings?  Is that not the definition of “bad”?

      I did not say “I’m unaware if this works or not”, but I believe you are referring to my phrase “I’m unaware of this working as a link building strategy” in regards to the social profiles section.  If that’s the case, that was my way of saying I have never seen this work.  Not “it may work, it may not”, it has never worked.

      “Not ranking for any decent keywords”… we are ranking number 5 for “link building” right now, I assume you work for one of the top 4??

      What tool did you use to look at our link portfolio?  I may be able to get you a free month’s trial for Majestic SEO if you like?  With that, you’ll be able to see we have links from,,,,,,,,,,,,, and many, many more.  What more were you expecting, “Dan”?!?

  4. I agree 100% on social links. Join G+ and a few others and REALLY use em. You not only get juice, you meet other webmasters who may be willing to share some of your content.

  5. it’s hard to get high quality links for many of us, the other so called low quality links listed above are outdated now, it’s easy for google to identify the types of the links, like blog comment spams, blog roll links and footer links(which i still think works), profile links, etc.

    it’s more important that we focus on the content and inside link building, on the other hand, blog post, forum post links may still work.

  6. I agree that the widely known link building methods is an old time SEO and should be avoided. Let the inbound links grow naturally, keep posting and updating new and good content and then socialize, make new friends, spread the word in social media will benefit our website significantly.

  7. great article! and great breakdown old vs new. I think so many people are stuck in the past and are just hoping that the old stuff works and OCCASIONALLY see some of it work and just keep hammering away at them.

    manual blog comments can be a great boost as well. even no-follow blog comments I am seeing “recognized” by Google and have seen a wave of these boost many different sites in the SERPS in the last month or two.

    i do think that knowem can be good to handle the grunt work of seeing if your brand name is available but I think you are probably right: better to have active (real) social media accounts than stagnant social media accounts.


    • Hi Patrick,

      spam blog comment is a very old way to boost site, thousands of spam comments are there on every comments auto-proved post, they are all irrelevant to the topic.

      here i only talk about spam comments, can this way still boost the site observably? what’s your experience?

      Hi, Barrie, you didn’t mention the type of blog comments, this is a very classic and old way for both black and white seo, what’s your experience & research on that?

      • Hi,

        Thank you for your comment.

        Interestingly, on some recent testing I tried (albeit for a incredibly low competitive term), blog commenting got me on page 2 for a new website and remains there 2 months later.  Therefore blog commenting did not make this list.



  8. I agree that the widely known link building methods is an old time SEO and should be avoided and you should let the inbound links grow naturally.

    Basically you also need to invest time and money in CPC and let the links grow naturally !

  9. Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or one thing. I consider that you could do with some pics to drive the message home a bit, but other than that, this is great blog.

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