Remember the halcyon days of link building where you just submitted your site or article and had 100 links within 24 hours? They sure were good times. Unfortunately, for every SEO agency, those days are dead and buried, however there are some of us who still have bad linking habits that just won’t go away. How many times have you seen that easy link and thought, “Everyone else seems to be doing it, so I should too”? I reckon you’ve done it more than once, and if you have, then you better keep reading.

In today’s SEO world, building links has gone beyond just the link itself. It’s about getting a mention from a site that is relevant and trusted to help drive sales and traffic. For today’s online marketers it’s about looking for the right sites, the right people and getting rid of those bad habits that we’ve acquired over the years.

Directory Submissions

Not all directories are bad. However, they start to become a problem when you start placing your website in directories that aren’t relevant to your product or service. We all know how it used to be back in the day – directories would help the search engines fine the sites, and those links helped sites rank. These days search engines no longer need those directories, and sites with many directory links are being heavily penalized. The only time I would advocate using a directory for your business is when you know your customers are using.

What Google doesn’t like is free general business directories that have very little human quality control and are purely created for optimisation. They highly rate genuine directories that are industry specific; typically a directory that is part of an industry authority/education or awards provider, major industry event holder. They also like local business directories. These local business directories not only help for SEO, but they also drive organic search as these sites receive traffic, and help with lead generation. Example:

The key point to remember is that unless the directory is going to hold real value for your business, then stay away.

Those Generic Outreach Emails

Generally, a really bad outreach email is a generic one. We are living in a digital world where we can find information about someone with relative ease – particularly bloggers. When conducting outreach, an SEO agency will need to do their research and find out exactly who it is they are reaching out to before they can send an email. As the old saying goes “failing to prepare is preparing to fail” and there is only one chance to make an impression so make sure it’s a good one.

What you need to know when researching potential blog site:

– Who owns the site?

– What are their interests?

– How do they like to be contacted?

But more importantly, make sure that person WANTS to be reached. It’s hard enough trying to get a response to an unsolicited email, but if the person prefers not to be emailed, move on and find someone else who does.

generic outreach mails

Pro Tip: Don’t just outreach to try and get guest posting opportunities. Outreach unique content created from infographics, podcasts or videos that you create. It’s a unique approach and if the content is good, it will help you stand out from the competition. Not only that if they like the content they will post voluntary and this cuts down the back and forward communication to get the link live.


If you aren’t familiar with PageRank, it is used by Google to measure a page’s value. Our goal as link builders used to be about finding pages with a high PageRank to link back to our site. Link building services used to charge by the link but by the PageRank of that link too. So obviously it goes without saying that the higher the PR, the more that the link would cost.

Some questions to consider when evaluating a website are:

– Is the website reputable?

– Is the website’s author/s reputable?

– Are there good incoming links?

– Does the website have a positive online presence?

– Does the website have well written content?

Furthermore, PageRank is still an important part of Googles algorithm. The metrics we use now are domain authority (0-100), citation flow, trust flow and social influence to determine authority. These are much more reliable metrics to determine authority as they are looking at how much authority the site holds not just in terms of PageRank, but how important the domain is based on who’s linking to it (DA), who’s talking about it (citation flow) and who’s connected to it (social influence).

Keyword-Specific Anchor Text – Avoiding Over Optimisation



The original goal of including keyword-specific anchor text was to tell all the users and search engines what they would find on that next page. And of course, as SEOs, we would place our links on our target keyword text and our website would start to rank. Naturally, we then tried adding keyword-specific anchor text everywhere in our articles. Enter Penguin’s over-optimisation penalty.

Search engines are a lot smarter now as they have become better at correlating words with sites. No longer do they need us to tell them what they can expect to find on the page and they might not even need a link to know that a mention is about you.

The key to creating a natural linking profile, and maintaining it long term, is creating a profile that has a balanced mix of anchor text and not just linking to the site via keyword rich text links. The site should have a branded anchor text, links directly from the URL, be keyword branded and links from images.

With a balanced profile what you are doing is naturally creating authority through content, social shares, author biographies. Of course, at times, it’s natural to have links that are keyword rich.


Any SEO agency shouldn’t be afraid of link building. I understand it can be tough and overwhelming, but by creating a sound strategy that focuses on overall results, over a period of time, as opposed to building a war chest of links in record time, we can be successful as SEOs and will never live in fear of the next algorithm date.

Old habits die hard and it’s something that, over time, will disappear if you are head strong in your approach. So the next time you are thinking about submitting an article or sending an email about a guest post, think about what it is exactly that you are trying to achieve.

A good mental approach to link building is to think of it as a brand building exercise, and not just a link building exercise for an SEO agency. Connect with the right people online, build a community of people through the content that you create, a loyal group of followers who love the content that you create and will happily link to your content, or reference your material in posts they make on their own site. Be obsessed with quality content on your site, via your social channels and give your content and your knowledge generously. The law of reciprocity states, that give and you shall receive, and with link building this could not betruer.