5 Link Building Myths You Should Ignore


First of all let me apologise it has been almost a month since I last posted. I have been unbelievably busy on various projects and unfortunately the blog has had to take a back seat. However, you should now start seeing regular posts again 🙂

As I said, over the last 5 – 6 weeks I have been making preparations for various projects, some my own and others with Branded3. As I have been trying to devise a link strategy for these new websites it occurred to me there aren’t many SEO’s that are actually going to tell you how a site ranks in Google.

We all know a website needs links, but how do you get them? Where do you get them? What makes them good? What makes them useless? Unfortunately you’re going to get a lot of mixed messages in this area for a few different reasons;

1 – High profile SEO blogs (SEOmoz) have to say what they think Google want them to say, even when they talk about what I call ‘cheap SEO’ methods they always back it up with, “we don’t think this will work in the long term” meaning “we can’t endorse this, regardless of how well it works”.

2 – You then get those bloggers who simply repeat everything they read on the high profile blogs adding very little in term of their own experience.

3 – There are also those people who don’t want to get on the wrong side of Google so they keep things to themselves and attempt to discreetly push others in the right direction.

I unfortunately now fall into the bottom category… I posted a month ago on how links don’t have to be indexed to count and hinted at a site that might be using linking techniques with this in mind. Within a week of posting the website I ‘hinted’ at was removed and my site lost PR and all my site links (still lost now). I didn’t lose any of my rankings or traffic but I have seen this kind of activity before and it’s normally Google’s way of saying ‘be careful’.

I may be completely wrong but it all seems a little coincidental to me….. hmmm

Anyway, in a complete show of defiance I decided to post some of the biggest link building myths your likely to read online and many times from the most popular resources, let’s dive right in…….

You should aim for high PageRank Links


Because they pass more juice? True

Because they have more authority? Debatable!!!

The truth is what we know as toolbar pagerank is absolutely irrelevant when it comes to link building these days. I could launch a site tomorrow and have a PR5 by the next update by buying a handful of high PageRank links; this wouldn’t make my new spam site a good place to get a link from.

In terms of rankings for a keyword term toolbar PageRank is irrelevant – I have lost count of the amount of times I have out ranked a high PR website with a PR2 blog. Seriously toolbar PageRank is not going to help you on your way to top rankings, if that’s your link building plan be prepared to fail.

I am not saying you shouldn’t get high PR links, just don’t rely on them, you need a lot more to rank at the top of Google

Links that aren’t relevant don’t count

Absolutely laughable…… 🙂

Yes you should aim to get links from relevant websites with good authority but the fact that people say irrelevant links don’t count is a joke. My advice is, if you can get a link from a site, GET IT!! Yes look for relevant links but don’t refuse one because it isn’t relevant.

Links that aren’t indexed don’t count

Well I addressed this in my previous post, however for all those who hang onto Matts Cutts every word; “Just because we see them doesn’t mean their passing weight” & “just because there in webmaster tools doesn’t mean they count”.

Believe me or not when I say I have seen websites rank with as few as 6 indexed links for majorly competitive terms, all the anchor text ones aren’t even indexed.

This is what I believe – Google comes along crawls a new page, decides the page isn’t worth indexing but still follows the links on it and credits anchor text accordingly. I a firm believer that anchor text only counts the first time it is crawled,, What!!! I hear you say?

That’s right; I think all those people who look for social mentions and then run around asking people to change the anchor text are wasting their time. Let me give you an example.

– I have ranked for the keyword ‘SEO’ for the last 6 months in around 14th ish.

– Patrick at Blogstorm gave me a link in April with the Anchor Text “SEO consultant”

– My ranking for this keyword jumped to 3rd within a week

– 3 weeks after placing the link he changed it to just “SEO” for me to see the effect….. There wasn’t any

– I still rank 3rd for “SEO consultant” and my “SEO” rank hasn’t budged

So what does this mean?? Does Google only count the link the first time it is crawled? Does Google count links placed on a page after it has crawled it a few times already? Does buying links within old blog posts/news articles work?? My opinion is NO, don’t waste your money or time.

(By the way there are high profile SEO firms out there that will try and sell you this tactic, trust me when I say don’t waste your money, keep it for links within fresh content)

Link Buyers Get Punished

You know what maybe they do, however I have never seen it. In fact I could put a giant list together in the next few days of thousands of sites actively buying links, report it to Google and nothing would ever be done.

I know there are those out there saying they have seen a site punished, unfortunately I would want to know the website and see definitive proof that it was the links that caused the punishment and not some other error.

I’ll say no more on link buying in fear of being slapped by G (Don’t you just hate competitors that report you to Google just because they can’t get ahead of you in the SERPS?)

Google actively checks IP’s

I agree that Google could do this, but are they???

Again I have seen no evidence of it and regularly see websites ranking thanks to a nice IP linked network. They may check it upon a manual review but not on a bulk basis.

It pains me to say this but when it comes to SEO you shouldn’t believe everything you read, there are too many copy bloggers and others who are scared of being slapped. As you have read above I have my own suspicions about the readers of SEOwizz and Google connections but the way I see it is I am only telling the truth. If Google did punish link buyers then I would be singing a different song, if Google were more open about the anchor text signal there would be no need to speculate and dig deep into link data.

What Google have to recognise is that webmasters aren’t really bothered about what Google consider to be good or bad SEO, they only want to know what works. Google should put all SEO bloggers out of the picture and just start getting honest.

Sorry for the mass content on this page but it has been a while 🙂


is the CEO of Branded3 a Search Marketing Agency in the UK. Tim has over a decade of experience in Search and regularly speaks at key events and conferences.

39 thoughts on “5 Link Building Myths You Should Ignore

  1. Interesting read Tim, personally I agree with alot of what you have said. As Google evolves – which it seems to be doing rather alot – alot of the guidelines for link building that would have been applicable say a year or so ago are starting to matter less and less.

    I think it may be time for some new ideas!

  2. Good to have you back! And with a great post 🙂 To be honest because of all the waffle I still see everywhere, I try to keep to only a handful of of blogs/sites that I know I can get ‘real’ advice / tips from. Keep up the blogging – I thought maybe a ‘G’ hitman had got you as well as your sitelinks 😛

  3. Yes, I have done a lot of SEO stuff myself and have noticed that some of the most important and juicy ranking factors are simply not discussed at all on the popular sites.

    The people who know the good stuff don’t want to share it necessarily.

  4. Loved your rant. I was especially interested in the fact that just because a page isn’t indexed, doesn’t mean it doesn’t pass juice. However, I think I’m still going to use that as an evaluation point because if a page isn’t indexed, then how can I be sure that Google ever crawled it? (although I guess if it’s accessible, it’s pretty likely. They seem to have their fingers everywhere these days).

    I’ve noticed that link networks seem to be working pretty well. I wonder why Google would fall for that. Maybe now that they have a “caffeinated” index, they’ll be able to handle that.

  5. Hi Josh,

    I think the broad rules of SEO always stay the same and to be honest even the techniques haven’t changed all that much. I think people just need to get out of the mindset “I’ll do ABC and I’ll get top rankings” You have to do ABC then a little F followed by Y and Z then back to A. You should be aiming for a good mixture throughout all your SEO campaign.

  6. Hi Lee,

    No I aren’t quite on the radar yet 🙂

    I think its a good idea to limit your reading, or even if you do read a lot always try stuff out first and never take anything on face value.


  7. Hi David,

    Best place to look for good info is in the internet marketing forums, some of it is a little too black hat but the other stuff is pretty ok, the warrior forum is a good starting place.

    I think the high profile bloggers are SEO celebrities in there own rights therefore they have to keep Google on side.

  8. Hi Marjory,

    I think the idea behind the indexed links is like this; if you have a brand new site with 1 or 2 link pointing at it then getting a link from a deep page of a site like that is probably not going to be worth a lot, Google would probably not even find the page. However if you get a link from an establish website that is crawled regularly and has a site map, the chances are even the deep pages get crawled and even if Google doesn’t want to index them it will still follow the links on them

    So high PR hompage + deep page + anchor text link + no indexed but crawled = OK link, that counts

  9. Hey Tim,

    I am being very frank with you here.. Most people believe the big boys in this field and the big boys keep guiding these people in the IDEAL way, but you never know weather they themselves undertake the ideal way or no.. On Matt Cutts.. Ohh my god.. I don’t know when this guy will start giving us the true information.. most of his’s information revolves around not being spammy, but many spammers rank very high for competitive keywords.. I have also seen autoblogs ranking high for competitive keywords..

    I sincerely believe that our views match to great extents.. Brilliant information!!

  10. Rohit,

    Thanks for your honest comment. I have to be very careful what I say for many different reasons, however I am with you on the lack of real info, the big blogs like SEOmoz etc are good…. but they aren’t going to help you rank higher. Matt Cutts?? Seems a nice Guy but he knows full well he sin’t giving webmasters anything new, this is why the best SEO’s are those that go out and find themselves.

  11. Great post again, welcome back. There is one text passage I did not understand that much. Sorry for my question but english is not my first language but your blog is still my favourite. I totally agree with your points regarding my experience on the german market. Under “Links that aren’t indexed don’t count” you write in the conclusion that buying links on old blogposts or links within new articles doesn’t work? Can you go here a little bit further? In my last 3 years of SEO I changed articles with other sites (links included, non reciprocal), changed links with other sides on older subpages (which is simple link buying only with other currency) and it worked. So I cannot see your point here. Do you think this is a waste of time, or do you only mean that changing anchor text is waste time?
    Thanks for reply and greetz from Germany.

  12. Nice post again, I was also wondering if you had been taken out after your previous post, lol. By the way I recently saw a popular blogger basically vanish from the blogosphere after a very touchy post about buying links. The strange thing is, is that he said he was going to finish talking about a really revealing study in his next post.

    As far as unindexed links I find them helpful however they cause me grief due to the fact that I have a hard time figuring out why my site increased in the SERPS (being they are unidexed). Well anyway the changing anchor text thing is something I have never considered before.

  13. Hi Markus,

    If you have a blog your looking to buy links on and they are on old posts that have been written months ago and crawled many times by Google, going and getting a link on them is going to have very little effect in terms of ranking, it’s easy and obvious for Google to discover. If however you get a link from a frssh newly written blog post this will have far more impact on your rankings.

    If you have seen good results from getting links on older posts then that’s fine, after all SEO is about trial and error and what works for one site does not necessarily work for another.

  14. Hi Aaron,

    It is difficult to attribute cause to links that don’t seem to be indexed, however I think the idea when it comes to SEO is simple “get as many links as possible from as many unique domains as possible” , there are lot’s of bits around the edges but that is ultimately the link building formula.

    The changing anchor text is something I becoming more and more convinced with as I have seen it happen multiple times now, we shall see what the future brings.

  15. Hi Tim

    Interesting post!

    With regards to non indexed links being counted, I can imagine this being the case but would still think that the value passed would be relative to the fact Google chose not to index the page (i.e. Google didn’t think the page was good enough to index therefore any value passed through links will be minimal)

    And an interesting theory about anchor text only being counted once! I saw similar behaviour back when Wikipedia links still followed, we placed a link and got a first page ranking from nowhere, the link was then removed but the ranking stuck. I’m not sure it would be wise to base this theory on one example though, have you seen other behaviour like this on keywords less competitive than “SEO”?

    Cheers, Craig

  16. Great post Tim and it’s really refreshing to see an SEO making some honest posts . . . So respect is due. There’s so much s@*^ out there about SEO and it’s good to see someone dispelling some myths.

  17. Thanks,

    The reason there is so much garbage is because people hang on to every last word the top SEO blogs say, not realising they’re not giving them a full picture of SEO and how it works.

  18. Hi Craig,

    The non indexed links issue is interesting and am still trying to figure it all out, they definitely work but trying to measure how well is difficult. I have just launched a website and am trialling it with loads of low quality non indexed links to see how quickly it will rank 🙂

    I am absolutely convinced on the anchor text issue, have seen it across over 20 different web properties now and from links on some of the biggest websites in the UK, dare I even say the BBC??? 🙂


  19. Great article, thanks for sharing this. I have subscribed to your RSS feed and am looking forward to reading more from you.
    Keep up the good work and don’t stop posting please.

  20. What about buying text link placements (a new link being added) on the homepage of a site/blog? Will this be ineffective too if Google’s crawled it many times already and the homepage content isn’t updated often? Or is this old content issue only a factor for inner pages? Would renting out forum signature links be ineffective too?

  21. The less reading the better. Get out there and makes lots of mistakes. This is the best way to learn. Too many people spend time reading every last work of SEO blogs, never get time to implement it.

    For me, this is one of the biggest myths out there “Links that aren’t relevant don’t count” – couldn’t agree more. I want to throttle link builders when I hear it “all being about theme”. I have tested this with dropped domains and links from totally irrelevant sites work fine.

  22. Hi Tim,

    I have only been doing SEO for 7 months now, and you are spot on with this post.

    I am one of the many who being relatively new to SEO have taken in all this hype about relevancy and PR. Fortunately I am only just getting round to starting my linking campaign today, and this post couldn’t have been written at a better time for me. If you were here Tim I could kiss you, Thank you so much for your honesty in this subject. I’m sure I speak for everybody who reads your posts, in saying that both your time and effort are greatly appreciated.

    Best Regards

  23. Hi Luke,

    This is where I struggle to define my theory, yes I think homepage links still can carry substantial weight regardless of their age or how many times google has crawled it. Maybe if it is a very static home page and Google has crawled it 30 – 40 times with no change and suddenly there is a change, it’s possible this could carry less weight, however many modern websites and blogs have constantly changing home pages, where as post pages tend to be the same every time they are crawled.

    I would say that this adding anchor text to archive pages rule only applies to the deeper archived pages, only because this is where I have seen evidence of links having very little weight in terms of rankings, even when they have been on some of the most authoritative sites on the web.

  24. Hi Kieran,

    Couldn’t have said it better myself, reading is fine, it’s the reliance that’s the issue. Unfortunately the internet is terrible for information that is far from correct or accurate, if you want to know how to rank your website take a look at those who are doing it, the relevancy and theme may hold a little weight, however that doesn’t mean none relevant links are worthless!! By a long way in my opinion.

    I also love the old “Build something fantastic and tell people” myth, I have never heard so much rubbish in my entire life. I have been fortunate to work with clients with unlimited budgets, they have created something fantastic, they have utilised some of the biggest social channels on the web, they have had millions of visitors and are making excellent money from their product but guess what?? Despite this they are still funnelling hundreds of thousands every year into link building, consulting, conversion optimisation and optimised content. They have done the built it stuff but are still left wanting.

  25. Hi Sean,

    Thank you for your kind comments, it really does make the typing and spell checking worth it. Unfortunately most find themselves caught up in the hype and why wouldn’t they, the best blogs out there all do it, the problem is most of the big blogs are trying to sell you something they have to make SEO sound complicated and confusing, they also want to seem like they are on the same page as Google out of fear.

    The problem is by taking this stance there are a lot of people reading into things that aren’t necessarily true.

  26. Hi Tim,

    Enjoyed the post (as did Ontolo, which is how I arrived!). I agree with you about the big SEO names. I watch competitors rank with crappy directory-heavy link profiles all the time. Maybe not the best strategy but even Glen at Viperchill commented on the effectiveness of directory submission – “Yet, for some reason, they still work quite well for me” (http://www.viperchill.com/bulletproof-seo-strategy/).

    Directories ARE dumb, and you should certainly be pursuing good links in preparation for the day when Google pulls the rug out from under that strategy. But that day hasn’t come yet. Believe me, I wish it would.

  27. Hi Robyn,

    The issue I have with that “the day google pulls the rug” is that I have been hearing it for the last 3-4 years. At the end of the day Google needs some way of valuing links, it can’t devalue all directories, therefore it has to distinguish what makes a worthwhile directory and a spam directory, this is where it becomes blurry.

    I am not saying directories should be your SEO strategy, but should you use them at all?? Definitely, use them along with every other link building method you can think of, I have had the priviledge of working with some of the biggest brands in the UK with unlimited budget and influence. I have seen websites buy up high value web properties just for the link juice, I have seen companies spending thousands on high PageRank relevant links and guess what they’re still struggling to rank.

    Even the biggest companies on the web resort to cheaper SEO strategies in order to rank, Google will tweak and change slightly as it becomes more sophisticated however it will always rely on the link graph and while ever it does most links will be worth acquiring.

  28. The reason there is so much garbage is because people hang on to every last word the top SEO blogs say, not realising they’re not giving them a full picture of SEO and how it works.

  29. There are many other ways to work on and get the traffic from it as , SEO works on entire scenario fro bringing traffic.. I believe on socail networking and social bookmarking sites and some plugin on wordpress.

  30. Just posted this around the blueclaw office. The first pass anchor attribution is a MASSIVE thing if its correct, im now thinking of a way of testing this.

    Worthy of a repost on my blog too 😉

  31. Hi Mark,

    Thanks for the promo 🙂 The first crawl issue is massive and I am convinced it is correct. Personally I have tried it on a number of micro sites I own and at B3 we always look to optimise link profiles at the start of a campaign, however it no longer works. It really does have massive implications, is there any point changing links anchor text, is there any point placing links on archive pages? There certainly needs to be more tests and pls let me know if you uncover anything.

    Hope things are going well at Blueclaw

  32. No worries. Im setting up some test sites at the moment on new domains so will give it the green light asap.

    Im also testing Rands technique for using inline anchors to target multiple terms at a single page more effectively so will post about that later once the data is in.

  33. Hey Mark

    Could you let me know what technique you are referring to (from Rand). Was it anything to do with first link priority or multiple anchor texts on the same page, linking to another page, carrying weight for each of the anchor texts (that’s a mouthful).
    I find it difficult to keep up with all the blog posts, just checking if I missed something.

    Be interesting to see results on the first pass too.


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