Search engines have gotten increasingly better at determining the value and purpose of a link. It is to their benefit to place more value on links that are natural and organic, while weeding out all those links created solely to influence rankings. Who can blame them? We have all seen reciprocal links, three-way trades, link pages created in the name of "SEO", and link networks devalued in recent years.
I know myself and many others who specialize in link development are focused on long-term results. That is one reason we rarely jump on the latest and greatest link building bandwagon. In most instances, those techniques only provide temporary results. Most of us use good marketing strategies to develop links. Techniques and strategies that worked long before Google came about. Even link bait is nothing new. It is just an old technique with a new name to make it popular. Good link building is just good marketing. Take a look at three widely recognized link building experts Mike Grehan, Debra Mastaler and Eric Ward. They were professional marketers long before search engines were created. Now, they use those marketing skills for link development.
Now, take a look at most of the quick link tactics, schemes or networks. They have little to do with the founding principles of marketing and are solely focused on the link itself. These links are rarely intended to be viewed by people or clicked-on. When was the last time you clicked on 'Resource Page 9' on the bottom of a site? True, some link tactics still do work today. They may not in the future.
Once they stop working, you will likely see your site's rankings drop from the top 10. How much less traffic will come from being on page 5 or 15? Or perhaps you have been utilizing these tactics for a couple years now, and wonder why your site has not broken into the top 10. The reason might be your competition is focusing on obtaining high-quality links that real people see and click-on. They are working hard at promoting their site, and being rewarded with higher rankings.
Generally speaking, any technique that is easy, replicable and scalable will be devalued. Sure, a lot of people say - if it works, use it. Often when search engines make an algothrim change, it is these same people complaining about their lost rankings. Sites that are focused on obtaining quality links are the ones who see their ranking increase and endure in the long run. Plus, in the process they find alternative sources of traffic through their marketing efforts.
It is only natural for search engines to target popular link schemes, or artificial link building techniques. With the large number of people using them, it makes it easier for engineers to develop an algothrim for detection. Or, they may simply devalue the links from a network of sites by hand. Look at it from the perspective of the search engines: what can they change that will have the greatest influence on the overall quality of the search results? It only makes sense from a cost perspective to have engineers work on devaluing popular link tactics that are easy to detect and devalue.
For long-term success with link building and search, focus on marketing and promoting your Web site with an emphasis on obtaining links. It is an effective way to gain links, exposure and branding all at the same time. Plus the links obtained will have much greater value and trust. Move link development outside of your SEO or design departments and hand it over to the marketing department. Put it in the hands of the people who are already thinking up creative ways to promote your company.