Now we all know that there are plenty of link monkeys out there, and this is a necessary problem of SEO. We also know that many people criticise [often rightly so] the amount of people churning out hundreds of shit links month after month, but think about it for a minute ... as in the other analogy, what are the monkeys without the organ-grinders. Somebody tells them to do it, and somebody else [higher up] pays them to do it! The monkeys are just fulfilling a function in our 'industry' .... poor little lambs.
Yes I admit that many link monkeys are outsourced these days, therefore little quality control is instantly available. But again whose fault is that? Not the little monkeys, the manager or agency that made the decision, simples. Yes, lots and lots of rubbish links are handy for an SEO campaign to be successful [especially in a highly competitive market] but why do SEOs feel it above themselves to do the basics from time to time? There are too many SEOs out there who feel themselves above link building, maybe if they kept their feet on the ground they would know that [good] free links are few and far between on the interweb [no matter what that bizarre percentage Mr Cutts said a while ago was].
No, there are good links out there, but they have to be cultivated. Regular blog links are not 'dead' but they are weakened, however if a really good blog with relevant content and selective linking is applied [and the time taken to distribute & sindicate content] blogs can still be very useful. The idea that the 'anchor text is dead' is so stupid I won't even go further. That a link profile has to seem natural is beyond doubt.
These are not the traits of the average link monkey. They just do as told. Google has refined and refined its algo [how much attention do you REALLY think google pays to all those directories?]. The meta key words was too easy to key word stuff: gone. Weight of links can work if they are good, but I've seen competitors with many more links ranking nowhere. SEO, as I said takes time, forging relationships to get links from authority sources, a certain craftiness in looking for places to link well [which SEOs all missed out on the goings on in the Middle East to comment on disruption in <link>holidays in egypt</link>? ;)] on some major news websites. Oh and hey, let us not forget, fixing the site you are optimising for ... when they listen :( [precious b*****ds]
No, as much as the link monkeys get a bad press, they get it because they have bad [and lazy] SEOs and SEO Managers running poor formulaic SEO Campaigns, not thinking and not allowing their charges to think. When it comes to shit SEO and shit links: don't blame the link monkeys blame the link organ-grinders!
One last thing, if you want a good link from a good page, the first lesson should be - ask the webmaster nicely [they can only completely ignore you!]