Note: This post has been updated in Dec 2014
Incoming links is no doubt the most important factor that decides how your website is going to be ranked in the major search engines. No other factor is perhaps as important is as incoming links to your website. Why is it so important you ask? Well, because that is the way Google knows that your website has worthwhile content which made other people link to your site. When someone links to your website, it is counted as a vote in favour of your site. The more people link to you, the more votes you get in favour of your site. The quality of the sites linking also matters. If the sites linking to you are of higher quality, then incoming link has a higher weight age and is more valuable. A general rule of thumb you can apply is that the higher the Google PR of a page, the higher the value of the site in Google’s books.
This also raises the question that can a websites reputation be harmed if unfavourable websites link to them? That is, if willingly someone puts an incoming link from a not so reputable site to harm your reputation! Fortunately, most SEO experts would agree that this would have no negative effect on your seo reputation. This is for the simple fact that you do not have any control over who links to you. And since this can be used to harm someone, therefore, any unwanted incoming links will simply not have any effect at all. So that means either links will help you or they will not have any effect at all. Therefore, the focus should always be on the quality links.
Another factor that is of significance is that the more links you get from related websites the better. For example, if you have a travel related website then it would be better if most of the incoming links to your site are from travel related websites. The incoming links would carry more value this way as it shows that people from your industry has voted in favour of you by linking to your site.
All SEO Strategies involve around getting more incoming links to the site. However, the scenario has changed totally today and what was considered accepted some years ago are taboo today. Don’t even talk about it.
Some of the strategies used earlier involved techniques like link exchange – where you exchanged links with mutual consent; directory submissions – where you submitted to hundreds of directories without considering their worth or usefulness; guest blogging; press releases. Any and all techniques that could be used to manipulate artificial links. The mantra was, more the links the merrier.
In the age of Penguin, Panda, Hummingbird and other dangerous birds from Google, these techniques could sink your site to the bottom completely. SEO post Penguin & Panda and other Google birds, involve genuine links that others would give you without asking. That’s right. Create amazing content and let others link back to you.