Link popularity is a winning factor in many campaigns to achieve a substantial boost in your rankings, however; with all good can come over-inflated and out of control manipulation (BAD).
The search engines will not be defeated for long. Those who think they can get away with something in the short term will generally come unstuck in the long term. Google recently changed their algorithm (end 2003) which has upset many website owners who relied upon Google results to provide them business. To me, that is ineffective marketing, which ever way you look at it.
Websites who dominated the rankings because of link popularity suddenly became unstuck and are now, nowhere to be seen. Websites with minimal popularity but great content and even those with little content and medium popularity have begun to dominate the rankings for their given terms. Many people blame Google, blame SEO's and anyone else they can blame. These are free rankings that your contending within, which are constantly being manipulated to use every inch from the system structure.
Users are not going to tolerate this for long if they cannot find quality content and products when they search. With this sudden upset and some minor tweaking by Google, the results will eventually steady and those who once dominated will still not be seen.
Many people, especially SEO's and Link Marketeers, get carried away with the websites that their link is going to be displayed upon. Yes, a website with wrong or illegal content and websites that blatantly abuse search engines editorial policies, a definite no no, but everything else is OK.
Another thing that I have found is people getting too wrapped up in what Google wants! It is well documented that Google is currently the major search engine on the Internet. Google is also the major search engine that keeps changing their rules because so many attempt to manipulate them. Remember this, Yahoo was the leader of the pack in 2001. Who next?
What about the other MAJOR Search Engines that deliver the other 50% or so of traffic? This leads people to become too choosy with who they will and won't link too. How about this! Link to whom ever you please within the above standards, and advertise your website as much as possible.
Whether your website is on a page with no PR or on a page with a PR10, pages change, link importance changes and every search engine evaluates different aspects to rank websites within their engine. Maintaining a high ranking is like changing your underwear; a daily requirement!
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