Why incoming links? First because these are what Google places the highest value on.
But, all incoming links are NOT created equal.
This 7 part course looks at the kinds of links Google values when "rating" your website in the SERP's.
Each type of link discussed is important to your overall link strategy and consequently your free traffic levels.
The first factor is of course the anchor text used in your incoming links.
The importance of the keywords used to link to your website are more important to Google than the content that is actually on your page.
You can generally use anchor link text with your keywords and not even have the keywords on the page and still get a good ranking in Google for that term if enough incoming links have that keyword pharse in them.
If you've heard of the phrase "Google Bombing" then you know what I'm talking about.
Basically it's when a set of webmasters or blog owners decide to get a page ranked for a certain term and all leave links back to the selected site with the keyword phrase that they want that page to rank for.
The most notorious example of this is the "bombing" done by several blog owners to the George W Bush biograpby page.
Several bloggers left links to the page containing the keyword text "miserable failure" and consequently this page turns up as the number 1 result in Google for the term, even though the words don't appear anywhere on the page.
The "Google Bombing" was done by at most a few hundred links with this link text pointing to the page.
Though more links would probably be necissary for a more competitive term.
Still, it goes to show how important link text is to the rankings of a page.
Google Bombing is nothing new.
But what many people don't realize is that Google places more relevance on the anchor link text that it finds when it first discovers a link to your website.
Each consequent link either adds value to that first impression or subtracts from it.
Many times you can control which link Google finds first just by knowing where Google goes regularly (like on a daily basis) and effectively placing your link in it's path.
This is called "baiting" the Google bot to visit your website through this link.
Each link you place after this initial link should further show Google that their first impression (or the first keywords it discovered that linked to your website) was and still is correct.
Each subsiquent link is a "vote" so to speak to validate Google's original impression of what your website is about.
Placing that first link to be found by Google is only the first step, but a very important one.
Choose your anchor text keywords carefully.
Each incoming link you place after this one should serve to validate this first impression.
Part 2 will discuss the appearance and disappearance of links over time and how they effect your traffic and search engine placement.