First, the jargon.
Back link: this is where a website links to your site; i.e. Site X has a link pointing to your site, so your site has a back link from Site X
One-way link: where only site X links to your site, but your site does NOT link to site X
Reciprocal link: where two sites have swapped links so they both link to each other
Anchor text: the text/description that is associated with your link on the back link site.
Page rank: Google’s proprietary system for assigning a value (from 1-10 where 10 is best) to the combined number and the quality of back links pointing to your site. Often abbreviated to “PR”
Search Engine Results Page (SERP): we use the terms “SERPs” to refer to the search engine results page, and the position of a site on it. So if a website has a SERP of 3, it means for a particular keyword search it appears on page 3 of the results. Note that some people use SERP to refer to the position on the page, so that a SERP of 3 may also mean the site appears at #3 on the first page.
Check you page rank and backlinks now! Quick and easy Page rank checking at http://www.quickpagerank.com/
So, what does it all mean?
In the online marketing world, Page Rank means a lot. Increasing a website’s PR is one of the major foci of online marketing.
The goal is to get as high a PR as possible for your site. PR is measured by a proprietary algorithm belonging to Google. What Google does is measure the quality of the site linking to your site. How does it do this? By measuring, amongst other things, that site’s PR. There is also evidence that the degree of relatedness of content is also important. If you site is an e.g. Real estate website, then a back link from a site dealing in scuba gear may not be worth much to you. But back links from sites that have good PR and are related to you (e.g. by industry or by region/location) are well worth pursuing. By increasing the number and quality of links pointing to your site, over time you will increase your PR.
Note also that many other engines also use back links as part of their SERP algorithm. Some may not be as sophisticated as Google, but many measure the number of back links in their index and use this as part of how they rank your site under a particular search.
You can check your back links and page rank at http://www.quickpagerank.com/
So how do I improve my Page Rank?
Firstly, make sure your site has good quality content. Make other sites and their owners want to link to you. Then get out on the web and start making propositions to other website owners in related fields.
Ideally, you will get links from sites that have a higher Page Rank than yours, but this isn’t always possible. What you should look for are sites that:
Have good content
Are relevant or related to your site
Have some Page Rank already (i.e. not brand new)
Also, older domains may do better than newer domains
Some of the do nots.
Be wary of FFA (Free For All) sites; often these do you no good and can actually do you damage as they tend to be viewed as spam sites by some engines.
Don’t “spam” your anchor text; make it relevant and don’t overload it with keywords or repetitions.
Vary your anchor text. Use different variations or re-writes of anchor text on different sites.
Make sure the page where your link will be placed has been indexed by the search engines. If it has not been indexed (or can’t be for whatever reason) then you won’t get any benefit from it.
Make sure that the pages you place links on have limits to the number of links listed. Single figures are ideal, but not always possible.