Links play an important role in the ranking of pages by the search engines. This has led to a mad rush for getting the maximum number of links which have turned them into a commodity, which are bought and sold. Somewhere in between people have forgotten the true potential of inbound links. Eric Ward in his article says
Every web site has logical, natural and unique inbound link potential. There are links that any web site can get, and there are links that your web site can get that other sites will never get. Somewhere in-between lies the perfect inbound link profile for your site, for both algorithms and people. Over the past few years the mild mannered link has achieved rock-star status, as all major engines included some form of link analysis in their algorithms. The resulting frenzy to acquire links at any and all costs has been sort of fun to watch as well as vindication for me, the lonely link builder who has been at it since before search engines existed to count them.
The importance of unique content has been lost somewhere. More importance is being laid on the trade of links. Eric says that the approach of getting more and more for link building will definitely fail.
In 2007, I'm hoping, at least expecting, all the search engines get sophisticated enough to recognize the "signals of intent" that almost every link sends out, so the commoditization of link building will stop. Or at least slow down.
Search engines will give more importance to small number of links from sites which can be trusted upon and not the large number of links that cannot be trusted easily. Know the potential of your link and focus more on building a link strategy that can help in making your site different from others.