The PageRank of a website is determined largely by the importance, or popularity, of the site based on the PageRank of the sites linking back to it. You must take advantage of quality backlinks to increase the PageRank of your site.
What are backlinks?
Plain and simple, backlinks are links that point back to your site. They are links you have exchanged with or received from other sites, as well as links placed strategically by you in forum posts, blog posts and comments, and the resource box of submitted articles. The submission of your site to website directories also provides backlinks that are highly favored by search engines.
Ideally these links, especially those placed in your forum signature and resource box of published articles (see my related article "Your Signature - An Internet Marketing Goldmine"), will contain keywords in the text of the link to create "anchor text." For example, "Online source for anniversary gifts" instead of "Click here for online anniversary gifts". Placing keywords in the text of the link anchors your keyword(s) to your url rather than anchoring "Click here" to your url. Not only do you have a backlink to your site, you have created a link of higher quality that includes the keywords you are targeting in your overall marketing campaign.
Why do I need backlinks?
The number of quality backlinks linking to a site is one of the main criteria used by Google and other search engines to rank and place websites. This statement, written by David Austin in a Feature Column of the Monthly Essays on Mathematical Topics, sums it up: "The fundamental idea put forth by PageRank's creators, Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page, is this: the importance of a page is judged by the number of pages linking to it as well as their importance."
With this all-powerful statement from the creators of Google, the importance should be clear: you need backlinks to attract the robots that determine the importance of your website. The value of your page, your website, in the eyes of Google's robot lies in the number and quality of the links that it finds from other sites to yours. As the number of other popular, high-ranking sites find your site worth linking to grows, your popularity goes up along with your position in the search results.
In other words, quality backlinks are needed to entice search engines to stand up and take notice.
Backlinks are also helpful in leading visitors to your site. In this regard, backlinks are much like bread crumbs left by Hansel and Gretel to find their way back home. When your site is new, the robot will not place your site at the top of the results list immediately no matter how much time and effort went into the design and SEO of your site. Links from other sites that searchers are likely to find could lead them to your site if they look through the links page to find related products that might be available on your site.
In addition, links placed in posts to forums and blogs and the resource box of published articles have the potential of being seen and followed by thousands of visitors every day. If the forums, blogs, and article directories have high page ranks, you have more than just a link for visitors to follow, you have a quality link that will serve to increase your page rank as well as your traffic.
What are quality backlinks?
Quality backlinks are links from websites that have a higher page rank than your site, links from websites that have content or purpose related to your site (also known as relevance), links that include anchored text, and links that are built naturally over time, not a sudden increase in links just for the sake of having a high number of links.
Google has made it very clear that the importance of a site in the eyes of Googlebot is greatly influenced by the number and importance of the pages linking to it. In order to increase your PageRank, your website's importance in the eyes of search engines, seek out links from higher-ranking sites that have related content, include anchored text in your signature for forum and blog posts as well as your resource box in articles, and let links build naturally over time. These practices will be a valuable part of your overall marketing strategy.