I just checked my backlinks in Yahoo (if others have some pointers on how to better check backlinks, I'm all ears).
My backlinks were just under 4000 showing IIRC. Now they're at roughly 5000. Of course that's not all real links. However, browsing the first three pages brought up two very pleasant surprises.
First, one of the .edu's I'd contacted (a professor) gave me a link from his .edu page. Never said a word.
Secondly, an industry expert/consumer advocate/talking head kind of person gave me an unsolicited link. I take back everything I ever said :), that's now the second time in 5 years someone with a decent site has linked to me without my asking, and the first time to this site.
And my rankings are starting to rebound. Not sure it's related to the link dev. or not, but I was #1 for my industry term (i.e 'mortgages') for a couple of years, then I dropped way down. Now I'm back to #2 again and hope to be back to #1 before long. that doesn't mean too much, I just use it as a yardstick. it's like I outrank ibm and dell for 'laptops' - probably doesn't bring in much traffic - but it does mean if I publish a page on 'compare netbooks' that I'll probably also rank on those terms.
so that's what I do - just type in my industry and see how I rank. How do the experts judge their ranking? Or do the smart ones just go by traffic?