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Fathom is correct, content and context are issues to consider. There are many things I like to think about when linking. First I have to look at my own set up and what I have established to handle linking on my site.
How will I process the links? A links page, a themed directory, one page one link [webmasterworld.com], and so on.
Do I have clear directions posted on my site with a well-defined method of communication in place? Do I have someone responsible for administering it? Ever heard the quote, “Too many cooks spoil the pot”?
Once I’ve thought that out and have all in place to handle things on my end I can start planning what I want from my linking campaigns. I may actually run different campaigns at one time. What I have found to work best is to campaign for a balance of linking from many avenues within my industry and target audience. I’ll remind you all again to read the posts I put together about industry [webmasterworld.com] and competitors [webmasterworld.com] research. There may be more than one industry involved if I’m offering product both wholesale and retail, and offering services. The audience can range as an example from manufacturing to management purchasing.
When I’m researching a new market for a client I follow many leads that wind through industries and cross boarders. It’s when I keep my ultimate focus in mind that I can do this and stay on theme. I let myself be picky too. Setting higher standards may require extra effort initially but the ultimate benefits often far outweigh those upfront costs.
You are asking whatson
what sites hold more value to rankings when linking to you?… What links are better?… Does it not make any difference?… does Google treat links from different types of sites differently?
Your first question really depends on how you define value. If you mean which of these links contribute best to increasing rank I still think it depends on a lot of things including PR but also authority, the anchor text used, whether it’s a dynamic or static link that is allowed to be followed or not, (we’ve recently discussed those things somewhere) and how Google or any other engine has determined to value themselves from where that link comes from.
We’ve talked a time or two about the importance of directory links from Yahoo and ODP, also controversy about Looksmart, you can search for many of those and still find useful information. I think edu links are hot if you can get them and often worth developing a campaign to bait from (hint: unique, fresh, well organized content).
The list really goes on. I look to associations and maybe in a few different target audiences, perhaps the manufacturing and a business management or procurement. Once I pay to join then I work them. Networking is so much more important than people seem to give credit to but linking is a conduit for that so I suggest folks really work it when they can.
I’m not sure that I responding to your questions well with this but it’s getting really long.