Links still matter as part of the algorithmic secret sauce. The influence of a site’s link profile is plain to see in its search engine rankings, whether for better or worse, and changes in that link profile cause noticeable movement up or down the SERP. An SEO’s emphasis today should be on attracting links to quality content naturally, not building them en masse. (For more on proper link building today, see http://bit.ly/1XIm3vf )
Donating your time or money to local charities, organizations, and schools is actually a great - yet often overlooked - way of obtaining backlinks. Such organizations often have pages where they promote sponsors and donors, giving you the opportunity to net a backlink from a trusted organization. If such an organization has a donors section on their homepage, that's even better!
In my experience this means (the key words are “not the most effective way”) a page not scored by Google (“e.g. my private link” – password protected, disallowed via robots.txt and/or noindex meta robots) whether using or not using rel=”nofollow” attribute in ‘links to’ is not factored into anything… because it can’t factor in something it isn’t allowed. 

The course work of a marketing program will consist of real-world and hands-on components, such as case studies of both successful and failed marketing campaigns, and simulated businesses marketed by students using the concepts they have learned. This will include diving into several computer programs like Adobe InDesign and Dreamweaver, as well as both free and proprietary website analytics software.
Thanks for sharing this, Matt. I’m happy that you took the time to do so considering that you don’t have to. What I mean is, in an ideal world, there should be no such thing as SEO. It is the SE’s job to bring the right users to the right sites and it is the job of webmasters to cater to the needs of the users brought into their sites by SEs. Webmasters should not be concerned of bringing the users in themselves. (aside from offsite or sponsored marketing campaigns) The moment they do, things start to get ugly because SEs would now have to implement counter-measures. (To most SEO tactics) This becomes an unending spiral. If people only stick to their part of the equation, SEs will have more time to develop algorithms for making sure webmasters get relevant users rather than to develop algorithms for combating SEOs to ensure search users get relevant results. Just do your best in providing valuable content and Google will try their best in matching you with your users. Don’t waste time trying to second guess how Google does it so that you can present yourself to Google as having a better value than you really have. They have great engineers and they have the code—you only have a guess. At most, the SEO anyone should be doing is to follow the webmasters guidelines. It will benefit all.
Ask for a technical and search audit for your site to learn what they think needs to be done, why, and what the expected outcome should be. You'll probably have to pay for this. You will probably have to give them read-only access to your site on Search Console. (At this stage, don't grant them write access.) Your prospective SEO should be able to give you realistic estimates of improvement, and an estimate of the work involved. If they guarantee you that their changes will give you first place in search results, find someone else.
I think Matt Grenville’s comment is a very valid one. If your site, for whatever reason, can not attract links naturally and all of your competitors are outranking you by employing tactics that might breach Google’s TOS, what other options do you have? As well as this people will now only link to a few, trusted sites (as this has been clarified in your post as being part of Google’s algorithm) and put a limit on linking out to the smaller guys.
More appropriately, blame Google for ever making the PageRank score visible. When Google first started, PageRank was something it talked about as part of its research papers, press releases and technology pages to promote itself as a smarter search engine than well-established and bigger rivals at the time — players like Yahoo, AltaVista and Lycos, to name a few.
Disney initially stated they wouldn’t exceed one million in donations, but ended up donating two million after the campaign blew up. #ShareYourEars campaign garnered 420 million social media impressions, and increased Make-A-Wish’s social media reach by 330%. The campaign is a powerful example of using an internet marketing strategy for a good cause. #ShareYourEars raised brand awareness, cultivated a connected online community, and positively affected Disney’s brand image.
And why not? Human beings have always enthralled themselves into one pursuit after another, all with a means to an end of improving our lives. Clearly, the conveniences afforded by the internet are quite literally earth-shattering to say the least. Three decades ago, few could have ever imagined the present state of our on-demand-everything society, with the ability to instantly communicate and conduct business in real-time, at a pace that often seems dizzying at the best of times.
As for the use of nofollow as a way to keep pages that shouldn’t be indexed out of Google (as with your feed example) is terrible advice. Your use of it on your feed link does nothing. If anyone links to your feed without nofollow, then it’s going to get indexed. Things that shouldn’t be indexed need to use either robots.txt or meta robots blocking. Nofollow on links to those items isn’t a solution.
Most schools / universities have just an [email protected]… or [email protected]…. email address, which goes to the reception. I don’t really know who to address this email to, as I believe a lot of the time the admin person receiving it ignore and delete it without passing it on to someone relevant, e.g. the school’s or universities’ communications manager. Hope you can help me on this one! Thanks so much in advance!
While ordinary users were not that interested in pages' scores, SEOs of a different caliber felt that this was a great opportunity to make a difference for their customers. This obsession of SEOs with PageRank made everyone feel that this ranking signal is more or less the only important one. In spite of the fact that pages with a lower PR score can beat those with a higher score! What did we receive then, as a result? 

Page Rank

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