Totally agree — more does not always equal better. Google takes a sort of ‘Birds of a Feather’ approach when analyzing inbound links, so it’s really all about associating yourself (via inbound links) with websites Google deems high quality and trustworthy so that Google deems YOUR web page high quality and trustworthy. As you mentioned, trying to cut corners, buy links, do one-for-one trades, or otherwise game/manipulate the system never works. The algorithm is too smart.
That type of earth-shattering failure and pain really does a number on a person. Getting clean and overcoming those demons isn't as simple as people make it out to be. You need to have some serious deep-down reasons on why you must succeed at all costs. You have to be able to extricate yourself from the shackles of bad habits that have consumed you during your entire life. And that's precisely what Sharpe did.
But, why do search engines care about backlinks? Well, in the early days of the Internet, search engines were very simple, and relied strictly on keyword matching. It didn’t matter how good the content on a website was, how popular it was, or what the website was for–if a phrase on a page matched a phrase that someone searched for, then that page would likely show up. That meant that if someone had an online journal in which they documented at length how they had to take their car to a “car accident repair shop,” then people searching for a “car accident repair shop” would likely be led to that page. Not terribly useful, right?
SEO is an effective tool for improving the volume and quality of traffic to your website. Visitors are more likely to click on free organic listings than on paid listings. Our SEO strategies apply only the best and most current practices that focus on the use of great content development, content marketing, social media. All of these strategies combined result in the most effective use of best practices that drive long term ROI.
The probability for the random surfer not stopping to click on links is given by the damping factor d, which is, depending on the degree of probability therefore, set between 0 and 1. The higher d is, the more likely will the random surfer keep clicking links. Since the surfer jumps to another page at random after he stopped clicking links, the probability therefore is implemented as a constant (1-d) into the algorithm. Regardless of inbound links, the probability for the random surfer jumping to a page is always (1-d), so a page has always a minimum PageRank.
However, before learning any of that, it's important that you get a lay of the land, so to speak. If you truly want to understand the field of internet marketing, Sharpe has some very good points. In essence there are four overall steps to really understanding internet marketing and leveraging the industry to make money online. Depending on where you are with your education, you'll be somewhere along the lines of these four steps.
You can confer some of your site's reputation to another site when your site links to it. Sometimes users can take advantage of this by adding links to their own site in your comment sections or message boards. Or sometimes you might mention a site in a negative way and don't want to confer any of your reputation upon it. For example, imagine that you're writing a blog post on the topic of comment spamming and you want to call out a site that recently comment spammed your blog. You want to warn others of the site, so you include the link to it in your content; however, you certainly don't want to give the site some of your reputation from your link. This would be a good time to use nofollow.
“Even when I joined the company in 2000, Google was doing more sophisticated link computation than you would observe from the classic PageRank papers. If you believe that Google stopped innovating in link analysis, that’s a flawed assumption. Although we still refer to it as PageRank, Google’s ability to compute reputation based on links has advanced considerably over the years.”
PageRank always was and remains only one part of the Google search algorithm, the system that determines how to rank pages. There are many other ranking factors that are also considered. A high PageRank score did NOT mean that a page would rank well for any topic. Pages with lower scores could beat pages with higher scores if they had other factors in their favor.
Well, something similar happened with PageRank, a brilliant child of Google founders Larry Page (who gave his name to the child and played off the concept of a web-page) and Sergey Brin. It helped Google to become the search giant that dictates the rules for everybody else, and at the same time it created an array of complicated situations that at some point got out of hand.