I just joined your newsletter. I have two questions in regard to PageRank/link popularity:
1. If I include my website URL in the forums I participate in that are related to the subject of my site, will this benefit my PageRank?
2. If I include my website in blog sites on subjects that are relevant to my website content, will this help to raise my PageRank?
First I need to tell you that you're measuring the wrong thing! You don't need to look at increasing PageRank as it doesn't really affect your actual site rankings in the search engines, nor does it increase the traffic or sales to your site.
To illustrate this, search for any keyword phrase in Google and then look at the top 20 or 30 sites that show up. You'll notice that they're not even close to being ranked in PageRank order.
That said, links pointing to your site are definitely important, as they're still a big factor in how all of the search engines determine whether you have a worthwhile site. Therefore, any links pointing to your site have the potential of giving your site more exposure, which can also lead to an increase in link popularity.
I wouldn't recommend using other people's forums to gain link popularity as it's not going to win you any friends with the forum owners or most of the members. Forum links have been used to subvert the search engines' link pop. algorithms for years, so there's a good chance that the engines have lessened the amount of popularity that is spread by these types of links. Also, you may be interested to know that a good number of forum signatures aren't even spiderable or seen by search engines. In addition, a person "voting for their own site" through their own links probably wouldn't count as much as when other people vote for it (assuming the engines can tell the difference).
The same applies to blogs. I would not recommend posting comments on blogs in order to increase your own link popularity, as that's what's known as blog spamming.
The best way to gain links, and really the only way I would even bother with these days, is to make darn sure that your site is really and truly better than all the other ones that offer similar stuff to what you offer. You need to figure out what your unique selling proposition (USP) is and shout it to the world. This will garner you more links than you'll even need for link pop. purposes. (Yeah, I know that's hard and takes a lot of work. Such is life!)
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CEO and founder of High Rankings®, Jill Whalen has been performing search engine optimization since 1995 and is the host of the free High Rankings Advisor search engine marketing newsletter, author of "The Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines" and founder/administrator of the popular High Rankings Search Engine Optimization Forum. In 2006, Jill co-founded SEMNE, a local search engine marketing networking organization for people and companies in New England.
High Rankings is an internationally recognized search engine optimization firm located in Framingham, MA specializing in search engine optimization, SEO consultations, in-house training, site audit reports, search marketing seminars and workshops. High Rankings has a 100% success rate for substantially improving client rankings and targeted traffic.
Jill speaks at national and international conferences and has been writing about SEO and search marketing since 2000. She's been quoted in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report and The Washington Post. Her articles have appeared in numerous print magazines and online websites including CIO Magazine, CMS Focus, The Internet Marketing Report, ClickZ, WorkZ, Inc.com, Entrepreneur, Lycos Small Business, WebProNews, SiteProNews and others. Jill has also appeared on many online and offline radio programs such as Entrepreneur Magazine's E-Biz Radio Show, SearchEngineRadio and the eMarketing Talkshow.
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