In today's world, there is much more to solid search engine listings than simply optimizing your site for keywords.

In order to keep searchers happy, search engines are always developing ways to make their results more relevant. In the last couple of years, tracking the links from one a site to another has become increasingly more important to search engines because they see links as an endorsement of a site by other Web sites. Think about it for a minute: Would you link to a site you didn't like?

This concept is referred to as "link popularity." Based on the links pointing to your site, the search engines either increase or decrease how relevant your site is for particular keyword searches.

Obviously, you want to increase your site's relevancy, right? Good. That's the goal here--to make sure you start building the right kind of links for your site in order to improve your search-engine results.

To this day, the best way to build links is still doing it by hand. Here are the steps you should follow when building links:

1. Set a Goal.

Link building takes a lot time and can be discouraging, but it is very effective and easy to do, so you want to keep at it. Setting a goal for the number of links you want is a good way to stay motivated through the process.

Depending on the sites you ask and your approach, your results will vary, but a general rule of thumb is to set your linking goal 4-6 times higher than the number of links you actually want to receive. You need to set your goal this high because most sites will not want to trade links for various reasons. Don't worry if they don't want to link--it's normal. Just move on to the next one.

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Craig Fifield is product manager for Microsoft bCentral's Web site analysis and submission service, Submit It!.