Quality versus quantity is a debate that has loomed over the link building stage for some time. It is strictly a well-guarded secret that link quality is, now more than ever, more important than the sheer weight of links a site has. The algorithms that the search engines use have evolved greatly from their first incarnation. Primarily the focus was on link numbers, sites with a greater number of links from any source were deemed to be sites of value. However, where it was once necessary to concentrate on building links you should now be geared towards building a link profile.
The web, according to Google and other major search engines is intended to be a holistic collection of informative websites. The sites themselves should not appear as though they are pampering to the needs of the search engine algorithms but instead, god forbid, bowing to the whim of visitors. Aside from over optimizing the pages of your site, having a link profile that appears unnatural is one of the most obvious indications that a site is trying to manipulate the algorithms.
A link profile is essentially one huge balancing act where (almost) everything has its place. Reciprocal links may not provide the value they once did but in moderation they can still benefit many websites. Similarly, while it will not do your site much better to have one thousand links from ten unique IPs, you should try to avoid having one thousand links from one thousand unique IPs.
So, the most sensible approach, then, would be to utilize various link-building techniques to optimize your link profile. Diversify your link portfolio. As well as submitting (manually, of course) to a hundred web directories try submitting articles to article directories. As well as a raft of one way inbound links consider a few well-placed and relevant reciprocal links with valuable sites. But always make sure that the link provides something genuinely useful to your visitors. Be an active member of forums and blogs, and always include your link in your signature. Syndicate content and submit it to syndication services.
These are all genuine ways to build links to your site and, therefore, optimize your link profile. Doing so will, in most cases, not only benefit your SEO efforts but it will also provide your inbound visitors with an easier experience, your existing visitors with quality resources, and your traffic stats should see an improvement too.
There's a lot to be said for natural links, and a lot of what is often said is that they are incredibly difficult to get. This is certainly true and in many cases, when other sites link naturally to our own site we do not have the level of control we would ordinarily demand. Do go in search of links to your website but do not concentrate on one single method.
When you're looking to diversify your links you should also attempt to diversify other factors. You may believe your homepage to be the most important page on your site but you should attempt to gain links to your homepage and deep links to the individual pages of your site. Initially, this may make it more difficult to rank highly for your keywords but you will benefit in the long run because you will receive improved results for a variety of topics.
Also varies your anchor text, always ensuring that it is relevant to the page it points to. It's a common mistake that many make when trying to optimize their page for a certain keyword to continuously batter that page with links using that one single keyword. Keyword synonyms, stems, and inflexions can all be used to great advantage and enable you to offer variety and sensible linking text.
When you first establish a site it is an understandable mistake to take any link going. After all, links can be at a premium with a lot of sites. However, it is important to remember that the decisions you make at the beginning of your SEO campaign can have an adverse effect for months or even years to come.