Many are now saying do not link to other websites Google has caught on. Duh.
The question should be caught onto what. A type of link farming where we realtors or even worse a website host is linking all of their clients sites together in hopes of ranking all of the sites higher.
The original premise of the internet was to link from one site to another. This has not changed. The activerain link from your website to Activerain will count way more for Activerain's site than yours or mine because their's will be from our home page. There link to us is way down through the Country, State, County and city on their site.
Activerain is not going to be punished for having so many links. Since Activerain has so many sites linking to them they have a Google PR of 6 for their homepage. All of the sites that are linked are about the same thing real estate, mortgage, staging or something fairly close. Activerain by a vote from each one of our websites to them has made them an expert in the field of Real Estate, Mortgages, Insurance, Home Inspections, Staging etc.
The long tail of blogging or web 2.0 is now considered one of the best ways to get links to your site. Hence a selfish plug. If you would like more info go to http://www.RandyLyon.com . (If the link does not work you can try and copy and paste it into your browsers address bar) You see now there is a link from activerain and my blog to my site. Links will continue to matter in so much as it will weigh on the usefulness of a site as determined by the algorhythm of the search.
What matters to search engines is link farms are being banned or at least devalued. We in the real estate industry are a conundrum to search engines because the competition we have between realtors is not fully warranted. We need each other. The listing agents need the buyer reps. The buyer reps need the listing agents. We see this in society not on the internet but in the way businesses market. We have legitimate reasons to promote each other. Referrals, organizations we mutually belong to. We are not unlike car dealers.
You may see a car dealer who proclaims to be a mega store. He has a number of dealerships sometimes under one roof and sometimes located next door to each other. One may be a Chevy dealer and the one next door is a Ford dealer. The dealer doesn't care which car you buy just so long as that he has captured the car buying public he has increased his chances by 50% that he has a car for that particular client.
We as agents do not care if we are promoting anothers website because not unlike the car dealer we would just like to sell our listing or have an associate sell our listing. I say continue to link but make sure the hat you wear is white and not black. Continue to provide rich content and links of relevance to your visitiors and you will be rewarded and not penalized for your efforts. IMNSHO