A while back an employee from a local business sent me the following email:My name is XXX and I work for ZZZ Company and I was wondering if you would be interested in linking to our site ZZZ.com and in return we would link to yours, which would give you greater traffic.Magic. All I have to do is link to them and they'll link to www.Timeforcake.com and suddenly I will have more traffic pouring into my site. Who knew that success was just one lodging link away? I sure didn't, and knowing this type of thing is my job.So, out of curiosity, I wrote back: Hi XXX. Can you tell me how your linking to our site will suddenly give us greater traffic?Within the hour I received the following reply:It will give you greater traffic through our website, and also will increase your organic searchablity in Google which is basically free advertising. When people search for a business like yours in Google, the more links you have the higher you are on the Google page.Seeing terms like "Google page" and logic like the link "increasing organic searchability" made me sigh. It appeared this company had tasked one of its employees with trying to obtain as many incoming links as possible after giving her a 15-second explanation of how search rankings work.We're not going to chat about techniques for improving your website's search engine rankings today. We are going to give a bit of thought to what this lodging company did and why I can guarantee their success rate was nowhere near what they were hoping.Tell me: If you received the impersonal, generic, mass email I shared above at some point in the middle of your workday, would you have dropped everything you were doing to update your site or send an email to your webmaster asking him to update your site and add their link? Not likely. Here's why:> It was an impersonal, mass email> Reciprocal linking is oh-so 2004 and is deeply frowned upon by Google> Even if you would have considered the offer, it would have taken brain power to think about where in your site you would have added your link> You're being asked to do a favor for another company when they've done nothing for you yet> You don't know where or how this other company will link to youWhile there's no iron-clad guarantee it will continue to be important as we move into the future of the Web, it is true that obtaining high-quality incoming links to your website is still a critical component of SEO. Preferably though, you offer high-quality content on your site so people want to link to you. No asking, begging or bribing necessary.If sending out emails to obtain incoming links is still a part of your SEO strategy, however, you're wasting your time if you're sending out mass emails like the one this Summit County lodging company sent to me.Don't waste your time. Instead, read up on these 2012 articles from the SEO experts on how you can effectively build more incoming links to your website:1. How to Find Authority Websites & Get Links from Them: http://tinyurl.com/8q7t6r2 2. 47 Resources to Carry Your Link Building Through 2013: http://tinyurl.com/c5vwj4m 3. 101 Ways to Build Link Popularity: http://tinyurl.com/ydz44c Erin Pheil is the owner of timeforcake creative media - the Web Design & Strategy company voted #1 in Best of Summit. Visit the timeforcake website at www.timeforcake.com or email Erin at firstname.lastname@example.org.