Every blogger knows the importance of being visible on the internet. This is why most of us blog in the first place.
One of the reasons why we blog regularly is to provide links to our websites. Links are a very important part of our SEO (Search Engine Optimization - as if you didn't already know that) strategy. One of the criteria that the search engines use to determine which sites are going to rate highly is to check the number of inbound links to the site.
Sites with a large number of inbound links are considered "authority" sites, and as such, rank well. There are other criteria that the search engines also use, such as the age of the domain, how many pages your site has, the consistency of fresh content (another reason why blogging is important), and traffic to your site among other ever changing measurements that they employ.
Links are one of the most important criteria. Visualize little virtual spiders endlessly crawling around the internet. They will land on a webpage, but they won't rest, they are looking to get out, so they find a link to another site and they crawl to that site. The more often these spiders find links to YOUR site, the more often your site will be indexed. The more often your site gets found through these links, the more important the search engines will deem your site to be, and will give it preference over similar sites that aren't as findable. These spiders never rest, they are crawling and crawling an ever expanding virtual universe. It is important to have links from sites that are indexed (spidered) often, and are themselves considered authority sites, otherwise these spiders don't stand a snowball's chance in July of finding your site. The internet is a big place. This is why blogging on Active Rain can be a very important part of an SEO strategy. Google, Yahoo and Bing LOVE Active Rain, and with such a large Real Estate membership, so they should.
I am a little guilty of oversimplifying this process, however, for the sake of making this understandable to most people, I have reduced this to the meat and potatoes. It's not all that complicated, but I have seen people's eyes glaze over when I start explaining, I think some of us don't want to hear or learn any more about the wild world of the interwebs, and have resigned ourselves to the fact that it's a complicated world controlled by absolutely brilliant yet somewhat malicious young people who enjoy trying to confound us oldsters.
If you are curious as to how many sites link to your site, you can use any of a number of free backlink checkers on the internet. One such tool is Backlink Watch. You can go there and enter the URL of your site and find out approximately (no two tools EVER come up with the exact same number) how many sites link to yours.
If you have made it this far, here's a little bonus for you. Here are 10 high quality free links that you can get for your websites. They are easy-peasy to do, and only require you to fill out a most basic profile. They are all just basic business and social media directories. Once you have filled out the information and provided the link to your website(s) - (some allow for more than one, so you can include your AR blog if you so desire), you never have to look at them again. Rest assured though, that the spiders will find them quickly. Some of these won't work for my American friends, as some of them are only for Canadian businesses, but most will.
Hotfrog (Business Directory)
Lookuppage (Business Directory)
Aboutme (Business and Personal Directory)
Zoocasa (Real Estate Site)
Free2List (Real Estate Listing Site)
Identica (Micro Blogging Site, similar to Twitter)
Folkd (It can't hurt to go Folkd yourself)
Briefingwire (Press Release Site)
Squidoo (Article submission site - somewhat)
Space Canoe (Canadian news and blogging site)
You might find some of these sites useful for purposes other than simply a place where you can leave a link, so go ahead, get your profile and links on these sites, see if you can use any of them, and let the spiders do the spidering. They do work 24 hours a day.