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Does anybody know if my approach is helping me or hurting me?
Should I be trying to ensure all inbound links are to my home page?

I would say that your approach is neutral in its effectiveness. It depends on what you see as conversion. If conversion for you is newsletter subs then yes keep them coming to that page why take the chance that the user doesn't find it. Also consider that PR is complicated in that you can pass PR internally through link structure. All pages linked to from the page are passed some PR whether the link is internal or external.

Internal cross linking of related pages is extremely useful and helps engines to learn what your site is about!

Trying to force all links to certain pages on the site is near impossible if you have a good site with quality content. Many sites don't even tell you they linked to you. These IMHO, are of more value then reciprocal links because you aren't passing any PR. No matter how good your content is if you told me I had to link to your home page it would be totally contrary to my policy for linking. I believe links are about user experience and making them look for what I found worthy is a negative. If you have other good info I will tell the user to have a look around the site if they have the time.

Links should be based on user experience and not PR. I don't care if you have PR10 and are willing to link to me if I link to you. If I see nothing of value to my user no link will be added. Conversely if you have PR2 and good info useful to my users then I don't even care if you reciprocate. This also sets my pages apart from all those who use PR and other nonsense in the decision. I have good links that others either don't want or don't know about. IMHO, that means users will not see my links as just the usual stuff.

What is Pr1 today could be PR10 in a years time. If you come back looking for a link if the guy is smart he is going to tell you to take a hike! As the postee below mentioned linking was a promotion strategy before Google so it does have benefits other than as part of an optimization campaign. In fact, IMHO, if you are using the strategy only for SE optimization then it is less effective and full benefits aren't going to be accrued.

<snip> When you think about it, it is next to impossible for Google to determine if links are placed on a site due to an aggressive but proper link request campaign or via unsolicited beneficial placement, without undermining their basic premise that links are, for the most part, a good indicator of a site's "value". </snip>

Perhaps, but Google Bombs and overly aggressive linking campaigns definitely leave "real clues". Google IMHO, changed its algo and link analysis to stop the Google bombs and what I call "link conspiracy". The clues they leave are too many closed loops of links. If a high % of links to your site are reciprocal then that is a clue to the degree of link conspiracy. Further, if these are unrelated sites then you are leaving yet another clue to a conspiracy.

Another clue is the amount of external links to internal pages. If all or most of the links are to the home page then a large number of links becomes suspect. If the site is so important why are so many of the links pointed at the home page and not specific info? Most home pages main function is navigation and explaining what the site has to offer. So this is another possible indicator of conspiracy.

Just prior to and after the most recent Google Dance I have seen PR drop across the board. Further when you look at the sites linked to they have often also experienced the same PR drop. Coincidence or has Google started to weed out link conspiracy and unrelated links?   When almost all discussion on Google optimization keys on links and not content optimization and development it is time to make some adjustments. IMHO, the change to the algo has begun and it will become more evident with each new refresh. In short if you are seeing PR drop it may continue dropping.

In my case many are clients that are linked to my business site. These sites are unrelated by content the relationship has no value to most users. SEOs who are forcing or "encouraging" clients to link to them are quite possibly hurting themselves and their clients. One clue to this is its specific mention in the Google webmaster Guidelines.

The last two dances have definitely shown there has been a major change to the algo. IMHO, that change has something to do with link conspiracy, linking as a reward, forced links for use of a service or inclusion and unrelated links. These all to some degree are similar to known PR killers ie: affiliate links, FFA and link farms. In other words if there is reason for a link beyond the content quality, IMHO, it is penalized and is a drain on overall PR. I have looked at several factors to determine the new algo and all I've seen and buzz on the forums seems to point to a change in the link analysis algo.

Believing as Dirk mentioned above that this can't be determined is just not being realistic about the link analysis capabilities of Google and engines such as Teoma where link analysis is important to how they determine relevancy. If Dirk is correct Google wouldn't have been able to control Google Bombs the way it seems to have.

Many will disagree with my theory, but IMHO, they are whistlin' while passin' the graveyard! Some sites will experience lowering of PR, others may just see a drop in ranking with no change to PR. But the Google SERPs I'm most familiar with and have been watching for years all indicate it isn't optimization in nature but seems to be tied to link analysis. It has been a while since I've been unable to quickly pick up and make changes to my Google optimization techniques.

This had me stumped for over a month before I felt confident enough to mention what I think is the reason for the recent drops or gains on Google. I've never seen an algo change that changed the SERPs so much without dropping some sites entirely. It's also the first time I've seen a change that wasn't easily reversed with adjustments to optimization techniques. Further, it is the first time an algo change has dropped me far enough in the SERPs to concern me. Usually the sites I work on rise not drop with a change in the algo because usually they are spam related.

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