I got a SEO article on the importance of backlinks via a news-letter I'm subscribed to. I decided to post some of its passages I found interesting, & share wih people interested in the SEO field, hope it helps ... place to the article:
There are basically two aspects to SEO, "on page" & "off page" optimization.
"On Page" SEO is easy because it's totally under your control. It's simply a case of making sure you have optimized your web pages correctly.
OK, so there is a bit more to it than that, like keyword research, keyword density & frequency, which html tags to use, making sure your site/pages are W3 Compliant, using relative/absolute internal linking structures to feed the pagerank where it's most effective, using titles and descriptions that encourage people to clíck through from the SERP's etc.
It's also less important in the long run than getting sufficient links to your site/pages from other sites.
Getting links to your site is fundamental to getting visitors, and without visitors all the time, effort and money invested in getting your site up and running, and looking "nice", is irrelevant.
No Visitors = No Point!
So links are essential to the health of your site, and indeed your business, but all links are not equal in value to your site.
Reciprocal links will help, but they are far less effective than one way backlinks, i.e. links from another site where you don't have to link back to them. These "One Way" backlinks will give your site a far greater boost in the search engine results and bring you more traffíc, providing of course that you have chosen good (relevant) keywords for your links.
There are many ways of getting these powerful one way backlinks, but most you will have no control over the anchor text used (i.e. keywords) in the link, which means their "power" is unfocused and therefore of less use to you in achieving the targeted keyword results you are looking for.
For example, submitting your site to website directories can be a very effective way of picking up some high quality one way links from high PR sites, but you will seldom be able to choose the keywords/anchor text used for the link, often ending up with the site name as the link.
This is not a waste of time, as the Pagerank passed to your site will, with the correct internal linking structure, be passed on to your sites internal pages, helping them to rank better for their targeted keywords.