Many SEO professionals say that almost a third of a sites search engine rankings are based on the inbound links to a particular domain. Though in a way I do agree with this statistic I think that some further explanation is required so that the site owner may get full benefit from this number.
I strongly believe that though inbound links to a site do play an integral part to a sites search engine rankings and that without them getting first page listings can be very difficult, especially for more competitive terms, inbound links alone will simply not get your site ranking to its fullest potential. What will really make the difference in getting your site ranking is having a good balance of on page optimisation and site structure coupled with solid inbound links directed to the relevant site sections or pages.
Some things to keep in mind when building inbound links:
Quality of inbound links:
I know it has been written many times before but getting links from relevant sites in your industry is much more beneficial than having multiple links from many smaller less relevant sites. Though it does often require a lot of effort and can be difficult, this one practice can mean the difference between first and second place for a search term. Links from educational or government site can literally replace hundreds of low quality irrelevant links.
Having keyword anchor text on each inbound link and having that link point to the section or page on your site that is optimised for that particular keyword. Be sure to always vary the inbound link text as using that same text too many times can produce a negative result.
Building quality usable content on your site:
By having many pages on your site that are beneficial to its users inbound link building will tend to take care of itself.
A word of caution!!!
Unethical Link Building practices such as extensive reciprocal link building and farming may be effective for a short period of time, but with Google in particular its search spiders will figure this out eventually and the result of these practices will be that the offending domain gets either dropped to the back of the search listings or worse still completely banned from the index entirely. This must be avoided at all costs.