If you want search engines to notice your website then you need to create backlinks. It is a mantra repeated over and over again - create backlinks.
But like cheese, not all backlinks are created equal. Some backlinks are really good while others are stinkers. There are backlinks that do nothing to increase your ranking in search engines and there are backlinks that will shoot you to the top.
When it comes to backlinks there are two main things you need to know:
Quality over Quantity
It is not about the amount of backlinks you create, it is about the quality of the backlinks. And this is not just theory - Matt Curtis from Google has stated this many times in his presentations. Being an employee of Google he knows what he is talking about.
What makes a quality backlink? The easiest way to tell is by Page Rank.
What is the Page Rank of the website giving you a backlink?. If the website is unranked or Page Rank 1 then it is not a quality backlink. Google will not give it too much value (if any). But if it a website with Page Rank 5 or 6 then that is quality. A backlink from a Page Rank 6 website tells Google that a very important website thinks that your website has good content.
Also keep in mind that page rank is logarithmic. Which means that every increase in Page Rank is a 10 times increase in value. A PR 6 is worth 10 times that of a PR 5 website. So if you are creating backlinks by creating guest posts and have to decide between a blog with PR 5 and one with PR 6 - always go with the higher one.
Of course the higher the Page Rank the harder it will be to get a backlink. But think of it this way. You can spends days creating 20 low quality backlinks on PR 1 sites, or you can spend those same days creating 1 quality backlink on a PR 5 website. You spend the same amount of time, but the PR 5 backlink is worth a lot more then the 20 PR 1 backlinks.
Anchor Text in Backlinks
Search engines use the anchor text to determine what the backlink is about. So when you get a backlink try to make sure that the link uses your keyword in the anchor text. Instead of the backlink showing your domain name you want it to show your Keywords. For example, notice at the bottom of this article how the link to my website uses keywords and not the website address.
Search engines keep track of the anchor text used to link to your website - it is one of the main ways they use to determine what your website is about. When people do a search using your keywords, you have a better chance of ranking high if your keywords are used in backlinks.
If the website with the backlink does not use keywords for your website, then usually all it takes is to email them asking them to change it.
It is true, backlinks are important if you want to rank high in search engines.
Do not waste your time creating 100's of worthless backlinks. Instead put that time into a few quality backlinks.