Planet13 - 4:27 pm on May 19, 2011 (gmt 0)
Links in my observation are overrated and I can give you a concrete example...
I truly think it depends on the niche.
I have many examples where links with exact match anchor text are propping up some sites in the top ten rankings. And the links are particularly bad - free directories, paid links, reciprocals from off-topic sites, and article site links.
My thought is that if the content is 100% unique conceptually and covers the subject well enough, this would be a better investment of time.
I wish this were the case (but fortunately for me, it isn't in this particular niche).
I see sites with MUCH better content than mine (I am not afraid to admit it), that is buried in the SERPs. We are talking excellent, original content, written by people with a Ph.D., showing on pages 3 through 10. Meanwhile, and ehow article is in the top 10 on page 1.
If google knew what it was doing, those quality sites would all be on Page 1, and my site (along with the ehow page) would be in oblivion.
Fortunately for me, google does not know what it is doing ;)