HuskyPup - 8:57 am on Sep 12, 2012 (gmt 0)
I've been constructing sites for nearly 18 years and have never once solicited a backlink, I've never, ever given them a thought unless the early Yahoo! and Dmoz days count.
I'm not saying backlinks do not count, especially so in the extremely competitive areas, but who is likely to give a quality backlink if you're competing head-to-head with them?
In my experience, in the smaller niche areas, quality pages will rise through the scum so long as though they are authoratative and focussed and even then you may/will come up against good exact match domains...as well as the crap EMDs who have nearly always ripped-off the original.
And then there is always how the user interacts with Google, if they are always logged-in and get personalised results most probably all your efforts are for nothing?
Personally I feel the way G is at the moment that any effort expended going down "expected" routes is a pointless waste of time however YMMV:-)