Do not pay for backlinks, unless you're desperate. It's a good idea to try and build them yourself. Be prepared, SEO is not an overnight thing, it's gradual and continual. Once you've reached your desired "ranking" for a specific keyword you won't stay there forever, you need to keep at it.
Remember though it's not all about driving traffic to your site, you need to convert it when they reach you. You could get a million backlinks and be on page 1 for your term, but if you're site is poor or it's not obvious how to achieve a conversion (whatever that may be, assuming it's e-commerce) then it's irrelevant!
Backlinks can be built by signing up to forums, posting links in your signatures, signing up to directories and many more ways. If it's easy and quick then the chances are it's going to be of little benefit. The source of the links is also important, if you own a Golf Pro Shop and you get a link to your site from Wilson, that's incredible and will serve you very well in Google's eyes. If you on the other hand get a handful of links from Indian electrical retailers then that's probably not going to do you much good in reality.
I disagree, about not paying. Everyone is doing (i know i know) it and if you want to rank for certain keywords you need to get backlinks. you can sit for hours making em yourself or you can pay someone to do the same thing.
I get customers that come to me for only that. Over time I have developed packages for my clients that helps them immensely. Nothing like doing a set of seo work and watching(with them) their site come up through the rankings.
backlinks, backlinks, content, onsite seo.
I do batches for clients - £15 per 100 links(per keyphrase) in groups of £45. Takes a week.
many of the bigger companies spend huge budgets on this.
i have m8 who does seo consultation and wont get out of bed for side jobs for less than £5000... bstrd! (im jealous)
hes global head of online marketing for hotel.com as well
Whether you pay or not, only consider links that are relevant to your website. Google loves relevance and reputation. So the more relevant the link is + the reputation of the site that is linking to you goes a long way.
Buying loads of links is something you should undertake with care and consideration to whether they could help your rankings or possibly damage the reputation and favourability of your site with google.