To rank well in search engines you need to create links especially in high ranking websites. Search engines consider links as votes. So if you create a link in another website, search engines consider that website voting for your site. The more votes the higher your website's reputation is to search engines.
However, this does not mean you can create backlinks anywhere you like. Some of the backlinks you create can be harmful to your ranking such as creating links to websites that are irrelevant to your website's niche or creating links to low PR or authority sites such as the case with most article directories. Moreover, creating hundreds to thousands of links can also look unnatural thus allowing your website to be penalized by search engines such as Google.
I advice that you focus on a few but high quality links such as creating backlinks on high PR websites or websites with .gov and .edu extension. If you need help with this, I recommend Ardor Backlinks and Auto Backlink Services. These are where I usually acquire .gov and .edu backlinks.