Depending on the keywords for which you want to get high rankings, you have to employ different tactics. Keywords with less competition require different tactics than keywords with high competition.
The effect of different SEO tactics on the position of your website in the search results
If you target long keyword phrases with little competition, then the relative value of on-page web page optimization is very high.
For example, if you want to be listed for the search term "buy black adidas samba sneaker in knoxville" then it is enough to optimize one of your web pages for that search term because the competition for that search term is not high. You don't need many inbound links to get high rankings for that keyphrase.
The more competitive the targeted keyword is, the higher is the effect of inbound links on the position of your website in the search results:
The importance of an SEO tactic is not the same as its relative effect on your search engine positions
By taking a look at the chart above you might get the impression that web page optimization is not important to get high rankings for very competitive keywords. That is not the case. Optimizing the contents of a web page is the essential basis for high search engine rankings.
By optimizing a web page for a keyphrase, you tell search engines that the web page is relevant to that keyphrase. If more than one web page has been optimized for that keyphrase (which is usually the case) then the web page with the best inbound links will get the highest position in the search results.
For example, the website www.cnn.com has 46,600 inbound links according to Google. Although CNN.com has so many inbound links, they do not rank for the keyword "buy black adidas samba sneaker in knoxville" because the website has not been optimized for that keyphrase.
If you want to get high rankings for a keyphrase, the first step is to optimize one of your web pages for that keyphrase. Then work on the links that point to the optimized web page to outrank other websites that have been optimized for the same keyword:
Source: Visit Axandra.com