In an imaginary world, if your website is good, links will come “naturally” since people would love to link for free to great resources to help their readers. But … most people now know that it doesn’t work like that.
Search engines have made a system where every website owner has to spend their time and money running after backlinks. Otherwise their websites will never rank. And if people can’t make their websites rank naturally based on its relevancy, doing business means for them that they have to pay a hefty price to be visible in the marketplace.
It makes great economic sense for Big Search to do it like this. The cost and difficulty of getting backlinks has skyrocketed due to this system, and that has made Big Search’s advertising programs much more attractive. This factor has of course made search engine companies among the most valuable companies in the world. I don’t think it’s going to change any time soon.
A consequence is that in search engines it is not the most relevant pages that rank, but the most heavily advertised pages. Clearly, this is not what the end users are looking for.
But – it is your dilemma. To rank you need backlinks to your content. These days content creators are advised by experts to spend at least four times the amount of time it took to create a piece of content to promote it, to try to get more publicity than their competitors.