The Importance of Outside Links
Every major search engine uses link analysis as part of its ranking algorithms. Your marketing department needs to do the heavy lifting in finding and acquiring outside links for your site.
Linking is not about "popularity." It's not an issue of getting lots of links from anywhere. Instead, your marketing group needs to find links from good web pages that are related to the message you're projecting. Search engines analyze how pages link to each other. They use this link analysis to determine what a page is about and whether that page is deemed to be "important" enough to rank high in the search results.
Now here's an easy way for your marketing staff to find those good links:
Fire up the browser and hit the major search engines.
Search on your targeted keyword phrases.
Visit the pages that appear in the top of the result lists.
On each site, find the contact information.
Contact the site owner and ask for that site to link to yours. Some horse-trading might be necessary, but you can get reciprocal links from sites that complement yours (not competitors, obviously).
Searching other sites using your keywords leads you to pages that the search engines rank well. Links from these pages to your site are more important than links from other pages. If these pages rank high and you can get reciprocal links from them, you might receive some visitors who initially go to those pages, thus adding to your site traffic.
You can see that proper and effective SEO is not just the responsibility of your IT staff. Your marketing staff has a responsibility, too. Hold them to it.