This topic seems actually quite controversial. Google answered the question by what could be taken as a denial. But their answer was kind of open to interpretations. And on the other hand, there are studies (one of them from Moz) that showed linking out has an impact. So, how can you be so assertive? Is it something that comes out from your own experiments?
This is a topic that for some time has lingered on my mind. Trying to find answers I want to hear or read rather than put in the hard long hours of quality work but it looks like there’s no running away from the truth. Common to what I’ve come across is quality content, consistency and low hanging fruits keywords which have proven to yield results when I started to put it to test. In fact, I agree with you that no good results come on a silver platter. 
When Larry wrote about the kick in the proverbial teeth that eBay took from Google’s Panda update, we managed to secure a link from Ars Technica in the Editor’s Pick section alongside links to The New York Times and National Geographic. Not too shabby – and neither was the resulting spike in referral traffic. Learn what types of links send lots of referral traffic, and how to get them, in this post.
Google Analytics is an invaluable source of data on just about every conceivable aspect of your site, from your most popular pages to visitor demographics. Keep a close eye on your Analytics data, and use this information to inform your promotional and content strategies. Pay attention to what posts and pages are proving the most popular. Inspect visitor data to see how, where and when your site traffic is coming from.
Monster-Traffic is another traffic exchange, though it’s initially a little off-putting due to the 1995-style website. It’s a free for all styled advertising list, where anyone signing up becomes part of the audience and an advertiser at the same time. You sign up and you can enter a link into their system, and that link is added to a roster that is send out to every member of the group. Additionally, registration allows a free solo ad; an ad that isn’t drowned out by other advertisers in that mailer. 
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