A backlink is a link on any other website other than your website that’s when clicked makes the visitor come to your website. For a search engine, a backlink is a vote to your website from other websites. It shows that your website is being talked about at many places and that means your website is popular and must be given a higher position in search rankings. You’re right, it’s the same as our seeing someone as popular based on how much he’s talked about. This is the reason that search engines give a better rank to a website having 1,000 backlinks comparing to a website with only 100 backlinks. As a result, the website with 1,000 backlinks ranks higher in search results and attracts more targeted traffic from search engines.