That's a pretty good summary. The problem is that too many people see the goal as "increasing visitors" without thinking about what that means, and without having a proper marketing strategy. Sure, by splattering links to your website all over the internet, you can probably fool a few more people into clicking on them, and yes you'll see an increase in the number of hits, but if they just bounce straight out then what good has it done you?
The key is not to just increase the number of visitors, but to increase the number of targeted visitors. You want to get people onto your site who are really interested in the site, who are good prospects to sign up or to buy from you. That means being a bit smarter about your link building and site promotion, it means thinking about the kind of people who you are going to get the most value out of, and where you can find them. And there's no easy answer to that, because it will be different for different kinds of website.