I quote you ” In the “good old days”, the most important adage for any bricks & mortar based business (offline business) was always LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!, any business that was NOT located in a position whereby it was highly visible would be lucky to survive, let alone thrive!.”
NOTHING changes, I would suggest!
My Number One tip would be only link with quality sites and do not just end up in global directories or suspect splash pages especially if your country/language and/or business category is NOT significant on that site.
I will NOT trade links with American water-pump repairers or Korean dating sites for my sites in Europe! Nobody will ever find you. Even if your site IS listed, the site-owners regularly cull links when they have found that their pumps ARE added to, say, “Learn Dutch in Poland”
You are much better spending more time getting quality links onto respected sites relevant to your own
Stay out of bad neighbourhoods and link where is common benefit.