It’s kind of like what comes first – the chicken or the egg? With a website, it’s a good real estate marketing idea to focus on the content first.
Google always has to trade off the balance between authority and topicality.
For instance; If you do a Google search for ‘viagra’ (one of the most spammed terms in the world), you are looking for an article about the drug ‘viagra’. You don’t just want to read an article that mentions the term viagra once as a throw-off phrase. You want to read an article that is about the topic of ‘viagra’.
When you are searching for information, you want authority, you want the sites that are trustworthy and reputable, but you also want topicality, not something off topic.
Matt Cutts suggests that you have a well rounded site and he emphasizes that great content has to be the foundation of every great site. Further he states, that mediocre content tends not to attract exceptional links by itself, and if you are trying to get exceptional links with crappy content you are going to be pushing uphill, it is going to be harder to get those links.
Great content gets those links naturally, rather than sending out spam email asking for links (in exchange for…) a well rounded site with interesting, useful, great resources, great information content will naturally attract exceptional links.
So, to answer the question – Which is more important? Links or Content – great content wins! If you build a website with that is interesting and helpful, the search engines will then reflect that fact and increase your ranking.