Sometimes the best way to play SF4 is by being patient. Links are important but you need to learn how to get the first hit in the first place.
If your patient and able to anti-air if they jump in on you i think you will be fine.
But knowing your links will improve those small pokes into decent damage and in SF every little bit helps.
Just research your links, go into training mode for like 10 mins focusing on that one link. Once your comfortable you can use it in a match.
As long as you love the game and want to keep playing it, you will eventually yourself learn all these things and get better.