Google’s Matt Cutts was asked a question at Google Webmasters about the importance of backlinks in Google ranking:
Question:Google changed the search engine market in the ’90s by evaluating a website’s backlinks instead of just the content, like others did. Updates like Panda and Penguin show a shift in importance towards content. Will backlinks lose their importance?
Matt Cutts claims that over the next years backlinks may become a little less important in ranking. They may be replaced by the writer reputation and google’s ability to understand natural language.
This is his video reply: