If you were wondering for how long backlinks will continue to be the number one ranking factor in Google, ask no more. In the last video from Google Webmaster Help, Matt Cutts has answered your question.
A webmaster asked if there is any version of Google that excludes backlinks as a ranking factor. Matt responded that there is no such version available to the public, but they have done internal experiments at Google, and “the quality looks much much worse”.
Matt then said that even if backlinks have been abused sometimes, they still are a “really, really big win in terms of quality for search results”.
So, what does this mean to the future of SEO? It means that backlinks are and will remain to be the main ranking factor in Google, at least for the coming years.
Here’s the YouTube video: