Matt Cutts published a new Google Webmasters video where he addressed the question asked by a user about backlinks becoming less and less important in future iterations of the Google search algorithm.
In short, the answer is no. Matt mentions in the video that they are trying to move more and more towards a conversational search, and for whatever reason uses a couple of searches relating to Justin Bieber as examples. Is Matt a closet Bieber fan? Maybe.
Matt also discusses how Google envisions being able to recognize pages published by experts in given fields and giving them a stronger weighting in the search results.
Truthfully, the Google search results are weighted so heavily around links, it is hard to imagine a future where they are still not playing a significant role. Sure, other factors can gain more weighting in the future, but it will be hard to replace the data that links provide about relevancy and popularity.
There is nothing new and nothing surprising in the video. If you have been paying attention to Google’s acquisitions and patents, they have been trending towards conversational search for about a decade now.
You can watch the full video here.