Google just changed their advice for webmasters wanting to improve rankings. Incoming links are now much less important. Instead, focus on building a site people want to use and share. They appear to be focusing on social media as the driver of rankings which, when you think about it, is a momentous change.
Their old advice was
In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by increasing the number of high-quality sites that link to their pages.
Google now says
In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by creating high-quality sites that users will want to use and share.