Google has quietly updated the rankings article within the Google Webmaster Help documentation. The change is to keep Google consistent with their general change in messaging that content is what webmasters should focus on, not links.
Previously, the article had a line that read:
In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by increasing the number of high-quality sites that link to their pages.
We’ve bolded the key part, which was changed on May 27th to say:
In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by creating high-quality sites that users will want to use and share.
The change is consistent with a message that Google’s been pushing recently, to focus people less on link building and more on building quality content. The head of Google’s web spam fighting team, Matt Cutts, spoke about this in a video to publishers on April 29:
He again repeated his belief earlier this month that focusing on link building too much is a mistake by some SEOs: