Links are not dead!
This is what Google says about links
Ranking without links is really, really hard.
Yes, the external links.
- Gary Illyes, Chief of Sunshine and Happiness at Google, October - November 2016.
Links in particular are really important to Google
because that's how we discover the rest of your website.
- John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, September 2016.
The objective is not to make your links appear natural,
the objective is that your links are natural.
- Matt Cutts, former Head of the Web Spam Team at Google, June 2009.