Hummingbird has continued the evolution of inbound links toward quality over quantity. It simply has accelerated the process. Hummingbird is Google’s new search algorithm which attempts to understand the intent behind a search phrase rather than simply focus on the words themselves. The hope is to provide better and faster search results.
Inbound links are one of more than 200 factors Google uses to determine content ranking. Hummingbird has not changed that, it has simply somewhat diminished the role inbound links play in the ranking process. In a post-Hummingbird SEO world links are still important so long as they come from an authoritative place.
“Links are still the best way that we’ve found to discover [how relevant or important somebody is], and maybe over time social or authorship or other types of markup will give us a lot more information about that,” commented Matt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team when talking about link authority.
In addition, local information is a big part of Google’s quest for quality results. If I am in Colorado Springs and I search for an SEO consultant. I more than likely want a list from the Colorado Springs market. With that in mind, if your links make you easier to find locally they will help boost your rankings.
Bottom line right now is to continue cultivating links, but be strategic and think quality vs. quantity. Focus on a links that add intrinsic value to your site and support the goal of providing relevant content to searchers.