Link Building has been called "dead" for years. The rules of 2003 certainly changed, and those who could not learn and adapt to the ever-changing rules and increased requirements on skills, tools, details then, of course, had to give up on their "link building tricks." Google confirmed that links are the #1 ranking factor and said: "Ranking without links is really really hard." The Google Core Algorithm is based on links, and that hasn't changed since the inception of Google.