Are backlinks a Google ranking factor?

Published: November 30, 2018

Yes, backlinks are a very strong ranking factor, according to official statements from Google (cited below).

“We do use links as part of our algorithm but we use lots and lots of other factors as well.” source

“We use links, but also lots more.” source

https://twitter.com/JohnMu/status/909660002176118784

Andrey Lipattsev, a Search Quality Senior Strategist at Google, stated the first two ranking signals are content and backlinks:

Q: “Would it be beneficial for us to know what the first two are (first to ranking signals are). Would webmasters build better sites…
A: I can tell you what they are. It is content and links pointing to your site.” source

No surprise regarding this factor, but keep in mind that there are billions of pages that have zero backlinks and rank in Google SERPs.