Was reading through the inner pages of Google.com recently, and came across some really interesting information on Google’s own about page: (#4)
Democracy on the web works.
Google search works because it relies on the millions of individuals posting links on websites to help determine which other sites offer content of value. We assess the importance of every web page using more than 200 signals and a variety of techniques, including our patented PageRank™ algorithm, which analyzes which sites have been “voted” to be the best sources of information by other pages across the web.
As the web gets bigger, this approach actually improves, as each new site is another point of information and another vote to be counted. In the same vein, we are active in open source software development, where innovation takes place through the collective effort of many programmers.
Just kind of thought this was nifty, and worth pointing out :)
Although Google does claim to have over 200 different ranking factors, backlinks is the factor that they chose to prominently point out on their about us page.