According to Google representatives themselves, backlinks are still a really, really big win in terms of quality for search results. The search giant's recent updates are just encouraging a movement towards more 'natural' links.
Meta tags are what Google looks at to determine what each page of your site is about. It's like a quick, very judgmental glance, if you like, and we all know the importance of making a good first impression. Don’t cut corners by letting your developer auto-generate them.
There are few SEO experts out there who would recommend disavowing or abandoning your backlinks programme. This article outlines how a mass hysteria movement to disavow is damaging ranking results for websites that have benefited from long term and diverse link building campaigns.