All things considered it's just another way for spammers to keep their foot in the door. Panthro's post early in this thread... "You could always just follow the example of some of the biggest "how-to" type monster blogs and just create a fake person with an attractive photo" -- accurately predicts what it will become. There will be an increase of (female) pen name writers with provocative images to lure primitive male minds.
The developers of the search engine of the future will learn to understand that when a site has been very carefully assembled it it a reflection of the underlying philosophy of the individual or company hence that same thoughtfulness is most likely extended to their customers. No outside back-slapping needed (links) -- they stand on their own reputation and effort. Those types of sites already exist but google doesn't know how to measure true value. So, they resort to the popularity game over and over repackaged in different wrappers (links, social, author tags, etc...).