mrguy - 9:30 pm on Dec 5, 2012 (gmt 0)
Based on observations in my sector, I respectfully disagree with this for 2 reasons:
Firstly, social isn't a useful signal in every industry. If you sell metal pipes for toilets then good luck getting social interest on that one
Secondly, while I think social does play a part and will potentially continue to play a part, it is one of many signals and while it might be significant, probably won't be a major influence.
Finally, my theory on social is that it is only relevant if you choose to get involved. If you try social stuff and get an above-average response for your sector then I believe it helps. If you get involved and get a below-average response, I believe it may harm. If you don't get involved, I personally think the algorithm may simply leave you out of those specific calculations.
Guess we'll just disagree then. In numerous verticals I play in, social signals have made a large difference in ranking.
The speaker from Google at SES Chicago a few weeks ago gave a great talk about the future of search and social. Google is very much interested in using social signals in the search algo.
The push to get the whole world into Google+ isn't just so they can say they beat Facebook ;)