diberry - 3:50 pm on Jul 2, 2013 (gmt 0)
Well, with respect, I'm going to disagree a little with Matt. In 2008, what he said was absolutely true - it's how I got inlinks. But since then, social media has totally changed the way folks link, and the algo can't follow most of those links because of how Facebook and Twitter choose to function.
Even webmasters are preferring to "link out" through social media these days because of the FUD that Google might mistake a genuine editorial link out for a sold link and penalize your site. That can't happen on your Facebook page.
So now these social media links have replaced traditional links... and Googlebot can't follow about half of them. Whoops.
I'm convinced of this because in the last year or so I've begun discovering great sites through social media INSTEAD of Google - when I go search for them in Google, they just don't rank like they would have in 2008. Googlebot literally doesn't realize how these sites resound with visitors because it can't follow the buzz like they could when it was all traditional links.
I think Matt's perception is skewed because he's so focused on spam. When you look at people trying to cheat their way to rankings, it DOES look like, "Well, gosh, if they would just actually write good websites..." It's when you start noticing that certain great websites (not mine!) aren't ranking in Google like they should be, that you realize it's not working like it used to.