At heart what’s wrong with Search Engine Optimization?  Make your content as accurate and accessible as possible so that it gets indexed correctly to help visitors find your site on the SERP.  But in practice it is a classic class of “Too much of a good thing, is a bad thing.”.  While it’s easy to throw around distinctions like “White Hat”, “Gray Hat” and “Black Hat” to try to segment the tactics and legitimacy of various SEO practices, the bottom line is that it is not only tempting for anyone with a site to optimize but increasingly it is absolutely necessary. And that’s where the escalation begins.

Instead of accuracy, instead of advertising, we have a room full of people yelling so loud that. increasingly, actual factual results fade into the background.  It is no secret that Search Engine companies are constantly updating their methods in order to avoid abuse, but I think we’ve passed the point of abuse and hit the wall of a fundamental flaw with how current search engines work.  The SEO abusers are no longer chasing the Search Engines, but quite the opposite.

Currently the Search Engines tactic is to pursue a constantly receding horizon of how to segment a site’s Value, Popularity, Performance, Veracity and Content. No doubt the minds behind these tactics, algorithms and technology are brilliant people, but that may not be enough.  Search may need a paradigm shift (I owe a certain friend a Guiness every time I use a buzz phrase).

So, what are our options?

Many search engines have made a big deal out of wanting/starting to index Twitter and other social resources (in near real time, even).  This isn’t just about merely increasing the amount of data under their hoods, its about collecting trending data about what real people are talking about. Even though Twitter is “noisy” with commercialized content, its pretty clear that more “real people” are tweeting legitimately than running their own personal SEO tuned web site to express their (seemingly) casual views on any given topic.

Trusted Sources.  Back before cheap or free internet presence, I suppose this ranged from the “I know a guy” to the expert/professional endorsement.  However, in a hyper-connected era it is not difficult at all to imagine a Search Engine that could filter your results based on your own, even hand-selected Contacts (or sub groups of Contacts based on specialties). Of course, without stringent privacy consideratons, we run the risk of our expertize being monetized for other people’s profits or becoming experts on topics we might not like to be associated with.  :-)

Got other possible solutions to throw into the mix? I’d love to hear from you.