In an interview with Gord Hotchkiss published at Search Engine Land, Google’s Matt Cutts all but sounds the death knell for black hat SEO, saying that the recent implementation of personalization of Google’s search results should be seen as a “call to action” for SEOs that are focusing on reverse engineering search engine algorithms:
There’s a fork in the road, and people can think hard about whether they’re optimizing for users or whether they’re optimizing primarily for search engines. And the sort of people who have been doing “new” SEO, or whatever you want to call it — that’s social media optimization, link bait, things that are interesting to people and attract word of mouth and buzz — those sorts of sites naturally attract visitors, attract repeat visitors, attract backlinks, attract lots of discussion. Those sorts of sites are going to benefit as the world goes forward.
Cutts says that not all SEOs should worry, as long as their focus is on building good Web sites instead of trying to build sites to rank in a given algorithm:
I think the SEOs that adapt well to change and are optimizing for users are going to be in relatively good shape, because they’re already trying to produce sites that are really pleasing and helpful to users. It’s definitely the case that if all you care about is an algorithm, then the situation grows more complicated for you with personalization. But it’s also an opportunity for people to take a fresh look at how they do SEO.
Hotchkiss also published a full transcript on his blog.
Matt Cutts, SEO, Black+Hat+SEO, Interview