In a recent article on http://www.webpronews.com/topnews/2010/11/23/if-likes-are-the-new-links-content-quality-should-increase it was mentioned that if according to Bruce Clay Likes are the new links then the way the links are sold by many companies , the likes also will become a saleable product increasing the spam and low quality search results on the search engines.
According to me, undoubtedly the social and search integration with the social graph influencing the search results is something which is surely going to be woven in the search engine algorithms. In fact it already has been claimed by one of the SEOs that Twitter presence and engagement helped him in improving the SERPs.
(Read About It On: http://www.seroundtable.com/archives/023315.html)
But, the extent to which the likes, tweets, blog post comments, reviews, etc. will influence the rankings and how they will be woven into the algorithms will depend on the search engines and their access to the relevant data.
But, the most important point of concern is that if the likes too are bought by the companies like the paid links then the spam generated thus will result into a noise pollution on the web.
It is a big irony that the PageRank concept which was implemented by Google to fight the keyword spam which was resorted to by the web marketers and SEOs in early 2000, actually paved the way for a spammy link building industry.
Now, the social media indicators which should help in adding an opinion or additional valuable information to the links also have a possibility of adding volume to the same spammy link building industry. The whole concept of earning links and likes on the merit of quality content is being replaced by the concept of buying links and the likes by some of the web marketers just to give a quick boost to the SERPS of their client sites.
If, we want to avoid having a world wide web with social media sites ending up with fictitious accounts, search results with manipulated low quality searches, clients unnecessarily diverting funds to paid links and likes and other such influences which results in the spammers making money and an over all imbalance and clutter on the web then it is the responsibility of every web marketer and SEO to say NO to paid links or likes and educate the client with the facts about the search engine visibility and ranking ethics and convince them to take the right path to progress on the search engines.
If, this is not done then the SEO industry shall soon lose its credibility and people might give more preference to paid search which again will result into a lopsided growth on the web.