I recently talked at a Figaro Digital event about the work we have been doing on Social SEO.
It discusses the premise that much of the data Google, Bing et al are using to rank websites, have little do with things SEOs can manipulate. Social signals are rewarded to a website for with for involvement, participation and interaction.
Or by just having great stuff that people like and share. Its earned.
Seth Godin has an interesting view on this as well from the media POV. Invest in doing great stuff and you will be rewarded.