As someone who reads a lot of blogs about search and social media (a term I am still not nuts about but has stuck), I have recently witnessed a disturbing trend. Some respected experts are advocating launching social media marketing programs solely for the purpose of influencing search engines, rather than with the intent of fostering collaboration and genuine communication.
This represents a clear and present danger to the fabric of the community. If you care about the social web, then you should be alarmed.
Search engine optimization (SEO) professionals of late seem poised to take over blogs, digg, StumbleUpon and other sites with a range of tactics, some legit, others more questionable with the intent of building Google Juice and nothing more. Read these blogs and you'll see it's often all they're talking about. I am not the only one out there who feels this way.
Consider some of the following blog posts that I found in my Google Reader database...
Boost Organic Results. Link Build with Social Media (Search Engine Watch)
The Inconvienent Truth About Social Media Marketing (Search Engine Land)
Building a Company With Social Media (Search Engine Land)
Realizing SEO benefits through blogging (HitTail)
To be clear, I do not object to the way that blogs, digg links and Wikipedia rank highly in search results. What does get me hot and bothered is when consultants and bloggers propose launching such an initiatives solely for influencing search. SEO, like word of mouth, should be a byproduct outcome, not a primary objective. Any brand that plays in this space should be aiming to create value. Do that and the other stuff will follow.
But the SEO shenanigans for the sake of SEO has to stop. If you're going to play in our sandbox, follow the community's (unwritten) rules.