He argues that the era of search engine optimization (SEO) has peaked, as Google has made it easy to answer pretty much any question, and people have figured out how to game SEO with keywords, targeted content etc.:
“… It’s moved publishers’ eye off their most important job of creating great content, and onto the false goals of keywords, hacks, paid links, and technical engineering that their audience doesn’t know or care about.”
Elowitz believes (and I agree) that users are coming to expect seeing content they’re interested in – even if they’re not looking for it. While SEO is great when you know what you’re looking for, social media is how you discover interesting stuff that you’re not looking for:
“The sort algorithm that works best for that is more correlated to who’s doing the asking, than how they would phrase the ask. For that level of personalized results, no abject algorithm can keep up without deep knowledge of its users. Advantage: Facebook.”
Moral for publishers: embrace social media, figure out how to get your users sharing with their friends, and optimize for that.