Click here to see the previous part of my interview with Rand - The future of nofollow and pagerank sculpting
One particular element of Google’s pagerank algorithm that replicates the "human" social networking dynamic is the fact that sites with more links become more prominent in the search results. Likewise, people that have many friends, or are well networked, have increased opportunities to build new relationships than people with little or no existing friendships. Do you see this as a flawed method long-term which will allow dominant websites to grow exceedingly prominent in the SERPS, while squeezing out smaller websites.
So I think, to a certain extent you do see a bit of that. You see your Wikipedia and about.com doing particularly well. But I think to the extent that small websites provide a better user experience - when they can provide a better user experience, on an individual basis, people might not recognize that and it might be that you fall by the wayside. But in aggregate, small websites can continue to do well, Google's user testing is going to tell them, ok we are going to need to continue to surface smaller niche websites and therefore we need to shift our algorithms in the direction of not favoring huge popular domains over, especially when it's like niche subject matter, over like tiny websites. You see that a little bit with Google giving so much prominence to the keyword in the root domain name. Like if you're trying to rank for "used cars", you could be a nobody but if you have usedcars.com, you have a great and huge advantage in that kind of space. Now the frustrating part of course is that those domain names become very valuable, they get brought out by private equity firms who then fund them with like a start up entrepreneurial team, that kind of thing. So a little frustrating there because you're not quite building the independence you want. But, I'd say Google is very mindful of their user experience so to the degree that you're a small webmaster and you feel the pain, you feel like you're getting screwed, the more you focus on your users the better you're going to do in search.
I also think that in the long run, search is not going to be the only way people find stuff on the web. So the extent that you can take advantage of other paths. Social media is certainly one that's up and coming and exciting, but direct navigation has been around a long time, branding has as well, word of mouth - viral things, these can all drive good website traffic as well. I think we're actually due for a resurgence of offline marketing for online. So for a long time it's been online to offline, but I think you're going to see - even Google themselves launched their first like print campaign, the billboards to get people to switch to Google Apps - I think you're going to see a little more of that. People doing offline things to drive people to online.
Rand Fishkin is the founder of SEOmoz - an SEO consultancy and training site. I highly recommend them us one of the best SEO resources on the web.