Recently I came across a little frequented page on Google’s corporate website: Google’s Philospohy Page and read one paragraph that struck me: ”Democracy on the web works. Google works because it relies on the millions of individuals posting links on websites to help determine which other sites offer content of value. Google assesses the importance of every web page using a variety of techniques, including its patented PageRank algorithm which analyzes which sites have been “voted” the best sources of information by other pages across the web. This technique actually improves as the web gets bigger, as each new site is another point of information and another vote to be counted.”
Where this might be a nice thought but the truth is that this paradigm is inherently flawed. As with the currently practiced version of US democracy this system is actually more likely to promote mediocrity and populism than value. Just as political system claiming to be democratically tend to promote schemers that learn to game the system than putting the most qualified subject matter expert in position of power. Moreover, though Google likes to position itself as close if not within the camp of open source proponents it inherently has a profit-driven motivation forced on to it by its status as a publicly-traded for-profit corporation with fiscal duties towards its shareholders (not its users).
Consequently top ten SERPs are still mostly dominated by tolerated Search Engine Spam, arbitrage pages and of course marketing messages generated by SEO experts. Nothing will change until the paradigm changes, which is unlikely to happen soon (see my outline for a better search engine).