In the old days before the internet this phrase would spam some 20 to 50 years or more, online we all know it's a matter of a year or two and things have changed considerably.
Of course, the reason is simple, continuos advancement of technology, improvements etc.
From the old "trash-bin" style Search Engine Altavista to the well advanced Google nonsense was a matter of just about 6 years or so.
Up to about May 06 it was an open secret that seo is nothing but filling your web site with the right keyphrases up and down the walls "keyword saturation" it was called, and all of it had to be in-line with the kind of still usable META Tags.
Then the big shocker, even Google realised that since everyone knew about keyword saturation the same would be abused by anyone in the hope to get top search returns in the later.
What did Google do about it?
In the German language there is a great "key"-word for this, Schildbuerger Streich", loosly translated people who have a stupid idea without realising it's a stupid idea.
Link Popularity is a typical American intelligence wisdom stupidity, and of course, this new main issue put into top search returns gets once again everyone scrambling for links links and more links, but that's not all, quality links from other sites with quality links that have quality links to other sites with quality links - oh my, even Google itself hates the term "links" or "Search Engine" by now!!!!
Critisizing is something everyone can do, but come up with something better is
A: better and
B:a bit harder to do.
Anyway, i would have an idea that would end the crap and scrambling.
A software that takes screenshots.
This software is capable to read all text inside the screenshot image.
It creates a text file.
This text file along with the URL ends up in a Search Engines database.
Certain already existing rules would apply, web sites that have certain keywords to often will be ignored and so on, exact phrases as search results only etc.
Link counts goodbye, it's to primitive, META Tags goodbye, it's to primitive...........