"Rather than chasing +1s of content, your time is much better spent making great content."
I don't get it... Are +1s not good enough of an indication that content is good? If Google is not looking at social signals how can they justify good from bad content? Natural links are just as easy to manipulate Google with as unnatural. Instead of anchoring an exact match we use a brand.
Without social it makes it way too easy to game the system which some of our competitors are doing and getting away with after penguin, panda, and all the other updates.
We've been finding companies that rank for "ABC" and all they do is build a bunch of blogs ("abc1.com""abc2.com""abcGreen.com""abcBlue.com" etc..) and keep building them on "free platforms" like wordpress/blogger/weebly and the other hundred sites.. Create a bunch of crap links for Google to index and rank. All google needs to see is a "natural link profile", some onsite SEO and viola.
Lately we've been finding some articles that suggest changing published dates of pages/posts to get them reindexed with freshness. Some are consistently gaming Google, and the ones of us who are creating good content and get some +1s (by sharing it in relevant communities otherwise how will it be found) are going to lose to cheaters. Perhaps it's not as easy to game specific SERPs nationally. However, locally its a piece of cake. Just try looking for a locksmith, the way it's set up now the cheaters are still on top.
My question to Matt Cutts is: if you were an internet marketer and you created good content that got a great amount of real interaction, and that awesome content you created is not getting any SERP love because of others who are cheating the system, what would you do? How long would you wait? and what if nothing changes after the next algorithm change?