In an interview with Matt Cutts at the Las Vegas Pubcon by Mike Mac of WPN, he commented on Bruce Clay saying in his session at the Pubcon that "ranking is dead". Matt commented that it's not really that ranking is dead but more of SEOs today treat rankings not as important as it used to be. SEOs become smarter in the process all these years that they have learned to realize "they are also marketers". That to be able to optimize for ROI of clients and self owned websites, everything is no longer search-centered but instead the integration of videos and e-books as well as flash and images have become a perfect way to do marketing and SEO in the process and has become part of the job of a SEO. Today, that process is continuing to evolve as the years pass because people have learned to do personalized searches for whatever they want. See the Bruce Clay Interview Here video below.
Search has become a left over not just for smart SEOs who realize they are marketing client websites too but also for black hats who have become a little bit more daring in their campaign to do their stuff. They've been doing things contributing to becoming "more malicious", committing this and that against people's machines. Matt also gave an emphasis on SEOs of today learning to market using not just rankings and search but they make videos and books and those kind of stuff that contribute to the overall marketing experience and in the process become more of promoting search that is based on personalization and localization. See the Video at the Pubcon Here video below.
This is an important event and opinion in the search engine history and SEOs have to know about this as well as act according to what the trends tell. This trend of course should also be embraced with the direction of use of all white hat strategies as Matt Cutts tips out in the interview with WebPro News. SEO today is based more of conversions rates and bounce rates and what the overall analytics metrics and data tell as well as analyzing how you did with your campaign. This is all because search has indeed become personalized and intent-based and is making traffic everything.