If you have any involvement in SEO you’ll have heard the phrase “Content is King”. Google has for many years been trying to make the content of a page the most important aspect and for the most part it has achieved that goal this year.
I've always said to any person that would listen that trying to game Google's algorithm is pointless. Every change Google has made, and every change they will ever make, is to try to make the content the focus - and then judge if that content is relevant and authoritative for the search the user entered. At best any "black hat" attempts to trick a good ranking will stop working, "Just make good content that's easy to use and access" I would always say.
The "box" in which the content is stored is irrelevant to whether that content is relevant or authoritative and should expose the content as best as possible with clear navigation and a simple user interface. You can think of old-school table based layouts and sites crowded with extra mark-up and distracting extra information as packing your content in impenetrable clamshell, Google won't try too hard to get inside and will just skim what it can get to easily.
But content only addresses half of the "relevant and authoritative" requirement. When written well, content will be relevant, but the authoritative aspect has to come from somewhere else.
But where? At the moment a large part of relevance comes from getting similarly relevant pages to recommend you with a back link.
You may have heard of Google's 'Penguin' updates which tweak their detection of backlink abuse. If you vanished from results pages when one of these updates rolled out then you need to clean up your incoming links, and maybe even disavow any links you can't get removed. Don't let anyone tell you it's because of your site's structure, or sitemaps or some such nonsense. Heck, sitemaps simply tell Google where your content is (and it can usually find that itself) and how often it changes.
But there's a new kid on the block; social media. This rising Prince is ready to take its place alongside the content king. The best content in the world is useless without good distribution. What better way to see if something is authoritative than to measure how people are talking about it?
Social sharing is rapidly growing as source of organic traffic, and one you can no longer ignore. Don't just focus on the King, remember to effectively distribute your content via social media sources as well, and you'll notice Google starts to treat you better in return.