In May, 2010, Matt Cutts denied that social signals had an effect on search rankings. In December of the same year, he declared that they were actually starting to work in the buzz and signals they were able to get through social media into the site authority factor of their ranking algorithm. Six months later, Google+ was born.
The Penguin Update and subsequent tweaks to it have changed the way that search engine marketers approach aggressive optimization. The days of running rampant and blasting out bulk links are gone. Today, quality finally trumps quantity and the playing field has been leveled in a way that in essence puts a "governor" on how quickly they can ramp up the rankings on their domains.
Or has it?