Google, as a company, is one of the most powerful PR machines in the world.
In recent times Google has started discussing openly the lack of importance of Pagerank, which has been the main driving factor behind ranking in Google since its inception around 2001. They are also openly talking about the diminishing role links are playing in the algorithm. Granted, I am not sure that is entirely the case (partially true?), but there is something in there between the lines that is worth diving into. A lot of times you can read between the lines with what Google announces to the general public and figure out what they might actually act on.
One thing is certain, social data and interactions are worth their weight in gold and could help offset this idea of Pagerank
As most folks already know Google launched its own social network recently called Google Plus (Google+) Probably a smart move for Google. Why, you might ask, outside of the obvious assertion that people will be spending more time on Google properties vs. Facebook and Twitter?
Well, Google+ is going to be a treasure trove of data for Google and its advertisers. The data that they will be exposed to will certainly be game changing from an SEO standpoint.
Google recently filed a patent that shows how some of the new modifications to the SERP (search engine results page) might look with the addition of new data sets. It doesn’t take much creative thought to see how Google might utilize status updates that are heavily +1ed, commented on or shared.
Google has proven recently that altering its SERPs is not something they are afraid to do.
Lets take a look at the different aspects of Google+ that could easily turn into valuable algorithmic data.
Google + Circles
Basically Circles can be seen as a vote for people, like links are a vote for websites. This will allow Google to better understand the influencers within its network.
Google +1 Button
The more obvious metric, this can be used to glean insights on authoritative status updates, images, webpages, etc. Although, personally, I think its a noisy variable that could easily be manipulated and has many user experience (UX) discrepancies.
Google + Sparks
If there is anything Google wants you to do, it wants you to build out Sparks on your profile. Sparks are simply a creative name for your Interests. This will give Google another layer of targeting. If Google can understand your interests then they can interpret the weight of your voting abilities on given subject matters.
Google + Profile Data
The profile page consists of many opportunities for Google to better understand you. Individuals have the opportunity to unveil their occupation, employment history, education, places lived, birthday and gender. You can even add links you’re associated with. This better ties down your associations that can be interpreted by an equation.
Google + Hangouts
Hangouts are simply group voice chats. There are other companies in the group video industry, and some of them even transcribe the conversations. I have not looked into it fully but Google could possibly “listen in” and interpret your video chats and derive data based off of those conversations.
Google+ has heavy integration straight out of the box with Mobile. On top of that, the GPS location setting is prominent and is a key focus. That sort of data allows them to better target users based on their geographic location. Advertisers will certainly like that option.
Localization data also helps determine relevance, on a user level and on a per status update level, for geographic queries.
Want to create a real life bond in a social network according to a robot crawling through data? Stand next to another Google+ user in a photo that is automatically associated with facial recognition. This is a very easy way for Google to better understand who your real life connections are.
Other Social Networks Google is Looking To Associate With Your Account
- Yahoo (accesses your contact list)
- Hotmail (accesses your contact list)
Google + is Anti-Spam
One form of spam that can really poison a dataset typically comes from folks who create thousands of social network accounts and rotate votes around. With the advent of Google+ its possible to track things that will be difficult to game, namely because of time it would take to look ‘natural.’ Your comment history, sharing activity, and other network interactions adds a huge layer of anti-spam mechanisms to weed out and devalue social accounts with.
So how do all these factors play together?
Granted, no one really knows, but one can infer that with more data on you, the Author, Google can better tweak their algorithm to a point of supreme relevancy.
Google hasn’t had a true relevancy breakthrough for a long time now. This could be their big ticket they have been looking for since Facebook applied the pressure several years ago. Even at best if 5% of the United States population uses Google+ then it is a win for them, in my opinion.
Here is one possible scenario post Google+ adoption: A user (we will call him “Sam”) is doing research and has a Google+ account. While Sams doing his research, his activity inside of Google+ helps the algorithms understand that he has affinities towards the outdoors, snorkeling, organic food, green energy and gardening.
When Sam searches for How to Garden, he will be served with results that are skewed with articles that discuss organic gardening and gardening with a low impact on the earth. Google is able to deliver this result based off of the data it has on him and other users. Sites that might have never ranked before in the top 10, now are ranking because they have data that Google+ interpreted as the most relevant ‘Top 10’ result. A small DIY gardening site that wasn’t heavily linked to, but has a solid fan base on various social networks, can launch and engage in heavily discussed and shared status updates, stand a great chance to see increases in potential, qualified traffic with this sort of situation. Social and SEO are now full circle. If you haven’t taken it seriously in the past, now is the time to.
“As compared to a traditional web search engine, where the challenge lies in finding the right document to satisfy a user’s information need, the challenge in a social search engine is to find the right person to satisfy a user’s information need.” – Src.
If you are on Google Plus already feel free to give me a follow.