Are you some kind of computer program that routes around the web and scrapes or spins content? Or are you a real live content writer that writes trusted and authoritative content, a Trusted Agent in Google’s eyes.
Have you ever wondered what happens when you engage with a social network or create an online review? How does the service you’re using work out how much weight to put behind the contribution you’ve made? Essentially how does it work out how to trust you?
These questions are at the heart of the way Google is changing and evolving its algorithms right now and why social signals are becoming much more important to us search marketers.
So let’s have a think about Google’s most basic use of social – Google Plus, if you’ve shared content on Google Plus or clicked on one of the +1 buttons you’ve already engaged directly in giving Google some feedback on what you think about this page.
How much weight does Google place on a Google Plus Endorsement?
Google have developed collaborative reputation systems designed to basically work out if you’re giving them the right information. This is known as the Crowdsensus Algorithm developed for use on Google Maps to keep checks on Google Maps editors.
The interesting thing about Crowdsensus is that it gives us a bit of an indication about the way Google might look at other reputational analysis because for once they’ve and specifically Ashutosh Kulshreshtha has said quite a bit about how it works (probably because of the mess they kept getting into with the bodged software that was Google Maps / Places – although that’s another post!).
Although Google doesn’t give too much away, one of the things they are telling us is that using reputation scores create results with lower error rates that when they use systems that don’t use these stats.
What is Agent Rank?
Google has patented something it refers to as Agent Rank – this is a kind of digital identity, it allows Google to associate disparate bits of content with each other and then with an individual. It’s important to remember this when looking at how the trust factor will work, as without this Google can’t work out who you are online and how you are associated with (or aren’t associated with) your engagements.
This system can then create a significance rank, for example if one user has a higher reputational score and mentions a user with less reputational score this will improve the reputational score of the user with a lower reputational score, but more importantly this will have a higher impact on the user with a lower reputational score than it would visa versa.
It also implies that there is a reputational score associated to a user based on the content that the user is associated with.
The newest version of the Agent Rank patent has been developed to emphasise this concept and adds the notion of the Trusted Agent, these being individuals that endorse content created by others.
The endorsements then flow back and increase the score of the individual that created the content in the first place.
Of course, it’s pretty needless to say that the patent doesn’t tell you who will be considered a Trusted Agent, or how you or I might become one – we also don’t really know if this is part of what Google is using to build reputational management and trust ranks in their social media ranking signals however it would appear the framework would be there.
It wasn’t long ago that Google introduced the (slightly overly complicated) concept of authorship markup – so we can be sure they are already tracking our digital signatures around the web. These digital signatures will help Google recognise who the original developer of the content was – which is the first step to introducing the above.
Let’s face it, Google Plus is just the latest attempt by Google to control the social metrics of the web before it’s too late – it’s going ok, I’m not sure it’s going great; however it’s starting to work for them. This social graph is nowhere near as mature as Google’s link graph that has evolved out of PageRank over the last decade.
So you need to be referencing your website all the time – but you can’t be one of these people that only ever put marketing posts out there, that’s not how social marketing works it’s all about engagement, you’ve got to interact and you’ve got to interact with the right people to make it work. Only then will your social media presence have the type of strength and relevance required to directly benefit your rankings.
What is Interaction Rank? (Implicit vs. Explicit Social Mapping)
It’s important to make sure that you’re not just interacting with your friends as this will decrease the relevancy of these interactions and their engagements with your content. Interaction Rank measures how related your social media (or we might in future just call it online) presence is to the people you engage with.
Google have thus built into their social media offering (Google Plus) a way of letting the users let them know how they are related to other people in the form of Google Circles. Using this explicit form of social mapping combined with the implicit form of social mapping they’ve been doing for some time should give them some seriously strong ways to predict how people are interacting with each other (or will do) and how much weight should be placed on their interactions.
I think there is still some way to go yet – how you become a trusted agent and how this plays in with Interaction Rank – and if this in turn has anything to do with the endorsements we’re making through Google Plus, +1 (and in fact every other type of social media out there) is something we’re going to have to wait to see, all we can do really is keep plugging away at our social media efforts and keep trying to build up our authority status’.