| This 41 message thread spans 2 pages: 41 (  2 ) > > || |
|Is Google Using Social 'Authority"?|
Google have discounted the authority sent by poor links due to the fact that they may have been brought / paid for, will this transfer to the authority gained via social media?
Does this mean that social accounts with little to no activity carry less social media authority?
Hello kheadley, and welcome to the forums.
I'm betting all my work on something like this being in play for social media - and I think it will be getting tuned up as time goes on. After all, the big social sites already have some safeguards against dummy accounts, or phony "likes" and so on. Google is highly aware that people try to game social media sites, even their own Google+.
Using the terms "authority" and "social media" in the same sentence is an oxymoron if you are referring to sites like Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Those types of sites, with few exceptions, are not a source for valuable insight on any topic. They are primarily manipulative platforms for self-promotion, whether for individuals or for companies marketing their wares. I consider true social media to be in the form of website forums such as Webmaster World for us techies, or numerous others that are setup in their related fields of interest. And the less commercially driven they are, the more precious the info to be found on it. Webmaster World is an ideal example of a properly functioning social media platform with sooooooo much combined knowledge derived from a depth of member experience. Combine that with the simple non-distracting layout, and the discreet ads necessary to pay bills, and it appears to be a successful community service fulfilled.
True authority already exists throughout countless websites worldwide. Here's the key; whoever comes up with an algorithm that is capable of bringing those websites to the surface by understanding how to recognize true authority (I could write a separate post about that) will win the search engine war. It will not be any of the existing ones because they are chasing trends rather than setting them. Signals from modern social media is mostly just a gossip mill filled with frivolous chatter. If that chatter becomes longer than 140 characters people will loose their interest in it. I would estimate that 70% of the world's population basks in the frivolous stuff and 30% have the fortitude to dig deeper. Also, of those percentages, it's not evenly distributed worldwide, there are pockets of regions that lean more to one way than the other. From an outsider's perspective I see the Scandinavian region of the world as a best example of balanced sensibility. I won't name the worst because chucking spears accomplishes nothing. It's simply a matter of knowing where current "social media" is most popular to recognize regions or countries sliding into the "dumbed-down trend". If a corporation such as google, who has influence to put people into search bubbles also continue to put people into social media bubbles they are going to contribute to an ever increasing state of ignorance.
|Does this mean that social accounts with little to no activity carry less social media authority? |
If that's how they interpret it -- again that is going in the wrong direction. An account alive with constant frivolous chatter, compared to one who publishes useful stuff infrequently, may be at opposite ends of the spectrum of popularity but I would tend to lend my eye to the latter.
I have some great evergreen content that will never receive a social following. If Google doesn't care to keep it highly ranked because of that, shame on Google. Web information is not a popularity contest, much of it is just there to be helpful. If Google forgets that I fully expect another search engine to make inroads on Google's current dominance.
I'd bet that authority is measured less by links and more on traffic sources/value.
I think that traffic from referrals (including traffic from social media sites) carry SEO value.
Also, returning visitors (% split between New and Returning visitors) and direct traffic.
At least, this is what makes sense to me.
@tedster - Thanks its good to be here. Yes and this was shown the other day by Facebook saying they would remove fake likes, I do think that Google is going the way of social as a means of how useful and relevant a site is.
@SevenCubed - I would disagree that forums are a less manipulative platform for self-promotion, obviously not all (especially webmaster world, don't want to start on the wrong foot) but forum posting has been seen as poor quality link building for a long time. I think that social site are a better way a more natural way of sharing a link, and with reference to;
"An account alive with constant frivolous chatter, compared to one who publishes useful stuff infrequently, may be at opposite ends of the spectrum of popularity but I would tend to lend my eye to the latter."
Again I have to disagree, if a user is posting frivolous chatter between him/herself and their peers and one day posts a link to your website, I would see that as a natural link shared between friends. If there was a user posting very little updates albeit useful information, and these updates contained more links to useful sites it would look alot more spammy. I think there is a long way for Google to see what social updates/statuses are high quality content and not.
@Sgt_Kickaxe - I totally agree, Google says that it wants the information that will give most back to the user but there is alot of information that will never be seen as larger websites with more authority and a large social following.
@Zivush - Again I would agree that traffic from referrals carries an SEO value, and interactions with the site including returning visits would aswell.
|I would disagree that forums are a less manipulative platform for self-promotion... |
Overall in general, forums are about promoting ideas whereas the others mentioned are about promoting self-interests. The current hype surrounding the fab "social media" is a fad that will pass away sooner or later because they offer no depth, forums will always be around.
You could stare at facebook walls, twitter feeds, or pinterest photos for days or weeks and not see anything thought provoking popup whereas diving into forum posts can keep you entertained for hours and most days there is going to be at least one thread that we can learn something new from. Fab "social media" is a push medium whereas forums are a "seek and find" resource. I could go on but I think that gets my point across.
With moderator control and peer rebuttal you aren't going to get anywhere with manipulation for self-interests.
Likes and Links have a lot in common, they're both a vote, they should both be taken into account, they both can be gamed and paid.
Then there are more complex forms of 'likes' like reviews, 4sq logins, even references in Tweets and email are votes or 'likes'. Why do you think the big players all host email so the automation, the same automation that shows you relevant ads, can also show more relevant searches. It's another form of counting votes for sites or topics.
Sites that get a ton of reviews should probably outrank sites that only get a couple. However, if the site with only a few reviews has a higher rating should it outweigh the massively review site? Massively more popular doesn't necessarily mean better, only that it gets a lot more traffic and maybe it shouldn't.
Checking in with Four Square is another form of like and even your raw GPS tracking is a form of LIKE as they translate your coordinates to the real world B&M and then look up the related site. It's a lot of data to process to get real world preferences, but far more reliable than depending on your reviews or even those 4sq checking because if you keep going back to that location you really like it or need it and it should rank better.
Clicks on the links at the SE itself are a basic 'LIKE+' and bounce rates should be counted as 'LIKE-', actual user preferences, which would be a far better indicator IMO of what people are actually using and deserve to be ranked higher than any simplistic social ranking.
If you start adding it all up, traditional SEO could be (may already be) meaningless except for initially positioning the site in the search engine as real world usage will trend it into it's final position.
Cool stuff will float and the sucky will sink. The whole thing will sort itself out organically and there will be so many signals taken into account that gaming the system will be nearly impossible unless you lots of human resources.
The biggest problem right now, is Google is only getting social data from G+. Google can't crawl Facebook, Twitter, or most Linkedin data. So the only social "authority" Google has to use, is off G+. That isn't enough data to translate to the entire web. Hence the astro-turf and 'prizes' campaign for the "author" tag.
What I mean by that, is google put the little 'author' images on the serps to drive traffic to those site and encourage more people to use the author tag. After more sites use the author tag - which is an "authority signal" - then the whole concept becomes more viral.
There are alot of people playing the 'author' tag very heavily. Most pretty much agree there is some form of a page rank metric associated with accounts. eg: magic social authority across diverse websites.
|After more sites use the author tag - which is an "authority signal" - then the whole concept becomes more viral. |
That's great for a blog or a newspaper, but when it comes to UGC content such as review sites they're all original authors so which one do you pick, Yelp? or just build your own Google reviews and toss 'em all out?
FWIW, Google can't tell who the original author of a document is when they host it in their own Blogger, and it was written in 2006 and still in blogger, and gets scraped in 2010. The 2010 scraper wo, so author tags are the least of their problems.
I'm so glad to read some of the comments about the nature of social media in this thread because while some of you choose to stay up on your high horse, I'll be down here on the ground creating little micro-communities and brand evangelists that ultimately make me a little less reliant on the Big G.
Carry on, do.
(TL;DR - As with *everything* if done right, it probably helps; even if Google can't directly read the signals, it brings mentions, links, press, sharesies. If done wrong, it doesn't.)
|Google can't crawl Facebook, Twitter, or most Linkedin data |
Are you 1000% certain on this Brett?
Does it crawl the likes & tweets appearing on multiple websites (it sees the content of iframes according to Jill Whalen...)
While it doesn't crawl, hasn't it access to many Facebook users due to it's purchase of Zynga?
|Google can't crawl Facebook, Twitter, or most Linkedin data. So the only social "authority" Google has to use, is off G+. |
They may not be able to crawl social sites well but they sure as heck can sample a large enough group of people (between the toolbar, Chrome & other things they have access to) to tell what kind of traffic social sites may be driving to other sites - which would be through links, likes and general chatter and twittering. Just because they can't crawl does not mean they can't tell.
They would prefer, I am sure, that they could get that data from G+ but with the amount of information that have at their disposal to see how the web ebbs and flows, I find it hard to believe that they are not using it to tell what people are talking about on social sites.
|...will this transfer to the authority gained via social media? |
Social media IS NOT a source of authority -- it is a POINTER to sources of authority. You can buy false popularity via tweets or likes, or build it yourself via many accounts, so it is highly prone to manipulation and CANNOT be trusted. A link is a link is a link, whether from ones bought on webpages for their PR or ones conjured up via social media.
It doesn't take a whole lot of realization to come to the conclusion that if all the authoritative content across all the internet disappeared tomorrow there would be nothing left for the POINTERS to point to -- then what value or "authority" do they have? Whereas if the social media sites disappeared tomorrow it would be business as usual.
|Just because they can't crawl does not mean they can't tell. |
Are you serious? They can't even get it right for the data that they can crawl and you think they can accurately extrapolate from stuff they can't crawl?
|I'm so glad to read some of the comments about the nature of social media in this thread because while some of you choose to stay up on your high horse, I'll be down here on the ground creating little micro-communities and brand evangelists that ultimately make me a little less reliant on the Big G. |
That's a feisty post Netmeg, even by your standards. No where did I say there are not exceptions to the rule, that's a given for anything under the sun. I already covered your comment where I indicated; "They are primarily manipulative platforms for self-promotion, whether for individuals or for companies marketing their wares". And don't worry about google they are defeating themselves.
My summary comment is that there are soooooooo many things that can be done via website optimization, notice I'm not saying search engine optimization, that when done properly eliminates the need for so much extra work involved with running around chasing people to like your stuff or promote it for you. Work SMART not hard, and you will have time for leisure activities when you reclaim that extra 2 daily hours wasted tending to your social media farm.
Website optimization (done once at the analysis, design and coding phase) produces long lasting benefits that is not reliant on ever changing offsite factors that affect ability to rank.
|I'll be down here on the ground creating little micro-communities and brand evangelists... |
That sounds like a lonely and futile existence. What will you do when the next social tornado comes through and wipes out your communities and scatters the evangelists -- rebuild on yet another new fad, or finally put effort into focusing on website optimization that withstands the test of time?
And please, lets not hear the chorus of SEO is dead. SEO has always been dead. Website optimization is alive and well. Google says they have 200 signals, Bing says they have about 1000 signals to recognize authority. How many does offsite SEO address? Whereas, onsite (website) optimization can cover 1000 easily if proper focus is placed on technical structure, presentation (content), as well as delivery via hosting.
I'm so glad to read some of the comments about the nature of social media in this thread because while some of you choose to stay down in your pits of darkness, I'll be up here on the mountain, from where I can see the whole vista of confusion below.
Long live website optimization. Let the dead (SEO) bury the dead (social media).
Heh. Ok. I'm not worried about my communities. And personally I tend more towards an active role (going out and getting my traffic) than a passive one (waiting for it to find me)
|Martin Ice Web|
Let face the fact that we are old school, we saw the internet grow up. Social media or WEB2.0 wasnīt even born.
I, myself canīt take pleasure in social media because i learned to live in the real world and have real friends.
So i ignored social media for my business. But the new growing internet users are hell of fixed to this social media. They even think fb, twitter is the internet.
They follow likes and tweets and go only to facebook.com/businessname sites that are linked in fb. So I now use sm for driving traffic to my site and get to known to the new "media kids".
But i doubt that likes and tweets can be considered as authority signals. you can easily by 5000 followers with 10 bucks. So you can do it with likes.
And I donīt doubt that google is to proud to scan its biggest competitor in social media for likes! I bet they could do it, but I wouldnīt do it.
Social media is something to burst your free traffic but nothing for calculating authority.
I quoted in an other threat that google trys to build authority in regard of the real world authority. I can think of stock price, business volume, company age, adsense budget...
|Long live website optimization. Let the dead (SEO) bury the dead (social media). |
Exactly. I was waiting for someone to say this. This is the point.
Take two sites, one with great social presence + poor content and the other site with zero social presence and rich/organized/valuable content.
Which site would you prefer to read?
I can't see this as such a black and white, yes-or-no issue. I am also an old-time web user (1993) and I started actively doing SEO for my sites in 1996. So I also was not in tune with the rise of social media and certainly was not an early adopter.
However, despite the clear manipulations of fake Likes, robot Twitter accounts, etc - there is a very real signal here and both Google and Bing are working to figure out how to tap into it. And the social media sites are also working hard to clean up the spammy issues, too.
I attended a conference a few years ago that opened my eyes to the value of social media. After that "awakening" I explored the territory for a while - and then started a thread called SEO is from Mars, SMM is from Venus [webmasterworld.com] to share something of the change of mind that I had gone through.
Yes, there really is a graduated spectrum of influential people using social media and they can be identified. Yes, the search engines both know this and they are working to figure out how to tap into these signals - and what mix of old search signals and new social signals can provide value.
My approach now is not to get stuck in the old days - they are gone.
When I went through my change of mind, it was like the scales fell from my eyes. After all, what am I really doing with these websites? I'm trying to market a business. And building contacts and good will with real people is a VERY important step in promoting a business.
Thinking that online businesses are something totally abstracted from real human beings is not a balanced approach, as I see it. And Google knows this. They may not have the formula right at the moment - in fact, I don't think they do, because I don't think enough IR professionals anywhere are all that "social" to begin with. But there is an extremely valuable signal in social media and I have no doubt they are chasing it.
PS: If you haven't read "The Anatomy of Buzz" by Emanuel Rosen (now in a second edition called "The Anatomy of Buzz Revisted"), I do recommend the book.
[edited by: tedster at 8:44 pm (utc) on Sep 15, 2012]
|Which site would you prefer to read? |
But the question is not which would you read, but which would you find?
I think for the purposes of search optimization (or whatever we want to call it), we need a new word. Everybody tosses around the word "quality" like it means something. My niche is FILLED with high quality articles and information, and I am talking stuff written by people who have dedicated their lives and careers to the subject - but your average reader would be loath to read it. In the eyes of the reader, do these articles have "quality"? Not really. To most readers, they are junk that gets in the way of what they are really looking for. "Quality" is not the word that should be used. We should be using the word desirability.
And if one more person squawks on about "how you can buy 5,000" likes or followers and why this is obviously the reason search engines should not use social media, I think I will scream. For goodness sake, did the SEO community not just spend the last decade and millions of client and business dollars to buy umpteen bajillion links to their sites? And linking is a very well known factor in the algorithms. How can one be valid and the other not?
Whether or not they are doing it well, the fact is that Google has plenty of data at their finger tips to determine if links, likes, tweets, pins and whatever social media pop words comes into existence in the next decade are actually valid (i.e. used by people). Panda and Penguin were, IMHO, clear evidence that they are at least trying to sift through this data for that reason. They are looking for what is desirable information. Yes, they may not be doing it well yet (though I have to say in my niche, they do ok), but they are working on it and refining it and, yes, I think very much using it.
Social media is not going away. The players may (and likely will) change, but one has only to look at the social and online life of an average 25 year old to see that there is an entire very large segment of the population that could not fathom a world without social media, much like the generation before them could not fathom a world without the internet. If search engines - Google or otherwise - do not adapt to that, they will die and they know it.
I haven't said that social media and old link building aren't factors. They are.
Don't you think that SM, # of links and pages targeting long tail KW are what makes the search results biased, inaccurate and not-so-good?
Wouldn't you prefer that search engines shell put more weight to these signals: page-was-printed, page-was-emailed, page-was-bookmarked (and revisited), something was downloaded, time-on-site, bounce-rate, exit-rate, visitors-buy (covert), direct-traffic, pages-per-visit, traffic-from-other-sites (including SM), traffic-from-newsletters etc. etc.
Wow I'm loving the last 5 posts here :)
Martin Ice Web has especially triggered something that I need to reflect on and right now but I'm exhausted and cannot.
A nice bike ride, time to sip a coffee and reflect, and I'll jump back into this thread probably tomorrow -- it's getting interesting :)
> Does it crawl the likes
No - facebook does not allow google to mine 'likes' or the like number server. Google does not know what has been or hasn't been 'liked' on the internet.
> tweets appearing on multiple websites
not sure what you mean by that, but if that data is coming from Twitter - Google does not have access to it.
|facebook does not allow google to mine 'likes'... if that data is coming from Twitter - Google does not have access to it. |
And hence we see the strong movement at Google to roll their own, Google+, and make it successful. They need to get the flavor and the detail of the real social networks that move buzz and communication.
For example, if they can see a REAL buzz developing about something very new, that would be a more helpful signal than traditional "freshness". Right now, conventional freshness can often promote a site beyond all reason, and that opens a loophole for spam.
The actual social networks themselves are just what they are - a feature of the human landscape and culture. These influence connections will be significantly the same, no matter where or how they interface with the web. Over coming years, we'll probably learn more and more how that works.
|Wouldn't you prefer that search engines shell put more weight to these signals |
No, because most of those factors are either just as easily manipulated or archaic (seriously, number of times printed?!?!? Have you not heard of the green movement or checked the cost of printer ink - old people do this so they can read it better. That's the only people who print anything ;) ).
The trick is not what factors are genuine - almost all can be manipulated. The trick is figuring out how to determine when those factors are being used genuinely.
I agree with many here that social signals are just as manipulative as if not more manipulative than links. Cutts said recently essentially that links will continue to weigh heavily in their ranking algorithms. There is a reason for this.
Even though there is a lot of web spam in the name of building artificial/unnatural/non-editorial links to web sites, at least Google and other engines have been dealing with it for a LONG time. They know what it is. They know how to recognize it really well manually, and are even getting much better at doing so algorithmically (Panda/Penguin). And the engines have processes (spam reports, Google Quality Raters, Googlers performing manual reviews of sites) and systems/infrastructure in place to deal with it.
Rewind to 10 years or more ago. That is where the engines are with Social Media. They don't really know how to deal with it. Hell they can't really get to any useful data other than their own (G+ in Google's case). Even if they "could" get to all of the Open Graph data at FB and all of the Tweets at Twitter, they would not know how to recognize fake accounts any more than Twitter, FB, LinkedIn know how to recognize it. They have no processes and systems in place for dealing with it even if they could recognize it.
And trust me MUCH of social is VERY fake. As moderator for Search Engine Lands LinkedIn group, I see hundreds of new fake account every day. All of the major social networks are rampant with fake accounts. And regardless of what they say, even the networks themselves are capable of doing anything about it. They want you to "think" they are/can police it. But the networks are spammers' playgrounds.
If you were a search engine, which would you choose? Dealing with a known evil (links) that you know and understand and have a decade of experience identifying and dealing with? Or dealing with a new evil that you can't even see/identify and have virtually zero experience dealing with?
IMO links will continue to be important at all of the major engines for a very long time. While I do view social as a means for building brand and driving some targeted traffic if done correctly, I don't see the engines really making any significant headway in using social signals as significant ranking factors anytime in the near future.
|If you were a search engine, which would you choose? |
I would chose where the internet was going, not where it has been or even where it is now. Alta Vista choose where the internet was for its time and look where it is.
The devil you know does not cut it in today's online business world. All that will do for you is get you cut down by the person who saw the devil you did not know (or, in what you are implying, ignored because it was too complicated and scary). They have to deal with it - or they will become, at best, a footnote, at worst, a punchline.
|They have no processes and systems in place for dealing with it even if they could recognize it. |
If you think this, then you are woefully under informed about their computing power. I will say again, it comes down to ebb and flow. Natural ebb and flow is as hard to immitate online as it would be in the ocean and just as easy to track as long as you have the computing power to do it. Considering what they already must compute to run their business - this kinda seems like childs play.
|As moderator for Search Engine Lands LinkedIn group |
Well, duh... you are moderating a group of people who are highly prone to cheating. Trying to say that an SEO group is indicative of a population is like saying most Americans live like the Kardashians. IOW, for 99% of the rest of the niches out there - this may not apply.
|Dealing with a known evil (links) that you know and understand and have a decade of experience identifying and dealing with? Or dealing with a new evil that you can't even see/identify and have virtually zero experience dealing with? |
"Television won't last because people will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night."
- Darryl Zanuck, movie producer, 20th Century Fox,
"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home."
- Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp.
I'm somewhat familiar with the full data from Twitter's "Firehose" and I know that there is both a lot of intelligence there as well as some big fat "tells" about which data to ignore.
One key to identifying social spam is in the area of sentiment analysis. Google has already working hard on sentiment analysis for years (particularly for News search). But once you get good sentiment analysis happening for a given type of data, then you've got one heck of a tool for all kinds of areas. In social networks you can see patterns just jump out of the data pile that identify the fake networks. That's because they actually ARE fake - they don't show true human diversity.
Here's another one. Have you ever watched account after account start following you on Twitter and then all of a sudden all those accounts are deleted in one swoop? Twitter is not sleeping on the job, either.
So is Google using social authority in the SERPs right now? Maybe just bit, but not really so much. But are they working on it? Oh yes.
|old people do this so they can read it better. That's the only people who print anything ;) ). |
Have you heard about the following niches: kids, health, career, photos/pictures, management, travel, maps and many more.
Print is one of the most activities in these types of sites.
Diversity of traffic sources may be the key: Search Engines can measure constant/temporary traffic volume coming from many sources, including social media networks.
If this is not an effective filter to value an authority, I might have missed something.
I am not dismissing social as a traffic source even today. I'm not saying it should be ignored. Nor am I saying that "someday" it might be a reliable signal used to rank organic traffic. I am simply saying that at the moment, the engines have VERY little experience with social data in comparison to their experience with link data.
And as far as the statement above:
|Well, duh... you are moderating a group of people who are highly prone to cheating. Trying to say that an SEO group is indicative of a population is like saying most Americans live like the Kardashians. IOW, for 99% of the rest of the niches out there - this may not apply. |
I do not only see these fake accounts in SEL's LinkedIn group. But I am a member of many groups on LinkedIn that have nothing to do with online marketing (for example, nursing...) and EVERY one of those groups without fail, get spammed by fake accounts posting discussions, commenting on discussions, posting jobs, etc. promoting AdWords sites and Indeed job search sites.
I did not say or even attempt to imply that an "SEO group is indicative of a population". So I'm not sure what you were reading.
Spammers dropping "Nice post" comments with links all over the web are not indicative of legitimate SEOs.
People building low quality blog networks or link wheels to manufacture backlinks are not indicative of most webmasters on the web.
But the fact still remains that it is THAT small population (and other small populations) of the web that cause many of the problems that Google and other engines have to deal with. And if the engines do NOT have the processes and tools in place to deal with that small population whose out to manipulate their results then the quality of their results will suffer.
On Twitter, every affiliate and web spam site on the planet just about has an account. They are as active if not more active on Twitter than most legitimate brick and mortar businesses.
When Google+ was announced, affiliates including most here who make their living online ran out and created Google+ accounts. Why? Not because they thought G+ was a great social platform. Instead, most did it because they knew that G would probably start using those profiles to influence SERPs and they wanted to manipulate the results in their favor. G+ is a ghost town as a social platform, but most online marketers, affiliates, etc. are creating profiles as they build out sites or for existing sites.
Remember Reddit, Digg, and other bookmarking type sites? They started out as great places to find out about interesting things on the web that you might not otherwise have found. And then those wanting to manipulate SERPs tookover. They built power accounts and networks of friends that they could IM to dig their submissions to get it to the first page.
Social signals are just as manipulative as linking signals.
^^^ precisely what (s)he said..we wouldn't have social media fora here at WebmasterWorld, if the marketeers didn't think they could be manipulated..and they can, and are, if anything it is easier to get "likes*" for crap products or sites than it is to get "links"..
A like* takes absolutely no effort or commitment by the liker..so people ( when they are people and not bots ) will like* and +1* etc anything ..it is like children ( "how many friends have you got, I have more than you - be my friend and I'll be yours" ) with twitter followers..
A link is more difficult and still in many cases has to be "earned" by having content worthy of linking to...
*I use "like" in the generic sense of all the easily manipulatable, easily bought easily given "votes" that exist on social media, of all varieties, especially those which have allowed voting via likes..and even more so via those whose ad platforms judge success and ROI via "likes"..
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