Marcus Tober, founder of SearchMetrics, just published a study he did of the prevalence of Google’s authorship attribution in its search results. You can read all about the details on their site, but their data affirms my opinion that having a Google+ profile and using it to claim authorship of your content for search marketing is extremely important and will continue to be so as long as Google remains the dominant search provider of your target audience.
In his book “I’m Feeling Lucky: Confessions of Google Employee #59″, Douglas Edwards explains that Matt Cutts, now Google Distinguished Engineer and ambassador to webmasters everywhere, hates spam and took upon himself the task of improving Google’s ability to filter out porn from search results in the company’s early years. Many years later, the fight against spam is still headed up by Mr. Cutts as the search giant tries to provide high quality search results for its users from a much larger and, perhaps more unwieldy, world wide web. Recent updates to the way their systems identify and deal with spam, like the over-optimization “Penguin” update, demonstrate how Google intends to makes sense of an estimated 55 billion web pages, many of which are in a daily struggle to be found by motivated Google searchers.
Spam may be an ugly word, but as far as Google is concerned, it applies to your web site, page, or other content if you are actively trying to manipulate your way to the top of search results for particular queries. As former Google CEO Eric Schmidt reportedly said at a 2008 National Association of Advertisers conference, “The internet is fast becoming a ‘cesspool’ where false information thrives” and that the solution to all the disinformation is brands.
In a world of disinformation, which is the future, brands are the solution. Brand affinity is hard wired and fundamental to the human condition – who you trust and who you don’t. People want real value, real information, real leadership and messages of hope… The fundamental way to increase your rank is to increase your relevance.
I believe quality of content has always technically been the dominant factor in relevance according to Google but, in recent months, it seems we have been witnessing the implementation of a next-gen effort to recognize “quality” as the Google of the future emerges. As advanced machine-learning and Artificial Intelligence make search engines more capable of understanding human queries, it may be more wise than ever to appeal to the searcher instead of chasing the algorithm.
One way to do that is through Google Plus. This fairly new addition to search results connects a name and face to content, along with a note vouching for the author’s popularity. In an official Webmaster Central Blog post about the “Panda” update, Google Fellow Amit Singhal linked high-quality very closely to trust. The more Google trusts your content the more likely, I believe, it will be willing to recommend it to its user base. And vice versa. Content that is connected to a verified author trusted enough to be in several others’ circles of friendship or acquaintance is the opposite of web spam.
It’s also more manageable. If Amit et. al. are to make science-fiction a reality, I imagine an immense amount of computing power, even more than is currently employed, would be needed to run such an advanced heuristics system. And if millions and billions of new pages and Tweets and updates are posted to the web every day, how do you efficiently sift through all that and determine what is high-quality and what is just spam? I like Webmaster world user “brinked”‘s theory:
Here is what I think. The web is getting really big. The web grows exponentially each and every day. That is a ton of webpages. google has made efforts that it has bragged about in spidering/indexing this entire web world with such speed and efficiency. google is policing all of these sites and not to mention using all these resources in doing so.
If I was google, I would absolutely aim to remove the trash and shrink the web so that it is easier to rank websites and form algorithms that are more accurate.
I obviously have no idea if that can even be considered a rough idea of Google’s approach to search moving forward, but it seems to me to be a plausible idea. If it is, then, whatever you plan to market through a Google portal, must be as relevant, trustworthy, and high-quality as possible. And while I think it’s likely ingenuitous individuals continue to game the system, I believe it will be not only more rewarding but easier to play by the rules. Unfortunately, I don’t believe these very recent updates are returning higher-quality search results yet, but they are very recent and will probably be tuned further.
Get on Google Plus. Even if you don’t use it as a Facebook alternative or feel like Google is coercing you into their social network, use it for your business as part of your online marketing strategy. Establish yourself or business as a trusted source of high-quality content that interested searchers will find relevant and valuable. If the engineers at Google are as good as we are led to believe they are, then you really will be able to focus on your business and we are in for a much less stressful world of online marketing.