Everybody wants the best. The best profits, the best website, the best accounts, the best orders.
Google wants the best search results
To stay ahead of the competition, Google has constantly changed the way its algorithm decides what search results to display for each user query millions of times per day.
Historically, the number of links to a web page was enough to identify its popularity and therefore its rightful position at the top of a search engine. Tens of thousands of web links were created to help boost a page’s rankings, often spammy, pointless links on rubbish websites, but it worked.
Larry Page famously created the Page Rank system, essentially stating, “not all links are equal”. Links from popular sites had greater value and those poor quality sites were far less valuable. It made the search results fairer and more accurate. However it was still reasonably simple to play the system, creating more back links from around the web on sites which weren’t necessarily relevant to the site being linked to.
The Penguin and Penguin 2.0 revisions of the ranking algorithm targeted that behaviour squarely. Web spam, Google insists, will not be part of the algorithm and will not see sites propelled to the first page of Google. Even more so, sites which have engaged in those practices will be penalised. Those links won’t be ignored though, they’ll cause rankings to drop and in turn traffic along with it and cause leads and sales to plummet.
What’s next? People?
Not just links from those high authority sites (well, maybe some) but people.
If people like your site or page, if people are engaging with your brand, if your brand is engaging with people and there are lots of them, that defines popularity. Popular sites should be at the top of Google for those people’s friends to find too.
If people leave a rave review on your page or business place page, that’s certainly going to help. Don’t think this is a great idea and go buying fake reviews on Google though, how long do you think it’ll be before they’re spotted and you’re penalised again?
Google is building this model with Google+. Its +1 button is a vote of confidence for a page and after a recent update is likely to share that content with friends in your feed who might find that content interesting too. But +1 doesn’t rank a page on its own, that would most likely just create a whole load of unnatural +1 spam by those trying once again to cheat their way to the top of Google.
Enter Author Rank. Where the Page Rank system places an authority score on a web page, Author Rank places that score on a Google+ USER.
Users active on the Google+ platform and off it are afforded an Author Rank, based on the creation of unique, valuable content and the social interactions around that content. The more interaction there is, the higher the Rank of that Author.
Content that an Author shares (and +1s, we assume), therefore is afforded greater authority by extension and a blend of social interaction around a web page and its Author will go a significant way to defining where that page should rank in Google Search.
More data about your use of the web will help Google serve you with a better web experience. Google having all of that data about you might be scary for some, but for me, it makes the web a better place.
This data means that Google will understand more about how we use the web, what we like to read, sites we like to visit, things that interest us. Google is funded by ad revenue from Google AdWords.
- Users get a better experience on Google Search because the results are more relevant and could be endorsed by friends on Google+ via the +1 system.
- Advertisers get better targeting of their ads and more effective campaigns, making better use of budgets.
- Google maintains its position as market leader and yes, probably adds to the colossal profits it makes.
There’s another area which I believe is significant though. Display. Banner ads can currently be targeted using remarketing, targeting users who have visited your site, or even a specific page with banners to remind them of your brand during the sales funnel. Alternatively banners could be targeted contextually alongside content you know your audience would be reading.
There is also an audience targeting option which defines an audience on its recent search history and pages visited. Google+ data gives a far greater, more accurate definition of that audience. That definition creates greater accuracy of targeting for advertisers, in a similar way to Facebook‘s ad targeting options.
Coupled with the data Google could glean from purchases users make with Google Wallet, this makes for an extremely powerful dataset.
That power may scare some, but I believe that the web will be a better place for users because of it.
Get ahead of your competitors, start building your Google+ profile, network and Author Rank now. And I do mean, NOW.