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The Birth of Influence Engine Optimization?

6 August 2013 BY

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This month I’ve been looking at the newly emerged term – influence engine optimization. In this post I will provide you with a brief outline of the history of SEO as well as the consequences of tricking the algorithms and what Google implemented in return.

We will then move on and take a look at the behaviour economics of humans – highlighting the concept that humans are rational & narrowly self-interested actors, and providing you with an understanding of human psychological aspects that further contribute to the transmission and popularity of influence engine optimization rather than search engine optimization. And last but not least we’ll take a brief look social scoring to explore why and how (on earth) Justin Bieber managed to have a higher influence score than Barack Obama.

How Did SEO Come About?

Back in the early 90’s the internet’s fast evolution has quickly overpowered human maintained web directories and saw the birth of the first search engines. In order to present retrieved information to users in a more meaningful way, search engines needed to rank their results according to relevance showing the most relevant pages at the top. A true milestone was set with Google’s PageRank – the first ever relevancy ranking algorithm scoring a site’s authority.

In online terms I think it’s plausible to say that some would go as far as to cheat the algorithms to obtain a better score. As a result an entire industry evolved around Google’s PageRank, namely SEO. An SEO’s profession is to increase the PageRank of websites. However, over the years not all brands and individuals have followed best practice suit so search engines had to find new ways to overcome this obstacle. As most of you probably know these were in the form of Panda & Penguin updates. The objective was to improve search results relevancy for the best user experience.

The Consequences Of Tricking The Algorithms? Google Authorship…

Due to the enormous social web adoption search is becoming ever more personalised. Google was quick to spot the human need to be connected with each other and has realised that individuals are more trustworthy than random websites. As a result Authorship was introduced referring to a set of methods to verify connections between published content anywhere on the web and G+ profiles.  At the end of the day online content is nothing else but an extension of authors themselves (see my previous post here). Rankings now depend far more on who you are and what you have to say. And what better way to do so than acknowledging authors that are publishing compelling content?

Behaviour Economics Of Humans

When we look at behaviour economics of humans [PDF] it becomes quickly evident that we put a score on things. According to Rittenberg and Trigarthen it is the concept of ‘humans as rational and narrowly self-interested actors who have the ability to make judgements toward subjectively defined ends. Using these rational assessments we attempt to maximise utility as a consumer and economic profit as a producer’.

It’s human nature to care about ourselves and any comparisons that concern us: be that our websites, car, home, work or simply ourselves. Once we’ve put a score on something we’ve created a motivation/incentive and some of us want to improve our personal scores. My fellow State of Search blogger Barry Adams provided a more in-depth look into the behaviour economics of humans and how to apply the concept to digital marketing which you can read here.

Social Scoring

This rather newly emerged term refers to the rise of so called influence scoring tools such as Klout, Kreed & PeerIndex. The popularity of these new technologies highlights the fact that we as humans now put a score on our capability of influencing others via social media channels. Various studies have looked at individuals & brands and how they are using and misusing these tools.

According to Andrew Smith the issue we have is that by placing a numerical authority score on each other this will have an impact on other individuals’ opinions regarding our authority, influence & status. However, these scores can easily be tricked and are therefore not necessarily reflecting the reality. If you’re a bit confused then listen to the next example.

Justin Bieber vs Barack Obama

If we were to believe Klout – the US teenage sensation Justin Bieber who has a score of 100 compared to Barack Obama’s 91 is more influential than the president of the United States of America. That can’t be true…. No, all Klout tells us is that Justin Bieber has the ability to move content through his online channels far quicker than Obama.

The Birth of Influence Engine Optimization?

All these developments pave the journey from search engine optimization to the newly defined term – influence engine optimization.  Can you now see the link between behavioural human economics and social scoring, and why some of us might be tempted to game the system? Only time will tell, but who knows we might see the emergence of influence engine optimisation consultancies in the not too distant future.

AUTHORED BY:
h

Clarissa is a bilingual Strategic Marketing MA graduate with rounded experience in a number of key marketing disciplines including social media, project management, research and business development. Clarissa is Marketing Graduate at Linkdex.
  • Nikhil Raj. R

    Am I the only one who thinks this is a dumb article! I disagree with your opinion about the birth of SEO. From what I read I think your views on SEO is – an unethical way of fooling the algorithm. SEO was not born with Google’s PageRank. Even the word “Search engine optimization” existed before Google. You said “An SEO’s profession is to increase the PageRank of websites”. D’oh! I Recommend reading this to understand what is SEO! http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2012/12/21/what-heck-seo-rebuttal/

  • Nikhil Raj. R

    Am I the only one who thinks this is a dumb article! I disagree with your opinion about the birth of SEO. From what I read I think your views on SEO is – an unethical way of fooling the algorithm. SEO was not born with Google’s PageRank. Even the word “Search engine optimization” existed before Google. You said “An SEO’s profession is to increase the PageRank of websites”. D’oh! I Recommend reading this to understand what is SEO! http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2012/12/21/what-heck-seo-rebuttal/

  • Clarissa Sajbl

    Dear Nikhil,

    What I meant was that due to the fast growth of the web human web directories got exhausted and were not able to cope with the high demand. That’s why algorithms had to come into place and PageRank was a milestone. However, I have not said that SEO is unethical – rather the opposite. But I think it’s fair to say that some SEOs have tried to trick the algorithms with black hat tactics. The idea behind this post was to highlight the coalition between digital marketing & influence. Which is evident in the growth and rise of social scoring systems.

  • Clarissa Sajbl

    Dear Nikhil,

    What I meant was that due to the fast growth of the web human web directories got exhausted and were not able to cope with the high demand. That’s why algorithms had to come into place and PageRank was a milestone. However, I have not said that SEO is unethical – rather the opposite. But I think it’s fair to say that some SEOs have tried to trick the algorithms with black hat tactics. The idea behind this post was to highlight the coalition between digital marketing & influence. Which is evident in the growth and rise of social scoring systems.

  • Remi Turcotte

    euh lol… cool buzzword !

  • Remi Turcotte

    euh lol… cool buzzword !

  • gregory smith

    this is a really meaningful post, one that I have enjoyed and one that I think is a much needed piece in the seosphere. Thanks a lot for taking the time to write it.

  • erickwrites

    I explain to people that SEO is whatever Google and the search engines say it is. I usually give an absurd example, such as to say that Google could announce that they will rank businesses with a video on the home page of their website of all of their employees doing the Harlem Shake higher than those without, and those with the most Google+ votes they will rank the highest.

    Of course, that is an absurd example, but it makes the point.

    I foresee that because of the rise of IEO and such innovations as Google Glass, Google will look for ways to tap into human intelligence to further determine algorithmic behavior. As the SERP of search changes throughout the day according to how well sites do, so with the rise of IEO the results a person receives when they search on Google will no longer be determined by artificial intelligence, rather it will be determined by the conglomerate intelligence of user behavior.

    The difference will be that a person’s user behavior will not simply be determined by what they search for on Google and what sites they go to on any type of external device. It will also be determined by where they go physically, and perhaps, quite scarily, what they think. The conglomerate intelligence of active user behavior, which will be anyone who’s awake and plugged in, will be part of this human algorithm.

    Yes, this is a little Matrix like. And I could be wrong. But I haven’t been yet.

    Erick

  • erickwrites

    I explain to people that SEO is whatever Google and the search engines say it is. I usually give an absurd example, such as to say that Google could announce that they will rank businesses with a video on the home page of their website of all of their employees doing the Harlem Shake higher than those without, and those with the most Google+ votes they will rank the highest.

    Of course, that is an absurd example, but it makes the point.

    I foresee that because of the rise of IEO and such innovations as Google Glass, Google will look for ways to tap into human intelligence to further determine algorithmic behavior. As the SERP of search changes throughout the day according to how well sites do, so with the rise of IEO the results a person receives when they search on Google will no longer be determined by artificial intelligence, rather it will be determined by the conglomerate intelligence of user behavior.

    The difference will be that a person’s user behavior will not simply be determined by what they search for on Google and what sites they go to on any type of external device. It will also be determined by where they go physically, and perhaps, quite scarily, what they think. The conglomerate intelligence of active user behavior, which will be anyone who’s awake and plugged in, will be part of this human algorithm.

    Yes, this is a little Matrix like. And I could be wrong. But I haven’t been yet.

    Erick

  • Jackie Hole

    An interesting read is one that people talk about and comment on – whether positive or negative so congrats Clarissa – oh and you also made the SearchCap ;-) http://searchengineland.com/searchcap-the-day-in-search-august-6-2013-168946

  • Jackie Hole

    An interesting read is one that people talk about and comment on – whether positive or negative so congrats Clarissa – oh and you also made the SearchCap ;-) http://searchengineland.com/searchcap-the-day-in-search-august-6-2013-168946

  • Pingback: SearchCap: The Day In Search, August 6, 2013 ,Vancouver Island, Canada

  • Pingback: Wie der Klout Score uns einen Bären aufbindet « Internet

  • Pingback: SEO content marketing roundup, week ending August 7th » SEO Copywriting

  • Jim

    Which would you say are the main influence engines at the moment?

  • Jim

    Which would you say are the main influence engines at the moment?

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