Social Influence Scoring, Big Data and Why ‘Author Rank’ May Never Exist
Search Engine Optimisation

Social Influence Scoring, Big Data and Why ‘Author Rank’ May Never Exist

12th June 2013

I recently produced The Ultimate Guide to Social Scoring – a project that took extensive research into the role of social influence scoring and measurement. Whatever your opinion of Klout, I soon realised that the concept of what they do is going to be incredibly important in the context of SEO. If we think about it rationally, Klout is basically a social measurement of what’s being called ‘Author Rank’.

“Klout analyses public data to measure a person’s influence. The best way to think of this in relation to how Google analyses public websites to generate PageRank”

Joe Fernandez

Social Scoring

In Klout’s algorithm, social media data is monitored and mashed together through an algorithm to create a score. Author Rank, in theory (because it is just a theory at the moment), is the same principle; an author is verified via a social profile (which may or may not be Google+) and then various public data about this author is mashed together to create a score. It might not be a public score, but some sort of score will have to exist, much like PageRank.

Bing and Klout announced a partnership in September 2012 to better measure online influence in search. On the surface, the alliance sounds interesting: Google’s nearest competitor and the social influence scoring company with the largest data set teaming up to provide search results including influential people around certain topics. You also might think it’s a feature that Google doesn’t have.

But it does, in bucket loads.

Google’s BIG Data Set

Google has far more data than this partnership, and this extends way beyond social influence:

  • Most people with Android phones – that’s all 1 billion of them and growing – are signed into Google, their movements are tracked and all this data fed into Google’s machine.
  • Google has a social network with 500m accounts.
  • They have a unanimous market share in search and anyone who is signed in has their searches recorded.

So for all the data that Klout and Bing can get, their partnership will be miniscule compared to what Google can do by itself. Google’s data set is absolutely massive – a true example of ‘Big Data’ if you ever needed one. Through this, Google is a social scoring company, as well as many other things, in its own right.

Google+ has options to link to other social accounts – it essentially works as your hub on the web, a glue that sticks together Google services. I’ve linked up all mine in the same way I’ve linked several networks to my Klout profile.

Do you think they measure your activity on other social networks and verify them via Google+? The question is, why wouldn’t they? The required data is public and easily accessible.

Author Rank May Never Exist

With this, the concept of Author Rank as explained by AJ Kohn will be far more complex than simply relying on the interaction of people and other websites on an author’s content. It will take all of your trackable actions into account. With this in mind, ‘Author Rank’ as the term goes, probably won’t exist, because it is too simplistic. Factors like where you are, where you’ve been, who you talk to on all social media and possibly even who you call and text message (and any other data they can grab!) would be taken into account to create the score. The search results of the future (if we even have them) will see heavier personalisation to take this into account.

They have the data, so why not use it?

Eric Schmidt has publicly stated Google’s intent of using online verification in ranking systems. The SEO industry has matched this with authorship and taken to the topic of Author Rank with much haste. Although the potentially stated factors that make up ‘Author Rank’ will almost certainly be factors in future iterations of Google, they will be blended into a far more complex system. Thus there probably won’t be an ‘Author Rank’ that goes alongside ‘PageRank’ – so I suppose we need a new term.

But I’m not going to be the one that coins it.


Written By
James Carson is a freelance Content Strategy consultant based in London. Having previously worked for Bauer Media on major lifestyle brands such as FHM, heat and Grazia, he now offers consultancy services in Content Marketing and digital publishing.
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