Google’s Focus on Quality and the PostRank Acquisition

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Google has stressed the importance of quality content on multiple occasions. In May they published a blog post titled “More guidance on building high-quality websites” where they outlined what counts as high-quality content. Some of the advice:

  • Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
  • Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
  • Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
  • Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?

Google clearly places value on quality content, but how do you programmatically determine quality content? That might be where PostRank comes in‚ their technology analyzes blog posts for engagement analysis, or how the blog’s audience engages with the content.

Google’s purchase of PostRank gives them the technology to analyze content for audience engagement similar to how their PageRank algorithms analyze websites for link popularity. The technology will be finding its way into several of Google’s products in the near future, such as Analytics and Reader. But PostRank will also likely be used to determine organic search engine ranking.

What does the Google PostRank acquisition mean for you and me?

Google is Going More Social

Google has already been moving in that direction, adding a +1 button for user feedback in search results and by tying all employees bonuses to the company’s success in the social space. It’s clear Google is serious about being a major contender in social. PostRank gives them the ability to measure how people interact with content, essentially giving them a social “quality score” that they can use to judge the content’s quality.

Less Emphasis on Links

PageRank is going to play a lesser role in determining page quality and organic ranking in the coming years. Incoming links are definitely one major factor in the popularity and quality of a web page, but they are too easily manipulated. J.C. Penney and BMW have been in the news for buying links and other “black-hat” strategies to increase PageRank, and they’re just the high-profile examples. Thousands of companies purchase links or setup their own link farms to manipulate PageRank and improve their position on Google.

Social engagement is much more difficult to fake. Shares on Facebook and Twitter (and to a lesser extent comments on blog posts) are not completely anonymous – they require users login details. Google will be able to determine how popular content is with real web users, which is likely a better indicator of quality than backlinks.

More Social Analytics

We should also see more social analytics data show up in Google Analytics and Feedburner products following the integration of the PostRank technology. PostRank’s publisher analytics data shows number of mentions on social platforms such as Twitter, Digg and Delicious as well as who shared the content.

The information is valuable in determining what kind of content is more likely to be shared (or go viral). As social grows and drives more traffic, this will become just as important as determining which content gets searched most frequently, helping us to write content that is more likely to be shared. In turn, writing content that is more likely to be shared will probably influence organic search engine rankings as well.

More Third-Party Integrations

PostRank is already used to determine quality and ranking on a number of prominent online lists, including the AdAge Power 150. Google effectively put a stamp of approval on PostRank’s technology – expect to see more third parties using PostRank to help them evaluate individual content or entire websites.

Brandon EleyBrandon Eley
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Brandon Eley is the Interactive Director for Kelsey Advertising & Design and the co-author of Online Marketing Inside Out.

Google Tutorials & ArticlesPageRankSEO
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