As Google finds meaningful ways to measure the impact of social signals and uses them in ranking pages, it doesn't have to rely as much upon link based signals and has more time to measure and analyze those and filter out scraped, transformed, and repurposed content.

What does that mean to search and SEO?
SEO and Social Media

Back in 1997 before Google was founded, links to web sites had no economic value. Since then, a link carries economic incentives. Get enough of the right type of link, and your website moves up the rankings. So when Google allowed us to find what we were looking for, it also created an industry that floods the internet with appallingly written articles.

If you look at the two attached examples, these articles use "thesaural replacement", a technique loved by students. Take an article and replace each word by an equivalent from a thesaurus. If you know the language well, you end up with something that makes sense. However, these articles are not re-written to appeal to a human reader. They are written purely so that Google doesn't immediately see the articles as the same.

By publishing these articles on blogs and article publication sites, with an embedded link, the authors hope to promote the targeted web site. It works. It is Google's greatest shame that the technology that created a very clever search engine, is also the primary stimulus for huge masses of utter drivel, on websites that exist purely to host this nonsense.

What makes the flood of rubbish even worse, is that Google believes this nonsense and gives backlink credit to the target company, but then removes the weight from the articles after a couple of months after it has been assessed as rubbish. This incentivises the industry to create ever more articles to replace the old ones that have been marked by Google as spammy.

The spammy backlink problem gets worse and worse. In recent backlink reviews for clients and their competitors, I've come across up to thousands of spammy backlinks to every "real" backlink formed to a business. It's getting complex to use automation to identify the spammy links - and that, of course is Google's problem.

So if this is any kind of problem, why doesn't Google do anything about it? I think the answer is that Google has to give weight to new articles it finds, as it finds them, because it has two sets of goals. One is to find pages that deserve to be high in results because users love them (which is failing because the flood of spammy backlinks overwhelms real user signals) and the other is to identify new emerging interests. If the Google web spam detection takes about eight weeks to run, then Google has to allocate weight to all newly discovered pages, or run the risk that burning issues that spend less than 8 weeks in the limelight, will be lost from view. Other search engines that rely less on backlinks could steal Google's thunder by emphasising new resources - so this is a clear and present threat to Google, as well as a problem of its own.

Except that very shortly, Google's Social Media services will allow them to fix this problem.

When there are enough users, and they are busy plus-one-ing resources, Google can work out the new emerging stuff by looking at users, especially at "reliable" users. How they'll work this out is beyond the scope of what I'm writing about - but Google does have a lot of practical experience understanding user behaviour in the display advertising network, where there are economic incentives to fraudulent clicking - and Google has it reasonably under control.

By looking at user behaviour, Google can cut the cord that means they must give weight to newly discovered pages. Google could suddenly stop giving weight to these pages, run the spam detection routines and after a couple of months, allocate long lived weight to the pages that survive. And that would destroy the SEO industry as it runs now, and overturn many of the current search results, which are supported by this mass of churning garbage.

So, ethical businesses should welcome Google Plus, and embrace it. And those businesses that support their organic search rank with floods of pointless articles, will need to develop new techniques.

How long? I don't work for Google, so this is all speculation. But I'd reckon that Google will probably have enough experience of social networks and social bookmarking of businesses somewhere in the next six months to eighteen months. And with luck, it will mean the end of spammy backlink building, and create a focus on trying to relentlessly improve content that users like. And this time, it might be businesses that users love, that rise to the top, instead of businesses with the largest flotation bag of churning rubbish.

What do you think - an optimists dream, sheer drivel or perhaps some element of truth?
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