How to Win Big in Google and Bing – Embrace the Future of Search!

The Social Revolution of the Web has reached its Critical Mass, and is about to explode…

Four powerful forces are about to alter the world of search as we know it.  As is always the case with any major change, there will be many winners and losers.  Ladies and Gentlemen, there will be blood!

So, what are the secret forces that will be shaping and profoundly changing the future of search?  If you like to follow and keep abreast of the latest changes and developments in the world of search and social media, you must be familiar with some of the following:

  1. Agent Rank (AR) aka Author’s Rank – Search Engines decide how to rank a certain piece of web content based on authority and trust associated with the agent/author who digitally signs the document. AR is set to change the way you think about acquiring authority for your website.
  2. Google+ Communities – A largely untapped resource that allows you to build your authority by becoming an expert in your niche.
  3. Facebook’s New Social Graph Search – A revolutionary Facebook feature that brings personalization of search to a whole new level. – This positions Facebook in partnership with Bing to take Search to a whole new level. – Do not give up on Bing just yet!
  4. Semantic Co-Occurrence – It happens when your brand is mentioned in close proximity to a relevant industry term regardless of whether or not there is an actual link to your website.  This will change the way you think about links!

Agent Rank

Agent Rank- Catalyst

Agent Rank (AR) is also known as Author’s Rank and it reflects a degree of trust and authority associated with a particular author for a given topic. You can claim the authorship of your content by digitally signing it with your Google+, rel=author or rel=publisher signature. You will also have to verify your digital signature by updating the list of websites you contribute to in your Google+ profile.  Once your content is digitally signed and verified, your Agent Rank will be associated with your content. And, here is the best part; if you happen to have a high Agent Rank for a certain topic, your content will be ranked higher by Google compared to similar content that has not been digitally signed. – It is widely expected (based on Google’s patents and opinions of many respected industry influencers like Bill Slawski) that “at some point” Agent Rank will surpass and effectively replace Google’s Page Rank in terms of its relative importance – the degree to which it can affect your organic search rankings.

Agent Rank is a relative measure of authority, not an absolute. It is reflective of authority and trust that a certain author has earned for a certain topic.  For instance, Rand Fishkin may have a high Agent Rank for the SEO topic, but his Agent Rank for topics such as ballroom dancing, scuba diving, or MMA would most likely be much lower.   So, if Rand were to author and publish four equally good articles – one article per each of these topics, chances are that his piece on SEO would end up ranking higher and receiving significantly more visibility compared to his equally good articles about ballroom dancing, scuba diving, and MMA. Further, Rand who is followed by many people in the SEO industry would likely receive a lot of exposure from social sharing and commenting on his article about SEO compared to articles on topics that have little or nothing to do with SEO.

Google Authorship Perks

Another compelling reason to mark up your content with your Google+ Authorship signature is that your picture (Google+ avatar Image) will appear next to your website in Google search results, which can help increase click through rates by 30%!

Implications of Agent Rank

No more Google Sandbox… when/if…

Now, let’s say that your brand has decided to launch a brand new website to help raise awareness about its new line of personal care products. In the past, Google’s sandbox would have prevented many brand new websites from quickly climbing up the ranks for competitive terms. Because of it, you would have to build a quality website, slowly acquire links, and wait for your new website to mature. It used to be, and still is a long and often tedious process to attain high rankings for a brand new website, especially in a highly competitive niche.

Fast forward to the day when Agent Rank (AR) gets fully implemented, which some experts believe will happen sooner rather than later. When that happens, it will theoretically be possible to obtain high search rankings for a brand new piece of content published on a brand new or relatively unknown website as long as this piece of content is digitally signed by a person who has a lot of authority and trust associated with his/her AR for the topic of the document.  This creates a tremendous opportunity for your brand new website to become an overnight sensation!

Can’t Buy Me Agent Rank?! – Earn it!

<strong”>What can Google+ Communities do for you?
Webmasters and SEOs who have been buying links in the past know just how difficult it can be to buy authoritative and quality links. The age of Agent Rank is looming on a horizon, so you can imagine that getting a real person/agent to contribute their content to your website or blog may be exponentially more difficult than buying an anonymous link.

This yet again suggests that the future of link-building will focus on building and cultivating real relationships with influencers in your niche.

Why Google+ Communities?

Social Platform Active Usage- Catalyst

Did you know that Google+ has some 343m active users making it world’s 2nd largest social network?

According to Global Web Index, Google+ is now the second largest social network in terms of active users and YouTube, included for the first time in its index is now third. The report estimates Facebook‘s active users in December 2012 at 693 million, compared to 343 million for Google+.

Google+ Communities is a new addition to Google+ which offers a unique opportunity to connect, interact and build relationships with influencers in your niche. An effective participation in a relevant Google+ Community can help you increase your Agent Rank and attract new influential followers.  How can you effectively participate? Consider the following steps:

  • Search for and join the right community in your industry or create your own!
  • Invite the relevant consumers, business pages or circles to join your community. Note that you can only invite circles that have fewer than 150 people to join your community. So, feel free to create as many relevant circles as you need to!
  • Encourage conversations by starting by initiating engaging discussions, posting videos and photos. Comment and +1 quality posts by other members of the community.
  • Share cool and relevant stuff posted by other Google+ members with your community, and always offer your commentary on anything you share!
  • Consider offering moderator privileges to deserving participants in your community.
  • Ask Genuine Questions and offer feedback often.
  • Integrate your Google+ community with other social networks.
  • Promote your new Google+ community or relevant posts in your community on your blog, Facebook groups and LinkedIn Groups.
  • Stay committed on growing and expanding your community, while building relationships and expanding your own influence and authority.


Bing Gets More Power with the help of new Social Data from Facebook – Don’t overlook it!

Promoting your page and sharing content on Facebook is more important than it has ever been before!

The recent unveiling of Social Graph by Facebook makes promoting your page and sharing content with your fans even more integral to the success of your brand. The thing is, the Social Graph not only influences Facebook but also Bing, which is now in a good position to slash market share away from Google.

Regardless of whether or not Facebook continues sharing its data with Bing, or decides to unveil its own search engine based on its new social graph, one thing remains true – your page must make the most out of its presence on Facebook. Your goal with Facebook should be connecting with your existing and potential fans. Focus on building relationships with them and encourage participation though contests, pictures and surveys.

Semantic Co-occurrence – a new way to think about link building

We all know that quality links matter. They can help you with branding, referral traffic and influencing search rankings. But, links can also be manipulated and that’s why Google is looking at many different quality signals when it comes to rankings. One of these not so obvious signals is called semantic co-occurrence, which means that a popular industry term is found in close proximity to the mention of your brand. For instance, you could have a webpage that mentions a highly competitive keyphrase such as “cell phones” in close proximity to a mention of the brand such as AT&T.  If this semantic co-occurrence takes place on a well-regarded website, Google can count it towards search rankings even if there is no actual link involved.

Similarly, a semantic co-occurrence can be considered as a ranking signal by Google, if the document is authored by a person with high-enough Agent Rank for that topic. So, you can have a brand new blog mentioning your brand in close proximity to your high-priority keyphrases, which would be considered a strong ranking signal as long as the document is authored by a person with a high Agent Rank for that topic.

In terms of capturing the attention of industry influencers to help garner semantic co-occurrences and brand citations, now is a good time to really start brainstorming, planning, and developing some killer content that will spread like wild fire garnering many social media and editorial citations. In other words, create the kind of stuff that people will notice, share, and talk about!

What do you think of future of search? Have you started building relationships with industry influencers, engaging in Google+ communities and thinking about Agent Rank? Would love to know your thoughts about the post and see some real examples from your brand!

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  • All really great points, Alex. Interesting that Google+ has now surpassed even YouTube.

    • Indeed, it is quite remarkable how Google+ is leaping forward, despite all the talk of the world not needing another Facebook. 🙂 Personally, I love their Google+ communities – a great feature to build connections with people in your niche!

  • Thank you for this information! It’s helpful to know Google + also helps build authority as I will definitely add more to mine!

  • So I agree that SEOs and search strategies should consider the inclusion of each platform/method you offer. However, the issue with GlobalWebIndex’s study is that it didn’t really define what “active users” meant.

    As for Agent Rank, I myself am a diverse author in various topics and industries online. Regardless of my personal reputation, reach, or ability to create amazing, unique content, I just don’t know how that personal value is going to be equal to the value derived from a fortune 500 brand site that invests millions and millions of dollars to drive millions of people offline, to their site.

    Again, including these into one’s strategy makes sense, but I wouldn’t put all of my eggs in one basket or bank on anything being “The Next Big Thing” in search.

    • All great points Jason,

      According to Global Web Index “Active Usage” is defined as “Used or contributed to in the past month”.

      Google+ is at the core of all the services provided by Google. Any person who uses their Gmail at least once a month is considered an active Google+ user, because Gmail is part of Google+.

      When, I am using Google Search, while also being signed in to my Google account, I am using a Google+ feature. When I see personalized Google search results, Google+ is at work.

      Even if I am not signed into my Google account, I may still see Google+ influenced search results such as Google+ author picture next to a search result, or how many people have +1ed a certain website.

      I think Google has made it pretty clear that Google+ will be a defining feature of their core product offering – Google search.

      It is not “The Next Big Thing in Search”, it is an evolution of search, a drastic change that will be gradual.

      This is what Eric Schmidt, Google SEO had to say in his book, The New Digital Age – “the Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.”

      When you write on a bunch of different topics, while claiming authorship by digitally signing your content, you establish your reputation and credibility with Google on a “per topic basis”.

      You Agent Rank (AR) is a floating score influenced by the quality of your content and engagement it receives.
      Interestingly, who engages and shares your content also plays a role in the calculation of your AR.

      The higher your AR for a certain topic the better your content will be ranked for that particular topic.

      Without a doubt, national and global brands already have quite a bit of trust and authority in the eyes of Google. However, it does not mean that they should now just relax and rest on their laurels.

      A brand that ignores Google+ will miss out short term and long term.

      For example, if you publish a new piece of content (not just a product information or extension of marketing materials) on the website of a brand X, without claiming authorship for that content, your content will be ranked based on the level of trust and authority that a brand website has in the eyes of Google. Your content will not stand out from the rest of the search results. Now, lets say I publish an equally good piece of content that has my digital signature on the website of brand Y, my content will stand out in the search results, and it will likely receive a higher share of click throughs, social shares, links, and revenue for my brand!

      As I continue publishing my digitally signed content on the website of brand Y, my AR will likely keep on increasing, gradually giving my content a growing boost in search results…

      Thus, we have a situation where we have two equally good brands, with equally good content, but brand Y receives more visibility in organic search, and hence more links, shares, comments, and ultimately sales than brand X.

      Clearly brand X would be at a disadvantage compared to brand Y, if it does not leverage the growing importance of AR. Overtime, this gap in visibility would continue to increase resulting in an ever increasing amounts of lost visibility and revenue for brand X.

  • I’ve been a google+ user from the beginning and knew it was the next big thing… can’t wait to see it pass fb!