If you have been involved in Search Engine Optimisation you probably would have heard of Google Page Rank. Google ranks every page on the web from 0 to 10. If you create a new website you’ll start off with a page rank of 0 so Google will pretty much ignore you. When you earn some trust the page rank goes up. You earn trust by getting links from external sites.
Google is making huge changes to it’s search at the moment, for example, a couple of weeks ago it made a change to US search results that effected up to 12% of all searches. They wanted to target in on content farms which is basically websites set up to host lots of content, get lots of links and improve their search ranking results. This change has not been rolled out in Europe yet but I’m sure it will. Google is also personalising search results so if you are logged in to your Google account, Google will try to display you results relevant to people you network with. They are also taking into account links shared out on twitter and this is part of it’s algorithm for working out the best content.
So why are Google making all these changes at the moment? Social Social… Social search is where Google needs to get to. Recently I was looking for business insurance so instead of searching for a provider on Google I thought it was more valuable to ask my social network for a recommendation. Google is going to return me the best optimised site and the one with the most relevant links pointing to it whereas my social network is returning me a recommendation. That is far more beneficial.
But one big problem that Google has is Facebook. They have over 600 million active users spending, on average, 22 minutes per day on Facebook, and this will be 1 billion users before long. But Google doesn’t have access to this conversation so Google can never be as powerful as it used to be.
So what is Edge rank? Edge rank is the part of the formula that Facebook has released which lets us know how to get onto people’s newsfeed. Facebook considers an item in your newsfeed as an Object. Whenever someone interacts with this object they are creating an ‘edge’ e.g. comment on the object, like the object etc. Facebook is trying to figure out what pieces of content is most interesting to me. If people are interacting with content then it’s probably more interesting so it will take that into account. Also, if this piece of content is from a friend that you interact a lot with on Facebook then that’s probably going to be more interesting (Affinity). Finally when this content is old it’s not as interesting as new content. The key is to make sure you post interesting content regularly and get people to interact with it as much as possible. That will help you move up the newsfeed.
(The science behind the Edge rank below, you will see affinity score, weight and time. Put this together with a fancy calculation and get the result)
But surely the newsfeed is different than a Google search? Yes it is. However, what’s interesting is how Facebook is developing it’s algorithm in preparation for their development of their search engine. The search facility in Facebook is pretty useless. It’s an area that Facebook haven’t really changed that much. Of course, for content that is interesting generally it will find you because it will stay in your newsfeed. But what if I want to search for a hotel to say in or a restaurant to have a meal in? Yes I could ask for recommendations but I’d much prefer to do a search on Facebook and see a list of the top places. Top places would take into account items such as:
- What friends checked in to places and what they said
- A semantic analysis of status updates where these hotels were mentioned (i.e. facebook using a tool to figure out what people have written in normal conversation, was it positive or negative).
- Highlighted hotels that have good offers published in Facebook deals.
- Information from people currently staying in the hotel but the possibility of chatting with them directly
- Message facility for communicating with someone in the hotel here and now!
So search certainly has a role in Facebook. Edge rank will contribute to this role but there will be many many other factors. I think one morning we will come in there will be a major upgrade to search within Facebook and it’s bound to happen this year.
What do you think?