Recently four members of the Plus Your Business team got together to discuss Google+. As you will hear in this one hour session, they really took up four unique perspectives and covered a tremendous amount of ground. This is one essential interview to enhance your Google+ understanding.
For those unfamiliar with Google+ you may be surprised to learn quite how profound a change it will be for how individuals and businesses. Enjoy listening to Ronnie Bincer (the host), Mark Traphagen, David Amerland and Martin Shervington chat about Google+ in what may be a very different way.
Here is a transcript for you to skim through if you prefer to read!
Ronnie: Hello everyone out there!
Thanks for joining us on this wonderful show. This is going to be a discussion about how Google semantic search changes our online behavior.
My name is Ronnie Bincer, as you can see right over there and I am known as the Hangout helper. And my goal here is to help this conversation become as valuable as possible for you. And one of the ways I am going to be doing that is by introducing the first person on our panel whose name is David Amerland.
He is going to give us a brief overview right now of what semantic search is so that we can understand little bit better about how it might affect our online behavior. So please David take it away.
David: Hi Ronnie, I am very glad to be here. It’s a very important subject in many ways because semantic search is going to affect everybody who works online. And a lot of people have been affected already. And even more importantly it’s going to start affecting people who work offline. And this where the complete sort of question mark over how it’s going to do that comes in.
But, let’s take it from very basics from how what it is. Compared to how we use to use search in the past, which is essentially a guessing game with a lot of uncertainty. We used to try as the people doing the research to guess what person or the company who have put some kind of content had to use in term of some keywords, perhaps how they would have approached it.
They in turn would have created some kind of content when they were on their website which they would have tried to guess how we would look for it, for whatever they were selling in terms of product, or service or even some kind of information.
And Google in turn would try to sort of bring those two things together in some sort of statistical way in terms of how they would meet the query and the answer, and give us results going from the most accurate to the least accurate, one that’s sort of like a leader board.
And we will then have to act almost like a filter, going from result to result trying to see if that actually answered a query or not. And if it didn’t then we would have to repeat the search.
It is a very imperfect world that worked only because you had no other choice. And as the web grows in information, as the information out there grows in terms of size and density and complexity and as our needs also increase in direct proportion to that, something else had to be put in place.
And semantic search is, in many ways is the ultimate answer, because it is scalable, it is infinitely refine able, and is almost infinitely personalisable. And I have to explain these things.
It’s scalable in terms of it can keep them growing and keep pace with the web as it grows. So there is no point where the web will ever become too big for search. It is personalisable because they weight minds signals and information. It tries to understand completely what we ask in terms of the intent as well as the search query. Almost like a person would.
So if you ask me for instance you know how was your holiday? And that’s all you say. You don’t have to say where I went or what I did or if I went to holiday. There’s a whole subtext to that kind of question, which a human understands because you are talking about perhaps the quality about where I went in terms of previous conversations we had. Or you are talking if it’s the first question. We haven’t met for a while. You’re saying, did you get enough rest, for instance, and now you are feeling refreshed.
Semantic search is up to trying to understand in the same depth and same events by linking in what we like in terms of patterns, social connection, our previous search queries. So it creates a very complete picture of how we look for things and what we are actually looking to find.
It does the same thing in terms of our complexity and nuance on their web in terms of the information that’s out there. So when it brings the two together theoretically will be a perfect match. So you’re going to ask a question and get a perfect answer.
Obviously we are not there yet. These are early days we are very in a sort of a between world and we are getting kind of mixed results. But this is when things become interesting. So I will leave it at that because obviously it’s a very complicated subject, technically, but it’s a fact sound and we going to start seeing them we are going to actually have seen them already in terms of how search works.
Ronnie: Okay, so then next in line is we have got Mark Traphagen and he has got a different angle a little bit about how all the Semantic web stuff and search is affecting our online behavior. And I think what he is going to talk about, and you can tell me if I’m wrong Mark, is something to do with authorship. So you are on.
Mark: I thought we are here to talk about ghosts and goblins because that’s how we answer. Yeah Absolutely! Google authorship is just a great laboratory for what David was just talking about because it’s one of the 1st places and one of the most visible places we are able to watch Google implementing or moving in the directions that David was just talking about.
A large part of the, one of the aspects, of semantic search is Google search engine being able to identify, what have been called, entities or agents. These are people, places, and things, they are the nodes that we as human being understand, the basic real things in our world. And that we pick up and learn the connections between those things.
So when you say to me or somebody says David Amerland to me, instantly in my brain, a whole web of connections is set off.
Ronnie: A whole web, was that a pun?
Mark: It’s a pun and the reality
David: Happy Halloween!
Mark: Yeah! Right! A scary spider web. You should have seen in a pre-show we were going to be Halloween references.
So literally, it is a web of references that are set-off in our brain of varying degrees of strength. So somebody says David Amerland then I am going to think even in UK with semantic search, I am going to think handsome dude. You know all these associations like that get set-off.
And authorship is the place where we see Google doing that right in front of our eyes. It’s the attempt by Google to begin to identify real people in Google+ of course helps them to do that and then associate those people with their content anywhere on the web. And that’s amazing. That’s never been attempted before.
Before, websites ruled everything. Your association was with the site. So if I write on Virante.org blog, that was one instance of my content. If I go over and write on Search Engine Land or Moz on their blog previously, that would have existed in its own world and only would have whatever authority that site had.
Now Google knows that all that content, no matter where it is, and everything I do on Google+, and probably to certain extent what I do on other social networks, is connected with me. And they can begin to measure those associations that we are just talking about and particularly, when it comes to content, begin to measure how people resonate with the different type of content that I produce where ever I produce.
The goal being eventually to identify who are the subject area authorities, who are the people that are talking about various topics & subjects that other people, other entities out there connect with & build strong web connections. When I say web connections, I will be clear I don’t mean just internet, you know web connections, but relational connections, semantic connections. They say good things about it. They recommend it.
Those are the kind of things that build up the authority of that author. And then, his or her content that’s relevant to that can be related to the things David was talking about. The semantic search engine will get better and better at saying, this person is really asking or seeking for something that Martin Shervington is an expert on. And so we are going to connect that person with his content.
And not only because of query, but may be because we also see of web of relationships that we have in common. There’s connections between me and the person asking the query and Martin. That Google will see and say, not only there is a content relationship here that we should pursue. But there is also relational aspect. It is more likely this information will be useful to that person because of the kind of relational connections that they have that are mutual.
Those are just some of the ways that authorship is a window into the beginnings of the kinds of things that David was talking about Semantic search. That ties over whole social world, which is what Martin does so well at and is here for. I think Martin, you going to bring us over to that aspect. Aren’t you?
Martin: Yes I am. That was a beautiful segue. Well looking at how the role of Google+ really, in relation to this. And how it shapes our behavior. And why it shapes our behavior. What’s different about Google+ as opposed to whole prior to Google+?
And one of the things is that the people seem to play nicely most of the time. And they seem to be, David and I spoke about this a little while ago, why is there a feeling that everybody is trying to help each other? What’s going on? Why is there teams forming and information flowing as opposed to trying to sell to each other all the time? What’s happening?
I think it’s a cultural emergence. I think it’s a new culture. I don’t think it’s an existing culture that’s being transplanted. I actually think it’s a new view for those people that are acting in that way and from that viewpoint. And it means that you can’t hurry because relationships take time. So it means, that every touch point we have, every conversation or every +1, I was coming to this actually, even every +1 messages emotionally to that person, potentially.
And it means, that methods that we have, the +1 to comes to share is the hangout, e-mails and relational and content message on the videos that we can produce, all of that.
That all starts to influence the relationships. And it means that potentially, every single touch point in the relationship can become significant or neutral or potentially negative as well. And that’s really as we see this, the transformational difference in the opportunity that we have. We said OK, how do we best connect with people, whom do we want to connect with? How do we best connect?
It takes turns. It takes lot of repeats of hey how you doing? What’s happening? Oh…I am into that as well! You’re into mountain biking. Wow! I’m into mountain biking. You’re into fitness. David you are into fitness?
Let’s talk about that and over time it’s going to what else you do? What else is happening in your life? Should we hangout? Should we chat? Should we become friends? Aw, I love that article that you put out. I relate to that and I spent time looking at that article because I like the other stuff that you do.
I think that one of the indications of why this is different is want to people to arrive. And I have this recently in the Plus Your Business community. People don’t actually trust your content if you are not known yet even if it is the best content in the world.
They just don’t read it because they don’t recognize your name and associate your name with trusted content. It’s a just words that’s put down. But when somebody who has been ranked is in the community goes, this is good. I am going to tell people it’s good. I am going to +1 it.
Actually, myself and Mark, have you still got yours on public? When I +1 stuff my intention is that other people see it. That’s why I put it open. And David, and I believe Ronnie has as well. We have made that intent that we want to accelerate back into other people streams.
But when we do that, people go aw, Martin, Ronnie, David, Mark they are essentially sponsor in that concept. They are saying, I want other people to see this. I want you to know I am backing this in some way. And that really does-
If you don’t do that with awareness, and you have that on, then you’re not getting anything. So you could be letting information that isn’t necessarily that useful to further people to be seen. So we have to vet the content.
So again it brings more awareness and potentially we starts to put relationship with that person. Now I can natter on for ages so I will be quite for a minute.
Ronnie: So at this point I am going to switch into answering some of the questions that have been being preloaded in our questions app. I did one of those at the very beginning. But I am going to bring one up and I am going to read it because I am not sure that everybody inside can see it. And you might actually be watching this later.
So this is a question from Alexandra. She asked, how does trust fit into all of this? How exactly do we built trust which builds authority? There is actually load of questions. Let me read them all and then see what we can do.
So the last one was how do we actually build trust which builds authority? Why is this said that relevant content is more important than numbers of followers? And do you all think hangouts on air eventually be the best way to develop authority?
So I will leave this open for any of you to answer any of those questions.
David: Okay! Good questions to start off with. Let’s begin with trust, because essentially this is not new. It is as old as the hills. You always dealt with people you trusted because biologically it was a matter of survival.
You came out of the caves, you had your trusted clan members when you went on the hunt. We haven’t changed. And the reason we have come up with the question now is because our behavior has changed. And it has changed because the last 100 years leading up to the year 2000 we’re an aberration.
We always used to create trust through personal relationships and through personal judgments. And the moment we reached the industrial revolution everything scaled up. Things became too big to personally. So we began to go into a broadcast mode where one source broadcast to many. And we used the entry point or rather cost of the entry point to judge whether the source is trustworthy or not.
I need to clarify this. You know, if you set up a TV station for instance, a newspaper or a large corporation, there were such huge costs involved in the enterprise that you had to ultimately trust the people who are doing that were credible, knew what they were doing. and you could do business with them.
It’s not the case anymore because now the cost of actually getting there has gone a lot lower. We are broadcasting right now and the cost is so low we can bring out the newspaper tomorrow. And the cost is incredibly low. When you have the kind of low entry point, low cost at the point of entry, then the trust factor comes in terms of personal relationships and personal connections. And all that comes into play.
A lot of the challenges we see today in the world, business or large corporations can’t really deal with customers anymore. How small agile operators can be very successful in the global stage. Comes down to the trust factor. It comes down to the way of creating relationships. Pretty much what Mark said earlier about the authorship and knowing what your sources are.
Pretty much what Martin said about the way people behave and how you basically take your offline, traditional offline behavior, where you trusted traditionally a very small circle of close friends and now you open it up globally using modes of behavior which translate slightly different but with the same effect on the web.
So that why trust is so important. And from trust we also get into authority. Authority essentially is knowledge and how deep you know something. So if it takes Martin feels from the very first days in and days of Google+ is also talking about the authorship and its importance.
You know that he has researched the subject very carefully. He has a large number of followers who follow him specifically for his ideas, his opinions, and his research on that subject. So when he says something you know it’s actually, he sorted through a lot more carefully and to greater depth than perhaps if somebody who you don’t know says it.
And that’s how you sort of judge their authority on that and depending on how perceive. It’s a perceived thing obviously. But depending on what assessments you go through then you sort of begin to connect with him and amplified authority or not as the case may be.
Ronnie: So Mark, I know you want to jump in here. So let me ask you a portion of this and David if you need to summarize that point, please do. But the portion was why is it said that relevant content is more important than say numbers of followers? That would be something that maybe you could address. But David if I cut you off early, please finish your last point.
David: No, I think its fine because essentially it leads beautiful into this because Mark if we instead of authorship amongst other things. So his followers are actually in content, actually relevant to this and it doesn’t have anything to do with numbers. So I think he nails it. Perfect answer here.
Mark: That’s one of the, I am so glad that was asked because that is one of the biggest misconceptions out there. And because it’s in terms of how we think of popularity. We think of, we link authority and trust to popularity and so we think popularity equals numbers.
People just have assumed from the beginning what’s going to make Google+, why do you weigh more? Why do your posts rank better in search than someone else’s? That’s because you have more followers.
Well as I have talked about before, I noticed early on that certain profiles with a very low, relatively low follower count were able to outrank other profiles for a Google+ posting or Google search than other profiles that who has tons more you know hundreds or thousands of more followers in some cases.
So it isn’t about the numbers and that makes sense. That’s the way Google is setting this up, it’s very smart because the understanding, the real psychology behind this that is something that Martin can dwell into a little bit also. That just sheer numbers don’t indicate that necessarily authority and trust. But it’s more who is engaging with that content and the relevance here that too.
So if as Martin said, if you know I have nearly 70K people following me on Google+. Okay, lot of those people, and Google understands this, a lot of those people just added me at some point, willy-nilly. They saw me in a circle share or wherever it might be. You know, I posted one piece of content they liked and they shared me. They may never look at it again.
What’s important is how many of those people are looking at me and paying more attention to me when I speak about Google authorship, for example, and who those are. Because people who are relevant more and more to that topic, it stands to reason if they are paying attention to me, that means something.
If I am a scientist and publish a paper and I submit it to a peer-reviewed journal and my peers look at it and they ignore and they say, you are not going to publish this. We don’t think it’s authoritative that’s one thing. But if they publish, that’s why science has that because the moment they gets published in a recognized journal it’s got a stamp approval on it saying other recognized authorities look at this and said, this is good stuff. So that’s where the content relevance comes in.
And just one thing I wanted to add quickly from the authorship standpoint is one of the interesting things that we are seeing, I believe the way it’s being used on Google, is we are two and a half years into Google authorship. And there is still no indication that the much-vaunted author rank is here. Author rank being used in the terms of Google actively using the data from authorship to manipulate certain results to you know say Mark is more authoritative. So we are going to pump him up.
But, I am thinking more and more, they don’t almost they almost don’t need to do that. I think they still will at some point. But it’s already operative because already things have happened. If I am building real world authority, if my content isn’t as trusted, what happens? People see my author photo in their search results when they search about Google authorship or something related to the topic. They click on it. And they like what they see and it helps them. That’s authoritative.
What are they going to do? They share it with other people. That creates links out there on the internet that link back the content more and more. It’s building real authority that other people are pointing to that is already influencing the kinds of signals that Google already looks at.
Ronnie: Do you remember Mark, way back when Google said we are going to pay more attention to the social signals. That was something they broadcast long time ago and I never knew exactly what it meant. This is actually what it is. Isn’t it?
Mark: Yah! In a sense it is and I think that’s what relates to last week at Pubcon Matt Cutts made some interesting statements about social signals, more than I heard about it in a long time from a Google representative. And the interesting thing that he said was that, he wanted to make clear that social signals don’t do much for you in what he call the short-term. And I take that to mean like it’s not a one to one there is too many people who are thinking like if I get 50 +1s on this post that will move it up four positions in the ranks.
And Google is not going to do that because it’s too easy to game. And even when it’s not gamed, people +1’ing something we don’t really know. It’s a nice signal. It has some meaning. We don’t really know why they did that.
So what’s more valuable he said is the long term influence. If over time, you are getting consistently those social signals around you, consistently I take like not just a flash in the pan not just a post that everybody +1’d or re-shared but over time, it’s getting re-shared, it’s getting liked, its getting re-tweeted.
All of these things build, I think, build a kind of aura of trust and authority around you that Google will pay attention to. And I think will be eventually more and more incorporated into how your content does. This is a whole other topic. But we talk so much in our search world about ranking and we have been so stuck on ranking.
Ranking isn’t the important thing anymore or as important as is used to be, because of the semantics search, because of Google Hummingbird. Google is more and more going to be able to make connections with your relevant [cuts out 0:24:12]. And that’s going to branch of into another topic. But, I will lay that out there we can talk more about it later.
Ronnie: That last little summary I am sure was wonderful, but I didn’t hear it. It kind of got eaten up by the Google Monster. Could you repeat that last little part Mark? And then we will move on.
Mark: Okay! What I was saying that, just this is a teaser and something I am sure we will move into. I hope I am covering the part that was missed here. Because of the way Google is moving in the semantic search that David described in the beginning. Because of the things like the Google Hummingbird update, which is getting better at translating in a sense people’s queries on search, what’s going to happen more and more is that, ranking – people are so fixated at ranking.
They are saying like, they want to look for author rank. Will my author authority make my keywords move up higher in search. And that’s going to become less and less important as we get into this because the main key I wanted to get in here is that Google is going to get better and better at being able to match a relevant person in query with relevant content on the web. Whether or not that’s ranking for that keyword or not. They are going to be looking more at other clues, other kinds of relevancy aside from just, am I point position three on page one for this particular keyword? So that’s what I want to get out there.
Ronnie: Great! Now Mark, I know you probably got something to add here but let me, because I am not sure if it’s going to tie into this question or not. Let me add one little part and then let you have your say please. Part of the last part of the question talked about do we think that hangouts on air will eventually be the best way to develop authority.
I have used hangouts regularly. I am a hangout helper I help people learn how to use them to communicate a message. I believe the methodology for communicating a message isn’t just hangouts, even though you might think that’s what I believe. That is one way to deal with it.
But what I find hangout is incredibly useful for is creating relationships. I can meet people all over the world that have similar interests that I have. And we can build a bond by being in a 20-minute hangout that would have taken years to build.
And from then on my relationship with them is different, which means when I see their post I remember their face, I remember their person, I remember their interaction with me and I have a different perspective when I look at their posting. Even though I may be on hangout with them only once, I now have a different perspective. So Martin please pick up on there.
Martin: Picking up on that, one of the things that I have spent last year and I realized is when we are connected with somebody, we know the name, we know their face, we may know what they do, we may know where they live but we have it in our head. It’s every time somebody says that person’s name we have a little knowledge graph that goes off and connects us to that content. We have that.
If we haven’t really connected with somebody, we haven’t really got that in our head. And one of the difficulties on threads in particular is that there is lot of activity sometimes. And it’s quite hard to attend and check out the person’s hover card and see their picture and go okay, I am going to go to the profile and then build up all of those touch points.
What hangouts can do is jump past all of that and very quickly go okay well I just Mark where you from? And David. And this is what you do and you can ask those questions and it can be lot faster way of laying down essentially the neutral networks that allow you to sustain a connection when you connect those two things.
So I think I see you right, I mean I love hangouts. I mean most of my days with different people in hangouts and find that without that, Google+ would be a very different experience.
But also there is a process. In fact Alexandra wrote a post on this last week. And she was talking about buy me a cup of coffee first. And the idea being that sometimes she gets approached from hangouts that – by the way sometimes I don’t +1 posts, I don’t comment, but I do read them. And I happened to read this, and just went, okay I she’s having that experience. People are getting in touch with her too quickly.
They’re not gently easing into the conversation. They’re sending her a hangout invite. And that’s too much. So she gave that feedback.
Now, it’s just interesting that when it works, it simply works. And when there has been enough contact, and when there has been positive flow of information – that’s the other thing. Most of the time you want it to be a pleasant experience – then that step to being interviewed or interviewing or just hanging out, whatever it may be, just becomes easy.
So I am with you all. That wasn’t what I was going to say actually, earlier. But Ronnie that was a beautiful thing.
What I was going to talk about was that actually one of the critical things is understanding the opportunity on Google+. If you take it that we all live within a village in real life. And if you had 10, 20, 50 -100 let’s say people that every time you had to make a friend, hey I have got this going on folks. That they ran off and told everybody that they were connected to in the part of the village.
If you had 50-100 that had their ears open up at that time, so they could hear the information. That would spread the message phenomenally quickly. I think that’s what we can do on Google+ is that we are able to communicate our message and if we have – and people talk about a thousand true fans of whatever we do.
If you have a 50-100 true connections they go, hey I trust, respect, appreciate, and like to support and everybody is mutually doing this. This spreads the information that allows things to work.
Mark: What’s awesome I think that’s changed in a technological way is its more than a 140 characters. And I am not picking on something on purpose. I am just pointing out that as we evolve this platform, such as it is, Google+ allows us to get much more rich, semantic information, in our broadcast, if you want to call it that. And then it gets repeated, rather than just I am eating dinner over here. And that’s all I can say.
Martin: Prior to the broadcast. This is the thing. It’s actually contextually within it because we have a post but we have our about section which has much more. And we’re much more flowing then. The system feels very different than let’s say – well I’ll say it, to a Twitter feed because it is different. And it allows that richness.
But when you add in the hangouts and you add in the YouTube content and you add in the events, suddenly the whole package together – and going right across the web, you know the comments, the embedded posts on some people – everything starts to feel as if the information is more free and flowing.
Ronnie: Like and I wanted to bring in a comment, and it just moved which is one of the things that bothers me about the questions app. It was talking about, and I guess maybe I am not going to find it fast enough is: we are inside Google+ doing this stuff. How does that affect what we are doing on our websites?
And does it matter? What’s the differentiation between the semantic thing that’s happening online in a place like Google+ versus what we are doing on our websites? And how do those two work together?
David: Excellent question. Let’s answer succinctly. In the past, authority came from the website because the signals which signaled that authority came from the website. And then they were very scan able. What were they?
They were for instance the creation of content. Obviously the existence of the website in the first place. The creation of content, which was indexable, content that had specific keywords, content that got updated frequently, had specific length. Content that was linked to some other websites.
It was all compartmentalized activity that added up to certain kind of authority for the website itself. It didn’t matter who the person was. So for instance you could get interchanging people owning a website. It wouldn’t matter. You could get sort of all sorts of people hiding behind it and coming back under different identities.
That has changed because in semantic web we begin to work from the personal signal first. Social signals matter. The personal interaction of verifiable identities with website content becomes essentially part of Google’s semantic search filtering process for verification.
So when we look to see what the content is about. How important it is? Does it have any traction? Does it have any kind of authority? Is it sharable? Do people talk about it? Do people link back to it? It always comes back to people.
This is what’s really new about semantic web. It’s actually the transition from the website the web of websites to a web of people. People come first. And websites and their content and their authority perhaps and their specialty their specialization get discovered through people activity, which beautifully, I suspect, links back to what Mark was talking about earlier with authorship, which is undergoing changes in itself now, in terms of how Google looks at it and approaches it. And perhaps Mark would like to talk about this, because it’s gone from being a very manual activity to sort of going towards an automated process.
Ronnie: Mark before you jump in, are you going to be talking about keywords or sentences or paragraphs in this? Because than I can highlight a question that’s related to that. If not, I don’t want to highlight it.
Mark: Yeah, not necessarily. There is somewhere else I like to go first, but that would be good to get to. To what David was saying, I think that one of the things first of all just to be clear on the question that was asked originally. How does this connect that we do on here to our websites and some things like that?
One of the awesome things just on a very mechanical level is this very structured Google+ means that Google can see those connections. And you actually give it to them when you create a profile. But my profile through that profile they can see that I work for Virante. They can see I am an administrator of the Virante page. The Virante page is connected to our website, has a verified connection which was required to get the vendor URL’s they’re sending out this week.
So by verifying that connection they know this brand is associated to this page. These people are associated with that page. These are all actual connections that we are making on a very physical, mechanical level that tell Google, give them the clue right upfront about these relationships.
So this is a very quick answer to how does this relate to my website? Google can now better than ever see the personal connection that you have with websites that are out there. How you relate to them.
Ronnie: But, let me ask this, because I am such a Google+ monster. Do you think that the website alone has the same semantic value to Google semantic search if they don’t have a connection in place like Google+?
Mark: Well, that’s a great question because that actually leads back to what David was trying to pitch to me a moment ago, the ball that David was throwing over to me. That is it’s easiest for Google if you make that connection. Whether it’s on the page to site level with some people use to call rel= publisher connection or on the authorship side and the person to the contents, the person to the site that lets that person publish on.
If you make that physical connection by using the mark up, by putting the links in your profile, it’s obviously lot easier. But – and this is where things are changing, and see it in authorship right now – is that Google is, it’s just the beginning. It’s an infant. And they are making mistakes with it but. They are attempting to make those relationships and observe them by means other than our having to mark it up and say link to it and say, here it is.
Let me just quickly, how that’s happening in authorship. Last week AJ Kohn published an article where he used the provocative title that unfortunately lot of people misunderstand it. But he said, authorship is dead and by that he didn’t mean authorship is dead. But what he was saying is that something interesting has happened structurally at Google.
Othar Hansson, who was the head of the Google project, excuse me the authorship project, AJ noticed in his about page was now working on Android. And so he has some friendship with Othar or communicated with him. Eventually got an answer. And it appears that is no longer an authorship department as it were at Google. It’s not longer its own thing.
Now, that causes some people to panic, to think they’re abandoning it, they’re giving up on it. All that work I did on authorship is for nothing. I think quite the opposite, because at the same time we have we are hearing more from Google than we have heard in two years in just the last few months about the value of authorship and about them wanting to identify subject area authorities. They put out a whole FAQ just a month and a half ago about how to use authorship better.
So here’s where all this is going on. They are realizing that only a small minority of us ever going to do the mark up, the rel=author in mark up because it’s little difficult, it’s complicated, it’s technical, and you have to take an action to do it. They can’t depend on people to do that.
So they are reaching beyond that. And they are beginning to look into ways or how do we figure out that this is Mark Traphagen’s content even if he doesn’t use authorship on it. And we are seeing that because we are seeing more and more content out there showing up in search with the authorship rich snippet, with the author photo next to it. And when you go and investigate you see that was never marked up. In fact, that person doesn’t have that site linked in his contributor to on a site. But Google figured out its author.
Now, as I said in the beginning, they sometimes make mistakes with that and it causes people grief. We are in the stumbling around. We are in the infancy stages of this. But this is where they are going so that they will be able to figure out who is associated with what, even if you don’t directly link to it. Does that make some sense?
Ronnie: I think it does, yeah, because I want to bring some of the value that the people that have been asking the questions before the show. Let me just bring up one and read i. And then let’s just see if we have already covered it all.
This is from Sandra. She is asking, after thinking this through or thinking through with this means I am wondering how this affects keywords. And will they become irrelevant eventually? Will it become more key sentences or paragraphs? What do you guys think on that?
David: Keywords are dead. Okay, this is contentious. Let’s think why we needed keywords? We needed keywords because the keywords which existed on our webpage, the proximity of those keywords, their occurrence co-occurrence and variation etc. helped Google understand what the subject on page was. It was very approximate, very probabilistic in terms of how it worked, which was why it was so imperfect and why you could get results which had such wild sort of deviation from what you are actually looking for.
Ronnie: But David, before we go too far into it, just remember the main context of our show is how this is influencing or changing our behavior.
David: Okay. So essentially, we used to use those keywords to look for search. It comes back to what I said at the opening of the show, where essentially it was hanging up. We used to try and guess what keywords were on the page. And the person creating the pages were trying to guess what keyword we might use. And it was sort of work trying to come together.
This doesn’t happen anymore. Keywords certainly will come up if you are writing about a specific subject because they are inevitable. Inevitable perhaps if they are associated with that subject.
But, they are no longer necessary in order to be keyword stuffed in any kind of, using any kind of ingenuity in order to create the credibility for the page. What really works for a page when you are creating content is the depth of knowledge that you actually put on page and how thorough it is. How fun it is.
Mark: And from the user behavior stamp, I just want to jump in on this, just to get both sides of it. That’s the content producer side. On the user side, users are going to learn, Google is kind of train them through experiences that they can, they don’t have to try to figure out what the keyword is anymore to get the best results.
They can just ask the question, just like they would to a real human being. And more and more Google will get better at associating that with the right content. So I just want to bring in the user side of it.
Ronnie: So in essence, the keywords are not going to be totally dead. They are just going to be a natural part of what you are talking about.
David: Yes, absolutely. I mean it’s like for instance, let’s think that you happen to be extreme active in the audio visual area. And if I have a conversation with you, then chances are we will actually say user word audio visual equipment in discussing it with you. It’s going to be inevitable.
But I am not going to say what sort of audio visual equipment do you use to get the best audio visual experience in a kind of audio visual environment so we can audio visually connect with other people, which is what use to happen in the past.
So yes it becomes a lot more natural, which is exactly what Mark was saying, which is really valuable. And how it changes our behavior is that we stop thinking of search as search and we just ask a question looking for information. And increasingly we are going to begin trusting that we got the right answer. And that is really important.
Ronnie: Great. Martin?
Martin: And I think that one of the big things we haven’t mentioned, we know Google is doing it this way as we repeatedly say it, is mobile. It’s mobile and it’s voice. When you have got the moto-W, with it’s “Okay Google”. And then you ask the question. And it’s on Google all the time. These are massive system changes.
And I love the desktop. I love the laptop and I like to type and all. But I know the way its going. And we will be there, like the Star Trek computer, being able to ask the question. We already can actually. But you can ask the question, once it gets your accent, (mine is little bit odd). But once it understands you, bit like Captain Kirk please, then it will draw down the response. It will be able to draw down further and further as if you are having a conversation. And that’s were the keywords are.
I’ve been doing a lot of research on this lately and having spoken to David and having read through Google semantic search several times which is next to me. The principle of be the answer. If you got a website be the answer that people are going to look for.
And that means be the best answer, be the most appropriate answer for that person. And that person’s context is the people they’re connected with, the people in their circles, the people who have given you authority and that shared throughout Google+ will all determine what content arises, it would seem in search.
I am just talking as a brush stroke. And I think that when you start to put it together, you can pick up the phone, ask the question based upon who you are connected with. The time of day, the location that you are at, the historic searches, it makes sense.
But, the interesting just around a little bit, Mark when you said, we are talking about the training side of it, is it we have been unconsciously trained to search in a particular way. So we will now be unconsciously to a large extent re-trained because we will find that it will just work differently. And one of the re-trainings is using mobile and how we approach it differently.
Ronnie: So one of the questions that has come in is what you just have been talking about, is the searching side. In other words I am going to search with a voice. I am going to use words to do my search. I am going to bring up Roosevelt’s question.
He’s saying is authorship and semantic search based on just textual content? Or does it also apply to video. In other words, the content provider giving the answer, is this going to be just text or can this be somehow crawled inside my video.
David: It’s going to be, I think the video when you summarized what hangouts were before, you gave the perfect answer to this question. First of all, Google is getting better and better at understanding video content, which in the past it couldn’t. But it is still imperfect. It will get to the stage where it will actually be able to understand it the way we understand it.
But before we can get there any kind of video content produced, it doesn’t then get consumed in a vacuum. It gets consumed by people. And people interact with it. They comment on it. They share it. They discuss it. And they form relationships around the content itself because it becomes a focal point for the behavior. And also, they form relationships with the content provider because the world is really small now and the content provider is no longer hidden behind the barriers. He is one click away.
This activity basically confers authority and depth to the video content. And if that video is the best answer to the question you come up.
Ronnie: So in other word you’re acknowledging or at least stating the concept that Google is able to listen to my words and turn them into something that can be a result for a query or a question.
David: Absolutely! And I mean we saw just two three day, two days ago with Vic Gundotra who just displayed the changes going on Google+. Google has given into the visual and audiovisual aspect because it is forming now a brand new language of communicating. I think those it was –
Mark: I just posted the link in the comment in the event to a post by Sergey Andrianov, not sure of his last name, but a brilliant post this morning making that connection. That he said that one of the new features in all the great photo and video stuff that came out at update announcements the other day was that you can now search – which you could do this before – but to a great extent, you can search a photos.
And I can say something like my wife’s name is Karen. I can put in Karen in snow. And Google knows because of facial tagging, it knows the photos that I have of Karen. And it can recognize the object snow in a photo. And it will show me, and it actually does I have done it, it works. It will show me all the photos that I have of Karen in the snow. Which I love. She loves snow.
Ronnie: But, its not Karen dressed as Snow White.
Mark: It’s at a very rudimentary stage still. But what Vic announced they added thousands more words of vocabulary teaching the engine to be able to recognize objects and photos.
Now, the next stage that I think is being able to recognize speech and videos. I think that’s coming. That’s why they have Google voice and Google phones. One of the reasons to have them is it teaches, their computers are listening to and learning human language and how to recognize it.
Ronnie: Wouldn’t you say that the context – in other words if everybody knows I talk a lot about hangouts, there is a better chance that my video might be talking about a hangout to give a place for Google’s massive data to look because I’ve established authority and trust in this space. So therefore it is affecting my behavior because if I stay relevant on a certain topic, I will be more likely discoverable as a resulting answer that might be in a video.
Mark: Right! But to me the exciting thing about that is that will all help. That’s all the signals that help to build that relevancy around you for that because right now you as you well know Ronnie, when you to get to optimize a YouTube video, you still have to add a text. You have to have good titles and tags and description and may be even a transcript if you can get it, that helps, because Google is very dependent on that text to be able to tell what the video is about and how we should index it.
The exciting part will come as they begin to move into being able to just listen to the video like the Google computer listening to the video and understanding because of what we are talking about what it’s about and then index it for that.
Ronnie: I have been in the space of video SEO for many-many years. And that’s something we have been waiting in wondering we will actually get really accurate. And I just don’t know that we are fully there yet. But I think –
Mark: No, I don’t think we are but I think that’s what they are building toward.
Ronnie: But, I think with all the other signals, which I think is the point of some of this, around it if I consistently talk about a certain topic, there is a better chance that my video will end up being seen and potentially crawled to answer that end. So I think the environment in which we are and our online activity is going to affect the results of what it’s found whether on video or text. I am just going to bring you back to the concept of our whole.
Martin: It was a nice call back. We got that. Let’s not get all geeky on this.
David: I want to add something to that because I think you are right. If we look at the online behavior, one of the explicit aspect of semantic search is that gaming search now through signals like we used to in the past becomes incredibly difficult and time-consuming. The moment it becomes time-consuming and difficult you begin to lose the gain which you would get in terms of savings of time and effort.
So there is no point in trying to do it. You might as well do it for real. So one of the aspect which is germane to all this is it’s forcing us to become a lot more open, a lot more honest, a lot more transparent because that’s how we begin to gain the credibility, and trust, and eventually the authority which we need in order to get on to the semantic web.
And it perhaps deplorable that we needed programming to actually make this behave like people on the web. But it is what it is. I think it’s a welcome change.
Ronnie: So if you were to summarize because we are getting up to the maybe 10 minutes before the hour time. If we were to summarize that semantic search on the web is causing us or encouraging us to be more civil, right? So when people find our conversations, they’re not seeing a rant all the time and saying, this guy is always a complainer. But also be more relevant, would you say, to your main areas of focus? Would you say that or not?
David: If you are working on something, and this is your work, inevitably you are going to spend in about 60-70% of the time talking about it. But, certainly you won’t be talking about a 100% of the time and hardly any of us do that. Mark posts pictures of where he has been throughout the week and I do the same sometimes. And Martin shares posts of quotes and gifts which his family, which is phenomenal, but have nothing to do with his main area of work.
Ronnie: So, it’s okay to be a person?
David: Absolutely! You need to be a person, because relationships, getting to know somebody is you know – you are not getting to know a robotic kind of persona who only does one thing and does it in this kind of deadpan voice.
You get to know a person who shares perhaps a picture of a lake, his lunch even sometimes and say hi, it’s a wonderful lunch here. It’s fantastic. And my girlfriend does that very frequently as she travels across the world. And you gets to see something she had in Spain, I think.
But, it’s very human and it actually allows you to connect to the person in a way that you wouldn’t if all they did was shoved content in your face, because that’s what they did. That’s a joke.
Martin: You got to break it up. I think I am going to the point about relatable content. Sometimes people just want a bit of light relief. They want a Seinfeld video. And some people will relate to it. Some people won’t. And that’s okay. It will just pass by the stream.
And I think that’s the great thing about Google+ is that you don’t have to just, you don’t have to do it in any particular way. You can do it your way and find out if people relate and connect with it.
There is an extra point here, about thoughtfulness and it’s about civility Ronnie. It’s about around, how compared to certain other networks, Twitter being one, that you have actually got time to respond. There are threads. Those threads stay there and they have a context, which often are an image or a link or a video. And a conversation occurs. And David pointed this out is, that you can go to the other end of the world and then 5 days later come back and continue the conversation, because somebody else has appeared on that thread and you can dive in.
Now, what this means the instead of going, I think that as well and look at the conversations on Twitter. Yeah, I know, I agree with that. No I disagree with that. Oh that person is terrible. You actually can take a moment, and go – it’s still going to be there. It’s not going to disappear. They are all going to go on to the next thing. This is staying in time.
So I think that being patient, I talked with several people about this recently. Sometimes you have these little reactions of, oh I don’t like that. Hold on a second. What was the intent behind that person’s comment? How do I best respond to that in order for me to learn, for me to listen, or for that person to explain a bit more? And we have the opportunity to communicate potentially a little better than if we just respond.
Ronnie: This is almost like the things we should have learned from kindergarten. Right?
Mark: Yeah! Because one of the things that we need to be doing – we’re talking about be authoritative, be relevant, create the content. We draw so much on that. It’s more important than ever to be likeable. And that’s part of why all the things that David was saying that we all of us do, we just don’t post business content, we don’t just post our expert content, but we do real people things because that’s what builds relationships. That’s what gets people into you.
That’s what get you opportunities. People don’t just recommend you or ask you to participate in things because you are authoritative. They do it also because they like you because that’s important too.
David: Can I just add something, because this is really important. You are right. People like. And the reason they like is because they can actually make a very nuanced and granular judgment on who you are by their contact with you on the web.
I will give you a real life example. I met Mark whom I have had contact with for almost 2 years. And it was the first time I ever met him. And normally in a controlled environment what do you do? You meet somebody start sort of judging him, seeing the way he is dressed, the way he talks, what he does, and when he say something, is there subtext to this, and then you are connecting. There was none of that.
Because, that noisy kind of connection which we used to have in their real world normally was not there because I knew who he was. I knew what he stood for.
Ronnie: Why did you know? Was it because of just?
David: I knew that because of the detailed granular interaction that we have online which allows you to form a very detailed picture of the person. Not who they are professionally but also what they are like.
Ronnie: I was fishing for that hangout worry which Mark said.
Mark: People need a helper for those hangouts. There is only one helper.
Ronnie: Anyway. You had met him in hangouts prior to meeting him in real life. Isn’t that right?
David: Absolutely! Several, dozens of times really.
Mark: But one of the first things we said to each other was this is just the continuation of the conversation. Often there is so much awkwardness to get over when you first meet somebody in person. It just wasn’t there. It was just continuing the conversation that we were already having.
David: That’s right. Yeah!
Ronnie: And that’s a salient point. We are saying we have a tool now that allows us to create a good connection that if and when we ever would actually physically be in the same place we can grow from that point. And if we never do, we still have a good connection we have already established with the hangout tool as well as other things.
David: I was going to say that you can extrapolate from this in any kind of context. Ronnie, what you said was actually brilliant because it works with me and Mark. But it’s an approach in a company setting where you have thirty people working in their cubicles.
Normally, those 30 people don’t really connect but you have them connecting through a hangout whenever they need to throughout a day. When they meet offline which is lunch hour or by the water cooler a lot of the tension is gone. They are more productive. Their conversation goes on like it has always gone on.
So they are actually connecting on a deeper level. You can see how the online world is having a direct impact on offline behavior now and allowing a lot of new and fresh value in a relationship to emerge.
Mark:I recently talked to person in a large corporation. And they said man if I could just hangout like this off and on with my boss we would have less disagreements about things because we could clarify things so quickly and efficiently than doing emails. Because emails go back and forth and you don’t understand exactly.
Martin: Part of it, I mean the hangouts for those that are have the new hangouts they are very wide screened. And you feel that you are in the other person’s room. You are there. And it makes a tremendous difference to paying attention as well. Your whole visual sphere is taken up really by the other person in that context.
I think that they have done is brilliant. It reduces all the other noise, all the other pictures and the bottom. When that person is speaking in the main screen you attend to them. And you give them your time, your attention. And the potential to connect and is far far greater. And then ask them those questions and clarifying those challenges in the work context is profound. But in terms of how it changes things it’s like this is an amazing technology.
Ronnie: Okay! So what I have done here because we are just in about to wrap this up, I am trying to point out if you don’t learn from me, learn from somebody how to use this hangout tool because it will let you connect with people all over the world. You will build a relationship that’s richer – semantically dense learning environment is what David Amerland likes to call these hangouts.
You can learn a lot about people. You can get better in your relationship with the. And then all of a sudden your connection I think is going to make a big difference for what you see online. And that in turn ties into the semantic search and the results that you are going to see.
So how is that for a little summary of what we are talking about so far?
David: It’s absolutely fantastic. We couldn’t have done that.
Ronnie: Fantastic. So any last words, anyone want to through in here or because we are right up on the hour and I want to end this shortly.
David: Yeah! Tips for semantic search success, be real and be yourself.
Ronnie: Fantastic! Mark?
Mark: It sound so over-simplistic but, the amazing thing – David and I talked about this a lot – is that we are breaking up to all the stuff that Google. Google has said this for 10 years that what they have always said. Create good content. Be yourself. It will all connect. And everybody in SEO world just laughed at it because this is not how it works. You had to do all these games and tricks.
And all of a sudden you wake up to a day where that actually is working. And that’s not only great for search. It’s not only great for business. It’s great for human action engagement. It means that’s what you were saying in the beginning. This really is a new world and a new way of connecting.
It’s not just another social platform. And that’s good news for all of us who want to be better human beings and wants to bring a better world.
Ronnie: Thanks. Martin, you have parting?
Mark: I don’t. I said it all. I think it’s a wonderful hour. I’ve really enjoyed. It was perfect.
Ronnie: I didn’t understand a thing you said because of your accent, but it was good. I’m going to wrap this up now. The people that are in the panel here, would you mind please going back to the event because there is a lot of technical questions people are asking because they are still tied to the idea of, well what do I do with my hash tags, or what do I do with this, and that, and the other thing.
And I know we are trying to give them a good broad brush stroke, but they are still asking those specific questions. So one of the things we like to do when we are done with the show like this is the panel members go into the event, try to answer /address lot of those questions that are out there. And I really appreciate everybody watching today.
Thanks. We hope this had helped you move along the path of understanding how Google semantic search is affecting our behavior. See you guys.
David: Take care.