Last week I authored a post suggesting that social scoring – determining your influence based on numbers of followers and other criteria — may have a growing impact on your personal effectiveness, your career, and how companies treat you as a customer in the future.  It seems that this development may now also be an emerging element in search engine results.

In a blog post at SEOmoz, both Bing and Google confirmed that links shared through Twitter and Facebook have a direct impact on search rankings — and that the social influence of those tweeting the links impacts the organic search results.

The blog posted excerpts an interview Danny Sullivan conducted with representatives of Google and Bing:

Danny Sullivan: If an article is retweeted or referenced much in Twitter, do you count that as a signal outside of finding any non-followed links that may naturally result from it?

Bing: We do look at the social authority of a user. We look at how many people you follow, how many follow you, and this can add a little weight to a listing in regular search results. It carries much more weight in Bing Social Search, where tweets from more authoritative people will flow to the top when best match relevancy is used.

Google: Yes, we do use it as a signal. It is used as a signal in our organic and news rankings. We also use it to enhance our news universal by marking how many people shared an article.

Danny Sullivan: Do you try to calculate the authority of someone who tweets that might be assigned to their Twitter page. Do you try to “know,” if you will, who they are?

Bing: Yes. We do calculate the authority of someone who tweets. For known public figures or publishers, we do associate them with who they are.

Google: Yes we do compute and use author quality. We don’t know who anyone is in real life :-)

Danny Sullivan: Do you calculate whether a link should carry more weight depending on the person who tweets it?

Bing: Yes.

Google:Yes we do use this as a signal, especially in the “Top links” section [of Google Realtime Search]. Author authority is independent of PageRank, but it is currently only used in limited situations in ordinary web search.

This is a substantive revelation and another indication that marketing professionals must take Klout and these other social scoring systems seriously — no matter what your personal bias may be.

This new information is going to create a ripple through all content marketing strategies.  It is no longer enough to create targeted content rich in keywords to attract the attention of search bots. The information’s presence on the social web — and the influence of those who notice it — is going to be a factor in your web traffic.

Do you think it is fair and/or wise to have people with large numbers of followers acting as a de facto filter to what you read?

Doesn’t this just invite more abuse and corruption?  Let’s say a group of of individuals with high social scores get together and decide to monetize their power. They could offer a paid service to “tweet” out product information and news in a way that could conceivably influence search engine results. The implications of this are vast.

In our free society, where corruption can occur, corruption will occur.  These developments make me nervous. How about you?

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