Socially Automatic Content Filtering – a Speculation

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It’s fun to speculate, right? So what should we make of the path of content-oriented changes and updates made by Google over the past year? First it started with May-Day 2010. A start towards penalizing websites (or specific pages within a site) that contain scarce content yet ranked well due to the site’s domain authority.  Reports seemed to indicate that directory-based site where category and/or sub-category pages with little content dropped like weights in water.

Along the way, even earlier, duplicate content emerged first as a question of “what’s the impact” but later with specific requirements from Google on how to address it within a site and later across sites. Then Panda targeted low quality content sites even further.  Months later, Google provided new guidance on building a high quality site.  Followed not too much later with Google’s acquisition of content engagement analytics company, PostRank. Then they announced Schema.org as a cross-search engine standard for structuring content. Now, just this week, Google announced a new rel= “author” tag to potentially feed ranking algorithms on the content orginator. Sprinkled through all of these activities is more and more news of how social signals (driven through content engagement) are influencing search rank.  There is a pattern – where is it taking us? Where will it end?

I wrote a really long time ago about how social media causes attention deficit disorder. Obviously to feed the social media rivers, companies have been rapidly producing content. Even usage of the term, “Content Marketing” (a practice that has been around for a long time and used very successfully by information marketers) has exploded. The outcome is simply too much content – and a lot of it is pure crap.

The point is, Google’s pattern over the past year or so (shaped in part or maybe whole by competitive sources from FaceBook, LinkedIn and others (e.g. Bing???) are all pointing towards content filtering. Placing less, high quality, more relevant content in front of you with less effort and more convenience. It means leveraging trusted social networks and influencers to control who see’s what most conveniently.

Take LinkedIn Today. Based on the quantity of LinkedIn shares from your LinkedIn connections, certain articles will show up front and center when you access your LinkedIn Profile. The process (similar to FaceBook Like) is if you have chosen your business connections, then if they like certain articles, wouldn’t you like them too? Sounds like “how to win friends and influence people” by sharing great and relevant content. In essence, the content you find is the content your network has engaged with.

So what would “socially automatic” content filtering mean to small businesses? IMO, it first means that you need to develop a brand with a personality and an immediate outreach into social media. Build up your social network (a.k.a. trust and likeness.) Develop a voice using original content that creates very meaningful connections with your target audience.  Find the angle into your audience’s hearts and minds and feed it consistently. As content gets further and further filtered by Google, FaceBook and LinkedIn (among others) standing out and building relationships is becoming a matter of survival.

This is, of course, speculation, right? What do you think?

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