Mountain View, California–Chief Webspam Engineer of Google, Matt Cutts, recently addressed the question about how the search engine separates popularity from true authority. He speaks about social media content being more integrated into Big G’s signals.
The question specifically goes to social media, asking, “As Google continues to add social signals to the algorithm, how do you separate simple popularity from true authority?” Cutts first makes a distinction outside social platforms, giving an example of two industries.
Cutts says that although pornographic sites are very popular, users don’t link to them and therefore, don’t really consider such sites to be credible or authoritative. However, he contrasts that example with the “Wisconsin Real Estate Board”, which does have legitimate authority but receives more links because it is a credible, reputable source.
How Google Separates Popularity and Authority
The software engineer states that because of this disparity, porn sites would have high Page Rank and governmental sites would rank very low. Cutts again clears-up the misconception that Page Rank is based on popularity, not authority.
“So, you can separate simply popularity from reputation or authority, but now, how do we try to figure out whether or not [a site] is a good match for a query?” He answers his own question by saying that Google looks at “extra signals” which are intended to match a person to a particular topic. The more that person is associated with a certain query or keyphrase, the more those algorithms determine this person is the best match.
New Algorithms Rolling Out
Wrapping-up his explanation to the question, Cutts states that there are signals which do have the potential to parse the difference between popularity and authority and just because a site might be well-known, there might be other sites which have “evidence” of being a better query match and those algorithms are set to roll out.
What do you think about popularity versus authority and how do you see social playing a roll in query results?