The following is a guest post by SEO extraordinaire, Stephen Hall.
Microsoft’s Bing has recently announced a partnership deal and investment in Klout. A lot of people may be wondering why. Here is one explanation. Klout, like Bing and Google, tries to create some yardstick for authority. Each is looking to understand what is the most authoritative page, video, picture, news article, and yes, person, for any given topic.
I have written before about the way that search is evolving to include social sharing as a signal for search algorithms, but the problem is that currently, search engines seem to make the assumption that you trust your whole network equally as an authority on ALL topics. And this, simply, is not true. The point is that not everyone in my network is trusted by me equally on all subjects, and this is where Klout’s usefulness in search could come in – it could allow Microsoft to understand what topics any given user in a network is authoritative on (if famously inaccurate…), so when I search for a new TV, only the opinions of those in my network that post regularly and are deemed to be authoritative on TVs would be delivered to me, rather than my long lost cousin who just posted that there was “nothing good on TV”. The interesting part is that Klout stand to gain too – their understanding of influence / authority will be influenced by the search volume data they get from Bing, which will allow them to understand who is important, that does not have a lot of social activity.
For instance, Warren Buffett is not active in social media, but with Bing data, they can understand that he is still an important influencer, as people are searching for him by name. As such, Klout improves it’s scoring algorithm, as it accounts for people with real-world clout that are not active in social media.
For now, the Bing integration seems to be more focused on delivering those with “Klout” on topics overall, rather than specifically aiming at people within your network, but that, to me, is the next step that makes personalized social search really advantageous – although you probably want the ‘real’ experts too.
Bing should be able to deliver improved results – or at least give justification in the form of a Klout score – to their social authority selections. And Klout will reap the benefits of the treasure-trove of Bing data to better understand influence overall. Time will tell if Klout can tune their algorithm enough to be effective at delivering the authoritative person on a topic in each network, but for now, it seems like an interesting partnership with the ability to improve both products – hey, isn’t that what partnership is all about?
My verdict: Win-Win.
What do you think?