— blending the mix

PostRank acquired by Google and why this is HUGE news for search

Thanks to my eternally trustworthy pal Paul Gailey, I was made aware that one of my favourite analytics tools Post Rank, has tonight announced it has been acquired by Google. And I don’t think its wise to underestimate how important this will be for the world of search and social media.

I suspect a lot of people in the UK have never heard of Post Rank, or at the very least have rarely used the service beyond tinkering. For over 3 years this has been the bread and butter of blog analytics for both me and the clients I have built and serviced blogs for.

In short, Post Rank attributes a value to each social gesture that a reader may perform on your blog – so, if you look on the left of this blog, there is a list of posts which have attracted a score depending on their popularity. RT’s score differently to bookmarks, comments receive a different score to Facebook shares and so on. The hugely important distinction to make, is that whilst the values do not necessarily mean anything in any financial or volume-based context we may already be familiar with, the system allows us to set targets and assess something that we are all looking at, attention and authority.

Any post can be widely read, but if nobody re-tweets it, is it in any way influential on that topic? In the same way that Facebook Likes, Re-tweets, Diggs and so on each represent a modern day “vote” of favour to a piece of content, Post Rank allows you to collate ALL of these votes and provides you with the intelligence to shape your content plan to ensure that it is relevant more often than not – and in being relevant, stands much more chance of being re-posted (and seen) elsewhere.

I have developed over time, a methodology of posting content by very specific content categories (based on conversation monitoring), which is then measured against a Post Rank score for each category of post. Depending on the score of each post, we accurately know what type of content is most responded-to by the audience and can therefore post more content of this type – whatever it is.

Social SERPS

But what does this have to do with the future of search? Look at where search has gone over the last few years and the overwhelming focus has been on addressing the volumes of social content on the web.

  • Universal search introduces video (typically from you tube) and images alongside standard SERPS
  • Google’s Caffeine update places more influence on delicious (amongst other things)
  • Real-time tweets for popular topics appear alongside “static” SERPS
  • The google avatar of friends in your network who have shared content that appear in SERPS are visible

and so on…

The point is, that without any doubt, google’s issue has been one of attributing human “votes” to content.

Post Rank fills this gap

Take a look at their google reader filter below and you can begin to see just how Post Rank’s system can provide such huge feedback on human votes of confidence in content.

I can now filter my google reader content according to what Post Rank has been able to determine are Good, Great or Best (or all) score. This means, it is giving me a score based on the human voted-for scores of content that is out there on the web.

Google Reader is giving me the most relevant content as judged by the interactions/votes of my peers and indeed the plethora of people who have also “voted” for this content by sharing, rating and bookmarking it.

Granted, it may not be the most recent (and I have to admit, I don’t know how frequent post rank indexes the content, but it seems pretty instant)

A ready-made human recommendation system

So, in Post Rank, it would appear that Google are acquiring a ready-made system which provides the much-lauded human attribution of search relevance. What it will look like, maybe the above graphic gives us some clues, but I just hope they maintain the service as-is and not let it disappear like they did with Jaiku. Post Rank, please tell us one way or the other!

  1. steve clayton says: June 4, 20114:16 am

    the world of search is changing for sure and this’ll be interesting to watch. me, I’m using Bing (as you’d expect Paul!) and loving the social search integration that bring my friends to each search result through the Facebook integration. 

    if you get chance, have a look at what Qi Lu has been talking about for the future of search lately – the notion that we’ll categorize results, depending on the search, by popular opinion, expert opinion and trusted opinion. 

    see http://community.microsoftadvertising.com/blogs/advertising/archive/2011/03/30/riding-the-tidal-wave-of-digital-evolution.aspx for more

  2. Anonymous says: June 4, 20119:15 am

    Cheers Steve, I guess it’s typical that when considering social search, some of the most valuable developments by bing haven’t necessarily received the coverage they deserve.

    I’m not alone in having no idea how Microsoft intends to leverage it’s co-ownership of Facebook to further improve it’s social search capabilities, but having bing as the default Facebook search engine barely scratches the surface I think.

    I’d love nothing more than to see bing using social graph insight to deliver more personally relevant results (but the devious got in me thinks its more likely to be social PPC ads!)

  3. Daan Goor says: June 6, 20117:30 pm

    Promising times for the SERP’s! But does a (re)tweet, a like, a share, a digg, a plus one, etc. have an equal weight in case of this postrank? I’ve noticed that a certain amount of plus ones to a particular page increases the postrank of this page very quickly.  Let’s wait and see if these public +1 pages on Google profiles will also affect SE rankings. Cheers! D.

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