I’ve heard today that Google may be planning a Quora-like Q/A service (possibly named “Google Expert”) that leverages their acquisition of Aardvark and integrates with Google Plus (or Google+, however you like it.) This model of finding answers by humans fits nicely into the new social search model that seems to be making its way into mainstream search results now. Right now, in Google’s product support forum, they do a great job assigning various status levels to those who answer questions. I see no reason that social rank couldn’t be calculated in a way that includes these signals also.
As you all know, Google has been adding more social-content into the regular search results – and I have been doing everything I can to express the importance of this to my clients. This has further adjusted the 10-blue-links beyond what regular logged-in personalization did and shows shares from those in your social media circles. And it has again shifted responsibility for SEO success further towards client content creation and curation. Someone at your organization must take responsibility for being the customer-facing expert in social media – or else.
So, this new development, as with LinkedIn Answers, Yahoo Answers, and Quora could give nimble experts a way to offer answers, ideally linked to “gifts of content.” But with the changes related to content creation on Google, one could easily imagine the questions being connected to Google Profiles and then to more content by that author. I can imagine that Google Expert, should that be its name, will offer up answers within the normal search results. Good answers builds authority, and that authority will directly impact social rank and reputation.
The resulting increase in their audience could open up an entirely new stream of traffic for those who take the time to answer questions. The take-away from the past couple of months’ developments in SEO is – you cannot be a passive, lazy business and still expect to rank a year from now.