Google has a goal in mind and it has more to do with visitor identification as it relates to targeted advertising than it has to do with improving the quality, speed, or usefulness of searching or finding. This demands drawing out as many anonymous visitors as possible. This includes members with false names, stage names, brand names, noms de plume, and noms de guerre. Google wants to triangulate real name with as much online behavior as possible. Google’s apps, products, phones, OSes, and services are just elaborate strategies to lure Internet denizens out of the cold and into the system. The greater the number of points of reference connecting that user with online behavior the better. And it’s all for market data. It all comes down to revenue generation: AdWords, ad networks, and back-office partnerships and deals with other ad networks and revenue-generating schemes.
So, there are many points of pain when it comes to unmasking the anonymous online, and it includes quite a lot of very expensive, elaborate, and foundational alter-nets (shadow webs) that are completely simulated linking networks — hundreds and thousands of elaborate sites, including review sites, blogs, online publications, newspapers, newsletters, e commerce sites — an entire Las Vegas of fake content (sort of like those entire Chinese cities that replicate Paris or New York City) dedicated to fooling Google into latching on to and indexing these vast simulacra as real and true. However, these cities are designed for robots, spiders, and bots and are meant to pass the muster of well-paid human Google auditors as well — but they’re not really meant for human consumption, per-se.
That said, it’s pretty amazing. And Google makes quite a lot of money on the ads that are being run on many of these sites. Also, there’s affiliate money being made, there’s reputation management money being made, there’s SEO money being made. And while they’ve all been balkanized separate online properties, they’ve been partnering together and so these investments have become giant flotillas. And, in their growth, they’ve also influenced and effected “proper” and “legitimate” content through text-link advertising and through SEO strategies that very effectively hook in to this giant SEO-optimized flotilla for quite a few very profitable SEO benefits (that can make or break a publication, store, nonprofit, or brand).
Google’s conflicted. On one hand, it really needs to break this all apart. It really wants to audit the Internet and give preference to authentic, honest, claimed, verified and authenticated online properties over robot armies and link farms.
On the other hand, Google makes so much money from many of these online mega-properties and mega-flotillas that these quasi-black-hat, stealth, for-robots-only, link-building, link-sharing entities have quite a lot of leverage over Google — and Google’s bottom line.
It’s my opinion that Google’s getting quite a lot of pushback from the push towards Real Names, from Authorship, and from “Glout” ratings. Glout is my cute way of suggesting that Google’s keeping a reputation score on each member of the Google User Family, a de-facto “Clout Score,” that synthesizes your Page Rank, your popularity on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus (of course), the quality of how your content is being shared, followed, Liked, and re-shared, and which publications, magazines, blogs, and sites you’re not only associated with but on which you have a byline, an official “authorship.”
None of this stuff was originally designed into the system. Getting onto Google News was, maybe, as was optimizing for linking and interlinking, keyword linking, trend-surfing, and all the rest of it was, but in order to turn on a dime, the way the most recent changes to the Google algorithm demands, is almost impossible for such a huge, rudderless, aircraft-carrier-class, robot zombie vessel to accomplish.
So, Google’s in the process of doing three things when it changes its algorithm so aggressively: 1) firing a shot over the bow of Big SEO: “we’re not joking here, you’ve been warned — we’ll back off on the algorithm for now, but Google just wants to show you what’s to come,” otherwise they would never invest to make these changes — a lot of money has been lost in the last couple years by Bad Actors who have not listened to — or not understood — Google when it threatens to enforce its Real Name, anti-Black Hat revisions 2) Taking three hills in order to keep two: Facebook always does this, too — do three really bold and controversial things (with privacy or advertising or ToS) knowing that people will probably freak out, then you back off, but only cede one or two of the three hills you took in the battle. Take three, give only one or two back. And really only deeply want the one, anyway 3) Flushing Grouse! Sometimes you need to really send out the flushing hounds! Make everyone scared enough that they’ll come out of the cold on their own, comply, and offer up all of their info, their personal contact info, associations, friends, family, company-associations, and actually commit to participating on the new YouTube and actually joining Google+, for fear that they, too, may become a casualty of the Google’s Stalinistic (black hat) SEO purges.
So, Google’s trying to get to where it wants to go, ultimately turning the Google World into a Real Names Online accountable semi-walled playground. They might say it’s to help prevent online cyber-bullying (that’s just good PR) but it’s really because Google needs to become the number one big-data company on the planet and that requires that they’re able to effectively cross-reference as many data points about you (and me) as humanly possible — and it all needs to be based on as close to the Social Security Number, Citizen ID, DNA version of you as possible (the born 1970, grew up in Hawaii, went to St. Louis boy’s school, attended GW, and lives in Arlington, VA, Chris Abraham, and not the Toronto, Canada, award-winning, theatre director Chris Abraham).
Like a Chevy Silverado 2500HD trying to pull up a stump, Google’s pulling as hard as it can, loosening the roots, letting off, slacking the rope, then pulling hard again, letting slack, for as many times as it takes to get the stump out, intact. Google’s doing the same thing with this shadow web SEO flotilla. Slowly but surely, sorting out which accounts, sites, blogs, and profiles are human and which are robot zombies, and then doing the long slog of separating chaff from wheat, eventually sorting out, to an even more uncanny degree, exactly who, what, when, where, why, and how each and every one of us are — and how best to access us, reach us, appeal to us, advertise to us, and then sell us.
That’s what I think Google Authorship is about.
About Chris Abraham
A pioneer in online social networks and publishing, with a natural facility for anticipating the next big thing, Chris is an Internet analyst, web strategy consultant and advisor to the industries' leading firms. He specializes in Web 2.0 technologies, including content syndication; organize search engine optimization (SEO), online reputation management (ORM), content marketing, online collaboration, blogging, and consumer generated media.