Danny Sullivan Interview, Part 3

In the third and final installment of our Danny Sullivan interview, he and Adam chat about the implications of Authorship, social signals and the role they play in search results. Much thanks to Danny for coming by the office and spending some time with us!

Watch Part 1 of the Danny Sullivan Interview

Watch Part 2 of the Danny Sullivan Interview


Adam Audette: So, kind of wrapping up on this, Google probably wants to be less dependent on the link graph as a whole, because it's so manipulative.

Danny Sullivan: You would think so.

Adam: So they've got authorship now and social metrics, and to a greater or lesser extent those don't seem to be helping too much in some different SERPs. It still seems about links and even kind of paid or manipulative-type links still seem to be working in some cases that we see. It's a never ending game to chase that. But how big of a factor is something like authorship in Google+ and Circles, and how big is that going to be going forward?

Danny: Oh, I think it's going to be huge. I think that right now Google is completely downplaying it to the point that they even suggest that it doesn't have that much of a role to play on ranking at all. But when you are logged in and you have people that you're friends with on Google+, you can clearly see that it is a primary factor for ranking some of the stuff. So it does happen for the logged in people.

I think it will come in aggregate that at some point the sites that accumulate +1's and that data will be used in the way that we use link data now, and that that will overtake it. I could be wrong, but that's where I think it's going to go. What surprises me is the search engines actually don't seem to have done more to try to get us there already.

Adam: It seems like they have a long way to go, but it's interesting that you say Google is downplaying it, because if it's really important to them, they want to keep it undercover as long as possible which seems a little bit controversial, but ...

Danny: Well, you could say that. You could say, "Well, they don't want it to get out," that +1's are important. But when they told everybody to put +1 buttons on their websites, it was specifically so that would help you, which they did at the time, rank better in Google.

Adam: Yeah.

Danny: That kind of supposedly let the cat out of the bag. So I don't think it's a case that they're trying to hold back so nobody discovers it. I think they just don't know how to process that data yet. They know what they're doing to some degree with the link data. They've had over a decade of, "Okay, we can use this link data in this way, and then we'll jump the signal this way." In fact, that's the problem we have. They have put so much pipe work on this whole link system that it's this whole giant labyrinth of things that keeps popping holes and blowing pipes here and there.

Adam: Right.

Danny: Yet, they still seem to find that easier than kind of going back to square one and saying, "If we had to only have the social signal, how would we process all that to begin with?"

Adam: That's really interesting. So thank you very much for being here.

Danny: Sure.

Adam: It's great talking with you, Danny.

Danny: Thank you.

Adam: Up next, we're going to be talking with Marshall Simmonds. So, until next time, SEO safe.