Following in Facebook’s footsteps, Google is poised to release a new commenting system for websites called, Google Comments.
I’m not going to explain the differences between Google Commenting System, Facebook Commenting System, Disqus, LiveFyre or even Triberr Commenting System, although there are some noteworthy differences. What I would like to do is explain “why” Google released yet another commenting system, and I believe the answer lies in a recently submitted patent.
The patent is titled, “AgentRank”, and was submitted by Google on May 11th, 2011. The AgentRank concept isn’t new though. In fact, I distinctly remember having a conversation in late 2009 with Hugo Guzman about whether or not PageRank would be replaced with AuthorRank (which is what we were calling it at the time).
The concept of AgentRank is that Google wants to know who you are, what you talk about and how credible you are on a topic. Think of it like a Klout score, except with a LOT more signals. To help clarify, I’ll use myself as an example…
If you look at my online footprint, you’ll see I’m most interested in two topics: SEO and Triberr. That can be deduced by looking at my blog, Twitter profile, guest posts, LinkedIn profile and blog comments.
Now if you were Google, you could also look at RSS feeds I’ve subscribed to, videos I’ve watched on YouTube, sites I’ve +1’d, links I’ve shared, pages I’ve visited, keywords I’ve searched on, events I’ve RSVP’d to and a slew of other breadcrumbs I’ve left online. As you might imagine, Google wants to use this data to improve search, but how?
Let’s assume that Google knows that I’m a credible source for info about SEO and Triberr. Now let’s also assume that I’ve recently written a guest blog post about “How to use Triberr for SEO” , but the blog is brand new.
Normally a new blog wouldn’t rank well for competitive terms, because it doesn’t have many backlinks. However, with AgentRank, Google can use the creditability of the author on a particular topic to determine trust, as opposed to only relying on backlinks to the domain the new post sits on.
So why Google Comments?
Like PageRank, AgentRank can be transferred. Let’s say that Rand Fishkin comments on a blog I wrote about SEO. Part of his AgentRank should pass to the author of the blog (meh), improving my AgentRank score. And of course I would use rel=author to tie my post to my Google+ account.
The trouble Google has had with calculating AgentRank is that it can be hard to actually verify if it was the “real” Rand Fishkin who left a comment. Wouldn’t it be much better (for Google) if they could just ask Rand to sign in to Google+ before leaving a comment. In fact, even better, what if Google had their own commenting system? One where they can always crawl the data, verify the commenters identity, track +1 and maybe even gauge sentiment.
There you have it
Google had created a new commenting system to that they can easily verify your identify and attribute that content to you. They attempted to do this with sidewiki back in the day, but that was a big fail. So this time they’re attempting to use Google+ as their ID system and social signal collection system, and website comments is a great way to calculate AgentRank. In that world, comments might be considered the new link, or at very least an important social signal.
One More Thing
Keep in mind that by commenting with Google’s commenting system, you’ve just created an implicit social circle in Google+ with the others who have commented on a particular post. It’s all part of Google’s plan to “help” people use Google+ whether they want to or not.