InfluenceRank: Google's Social Media PageRank

by Jordan Kasteler June 16th, 2009 

Google's penetrating the social media realm quite hard. With OpenSocial, Social Profiles, What's Popular Gadget, SearchWiki, and Google Wave one can only wonder how they plan to tie them all together and create the ultimate social juggernaut.


About eight or nine months ago, Heather Green of Business Week wrote a great article on Making Social Networks Profitable. The articles discusses a pending Google patent that explores ranking influential social media users by assigning them a value, a PageRank if you will. In this article she states,

"Google has a patent pending on technology for ranking the most influential people on social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook. In a creative twist, Google is applying the same approach to social networks it has used to dominate the online search business. If this works, it may finally make ads on social networks relevant"and profitable."

Google's pending patent basically applies their same principles of search to social. The first thing that comes to mind is the HITS algorithm which deciphers the hub and authority value of a domain. They're essentially applying the same conceptual methodology to social media by applying the hub and authority value to a user instead.


Does this mean that social media is not even bigger of a popularity contest? Yes and no. Many marketers might think that by having a massive following on a social media site will vastly increase their InfluenceRank because they have so many friends or they are very active with updates, votes, or other social activities. The reality is that Google's likely to go far more in depth than by how many friends you have or how active you are. I'm sure personal engagement frequency would be a large variable of the equation but the key term here is "influence". How do you influence the community and your connections online?


Influencing people is activating the personal engagement in others. Questions that would serve as heavily weighted variables in InfluenceRank might be:

  • What percentage of your friends, that are signed on, did you get the attention of and get them to click on the link you shared?
  • How many people choose to interact with you on a regular basis?
  • Did others share what you shared with them?

Google has already began trying to profile social users online with patents for identifying good/bad quality raters and reviewers. Other things Google might look at is how someone is reacting about content online to further assess the the variables:

  • Is the sentiment and demeanor positive, neutral, negative? (Which Google is already beginning to explore)
  • Do the social users understand the context of which the messages or content is shared?
  • Are they adding their own twist or commentary to the topic or content before seeding?

traffic referrers plus social influence and communication
Image by Baekdal

It'll be interesting to see what happens in the future with the potential of InfluenceRank and the social community they're building overall.

Jordan Kasteler

Jordan Kasteler is the SVP of Content Development and Managing Partner at BlueGlass, an industry leader in search engine optimization and social media marketing.

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17 Responses to “InfluenceRank: Google's Social Media PageRank”

  1. Sean says:

    Jordan –

    Interesting post. It's likely that InfluenceRank will look into who you are connected to and how messages travel through those hubs. The idea of social karma having value is also very powerful.

  2. […] InfluenceRank: Google's Social Media PageRank, Search Engine People […]

  3. SLight says:

    Can't help but think Googles going to be using this to offer some kind of brand management / assessment tool. Ie, find out how many mentions your brand / product / promotion gets. Are they good mentions / bad mentions. What words are related to your product, what sites are, what demographic. The possibilities are pretty much endless with this kind of data. Many agencies already offer this kind of service, I think Google is just getting in on the act with this.

  4. Good post. Of particular interest is ranking by the quality of the interactions. In the light, you are really ranking the strength of a community. Tie that in to the community's interests and you would have a powerful ad tool.

  5. Tyson says:

    I sphunn this after reading the first sentence.

  6. [eng] Google e brevetto "InfluenceRank"…

    Un brevetto in attesa di essere riconosciuto permetterebbe a Google di sapere quanto una persona è influente nei social….

  7. Pat Strader says:

    Since reading Bill Slawski's post about Google incorporating social I have been struggling with how to explain this concept.

    Your succinct explanation is appreciated.

  8. […] InfluenceRank: Google's Social Media PageRank – Well worth a read and intesting to see how Google are going to reward social media marketing efforts […]

  9. CJ says:

    Nice article.

    Google has been exploring sentiment for quite a while actually, you can see evidence of papers written by the G guys. Sentiment analysis is not a new area of research. Check out Peter Turney's work or Bo Pang and Lillian Lee (early 2000).

    Also ranking in social networks isn't new either. An interesting recent project is the Tunkrank project.

    I wrote a post on sentiment analysis, seo and search a while back which you might find useful:

    Excuse the rubbish formatting (migration from blogspot):

  10. […]  InfluenceRank: Google's Social Media PageRank | Search Engine People | Toronto […]

  11. […] SEO community has been talking about InfluenceRank as well and a nice post at SEP mentions it and brings up the HITS […]

  12. […] Kasteler has written a thoughtful post on this issue in which he introduces the notion of "InfluenceRank" for social media ranking (at […]

  13. […] Kasteler has written a thoughtful post on this issue in which he introduces the notion of "InfluenceRank" for social media ranking (at […]

  14. Cool Gifts says:

    Very interesting. It seems like if anyone could do this well, it would be Google. I can't wait to see where this goes.

  15. […] Kasteler has written a thoughtful post on this issue in which he introduces the notion of "InfluenceRank" for social media […]

  16. Hey there Jordan. Very well written article and very informative… Thanks for the link to the Google businessweek article (very informative as well). I have a question though… Many people keep talking about Google's new PR system and the alterations there making, and I hear many people talking about Bing's growing success… What role do you think the new "Google +1 Ranking System" will play in determining websites PR and of course there overall "success."

    Thanks for the advice Jordan!


    Chairman & CEO

  17. I see no one seems to mind that G plans to make even more money with there users "private" data…,