By Andrew Rayner, founder and Director at E-mphasis.com
Within any social networking site people can search for people using it. When they find the kind of person they are searching for, be that for employment, engagement as a supplier or simply for research, how do they assess the “credibility” of that person? How do they validate the expertise they claim?
Well, something we have noticed ourselves when checking out the profiles of potential service providers to our business, is that we review the recommendations section on their profiles... not only the number of recommendations but also the quality and consistency of what is written within them, and, who they are from.
We noticed in our own research that our confidence in a particular individual was increased when we saw that they came highly recommended by someone who in turn was also very clearly well regarded. Interesting.
So, how credible are the people recommending you? At e-mphasis when we help clients define their online social media and social networking strategy we are now advising them to consider a focus on the “chain of credibility”, where a person’s profile stands out more because they have been recommended either by someone in a very senior position, or by someone who also is highly recommended.
We have determined that in social networking terms this has something of a parallel of logic to how Google page rank works, which is a really key factor for organic SEO! Let me explain – Google page rank has a vast array of influencing factors, but one well known factor is all about off-site SEO and inbound links to your website.
The more relevant and credible those inbound links are the more of a halo effect it has on your own page in the eyes of Google.
Put simply, when a highly credible, high ranking page links to a page on your website the effect is that some of that “credibility” rubs off on your page, positively affecting it’s page rank and in turn promoting your page’s position in Google search.
So, you can see how this is in fact a very similar logic to what we found ourselves doing on linkedin – whereby an “inbound link” was akin to a recommendation and “page rank” was akin to the credibility of the party making the recommendation!
It seems therefore that Google do understand relevance, and that’s probably why they remain the most trusted brand on the planet!
Without even thinking about it our manual search and checking process on LinkedIn profiles mirrored, in the simplest of terms, the way Google treat websites.
So, in a nutshell, and as leading commentators have been saying for some time now, underestimate the value of third party referral and recommendation via online means (like buttons, testimonials, recommendations, reviews and inbound links) at your peril.
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