Lets face it, I have social profiles all over the web and I am or have been an active participant in tons of conversations on blogs and forums.
3 years ago Google introduced rel=”nofollow”, very similar to rel=”me” , rel=”friend” and other XFN and FOAF standards.
Today Google are championing their new API with the slogan “URLs Are People Too”
3 years ago that was true, now URLs on many (most) places where people congregate on the web are no longer “people” because in a supposed attempt to combat comment spam, Google encouraged major sites to use rel=”nofollow” making the links null and void.
I did some initial testing with the example tools Google provides, and the results were less than encouraging, because lots of the data they probably need has nofollow links. There is data out there that is usable, but maybe I need to give Google more help.
Fairly poor results considering how interconnected I am.
People who have better results have them primarily for 2 reasons
- They gave Google a lot more data to work with on the form – I only gave this blog URL
- They have extensive blogroll links to their social media profiles, and use a blogging platform that uses XFN extensively (as Jordan demonstrated on Marketing Pilgrim)
The Google system currently doesn’t seem to make good use of dispersed information, even when it can be used because there isn’t nofollow, and it includes rel=”me”
As an example take a look at my MyBlogLog profile
If you look at the source code on my MyBlogLog profile, you will notice that it uses rel=”me” on all the profile links, so lets see what happens if we use my MyblogLog profile as the source.
Lots more results – but they certainly didn’t pick up all my associations from my Technorati profile as I would expect to see a few more of my public blogs, and Twitter.
Lets see what happens if I just use my Stumbleupon profile, which is connected from both my Technorati profile and my MyBlogLog profile.
Here is a direct link to the search with the API
Just one Degree of Separation
Google currently is taking data you give it, and finding profiles it can associate with that data, but they don’t then extrapolate out to further connections. With the Stumbleupon test they did find my MyBlogLog profile, but then didn’t use the extensive data on that page to find more results.
To use the API extensively, it will be necessary to perform multiple recursive calls to find useful data, and some connections won’t be found because some of the hops won’t have rel=”me” associations.
It is interesting to note that they are picking up Technorati claim code in some of the searches, rather than actual profiles that link to the pages in reverse in many instances.
Nofollow is probably why they could pick up my MyBlogLog profile from Stumbleupon data, but couldn’t find it declared in Technorati.
Ultimate Proof That Nofollow Kills This Dead?
The most marked up pages regarding XFN and Microformats that I know of are Technorati, who have been champions of microformats for as long as I can remember.
Almost every single link on my Technorati page has some form of microformat data, but the page also has meta index nofollow in the header.
Now take a look at a very empty page when you use your technorati profile as your source data.
Google Scraper API
Ultimately this isn’t far removed from simple scraping scripts easily created by your average Blackhat SEO, or an averge PHP programmer familiar with using CURL and regular expressions.
Such a programmer could easily create something similar in a couple of days, though it would probably be much easier using Yahoo search results rather than Google’s – Yahoo have an Open API and report links whether they have follow or not.
In fact it is quite likely that such a 3rd party tool would give you much better results than Google currently provide.
Currently I don’t intend to help Google by providing them with more direct links to my social profiles with specific XFN – it can help with reputation management, but at the same time that would push all the great things readers have said about me further down the SERP. That isn’t necessarily an advantage.
I would also be interested if data starts showing up which could only be derived from links that are nofollowed which has numerous SEO implications if the data ever makes it into Google’s main search algorithms.
I would be more excited if Google announced support for additional XFN alternatives (maybe extended from XPN proposals), as an alternative to using nofollow, although the majority of people wouldn’t use them – I am sure paid review services would encourage support.
Currently Google shouldn’t be winning any prizes for this one, why is everyone talking about it?
In this article I linked through to my Technorati profile. Technorati extensively uses meta nofollow, thus Technorati profile pages are not being naturally indexed – you have to link through to them for Google to index them, and whilst I have linked through to various aspects of my technorati profiles in the past, such as the opml of my favorites, I hadn’t linked through to my specific profile.
Since this article was published, Google has indexed it, followed the links, and indexed my Technorati profile as well – the cache data for my profile page is 2nd February.
If you now check my connections using Technorati as a source, you get a massive amount of data from multiple services.