What is Klout and is it important?  Do Social Signals Impact SEO?

If you’ve never heard of Klout, you’re not alone. Klout is one of a handful of score cards that are intended to measure the level of influence an individual has in the online world particularly through their social media networks.  The others that I’m familiar with are Kred, TrustCloud, and Tweetlevel.  Klout, Kred, and TrustCloud take multiple social networks into consideration when calculating their scores and Tweetlevel provides a score that is specific to Twitter.

The topic of a social score card and whether or not it has any validity can spark a heated debate rather quickly.  It seems that people are firmly on one side of the fence or the other (if they’ve even heard about it).  For those who have heard of it there are many questions, including whether or not social signals play a role in search engine optimization and have an impact on relevancy rankings.

Does Klout or any of the other scorecard accurately measure your social media impact and does having a high score improve your chances of showing up in Google or Bing’s search results?  That’s the sixty-four-thousand dollar question. There’s a lot of buzz about social signals and whether or not they have an affect on SEO and there are as many naysayers as believers, especially as it relates to the concept of a social scorecard.

I completely understand the naysayer’s point of view regarding the social scoring systems that exist today.  The execution is flawed for a few reasons:

  • Much of the scoring has to do with activity without regard to the type of activity – if people in your social networks “like” and “share” your content and posts it boosts your score. I could be posting pictures of cats that people love, say I’m an expert in SEO, and have a high Klout score.  Just because I know how to post pictures that people love to share doesn’t mean I know what I’m doing when it comes to search engine optimization.
  • There’s a lack of participation and awareness about the scores, which minimizes the ability to compare one person’s score or “level of influence” to someone else.  Interestingly everyone already has a score whether they know it or not.  I just recently signed up for Kred and whala I had already been scored and it didn’t change even after I connected my social networks.
  • Each of the tools has an endorsement system, they are all different and again there is limited to no correlation between what someone is endorsed for, the activity within their networks, and what they’ve been endorsed for.

I think the concept is brilliant even if the execution is flawed and I’ve seen indicators that lead me to believe that Klout for one is trying to bridge the gap between expertise and activity.

"Ask me questions on Klout"The last time I checked my Klout score, I had a message that gave me an option to post an update to my personal Facebook page.  The update was an invitation for people to ask me questions on the areas of interest/expertise that I have associated with my account.

I decided to play along and post the question on Facebook and hope to get some questions about search engine marketing or social media strategy.  I’m not quite sure how or if it’s going to work because only 14 of my friends are on Klout and given the fact that Facebook only shows your updates to somewhere between 12% and 16% of your friends it seems unlikely that I’ll get any questions.  But it does seem to be a step in the right direction.

In my opinion, there is a need for some sort of scoring system.  With the rate at which content is being created and the fact that anyone can create a website there needs to be some way for people (and search engines) to determine whether or not someone knows what they are talking or writing about.  Whether or not that comes in the form of a scorecard such as Klout remains to be seen.

There is some evidence that there is some correlation between having a strong social signal and search rankings.  In other words, if people are highly engaged with your content in the various social networks (meaning they are liking and sharing it), you may have a better chance of showing up in natural search results than someone who doesn’t have a strong social signal.  And there is no doubt that things like Google authorship can help when it comes to achieving your SEO Goals.

The jury is still out as to whether or not your Klout, Kred, or TrustCloud scores are important or valid, but I for one am not going to ignore them completely.  Will I tweet my scores? Absolutely not.  But I do believe that there will come a day that such a thing as an influence score exists and just in case it’s one of the tools I’ve mentioned I figure it doesn’t hurt to play along.

What’s your point of view on social scorecards and why?

Until next time.