What Does the New Klout Mean for SEOs

klout for SEO

SEO professionals these days have to take a more holistic approach to their job more than ever before, thanks to the demonization of many aspects of their profession.

Especially for the smaller SEO business, it’s no longer all about on and off page SEO, site performance, keywords and the more technical aspects of the work, it has to encompass social and content marketing too.

SEO is a pretty broad term anyway, compared to what it used to mean and whilst it’s possible to gain success by sticking to what you know best, it’s counter-productive to ignore what’s becoming an increasingly important metric, which is of course social.

Recently, the news broke that Klout, which measures social influence, will also become a content aggregation resource, after reportedly being acquired by Lithium Technologies, a social CRM provider. The deal is yet to be closed and is reported to be worth in the region of $1m.

The Value of Klout Scores to Professionals

Klout has been around since 2008 and initially, it created quite a buzz. However, since then, its real value has been called into question on numerous occasions and even been dubbed as “evil” by CNN Money guest columnist John Scalzi.

“Who made Klout the arbiter of online influence, aside from Klout itself?” He asked.

I could rank your influence online. If you like: I’ll add your number of Twitter followers to your number of Facebook friends, subtract the number of MySpace friends, laugh and point if you’re still on Friendster, take the square root, round up to the nearest integer and add six.”

He’s not alone in questioning how Klout scores influence either; personally, I have found it to be a pretty useless metric for measuring professional, rather than personal, social value (my score’s 64 by the way, what’s yours?).

So, until now and despite the promising business model and usefulness to digital marketers, Klout has had little in terms of value.

What’s Changed?

Not much on the surface of things, I found the site to be incredibly buggy on logging in this morning. I can see that others have managed to add content, but any attempt to do so myself via the link to the right was in vain. The links didn’t work; even the home button took me to a plain page with a search box and it took several attempts to get back to where I wanted to go.

This aside, what makes Klout any more influential than any other content curation site, such as paper.li, for example? I’m struggling to work out why it’s seen to be big news, surely to have any value online and affect a client’s thought leadership, the site has to have clear metrics and indicators?

The Huffington Post’s Andy Betts points out: “Real influence should be directly correlated to pure quality content and not by social votes that can be bought, exchanged or listed subjectively.”

And since content is now more important than ever, this is the central issue. But it’s not just Klout that can show false metrics, after all, anyone can buy useless Twitter followers and Facebook fans in order to make them look good on the surface.

Klout and Bing

Klout has teamed up with Microsoft to offer ‘Snapshots’, which is similar to Google Authorship insomuch as it allows users to “verify and manage how they appear in Bing search results based on how they appear on social media”. An individual or brand has to have their LinkedIn account connected to their account and on Bing, this allows them to be displayed in search results with social icons and professional accomplishments such as education and experience.

klout-moments_blog

(Source: Klout Blog)

If you have a Klout account, either business or individual, you can claim your Bing snapshot here.

How Can Snapshots Benefit Brands?

Snapshots and Klout itself allow brands to reach potential customers because it has a huge consumer base. With the use of Snapshots, which use a variety of algorithms that measure influence, the idea is that brands can achieve better online visibility and have the ability to reach customers through ‘perks’.

For the SEO professional, this lends another dimension to what they can offer, which doesn’t concentrate all of its efforts on Google alone. Whilst I’m not suggesting that SEOs don’t already utilize all of the search engines, none have really been able to touch Google in terms of effectiveness and the company still rules the search roost. However, less isn’t more in this case and the ability to offer Snapshots can only increase reputation as well as reach for clients.

Is Klout Worth the Effort for SEOs?

At the moment, that’s debatable. There’s no doubt that its API has seen an incredible amount of success, but right now, it’s just another site that allows you to share content and calculates influence scores. The value of the influence scores are not, as yet, anything to get excited about, especially given that until recently it ranked Justin Bieber above Barack Obama.

This change has come about due to algorithm alterations that pull in biographical information from Wikipedia though, so how that relates to brands and industry influencers that aren’t on the encyclopedia site isn’t known. Presumably, for the average brand, it will mark them down as influencers, no matter what they’re producing, content wise.

Klout is One to Watch

For the time being then, Klout is one to watch, but it’s not one that’s worth investing a huge amount of time and effort in. The new features are nothing innovative, there are plenty of resources available to post and schedule content already on the market and doing well.

However, it’s attracting a lot of attention and has a heavy-duty partner in Microsoft, so it’s not to be dismissed out of hand. In the meantime, SEOs should continue to concentrate on great content, link building activities and increasing social activities that allow them to claim client content and make it work for them in search. Bing’s involvement will no doubt in time have an impact, but Microsoft’s search engine has a long way to go yet until it can rival Google in any serious way.

Perhaps if Microsoft were to make Klout a product of its own, then it might be able to compete with the Google Authorship program in time, but it and Klout has a mountain to climb to make that happen.

Main image from Klout website.