Google has been testing new search results which include specific details on forum threads including the number of posts in an indexed forum thread, the number of authors posting, and the date of the last post. This new Google enhancement shows that the company is actually identifying the technologies powering the forums, and with the ability to index and serve data on these forum threads, perhaps using these participation metrics as a form of algorthmic ranking.
What does this tell me about Google? It tells me that three distinct conversational relationship metrics are being identified :
1. Posts : The amount of posts are significant because the content in these posts fortifies the original question or conversation, and by looking at the amount of content, the user can select whether or not to click on a Google link dependent upon the posts in the conversation on the target page.
2. Authors : The number of authors shows a diversity in conversation and sources of conversation. More authors can mean more information, debate or augument on a topic, which in research, can be quite useful. More authors can also mean that the concept of the post is thought provoking and led to group conversation or group problem solving.
3. Last post : Do you want to read a forum post about Ajax SEO from 2003? Or from 2008? The last post metric adds a freshness factor to the results which can be used by the end user to prequalify information before clicking on the Google result. From a Google Algorithm perspective, fresh content is always useful, so looking at the search rankings, one may want to see how Google is using these metrics to rank.
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