When someone knowledgeable on a study subject sends an email with the URL for a webpage the sender knows is high quality for that subject, and the person receiving it opens the URL, that webpage gets nudged higher in search engine results. In the search engine optimization world, that nudging is called “giving juice.”
How giving juice works: Say you are a literature teacher, and you come across the handsome page on Luminarium for the poem “The Triple Fool” by John Donne. Let’s say you come across it by finding my review of the page on Learnodes.com:
You then send an email with the above URL to several other teachers, and perhaps some of your top students, extolling the terrific Donne webpage featured. Those who receive your email (especially if they respect your opinion), will click on the URL, and then click URLs on my Learnode review taking them to the the Donne and related pages the review offers. Google and other search engines will count those clicks and nudge these links up higher on their search results pages for such keywords as the poet’s name, the poem’s name, and the words in the poem itself. At that point, the quality of the Donne page itself takes over; it will not move further in the network unless the people you send it to forward it to others.
The picture of Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales above is from a brief video in which he and Seth Godin discuss reaching individuals with a message. Wales compares a Super Bowl ad with an email of recommendation, like the one you might send about the Donne poem to other individuals. Wales tells us that for the email to continue to be spread, it must be “true.” Your judgment of trueness, and that of the people who receive your email, is what determines whether the Donne poem pages spread some more.
The implications for education of the juice and trueness for your email are mega, mega. You can give a webpage juice, but that effect will not spread unless your webpage is true. Your ability to judge trueness for literature is established with search engines by the juice you give over time, and what respect it receives in the viral process. Quality learning materials emerge on search engines from these, and other, natural effects of networking.
The video is from an excellent Open Forum series on marketing.