Google Custom Affinities Is Here: What You Should Do

Ian Lurie Oct 8 2014

Yesterday, Google rolled out ‘custom affinities’ — their way to cross-target different audience segments. You can read about it on The Verge:

Google rolls out custom affinity audiences ad tool for targeting very specific groups of people

We’ve been researching this for a few years now. We started showing our results when I babbled about random affinities and such a few years back at MozCon. Right now Google is discussing this in terms of paid ads, but I strongly suggest getting in line with best practices on the organic and social side. There’s one crucial action to take:

Clearly define relationships between content

  1. Mark up products, etc. Use related to in your product info.
  2. Link articles to related material using, well, links.
  3. But also use is based on.
  4. Mark up reviews.
  5. Make sure you’re doing it right using the Google Structured Data Testing Tool.
  6. Use OGP, because it can’t hurt.

Oh, and read carefully between the lines when Google says, “we don’t need authorship anymore.”

In the past, we’ve learned that “we don’t need” is very different from “it won’t help.” I’m not a conspiracy theorist — Google isn’t just messing with us (well, I prefer not to think so) — but they have a lot of different issues to juggle, from spammers to search quality to resources. Keep using this stuff.

It’s just smart

Even if I’m 100% completely utterly wrong, these are the right things to do. They help with SEO. They help with social. They future-proof your content. And, they’ll make you the talk of the town at every nerd party. These steps take very little time. Go do ‘em.

Read a bit more

A few points of clarification, and why we’ve seen this coming for a while. If you want to read how I think this came about, read these bits:

All about dispersed citation

My Whiteboard Friday about random affinities: The IdeaGraph

And my YouMoz article: Growing Your Audience With Random Affinities

Where it’s all going

I can’t say “HELL YES WE NAILED IT BABY THIS IS WHY WE’RE CALLED PORTENT!!!!!” I’m sure Google is taking this in other directions. They’re only talking about this in the context of paid advertising.

But if you look at the Knowledge Graph, In-Depth Articles and other developments, you can see Google, Facebook and others are in a race to connect ideas using more than words and links. And everything we need to do to capitalize makes sense, anyway.

Like always, if you help Google achieve their goal, they’ll return the favor. Make relevance measurement easier, and they rank you. Make random affinities detection easier, and that will probably pay off, too. It’s up to you.


  1. Loved this post. Thank you. I can’t seem to wrap my mind around when to use the isBasedOnUrl property though. Do you have an example of a good use case?

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