21st June 2013
AuthorRank and Authorship: What Is It?
Over the last few months there's been some fuss about the implementation of "authorship" by Google - and what it all might mean in the long run. We thought it would be worthwhile talking about what Google is doing about "Authorship".
What is Google Author Rank/Authorship?
Google Authorship is the way in which Google will rank and crawl your identity online, through any article published and linked through your name/identity across any website which cites you reciprocally.
Author Rank is a term used by SEOs to describe a potential way of ranking authors in the search results based on their "authority".
Why Is Google Doing This?
Google has spent a great deal of its time over the years working out the quality of an information source - the authority of that entity. An entity in this case is usually a website, brand and the associated and accumulated content they publish online.
Since the introduction of Google+ we've seen a move towards allowing individuals to make more of a bid of authority outside of the domains they publish on. This means that Google can begin to build a network of experts with which they can present you better search results.
Is Authorship Only useful if I use Google+?
No, although you will have to have a Google+ account to set up authorship. You should consider it a way of curating your publishing history online. While Google+ isn't as heavily used as Twitter or Facebook yet, it is still a compelling network - especially if you can find a community which really chimes with your brand or product.
So What Does Google Author Rank Do?
Ideally Author Rank will take a good look at all the disparate places you put your content online and, based on this, reward your content in the SERPS.
At the very least, you'll get your picture in the search results for those blogs you link up to - which should improve click through rates!
What are the benefits of Google Authorship for the consumer, the customer and the visitor?
You might be thinking that this is just a way for authors to exercise their ego - a way of "scoring points" at being an "expert".
Does Google Authorship help anyone apart from the blogger?
I'd like to say: yes.It may help separate those who have an online identity from those who don't, and act as a way of offering spam filtering for those who do have an identity, but don't offer content of any quality. And if you do like a particular blogger - someone whose movie reviews your trust for example - then you're going to be helped by seeing their picture in the SERPs.
If a customer trusts a blogger, and that blogger reviews your product (and liked it - and they did because it was fantastic, naturally), you're going to win thanks to that blogger being considered an expert on the subject.
In short: If "authoritative" begins to mean "trustworthy" then there are benefits for everyone.
What goes in to AuthorRank? What factors/signals are considered?
In reality no one knows for sure. In fact it's disputed as to whether it will exist in such a simplistic form because all social ranking is plugged into so many behaviours the idea of a single ranking for an author's authority on a subject is a little farfetched.
It's a fairly safe bet that some of the following will be involved in the algorithm:
- The number of +1s and shares the author receives on Google+ content as well as other engagement such as comments
- The number of circles the author is in, and the reciprocal connections
- The authority of the sites an author has published on
- The author's standing on other social networks, citation on Wikipedia or published offline works (probably through Google Scholar)
What does that mean for me, and my web presence?
Well, it could mean a lot of things. For the most part Author Rank should be viewed as a process something like this:
- Ensure you're cited as the author on all the sites you blog on. Get it verified with your Google+ account.
- Continue producing excellent content as you normally would.
That's it! We could go on to say that you should create content worth sharing and linking to, content which is useful and people love, and specialize on your topic - but surely you're doing that anyway!
How do I verify myself as an author on Google+ and on my blog posts?
- Get a Google+ account
- Add all the blogs you contribute to here:
http://plus.google.com/me/about/edit/co - and make them public
- Edit your blog posts to include:
YOUR FULL NAME (matching your name on your G+ profile)
- Make a cup of tea and then check the results with Google's rich snippet testing tool: http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/richsnippets
- Hopefully that's enough to get you started with Google Authorship. Next time we'll take a closer look at the implications of Google Authorship over the long term - as well as the possible drawbacks.