Now, Author Rank stands to rival PageRank for determining a website’s position in the SERPs. We’re quickly evolving into a social web, and harnessing the power of authorship now stands to position you as a true expert in your niche going forward. Let’s look at what exactly Author Rank is, what’s changing, and how you can use the new metric to brand yourself as a leader in your industry.
A Little Background
A recent ‘Search Engine Journal article breaks down the origins of Author Rank as it appeared in the original 2005 Google patent. There’s also a screenshot of how the attribute looks in the SERPs:
You’ve likely seen this in action while conducting recent Google searches of your own. Author tags are becoming more and more commonplace, and jumping on board now will help you become a thought leader in your niche and secure your position the SERPs for the long haul.
Why? The simple answer is that Google trusts websites that it knows the most about. If it knows who you are, it can figure out how to rank you. The algorithm can use signals to decipher whether you know what you’re talking about, which helps to weed out spam.
The 2005 patent indicated that Google’s had this agenda for quite some time. In it, Google suggests that a ranking “agent” (which would later become known as “author rank”) would use the feedback from the audience to determine the popularity of a piece of content. The more popular the article, the higher the rank.
Back in 2011, Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, stated publicly that Google was on a quest to identify “agents” (authors) in order to provide better search results for users. He’s quoted as saying, “it would be useful if we had strong identity so we could weed [spam] out.”
Makes sense, but back then Google had no real system in place to figure out who wrote what and what else they may have written.
That is, until now.
Enter Google+. It’s a social network, yes, but don’t discount the power of the system when combined with authorship. Now that Google has both the technology and the reach, Author Rank will undoubtedly become a major ranking factor in combination with the PageRank of a particular piece of writing.
Proof positive: Google rolled out its social network and tied the identity of users to Google Authorship, thereby creating a database of people to draw from when listing search results. It’s real, it’s happening, and it’s the future of social search. Now Google can follow through on the mission it began back in ’05: identifying authors and ranking their content accordingly using a basis of trust.
The Future of Search
If you don’t think that social signals are going to dominate search engine ranking factors over the next few years, I’ve got a bridge I’d like to sell you. Author Rank will be every bit as major of a metric as PageRank is today, and the two signals will work in tandem to largely determine where you’ll place in the SERPs going forward (among other factors, of course).
Gone is the era when raw, anchor text-rich links alone determine where your website will place. Now, multiple signals will decide your fate, and Author Rank will be a major player in the calculations. If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Google is all about trust – after all, that’s why PageRank was created, and that’s what the authorship attribute will be about, too. If Google can determine that you’re a respected voice in your niche, then you’ll enjoy more prominent placement in the SERPs than your lesser-known peers.
One caveat: Googlebot is not a human (this isn’t The Matrix…yet). Google will of course need hard data to determine how popular you are with your crowd; the algo alone can’t process purely qualitative information. That’s why Author Rank is so vital: it helps weed out the big players in the field by using social ranking signals (think Google+ circles, for example). Then, it ties everything together to determine your reach, and thus, your rank.
How to Make Authorship Work for You
To get in on the Author Rank action, you need to activate your authorship status. To accomplish this, all you need to do is link your published content on specific domains to your Google+ profile. There are two methods for doing this. Use the first method if you have an email address associated with the domain on which your content appears. Opt for the second technique if you don’t have an email address at the domain in question.
Regardless of the approach you choose, the first step is to ensure you have a recognizable headshot as your Google+ account avatar. The picture will display as a thumbnail in search results beside your ranked content, so make sure you use a clear close-up shot that people will recognize.
Every page of content you write, should include your byline and the byline you use must match your Google+ profile name exactly. If your byline is not present, Google can’t list you as the author in the SERPs, so make sure you include your name on every piece you write. In a guest post situation, don’t forget to ask the webmaster hosting your content whether it’s okay to include your byline and code for Google authorship in the metadata of your post.
If you have an email address at the domain for which you’re writing, stop by Google’s Authorship page to submit that email address to Google for approval. You’ll only need to do this one time per domain. After you do, your email will show up in a section of your Google+ profile called “Contributor to.” You should ‘change the visibility of your link if privacy is an issue and you’d rather not have your email exposed.
If you don’t have an email address at the domain on which your content appears (such as with a guest posting), follow the following process:
If you’re serious about search marketing, then I urge you to get started with Google authorship now. It’s going to be big in the world of search going forward – you can bank on it. You’ll need to be known to compete in your niche, and the more recognized you are, the more your website will grow. It’s self-service marketing at its best – and it’s free. I’m onboard – are you?
Nell Terry is a tech news junkie, fledgling Internet marketer and staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs. She thrives on social media, web design, and uncovering the truth about all the newest marketing fads that pop up all over the ‘net. Find out more about Nell by visiting her online portfolio at ‘Content by Nell.