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April 14, 2014

How Google Authorship Impacts SEO

There’s a lot of confusion around Google Authorship, Author Rank, and how both impact SEO (if at all.) If you’re a content creator or marketer amassing plenty of author credits, use this article to determine if the efforts of Google Authorship make sense to solidify your brand and expertise.

What is Google Authorship and Author Rank?

First we will demystify the meaning and relationship between each author-related concept. And no, they are most certainly not the same thing.

Google Authorship is all about connecting your web content to a personal Google Plus profile. Links to content from Google Plus will therefore create a more personal Google listing, which includes an author photo, link to the author’s Google Plus profile, the number of Google Plus circles the author is a part of, and a link to additional author search results.

Google Author Rank, then, refers to the credibility of a given author, and relates back to the search giant’s algorithms. Google is always looking for ways to better identify quality content, and author rank (or “agent rank”, the name of the patent they filed in 2011) aims to identify experts and influencers in all categories and niches. This absolutely therefore impacts search rankings.

To break it down, just remember this: Google Authorship is all about the rich search results snippet created when you link content from your Google Plus profile. Google Author Rank reflects the algorithm updates that may boost your results based on the credibility of your verified Google Authorship content.

The Benefits of Google Authorship

With the immense, almost limitless amount of information published daily on the web, Google obviously needs as many differentiators as possible to identify and highlight quality content. Authorship is a fantastic way to build credibility and consistency around your brand. It also stands to reason that Google will continue to leverage its darling social platform, Google Plus. The more content you have integrated here, the more you are building yourself as an expert in your field, at least in the eyes of Google.

Eric Schmidt, author of “The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations, and Business“, puts it this way: “Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.”

The Rise of Social Signals

One of the primary reasons Author Rank has been catapulted into importance is the relatively new prominence of social signals. Social signals are the conglomeration of “likes”, tweets, status updates, profile info, comments, and all related user-submitted content gathered through the myriad of social networks. Because this has become a primary way for contributors to share content, the search engines have naturally jumped into the game, and are attempting to use their relevance in the impact of rankings.

Google doesn’t have API access to Facebook, Twitter, and crew. But they certainly do with Google Plus. Therefore, they clearly will use the data on their own network first to measure any expertise or impact on rankings.

The Case Against Authorship and Author Rank

Not everyone thinks it’s really all that critical to focus on improving Author Rank. The entire system has an inherent flaw that may prevent Google Authorship from ever taking off.

Google’s main motivation is to get actual industry experts to link their content via Google Plus, which not only allows search results to verify content influencers, but also boosts the amount of content on the quasi-successful social platform.

Yet the verdict is still out regarding how much this will really benefit the actual authors. Many early adopters report little to no upticks in traffic or search results related to Authorship and Author Rank, despite the efforts required. Experts are experts because of the time and knowledge they invest in their given field; asking these individuals to then spend additional precious resources chasing down Google’s latest SEO trends is quite a tall order. And many content creators (like myself) have simply not made this a priority. Some of us are waiting for the bona fide statistics to prove it’s worth our time and effort, and those are simply not that convincing just yet.

Because of this conundrum, the current Google results are, for the most part, highlighting authors who have obsessively kept up with the Google Plus profiles. And by no means does this guarantee expertise in any given space. So it’s not clear whether or not Google’s insistence that top influencers follow their rules will have the impact they intend.

There’s no actual harm to focusing on upping your Google Authorship, but don’t expect massive SEO results to follow suit. Even if Author Rank becomes a more prominent aspect of the Google algorithm, there’s no guarantee your efforts will boost rankings.

If you do dive into the process, note that Google won’t just grant rich snippets to any piece of content. They still care deeply about quality, because the millions of searchers that access the site each day want the best of the best. Google search guru Matt Cutts has even stated that authors with lackluster content will not be granted the reward of a photo and links. In fact, he estimated that only 15 percent of Google Plus profiles might actually become verified, and therefore authorized to have the rich snippet feature. This increases the odds all the more that your Authorship efforts won’t have an SEO impact.

In the end, however, anything Google wants content creators to accomplish is rarely a waste of time, thanks to their omnipotence in the world of search. It’s always best to just assess your own landscape, determine the time and effort involved in upping your Authorship and Author Rank, and move forward with the best strategy for your personal brand.

Have you had any success with Author Rank efforts? If so, we’d love to hear about it!


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Conscious online marketer, web executive, and multi-faceted writer Tina Courtney has been creating and fostering online innovations since 1996. Tina has assisted many clients in maximizing online production and marketing efforts, and is a staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs. She’s produced and marketed innovative content for major players like Disney and JDate, as well as boutique startups galore, with fortes including social media, SEO, influencer marketing, community management, lead generation, and project management. Tina is also a certified Reiki practitioner, herbalist, and accomplished life coach.  Learn more on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+.

32 Responses to “How Google Authorship Impacts SEO

    It is not easy to understand the Google algorithms because these are very complicated and everyone has its one views and information about particular algorithm but it is truth that no one knows about their exact functions. However your shared information is very helpful and effective to understand about Google algorithms. If you can understand the functions of these algorithms you can make your website search engine friendly.

    Can I set Google Authorship for shopping website?
    and why google authorship doesnt show after 2 months?

    avatar BlokeToys says:

    You can on articles and ancillary pages, but these are things you should be developing for SEO anyway.

    You can’t do this for every product page, but you should already be creating reviews, information pages and articles about your industry and products, the things that will automatically interest your audience.

    Although I have attempted to incorporate Authorship for many pages on our retail site, so far there has been no positive effect. The information about this is so pathetically confusing and overly complicated that many don’t bother.

    As pointed out in the piece, there is really no evidence to support the idea that this is going to benefit you as an author.

    Google will STILL support the bigger names and the companies/individuals it chooses for any industry or service, regardless of what it “claims” about fairness and the promotion of value-driven content.

    avatar Dexeter says:

    Last year I attempted to get in on the authoring gig, I followed all the Google rules to get content attributed to me as the author but Google only attributed to me about 30% of the time, in many cases Google simply would not attribute the content to my authorship. The content is unique and produced by me on websites that I own .

    In the end I gave up as not worth the effort.

    However I did notice an increase in traffic to pages that I linked to on my Google+ page and I am now putting some activity on there most days to see how that pans out in the future.

    avatar Jordan says:

    Currently link spam era social media is plays a good role to generate traffic and build authority.

    Google Authorship is one the way to interact your quality content with social media as well as help to increase your domain authority.

    In coming days as in news that Google do not counts the links Google authorship is helps in SEO.

    avatar Rob Willox says:

    Like many other activities undertaken to help improve search results, regardless of whether it contributes greatly or not, it ‘may’ be a factor, however small. As Google points out there are ‘perhaps’ over 500 different measures used, authorship being just one.
    And, to implement it is not too onerous with a few additions to article/page coding and even simpler if using WordPress.
    Would agree that there may not be any major benefit in terms of improving search visibility but the benefit may be more in relation to searcher behaviour, as is the case with the meta description tag, it might make the difference attracting that all important initial clickthrough.
    As a seo practitioner, added the coding to own site and blog well over a year ago and did very little else apart from posting more regularly on Google+ page.
    It is only within last month or so that G+ profile has been regularly displayed in serps so it is too early to say whether what impact on visitor numbers it might have. But will monitor it for interest sake.

    avatar Jack Hansen says:

    Hello Tina, great article and very up to date, we were just talking about this over here at my office. To be fast with my feedback; yes yes yes – it does affect the SEO and moves a web site up in ranking. I have seen it happen. Authorship is a key you just have to own.

    avatar Tam says:

    Thanks Tina Courtney-Brown,

    A clear concept of Google Authorship and Author Rank.
    Which elements does Google use to determine a good author rank? And how can we improve it for better?

    avatar Anita Ahmad says:

    unfortunate that google can not move to crack down on people who always copy the article to their blog, it’s very troubling. DMCA laws had no great influence with content copied

    avatar ecommerce web development says:

    Nice article on Google+ and Authorship Influence Search Engine Rankings. Thanks for the share

    avatar Dangbach.com says:

    WHen searcher see 10 result, they will look into website have image first, because image can easy attract attention than text!!

    avatar Sharon says:

    Absolutely correct. Not only a SEO technique, but you will also get good CTR because of authorship.

    avatar Sharon says:

    Very Good Article! Useful information for multilingual SEO content writers like us. Thanks for sharing!

    Google has done their best to make it a convoluted process. We muddled through it last year and have seen the benefits.

    avatar better says:

    Illogical to chase google’s whims on seo. As you saw, they changed things with panda, penguin just like that. And many more updates after these two too. Not to mention they totally went against all the ‘recommended practices’ they themselves advocated from their site before.

    There is no guarantee that the dept. in charge of these decisions will not make a different decision and ditch everything.

    Pointless.

    Much better to focus on content, social networks, visitors and word of mouth.

    avatar Brian Austin says:

    Thanks for your interesting, informative article.

    Personally, I think Google – using a variety of experimental tools that they are progressively connecting together – are simply seeking a reliable way (or ways) to tie web content to real individuals, from multiple sources over time, so that their algorithms can determine what is most valuable to each search query.

    Your article touches on 3 components that may make up that recipe.

    When we look at Google Authorship, Author Rank, Google Plus, and other related initiatives, this idea does seem to make sense.

    How and what Google does with this information is their affair.

    They are a private company providing lots of free tools in return for access to information – about us – probably so that Google as an organisation can better understand the world, especially in business contexts.

    Quite rightly, they keep the innermost workings of their methods secret. That’s the only fair way to be.

    Although unlikely, next week, next month, next year, Google may decide to disband Google Authorship, Google Plus, or any other experimental tools.

    So being fixed too strongly to any single promotional vehicle is probably not a good idea. Even obsessing over Google itself.

    I suggest that the main focus should be on our own web resources and working out how to start conversations with those people we want to work with (and that includes buying and selling products and services of course).

    So I suggest that by all means we should go through the processes to learn a little about how to use these tools and how to set things up.

    By all means take occasional measurements: we like to know where we are don’t we?

    But then forget about constant measuring, and worrying, and re-tweaking, and starting all over again from scratch, etc., and just focus on creating a constant stream of unique, timely, informative content – on website assets that we own or supply.

    If we keep measuring and comparing too much, and just (laughably) try to outwit Google, and other search engines, that’s like chasing a ghost and can be fraught with trouble and unnecessary delays. Good luck with that 🙂

    avatar Michael says:

    This page shows search statistics for pages for which you are the verified author. Learn more about verifying authorship.
    Filters Web
    Mar 15, 2014 to Apr 14, 2014
    Pages Impressions Clicks
    112
    6,779 32%
    Displaying 6,779
    96 -14%
    Displaying 96
    Works for me

    avatar Health Tips says:

    Yes Michael, after you set up a Google+ authorship for a site, we can get good improvement.

    avatar Seogdk says:

    very thankful to you for sharing such helpful information about Google authorship and its impact on SEO.

    avatar Robert says:

    How do you suggest authorship for a company. We have always wanted our company to be seen as the expert in the Fleet Trackingfield and not any of it’s sole individuals. Can an authorship be a collective or tied to a corporate Google+ account?

    avatar Ibeagleorg says:

    Awesome Article. it’s Really Nice and Helpful for Every Blogger. Thank you very much for Sharing with us.

    avatar budyk_ir says:

    very good….

    im now using G+ authotship too….

    avatar Robert McGrath says:

    I do not think it is something we should go out of way for and keeping the focus on rich, original and related content is always going to be the main thing to keep an eye on. But if we can afford to spend a little time to set this up then why not. As you mentioned it can only help in the future right?

    avatar Ritesh Reet says:

    This article will clear the concept of Google Authorship and Author Rank in the mind of webmasters.

    Thanks Tina 🙂

    avatar Don Morgan says:

    You are correct Google authorship gives you credibility. Glad to see you touch on social signals, also very important.

    Social signals is most likely to a positive impact if you are perceived to be a authority. Thank you for the article, it really adds great value.

    avatar SAK says:

    Social mentions are important

    avatar Imran says:

    You are right Google authorship gives you credibility. Glad to see you touch on social signals, also very important.

    avatar Good night SMS says:

    Authorship has a great impact on search ranking. It also increases the conversion rate of our blog.

    avatar John Mendes says:

    It does give you credibility, and it looks good in the serps as well.

    Hello Tina, thanks for your great article. it surely effect serp ranking. It’s happen to my website and see it is a key you better to own. again thanks for your perfect article.

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