Google, SEO and Author Rank: It’s Getting Personal

spn_exclusive1In the competitive world of SEO, any edge up on the competition is a godsend. Here’s a word to the wise: If you’re looking to up your Search Engine Page Rankings (SERPs), you should start caring very deeply about author rank. A well charted content strategy consists of more than just well written, on target, audience-specific articles; nowadays it’s crucial to tie it all to a well-ranked author.

Consider this a similar notion to the spirit of link sharing; we now know it’s critical that we understand imperatively the reputation of everyone we link to, and those who link to us. In that same vein, it’s now a must that we equally consider author reputation. In a world of rampant social sharing, this is one of a few key ways search engines are cutting through the content clutter. And it’s your ticket to better SEO.

Consider this book excerpt from “The New Digital Age,” authored by Google Executive Chariman Eric Schmidt:

“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.”

Irrelevance?!? That’s a very strong statement. And that alone is proof that author rank should be on your SEO radar.

How Author Rank Became an SEO Darling

Every day, a staggeringly high number of “social events” are triggered by web users. “Social events” are things like Facebook Likes, Google +1s, tweets, and content shares. To that end, search engines can conceivably sort the relevance of this mountain of data by considering each author’s reputation (a little like Klout, a site that lets authors track their own ranking prowess, aims to achieve.)

It used to be that the key to SEO was in massive link building, but as this transformed into a less than stellar user experience, search engines shifted their strategies. In order to maintain credibility and track the quality of content in a more cohesive manner, author rank has become a much stronger focus. This is an obvious evolution for the algorithms, especially considering the astronomically increasing amount of data that must be tracked in real-time. Gone are the days when link directories and volumes of anonymous posts reigned supreme. As people, we have long since preferred to interact with other people, not bots or nameless, invisible beings – it turns out Google feels the same way.

Quantifying Author Rankings

SEO is not an exact science, but it does support common sense in considering how the algorithms might dissect a concept like author rank. Here are some key social signals to consider as you’re building your own ranking (please note these are ideas, and not guarantees… yet):

1) Social Media Profiles: This one is a no-brainer. If you’re going to have any credibility to the masses these days, you clearly need to be on the big dogs: Facebook and Twitter at a minimum, but ideally other sites like Pinterest and LinkedIn. Likewise, a Google+ definitely feels like a must-have, because it’s obvious Google is paying hyper-close attention to their own social darling.

2) Quantity of Social Events: The volume of content you create is certainly applicable, but what’s more relevant these days is the number of tweets, shares, +1s and Likes a piece you authored generates. Bear in mind search engines are not looking at how many social events you trigger, but those of your content instead.

3) Frequency of Social Events: It’s not just about volume, but how often your content generates a Like, share, etc. Both Google and Bing have already admitted that they measure social velocity to help identify high-ranking news; it’s reasonable to assume they are tracking the same for author rankings too.

4) Publisher Credibility: Remembering that quality still trumps quantity, the authority of the site where the content appears is also integral to your success. We are therefore reminded to choose our publishing partners carefully while building SEO rank, because mass publication on sites with bad reputations – or none at all – can actually hurt your cause instead.

Ways to Improve Your Author Rank

So now that you’ve embraced the importance of author rank and have started understanding how it might be quantified, let’s talk about some real-world strategies to improve your results over the long term.

You obviously need a great social media and SEO strategy for the content on your actual website. Consider unifying your marketing efforts and having one cohesive voice write the majority of your content. This may go against the grain of large teams of marketers and writers propelling forward various styles, but given the increased importance of author rank, it’s advisable that you seek an authority to lead the charge – not just a snazzy copywriter. This means you should consider hiring an author with expertise in your field, so that you may utilize the social following and clout they’ve already established. By all means, leverage the audience these experts have already established. The more you personalize the messaging from your brand, the more likely you are to make a personal connection with your customers. (Seriously, who likes impersonal sales-y sounding social signals and marketing materials?). Likewise, it now seems SEO is gearing towards the personal too, so this is a win-win. Use sites like LinkDex to help identify the perfect candidate to author your content charge.

Next up is outreach – identify news sites, bloggers and related content hubs that feature information related to your business’s expertise. Once determined, don’t just go through the standard submission process for the site; seek out the authors you are most in tune with and ask them personally to consider featuring your business, content, inforgraphic or related media. See the personal trend here? It’s becoming as good as gold. (It always was for customers, now search engines are getting in on the action too.)

Finally, remember that diversity in content is also a key tactic. Don’t just focus on keyword-rich articles, have some fun and mix it up. Create compelling viral videos, interactive content, infographics and related visuals, and/or eBooks so that your offerings create a broad appeal. Above all, don’t forget to clearly delineate authorship on all the content you publish.

Author Rank’s Longevity

Considering all the current web trends, and Google’s most recent statements, banking on author rank as a growing SEO trend is a safe bet. Start utilizing the requested tactics straight away, and stick with them long term, as they are likely to become more and more critical to your rankings. As Google executive Schmidt clearly stated, staying anonymous may result in irrelevance. It’s clear Google can’t, and won’t, ignore the immense amount of social data out there, so make yours count as much as possible by tying content to credible authors. If Google wants to know all they can about who’s writing your content, you should clearly want the same.

Producer, game designer and freelance writer, Tina Courtney-Brown has been a bona fide web fiend since she discovered Poetry.com in 1994. Tina’s fortés include all aspects of online business, social media, marketing trends, alternative health, digital production and many more. She’s a passionate truth-teller, a sincere advocate for the environment, and an obsessive dessert creator. Learn more at her personal website, or find her on Facebook.

About the author


Tina Courtney

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+. Visit My Google+ Profile


Click here to post a comment
  • This is so true. It’s a new digital age now with all this social media. Follow this article advice..

  • I put a lot of effort into embracing this for my clients many months back. It has to be said that very little ‘concrete’ movement has taken place and the small business man is still smarting from the Panda & Penguin changes.
    This might open up the conversation a little farther?
    http://www.consultancymarketing.co.uk/blog/build-your-authority-with-blogs-and-social-media-dont-obsess-over-author-rank/ including a slide presentation from SMX 2013 recently?

  • Hi Tina,

    Your article on Author Rank in the social network interested me very much and I hope to have to translate it into Chinese so that it is readable for Chinese readers. Could I have your authorization for that?
    Your agreement will be appreciated very much!

    Kind regards,

    Joe Zhai

  • Yeah now google is taking a step to make SERP’s socialize as much they can and that’s the main reason for introducing Author Rank.. So the future of SEO seems to depend more and more on Social.

  • Google has always liked accountability and I think that they are probably right since it makes it harder for spammers. But it also makes it harder for small companies who might not have the time to write and build up a profile in house and no budget to hire a copywriter. These are the challenges of online business in 2013!

  • I agree with the fact that we need to work the aspects of SEO and Content writing side by side to get a good Google rank. As due tot he current algorithm changes Google has become more strict and we need to impress Google in order to get some traffic for our website.

  • This is an important step to make websites authors focus on more quality content. It is move in the right direction.

  • We have a 5000+ strong community of people discussing this every day over on Google+ including most of the top experts on Google Authorship and Author Rank. Just search “Google Authorship and Author Rank” on Google and you’ll find us right near the top.

  • Very helpful and interesting post. I always learn so much from SitePro News. I have noticed that when my blog posts get +1s I get more traffic on my website.You have to have content (on a blog or elsewhere) that people can relate to. Try sharing tips that help your wanna-be customers. They’ll appreciate that and see you as an “expert.”

  • This article appears to reflect the recent changes to the Google algorithms. There are many website owners should heed this advice, in producing good SEO.

    The current strategy by many is to use link building, which is now apparently obsolete. Also many web developers choose to remain anonymous on the web, and according to your article, this is something a web developer doesn’t want to do.

    This new strategy to improve rankings seems to remain the same in one way. That is the fact that content is still king. You can do all you want to increase traffic to your website by link building, but what you offer your visitors when they eventually get to your site is huge. If you don’t have anything of value to offer them, then all of your efforts are for naught.

    An article that I wrote reflects this strategy, if you go to Writing Effective Website Content you will learn the specifics and importance of writing good website content.

  • I’ve always thought this should be the case. It seems right that everyone should be able to publish content freely but without credibility it should be irrelevant.

  • This is all a big push by google to get folks to use google+ — since everyone wants to rank all they need to say is that author profile and links to it are of prime importance. In other words if we ignore google+ google will ignore us.

    Pretty damned genius when you think about it. They’ve been struggling to get folks to use google+ for a few years, now the word is out that you’ll be penalized if you don’t.

  • Meh. “Google Trial Balloon: Put Yourself Under 24/7 Surveilance Or We Will De-Link Your Works.” Sounds like an idle threat to me.

    Google’s core mission is to deliver relevant information. They carry out this mission by doing textual analysis on web content, indexing it by topic and sub-topics, and weighting it according the amount of text and the depth of vocabulary used, inbound links and, where available via Google Analytics, how long visitors stay on the page.

    I am sure that Google has trained its systems to look for frequent searches on content tied to Facebook events and “clickstorm tremds”, and responds by top-ranking any “definitive” web pages relevant to the specific event – for hours or maybe even days, before reverting to normal behavior.

    Author Rank seems like a natura: SEO contractors always need fresh lies to tell, new promises to break, and “social network marketing” is still a hot topic. Any new ideas in this area will get lots of attention.

    Author Rank will be pumped and pumped, becasue it creates a market for “high ranked authors” to peddle their by-lines as bait for spam traps. Even if Google ever did mean to do anything with it, Author Rank will be abandoned soon due to systematic sabotage and abuse.

  • Hi when i write a post for my blog i always finish with a picture of myself and my name as author. is this the kind of thing you mean. thanks eric

  • I agree with Valerie. This might by Google’s ultimate Facebook killer. The demand for top SERP is huge and will definitely drive up the use of Google+. Now if Google+ would be a replacement for Facebook in other area’s too…

    Arnaud Kleinveld

  • I think it’s an extension of Google pushing Google+ to become a more dominant force in the social media market. Verifying authorship naturally gives more gravitas to the content

  • HI– Great article– I love the idea of hiring noted “trusted” content providers/writers–BUT I have a question– Let’s say I hire writers w/ strong Google+1 ratings– How do I actually PLACE their articles on my site in order for Google to recognize that those Google +1 people wrote them ? Or–are you saying I need the authors to publish them or post them on their own google+1 pages w/ links back to me ? I’m a bit confused about the actual execution — Thanks

  • thanks you
    r–are you saying I need the authors to publish them or post them on their own google+1 pages w/ links back to me ? I’m a bit confused about the actual execution — Thanks