July 5, 2013
Here’s how Google explains its updated author rank system: “Assuming that a given agent has a high reputational score, representing an established reputation for authoring valuable content, then additional content authored and signed by that agent will be promoted relative to unsigned content or content from less reputable agents in search results.”
What does that mean? It means that if the content on a page is tied to an author who has a strong author rank in Google, that page’s search position will be higher than if it was not tied to an author, or if it was tied to an author with a lower author rank.
Google+ Matters More than Ever
Although Google doesn’t share the details about how it determines author scores, most experts agree that Google+ is one of the ranking signals that is already important in building strong author rank. The Google plus-one button is another signal, meaning that if you use Google’s Authorship tools to link your Google+ profile to your content, when a user clicks the “plus-one” button on your content, your author rank will improve. (You do already have G+1 buttons on all of your content, right?)
Other author rank Indicators
In addition to Google+, other social sharing signals seem to be important to Author scores as well, such as Facebook “likes” and Twitter “tweets.” Other indicators include how often your content is shared and discussed with others across social networks, and how many comments the content produces. The speed with which readers share your links on social networks is also believed to be a signal in Google.
Three Steps to author rank
There are basically three steps to developing author rank:
- Create and optimize your Google+ profile. Make sure you include full URLs to your blog and any other content that you produce.
- Make sure you are using the rel=”author” attribute correctly in your content. Your Web developer or IT staff can help with this, if necessary.
- Publish high-quality content on a regular basis. If you don’t have the time or skills to do this yourself, hire someone who does!
Authors who are seen as authorities in their given niche will have higher author scores, resulting in higher search rankings. The higher your author rank in Google, the higher your content will rank in its search results. Although the concept seems simple, that does not mean that developing strong author scores is going to be easy.
To build your score, you must regularly create useful, high-quality content for users — articles, blog posts, how-to articles, press releases, whitepapers, etc. You must also have an optimized Google+ profile that is tied to your “identity” in Google, with the proper tags implemented correctly in the right places. Of course, you will also need a social media strategy (and content pipeline) in place to make sure you are interacting socially on a regular basis.
You will still need to pay attention to the existing, more traditional ranking signals (like properly optimized Web code, inbound links, xml sitemaps, etc.), but at least for now it appears that author rank is becoming very important to your Google rankings.
Building Your Credit
If you already have a website, then you probably have content you can tag to get author credit in Google. Google+ is gaining in popularity (it recently surpassed Twitter as the second-most visited social site on the Web), so if Google+ isn’t already part of your social media strategy, it’s time to add it. And for small businesses that care about not being lost in the Google abyss, author rank provides a new opportunity for you to get credit for content, gain credibility and authority, and ultimately improve your search engine rankings in Google.
Lauren Hobson is president of Five Sparrows, LLC. Five Sparrows provides professional website and marketing services to small businesses and non-profits.