And so, history repeats itself. Time and again, the pattern emerges. Google makes a move, and the reaction is extreme. Naysayers then crawl from the woodwork to present a more rational opinion, counter to the popular position. An equilibrium is achieved, until Google once more makes a move and sends everyone scurrying to recover.
To illustrate the point, just look at the history of Google Authorship.
- Google introduces Authorship. People proclaim it as the most important development since the history of cheese.
- Time passes, and people step forward to claim how Authorship got them nothing. Others mention how they’re doing perfectly fine without it. It becomes difficult to get more people to adopt the system, which pushes Google+ more than author benefits.
- Slowly, more people adopt Authorship.
- Google removes profile pictures from search results. Immediately, webmasters everywhere decry the move as the death of Authorship.
- Time passes, and webmasters come out of the works to proclaim how there is still value in Authorship, it’s just not in the form of pictures.
- Google doesn’t wait for the dust to settle; they kill off Authorship entirely.
- With Authorship dead, webmasters write eloquent posts about failed experiments.
- Soon, webmasters are coming forward with theories about how, despite the death of Authorship, Google still places value on authors.
This post is, of course, part of step 8 there. I’m here to tell you that Google still puts stock in authors and tracks a lot of information about them even though the official Authorship markup is over.
Author Rank and Educated Guesses
The source of all of this speculation can be traced back to Eric Schmidt, so blame him when things don’t go quite according to plan. In his book “The New Digital Age,” Schmidt writes about a system whereby Google – or whoever is dominant in search in the nebulous future – collects and collates information tying authors together with their content through various profiles.
For example, an author puts their name on a piece of content. They link to that piece of content on their Facebook profile. Google verifies behind the scenes that the author and the person doing the linking are one and the same. This builds a connection, an implied value, between the author and the content.
Take that idea and extend it. How many sites online do you have a profile set up on? How many locations tie back to any piece of content you write? Some, like forum profiles, may not be all that valuable. Others, like a profile on Facebook or Google+, may be more valuable.
This system is not Authorship. It is not even acknowledged as a real thing that is happening within Google. Instead, it’s just speculation about the future from a high ranking Google executive. This, of course, means there’s no way it would ever come to pass.
Ongoing Author Rank
We know that Google collects information about authors and the content they write. Some of it was tied to the Authorship system, even after the main draw of Authorship was left behind.
It’s even true that Author Rank is in use on a limited basis. Specifically, Google’s in-depth articles feature to explore topics uses it. Google strives to recognize the people who are authorities in their subjects, and does what it can to promote the content they produce in this section.
It makes sense. When you’re reading about a terrorist attack, who would you rather believe; John’s Biased Blog of Ill Repute, or a known quality journalist from the New York Times? When you’re reading financial advice, would you rather get it from Sally Stayathome or an investment banker?
That last one is a trick question, by the way. Investment bankers, as proven by the financial collapse, can’t handle their money.
The Future of Author Rank
There was one big problem with Authorship the way it stood. It tied into Google+ directly. This meant that only people who put their profiles on Google+ would be able to gain any benefit. It was the sort of monopoly and favoritism that Google tries to avoid, under their Don’t Be Evil clause.
The other problem was adoption, and it tied into Google+. Either Google needs to find a way to make author value independent from opting in to the program, or Google needs to get everyone to opt in to the program. Authorship wasn’t a quality standard like most SEO; it was benefit for an optional Google service.
Rather than try to get every content creator in the world to register a Google+ account, Google decided to take the easier route and monitor, collect and collate author information about them instead.
This also allows Google a bit more freedom in the information they gather and how it’s used. They can apply semantic search properties to content created by authors. They can give benefits to content published under an author name rather than a basic “admin” name or no byline. They can give benefit, particularly, to people who have developed a reputation as publishers of valuable content.
specifikt Author Rank will be most helpful to people looking to establish themselves as thought leaders. Author Rank will also follow them from site to site, as long as their byline remains intact so Google knows who wrote the content.
Tips for Moving Forward
There are a few ideas as to how you can position yourself to benefit from Author Rank.
- Flaunt your followers. If popularity is a sign that your content is valuable, putting a visible indicator of popularity on your content should help influence Google in an upward direction. Preferably numbers that can be verified and are harder to fake.
- Maintain a byline and a consistent name across different sites. If you write as Brandon Smalls on one site and Brandon Q
- Smalls on another, Google might not tie the two together.
- Continue creating quality content. You can’t build a reputation as a good author without good content to back it up.
Stillingen Autoreport er ikke helt død - Google og forfattersporing dukkede først på SEOBlog.com.