Google AuthorRank: Fact or Fiction

Google AuthorRank: Fact or Fiction

One of the challenges with Internet marketing is that the landscape is always changing. Social networks come and go, new trends gain traction, and there's always a Google algorithm change looming. Already this year we've talked about how Facebook is implementing their own internal search called Graph Search, and mentioned how Google's encryption of keywords used in search is wreaking havoc with search engine marketers and website owners. Now, we have the rumors of Google AuthorRank to deal with and wonder how that is going to affect search engine rankings.

Google has long denied that authorship credit will affect result rankings in search engines, leading many to wonder if it was even real. It turns out that Google AuthorRank is very real.

Mark Traphagen was astute enough to notice this quote within a book announcement from TechCrunch from Google Chairman 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."

That sounds like not only is Google AuthorRank real, it's coming soon to a theatre near you.

What is Google Authorship and AuthorRank?

If you're not familiar with Google Authorship and the concept of AuthorRank, the idea is that content that you produce is tied to your Google+ profile. You may have noticed that when doing a Google search, some authors get their profile image displayed next to the article, along with their name and how many Google+ circles they're in.

By connecting authors and author profiles Google is able to provide search results that come from "real people" not just random websites. Google's intent is to provide results that are from an "expert or enthusiast that knows the topic well" or is from someone we'd trust, according to this blog post from May, 2011.

How do I get Google Authorship Credit?

Getting set up with Google Authorship isn't too hard, and could take as little as ten minutes.

First, if you haven't already, you must have a Google+ personal profile.

Next, on each new blog and article that you write, your name or picture needs to be linked to your Google+ profile. Most sites will utilize some kind of author or contributor box that includes your name, picture and a brief biography. On the Drupal sites that I build for instance, each author gets a profile page and I create a custom block view that displays the author's information on the content they've written. The author's image is linked to their Google+ profile automatically.

Make sure that the link includes the rel="author" tag. That let's Google know that the link is for the author and not just a random link to a Google+ profile.

One last step is to go back to your Google+ profile and make sure to add a link the site you're writing for within the Contributor list of links.

Once you've gone through these steps, Google should begin to recognize you as an author for the content you're producing.

Why is Google AuthorRank Important?

So, now that you're up to speed, lets get back to this revelation from Schmidt. Search engine marketers and professional blog coaches have been saying for a while now that search results were going to be affected by Google Authorship, though there was disagreement over what that impact would be.

According to Chairman Schmidt, Google search results will be sorted according to whether or not a specific result has a verified author. This is extremely interesting because the implication is that results which might have been quite poorly ranked otherwise may now find themselves on Page One of a result set. At least for now.

This is similar to Google's concept of search personalization, where content that has been rated (+1'd) or created by your personal connections (circles) appears at the top of your results. The rest of the world comes in second, under the assumption that you're more likely to be interested in content from or reviewed by people you know.

The difference is, as a verified author, your content can rise to the top of a search result without having any connection to the individual doing the searching.

Without a doubt, search engine marketing is going to change dramatically in 2013. Are you ready?

Photo courtesy of per_p, Flickr.

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Mike Allton, Content Marketing Practitioner

Mike is a Content Marketing Practitioner - a title he invented to represent his holistic approach to content marketing that leverages blogging, social media, email marketing and SEO to drive traffic, generate leads, and convert those leads into sales. He is an award-winning Blogger, Speaker, and Author at The Social Media Hat, and Brand Evangelist at Agorapulse (formerly CMO at SiteSell).

As Brand Evangelist, Mike works directly with other social media educators, influencers, agencies and brands to explore and develop profitable relationships with Agorapulse.