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Google AuthorRank: The Ramifications

As early as 2005, Google had planned on implementing a system for attributing content to writers, or agents, with its agent rank patent1,2. However, without a viable database for writers and a trustworthy method of identifying who the author was, this project had to be shelved. That is, until Google’s very own social sharing platform, Google+, came out, and offered users the ability to claim authorship of websites and articles. Thus the idea of AuthorRank has surfaced in the field of SEO.

AuthorRank is the next logical step for a search engine as it tries to move away from hard numbers, such as traffic data and raw links, towards subtle social signs such as shares, likes, +1s, user interactions and so forth. AuthorRank will presumably not substitute for PageRank for obvious reasons; if it did, known authoritative writers would be given slack for bad articles while budding ones would not be able to get known at all. It will most probably be a complement to PageRank as a way to distinguish between the top quality websites. AuthorRank will not punish non-compliant websites in the exact sense but they will lose out in terms of ranking to more optimized pages.

So what could affect somebody’s AuthorRank? The first factor is the presence of social media accounts, and most importantly, Google+. These should be interconnected and referenced in the writer’s content. Furthermore, social buzz on social networks, connections to other influential writers and access to a large audience will positively affect a person’s AuthorRank. Naturally, Google will try to measure content engagement, such as the quality and quantity of comments, as well as the PageRank of the host website. Other factors like a connected YouTube account or a dedicated channel in the same industry are likely to influence as well. Real world mentions at events and in newspapers, and book authorship will increase writer authority.

Thankfully, there are two easy ways to prove your authorship of a piece of content. The first one involves sending an e-mail to the specific domain3. The second option involves naming the websites you contribute to in the “Contribute To” section of Google+, and then adding a link to the Google+ account from every one of your blog posts4. Google offers fantastic analytics tools to help you monitor how you and your articles are doing, and will help identify which posts haven’t been indexed properly.

A big problem with AuthorRank is whether it will take into account specific topics or areas of writing; for example, information technology or health and wellbeing, as quite a few writers do not fully specialize. Furthermore, this technology will put extra strain on authors to perform well consistently from the start because a few badly written articles can potentially doom someone’s career. With this logic, the dominant factor is going to be quality content creation, obviously, but with more emphasis on the social, wow effect, just as link building has moved to content marketing.

Undoubtedly a well-kept, regularly updated and interacting profile is going to attract more users and readers to your posts, which in turn will increase your AuthorRank. However, it is unclear how great a role your community interaction will play, so to play it safe and do your best to be a part of as many circles as possible.

AuthorRank will put Google one-step closer to providing accurate and socially needed results in its SERPs as it will finally take writers’ reputations into account when deciding PageRank. It will mean that powerful individuals could soon change whole page rankings, and even be more authoritative than them.

References:

  1. http://searchengineland.com/googles-agent-rank-patent-application-10487
  2. http://www.google.com/patents/US20070033168
  3. https://plus.google.com/authorship
  4. http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1408986&expand=option2

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