Yesterday I spoke at Mixwest (formerly Blog Indiana) about AuthorRank. Over the last 18 or so months, AuthorRank has been a hot topic in the SEO and content marketing circles. As with anything new and exciting in the internet marketing world, there tends to be a lot of misinformation, speculation and conjecture surrounding the topic of AuthorRank. In case you missed my presentation, allow me clarify some things about AuthorRank:
AuthorRank Is Not Real
AuthorRank is a hypothetical Google ranking factor that is not yet in effect. You cannot “build your AuthorRank” or “establish your AuthorRank.” You can only prepare for the possibility of AuthorRank – a possibility that is believed by some SEOs and marketers (myself included) to be quite high.
The term “AuthorRank” was invented by marketers in response to language found in a 2005 Google patent and other empirical and anecdotal data:
The identity of individual agents responsible for content can be used to influence search ratings.
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.
In other words: expert content, written by established (non-anonymous) authors will rank higher than anonymous content – in theory.
Google calls this “Agent Rank,” and the terms Agent Rank and AuthorRank can be used interchangeably.
Google has created a mechanism for establishing content author identity: Google Authorship. Authorship and AuthorRank are sometimes confused with one another and used interchangeably. Think of Google Authorship as being a prerequisite to having AuthorRank – or better yet – as a means of Google quantifying your influence in order to assign an AuthorRank score (sometime in the future).
Put simply, Google Authorship creates a tie between content and a Google+ profile. Establishing Google Authorship requires bloggers to fill out the “Contributor to” section of their G+ profiles, and then complete the connection by sending a signal back to their G+ profiles from their blog itself, in the form of a rel=”author” tag. WordPress users can do this quite easily using the Yoast SEO plugin.
You can find more detailed instructions on how to establish Google Authorship here.
Google Authorship Has Immediate Benefits
- Appearance of author rich snippets in the SERPs
- Access to Authorship Stats in Google Webmaster Tools
The biggest, non-tangible benefit to Google Authorship is that it can motivate content creators. Because Google Authorship ties a personal brand to content, its establishment is a means of promoting ones personal brand. This can be very powerful when it comes time to solicit blog posts both internally and externally.
Employers should feel motivated to do this for employees, and not be scared that they can some how “take their AuthorRank with them” if they leave. You can read my thoughts about issue that here.
Don’t Worry Too Much
Because there are so many other Google ranking factors, and because AuthorRank is not yet in effect, it’s impossible to know how impactful AuthorRank will be if and when it goes live. What you should do today is:
- Establish Google Authorship
- Build your reputation as an expert
- Create content frequently
- Be active on social media (especially Google+)
- Watch out for announcements from Google
AuthorRank should be considered a reward for good behavior, and not something that is chased or agonized over.