Part of our role in SEO is to constantly monitor the changes that Google makes to the way it displays and ranks web pages. One of the changes you may have noticed is the introduction of “rich snippets” into the search results.
Rich snippets can include a number of details regarding the page including author photos, links to additional articles and for products accumulated ratings. For those of you aren’t familiar with how this is displayed in the search results see the example of BBC’s Rory Cellan-Jones below:
We view rich snippets as just the start of a curve towards ranking content based on – in part – the online reputation of the author, including the number and quality of online shares/citations. Google is very keen to implement AuthorRank, as the search engine seeks to improve the quality and trustworthiness of the search results. This change is going to impact how we implement future SEO strategies, and clearly one that requires a greater integration of traditional SEO with content marketing, online PR and social media.
When searching for information people will always seek credible sources and knowledgeable writers, therefore including AuthorRank in the way pages are ranked would be a natural progression. Google has been working on the implementation of AuthorRank for a number of years and the patent for Google Authorship was originally granted way back in 2005.
Up until recently Google hasn’t had the means by which to reliably measure and monitor the quality of authors of online content. Google’s launch of Google+ and to lesser extent Google’s ‘Search Plus Your World’ should be viewed as a means to authenticate the identity and credentials of online authors, rather than (as some have observed) a direct attack on Facebook. The question is not if, but when Google will introduce AuthorRank as a key element in how pages are ranked?
“Social is a good way to create a reputation for authors. If the reputation of content authors is transparent, it will make the whole web better.” – Matt Cutts, Google
Last Week’s Update To The Google Authorship Patent
Last week the US Patent Office released a newer version of the Google patent on Google Authorship. I’ve selected the key points from the new version of the documents below:
*The reputation score of an author is based on at least in part on reviews of the online content that have been provided by one or more authors.
*The author’s ranking score is based on in part the reputation score for the author and reputations scores of one or more authors who provided the reviews.
*The reputation score of an author can be portable from one online publisher to another.
*The reputation score of an author can be “further based on the length of time an author has been an authenticated author.”
What does AuthorRank mean for the future of SEO?
The impact of an author’s reputation score being “portable from one publisher to another” will place the power in the hands of the top authors. Having the ability to leverage top author status within an industry could become a major factor in SEO. Will this new authorship world create opportunities for authors to sell their AuthorRank?
One thing that is sure is that companies should be prepared for this change and be looking to create authors internally. The motivation to get started should be found in the final point above with the AuthorRank influenced by the “length of time an author has been an authenticated author.”
What should you be doing to prepare for AuthorRank?
While AuthorRank isn’t a replacement for other key quality indicators, the signs are there that it will be a major influencer in how Google ranks the quality of a page moving forward. In my opinion, now is the time to start building your AuthorRank. Future proofing strategies on any potential changes to how Google ranks pages is always a good idea, especially when the evidence of the benefits of implementing content authorship appear numerous. Additionally, it’s likely that your competitors haven’t implemented Authorship markup yet, so get ahead of the game!
Six Steps to start building your AuthorRank today:
1. Create genuine Google+ profiles for you and individuals within your company. Google’s emphasis is currently focussed on individuals as publishers of content.
2. Enhance your search results by Implementing the rel=author tag and verifying authorship of your content by associating it with your Google+ profile.
3. Build your circles on Google+ and share/interact on a regular basis.
4. Write regularly across several sites to build your reputation in your industry.
5. Make it easier for Google to validate your identity by linking to all of your social media accounts.
6. Ensure that your published content references you as the author and link back to your verified Google profile.