Google AuthorRank: Heir to the Throne
Katie L Fetting Oct 12 2012
A bold ruler ascends—going by the name Google AuthorRank – and his reign will be a long one. Because, in the very near future, information will take a back seat to who supplies it.
We can no longer trust content – there’s just too much of it. And many of “the facts” are flat-out wrong. In an online environment, false information piles up, improving its credibility with every link, citation and reiteration, becoming exponentially more “trustworthy” despite an intrinsic lack of veracity. It’s one big evidentiary “toilet bowl of death”*.
The danger in this climate is that repeating a lie makes it “true.” Repetition = reinforcement = legitimacy. And the situation only gets worse as the amount of information grows.
So, if we can’t trust the information itself, we will have to trust its source. The sorter. The filterer. The “expert.” Those we designate to vet our reality. Thus, the evolution of Google AuthorRank.
Like Billy Joel says, “it’s a matter of trust”.
What is ‘Google AuthorRank’?
So just who is this new monarch? Google AuthorRank is a system that allows the search engine to verify and rate sources of content by ascribing trust rankings to writers.
Rumored ranking factors include:
- The average PageRank of the author’s published content
- Engagement levels, both on the author’s Google+ page and the pages where the content lives
- The number of contacts in the author’s Google+ circles
- Authority across other G-trusted social media platforms (Twitter, LinkedIn)
- The author’s inclusion (or lack thereof) on marquee authority indicators like Wikipedia
- Posting frequency
- More, etc., and To Be Continued…
AuthorRank will help readers by allowing them to be more confident in the content they consume. And if you are wondering if it’s worth it to the writers, check out the following example of its predecessor Google Authorship…
My amazing article in search results:
Yoast founder Joost de Valk’s amazing article in search results:
His listing is a lot more utilitarian from a branding perspective and, well… cooler. Not only does the result direct readers to additional Joostian content, it includes his PICTURE. (And since we writers are known for our matinee idol good looks, this is a definite plus.)
But I’m not alone: according to an August study, only 9% of tech blogs (TECH BLOGS!) have “fully implemented” Google Authorship.
How influential will Google AuthorRank be in SEO?
In 2011, Google’s Othar Hansson said the following:
“We hope to use [author] information and any information as a ranking signal at Google. So in this case, we want to get information on credibility of authors from all kinds of sources and eventually use that in ranking.”
So I’m guessing pretty darn influential.
But you gotta take the good with the bad… And there’s certainly the potential for some bad:
- Google AuthorRank gives the search juggernaut even more influence and muscle. Monopoly ain’t just a boardgame.
- AuthorRank is rather incestuous and self-serving: it requires connection to Google+, which assists the social media network in its endless quest to crush arch nemesis Facebook.
- Like all SEO, this preferential treatment can prove self-fulfilling. Writers who have become informational cottage industries can potentially spew content that, regardless of quality or accuracy, immediately goes to the top of search results. Better researched, but ultimately less authoritative material is trumped.
- Who watches the watchmen? There must be a constant process of vetting and validating those who we trust – mitigating risk by absorbing a larger sample – but not too large a sample or all information loses perspective.
Our collective conscious continues to grow, but not all information is created equal.
It’s time to cybercircle the wagons around specific, legitimate, attributable human sources.
Consequently, in today’s world and moving forward, not only must you have content that matters, you must have writers who matter.
Katie earned her marketing degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has subsequently written for a wide swath of websites, newspapers, and film production companies. Read More