Google AuthorRank: A Conundrum for Content Marketers Who Don’t Do Bylines

AuthorRank, Google’s possible new search signal, can have some serious implications for a brand’s content marketing efforts.

And it’s going to create a problem for content managers who don’t believe in publishing author bylines in their websites. Or the ones who don’t want to publish the entire bio at the bottom of a blog post. Those “we succeed or fail as a team; no one is more special than the other” types who learned everything about management from Little League baseball.

If you stick to your guns of never granting bylines, your website’s rankings may suffer. But if you let writers have their credit, you could see big improvements to the posts written by your best writers, because their own AuthorRank will give you a boost.

We’re not sure exactly how AuthorRank will be evaluated, or even when it will be implemented. But according to Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, there are people who do really, really evil and wrong things on the Internet, and it would be useful if we had strong identity so we could weed them out.

Conversely, what Schmidt didn’t say, is that if you can weed out the really, really evil and wrong people, you’ll also need to identify which people are as far away from “evil and wrong” as you can get. The farther those people are, the better their content.

And assuming you’ve hired people who way down on the other end of the “evil and wrong” spectrum, your site should get credit for it.

That’s not to say that if you don’t give them credit, your site is evil and wrong. Rather, it’s just one more positive tool that you should be able to take advantage of and use to your benefit.

It means you should let your writers have a byline and link it to their Google+ profile. It means you should encourage them to write about their own not-evil-and-wrong hobbies as much as they want. Let them improve their AuthorRank as much as they can.

It Also Means You Shouldn’t Delete the Work of People Who Leave

There are companies that will delete the blog posts and work of people who have left their company, as if they don’t want to admit those people ever darkened their door.

This may end up being a big mistake for the the former employer.

Think of it this way: At one point, you thought enough of this person to hire them. At one point, you thought they did some excellent work and were really smart, and you wanted to show them off to your clients and visitors, and to gain all kinds of competitive advantages by harnessing their intelligence.

So you published their blog posts under their name, with their bio proudly displayed for everyone to see.

And, if you were forward thinking, you even used the rel=author tag in their bio to help your own SEO efforts.

So why would you undo that once they left the company?

Presumably, they’re going to work for someone else who thinks they’re smart and do excellent work. And they’re going to want to publish that employee’s work on their own site too.

In fact, the more they write and publish, the higher their AuthorRank could rise. And everything they wrote will get some positive Google juice.

Including the stuff on your own website.

Except you deleted it all.

Who knows, this may all lead to a more interesting problem: a wildly popular employee with a stratospheric AuthorRank who decides they don’t want to be associated with your company at all, and demands you remove all of their work.

Don’t laugh, it could happen.

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    About Erik Deckers

    Erik Deckers is the President of Pro Blog Service, a content marketing and social media marketing agency in Indianapolis, IN. He co-authored three social media books, including No Bullshit Social Media with Jason Falls (2011, Que Biz-Tech), and Branding Yourself with Kyle Lacy (2nd ed., 2012; Que Biz-Tech), and The Owned Media Doctrine (2013, Archway Publishing). Erik has written a weekly newspaper humor column for 10 papers around Indiana since 1995. He was also the Spring 2016 writer-in-residence at the Jack Kerouac House in Orlando, FL.