Google’s AuthorRank to be a Major Factor in SEO

Content is no longer king, the author is the king (or queen).

Google is starting to pay attention to their new SEO factor, AuthorRank. According to an article by Mike Arnesen, How to Prepare for AuthorRank and Get the Jump on Google, AuthorRank is the latest in Google’s algorithm change, and it may be bigger than Panda and Penguin in terms of its impact.

In 2011, says Arnesen, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said they still wanted to identify agents in order to improve search quality. Schmidt said “it would be useful if we had strong identity so we could weed (spammers) out.”

But how much of a factor can AuthorRank be?

I’m certain that Google is going to begin incorporating AuthorRank into their ranking algorithm in the not-too-distant future. I’d put good money on it. All the signs point to it: Google’s emphasis on social, Google Authorship, their ongoing efforts to measure site trust, and their progressive devaluation of raw links as a ranking factor. People want to read content written by credible and knowledgeable people and using AuthorRank as a major part of their search algorithm just makes sense.

I won’t go into too many of the details. Read Arnesen’s article instead for that. Instead, this is what the new AuthorRank is going to mean for bloggers and content marketers:

  • The admonition to write good shit is more important than ever. While Google hasn’t said what will go into AuthorRank (and never will), I’m guessing there may be some regular SEO indicators as well — time on site, bounce rate, click-through rate.
  • Don’t spam. Don’t even give the hint of spamming. The whole point of AuthorRank is to find people
  • Want to make sure your page is trustworthy? Go read Evan Baily’s book “Outsmarting Google,” and read about TrustRank. If your page/blog/website is trustworthy, you will be. If you clutter your page up with ads, you won’t be. The book may be outdated now, but TrustRank seems to be the basis that Panda and Penguin are based on. Understand it, and you understand the new SEO.
  • You have to be prolific. You can’t just write one post on occasion and hope that’s enough. To be sure, the once-in-a-while writer will outperform the constant spammer. But if you write once a week, and your competition is writing three, four, or even seven times a week, you’ll lose. Don’t get into an article arms race, but don’t slack off on this either.
  • Using the rel=author or rel=me tag is going to be crucial. If you’re not sure how to use it, read this article. If you don’t have one yet, set up your Google+ profile, and then point all articles you write back to it. Put the code — <a href=”” rel=”author”>Erik Deckers</a> — in all your bios and include it in all articles you write. If you have a blog, you can include it in your author profile.
  • Note: If you’re a WordPress user, rel=author doesn’t work, because WordPress keeps stripping it out. Get the AuthorSure plugin and it will work for you.
  • You need to start today. No one knows when AuthorRank is coming yet, which gives you two options: 1) Wait for it to hit, then fight like hell to recover. Or 2) start now and barely notice a blip in your rankings when it hits. In fact, you could end up improving your pages’ rankings if you start now. A lot of people got hit and hurt by Panda and Penguin — I saw an awful lot of “how we recovered from Panda and Penguin” blog posts; on the other hand, we never needed to — the smart ones, the ones who weren’t spamming actually saw their rankings improve the days both algorithms were released. Those rankings increased because they had always been doing the right thing, while a lot of people had to start doing the right thing.
  • Guest posting will increase your AuthorRank. The more you write, the better. But have your writing appear in several different places? That’s like adding bacon to an already awesome sandwich. Guest posts, regular contributions to other websites, and even owning more than one blog on more than one platform will all go a long way in telling Google how to find you.

Personally, I love the idea of AuthorRank. It’s probably one of the best ways to block out spammers and reward the people who are actually trying to make a positive impact with their content. Anyone in the content marketing business needs to focus on their online reputation even more now, and make sure they’re not doing what Google considers spammy behavior.

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    About Erik Deckers

    Erik Deckers is the President of Pro Blog Service, a content marketing and social media marketing agency He co-authored four social media books, including No Bullshit Social Media with Jason Falls (2011, Que Biz-Tech), and Branding Yourself with Kyle Lacy (3rd ed., 2017, 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.


    1. Debbie Josendale says

      Thanks for writing such an informative article on Author Rank. I agree that it’s hard to know how Author Rank will play in SERPs, but since Google has invested in this, it’s fair to say that at some point it will play a role. Your advice to get started today to be ahead of the game is right on. You’ve inspired me to move from “the one more thing to do” syndrome…to get going!

    2. So for guest posts do you need to go to the Contributor To section and add each page you guested on to your G+ profile or will just using the rel=author tag do the work for you?

      • You have to do both Chris. You need the Rel Author tag, and that guest needs at add your site to their profile.

        The Rel Author tags work fine on my WordPress blogs. Not sure why it would strip them out.

        It is yet to be seen how much Author rank will play into the SERPs, but I wouldn’t worry too much for now. Relevance will remain the key factor, and Author rank is supposed to be more about identifying spammers than it is about putting good writers above mediocre ones.