Each year, webmasters and marketing managers are faced with new developments and technologies, and it can be hard to know which to adopt and which to ignore. But Google Authorship is not one something to casually disregard.
Google’s AuthorRank can strengthen the SEO value of pages published by a particular individual and now is the time to climb on board – before your competitors do.
This simple HTML tag – built around the rel=”author” or rel=”publisher” command – specifies that a certain individual wrote the page, and this is proved by adding a reciprocal link back to that page or site from their Google+ profile.
It’s a fairly elegant way of making the Authorship of online pages provable, but you might be wondering if it is worth the effort of adding it to your own pages. Here are some of the most compelling reasons to consider doing so early in 2013.
AuthorRank makes authority matter
Adopt Authorship now and you can begin to build your reputation in Google’s eyes, something that could be difficult to catch up later on.
Remember, the ‘authority’ given to any one author is based on their entire publishing history of articles that include the rel=”author” tag, and which are reciprocally linked from the individual’s Google+ profile.
If you wait until AuthorRank is clearly here to stay before you begin using it, you risk giving your competitors a head start from which you might never recover.
Luckily, because AuthorRank is so easy to implement, it shouldn’t place a huge administrative burden on you – making it a relatively low-risk move to begin using it immediately, especially compared with the long-term risks associated with delaying its uptake.
AuthorRank gives priority to primary sources
If you’re a primary-source publisher, writing anything from opinion-based blogs to technical documents and press releases, Authorship allows you to claim ownership of that content ahead of any third-party sites that then report it.
This might not totally prevent other sites from republishing your content without permission – and therefore triggering Google’s ‘very similar content’ filter – but it at least gives you some ability to claim Authorship of your pages.
You can also use the rel=”canonical” tag if the same page must be published in more than one place (the common example is if a document is published online in both HTML and PDF format), so that Google knows this was deliberate, was not an example of plagiarism, and which of the pages to treat as the ‘primary’ source.
Authorship is instant
Add your author tag to a page (and reciprocate that link on your Google+ profile) and it instantly receives the benefit of your authority (at least theoretically) – unlike similar previous systems such as PageRank, which take time to develop as external sites link in to your page. Having said that, I do need to point out that Google’s John Mueller recently stated during a Google Plus Hangout, that author rank isn’t used at present to rank webpages based on an author’s reputation score. However, The Wall Street Journal published seven predictions made by Eric Schmidt – former CEO of Google, and their current executive chairman – in his up-coming book “The New Digital Age”, states:
Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.
Many SEOs believe that Schmidt is referring to Google’s use of author rank in the future. However, by building on your reputation score now, you can reap its benefits once it’s actually implemented.
Granted, it will take some time for a new author to build substantial AuthorRank, but when that author’s name is placed on a new page from that point onwards, the page will benefit immediately.
Unlike any other form of SEO (at least, to the extent that this is the case with AuthorRank), this is a method that places the direct online value of a page in close alignment with the human value of its author, as measured in terms of their past writing career. That means the page in the future, can receive an instant boost in value, as soon as it is crawled by Google.
Authorship transcends media formats
If your post contains little plain text, but is rich in media that has traditionally been difficult to crawl, an author tag helps Google consider it as significant as your plain-text posts.
This is important because there are still relatively few ways to directly impact the SEO of non-text content, particularly if you don’t count methods that are not entirely within your control, such as inbound linking.
A rel=”author” tag is also much simpler to add to your page’s HTML than a detailed microformat description of your multimedia content, which is the other ‘best’ method of optimising for non-text elements at present.
AuthorRank defeats spam
As more authoritative sources rise to the top of Google’s search results, spammy publishers will be easier to remove. Potentially, they could stop appearing in the early results pages altogether.
This is clearly a fairly utopian ambition, but it’s a uniquely compelling reason to adopt Authorship too; if all legitimate publishers start using the tag, spammy publishers can be isolated completely.
Even if you’re not altruistic enough to change your website template purely in a global effort to combat spam, the same argument applies equally compellingly the other way around; woe betide the web publisher who finds himself perceived by Google as being spam.
Only by adopting the use of the tag can you be sure that you won’t fall foul of this risk – which should be a compelling reason for any publisher to get behind it.
AuthorRank helps third-party publishers
If you’re a third-party publisher without a history of authoritative posts behind you, AuthorRank can still help you. If you can ask an authoritative writer to contribute to your posts, this could boost the overall authority associated with your site.
Remember, Authorship is about the perceived importance of the individual, not of the site on which they are writing – in effect, the site receives an assessment of importance based on the AuthorRank of its contributors, rather than based on any of its content.
This equally means there are new opportunities being created for writers with strong AuthorRank, who should soon be able to market themselves to new websites as being able to provide content with unassailable built-in SEO value.
Authorship is being built in
The rel=”author” tag is increasingly important in Google’s search results, and should be fairly easy to build into your CMS or site template, allowing you to reduce the admin associated with stating the author of a page.
In order to add Authorship to a new site, you should only have to add the appropriate author tag to your page’s header template, and it should then appear on each new page you publish automatically.
A single reciprocal link from your Google+ profile to the new site should then be enough to demonstrate that the Authorship tags are legitimate, and start including them in your virtual canon as you publish each new article.
Google+ is becoming mandatory
Google owns plenty of web properties besides Google Search, and it’s placing Google+ at the heart of these sites. The social network won’t just curate your authored pages, you could need an account simply to sign up for other Google resources.
This is apparent if you take a look at the discrepancy between Google’s official statistics of how many ‘active users’ are logging into Google+ each month, and the general mood in which those figures are discussed on other social networks.
Even experienced online marketers and social networking experts are doubtful of the official statistics, but if anything this demonstrates the importance of Authorship. If Google is powerful enough to bring all of its web properties together in such a way, then you should be seriously considering adopting any innovation of theirs that has a clear and stated effect on your search ranking.
Are you using Google Authorship to improve your SEO? How have you found it? Share your experiences with me and other readers using the comments below.