Update: When this post was first published in early 2013, it included an explanation of something called Authorship. Authorship was tied to Author Rank and this post explained how to take advantage of the two.
But, as of August 2014 Google ended Authorship so many of the benefits listed in this post became obsolete.
However, despite Authorship being dead, Author Rank (for now at least) lives on. Therefore, the updated version below has been edited to reflect the changes.
What is Author Rank?
Author Rank is a Google thing.
We all know Google’s main forte is search, right?
You know the drill. You’re curious about a topic and you want to find more information about it, so you google it. In less than a second, Google gives you pages and pages of search results (a.k.a. SERP = Search Engine Results Page). These search results are lists of webpages Google thinks will provide the information you’re looking for.
Here’s an example of the first page of search results for the query “how to fly a kite”:
Of course, Google doesn’t just list all those webpages randomly. Oh no. Google wants everyone to keep using their search engine (they’re making a lot of money after all), so they have a keen interest in keeping all of us searchers very happy.
How can they keep us happy? By providing search results that are relevant and useful.
How will they make us unhappy? By providing search results that are spammy, irrelevant or unhelpful.
So, Google goes to great lengths to list the most useful, the most relevant, the most trusted webpages on Page 1 of those search results. The sites that Google thinks are a little less relevant are on Page 2, and ones they deem a little less relevant than that are on Page 3. And on and on it goes.
So, how does Google determine which webpages should land at the top of the search results? Until recently, it’s been largely based on the popularity of those individual webpages.
The popularity of an individual webpage is determined by a secret formula called an algorithm. An algorithm considers many factors, a big one being how often other high quality webpages link to this one. This is all part of SEO.
How search is changing
This method of ranking individual webpages has worked fairly well for Google in the past, but now things are changing in two obvious ways.
- The internet is getting more and more social. That is, the internet is more and more about people connecting to people, and less and less about people connecting to webpages.
- With the rise of social media, people are everywhere. Many of us have a presence on our own blogs, on other blogs as guests or contributors, on multiple social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+ and countless others. We have content floating all over the place.
These two new realities make the old way of searching–that is, connecting people to individual webpages–a bit outdated.
What if Google credited you for great content no matter where you published it? What if there was a way to account for this “person to person connection” in search results?
Google has already taken steps in this direction when they introduced Personalized Search. Now there appears to be something else on the horizon, positioned to make a huge impact on bloggers, website owners and content creators everywhere.
Enter Author Rank
As I said, Google has always ranked webpages. Now it appears Google will rank individual authors too.
Many believe Google wants to keep track of authors, so that when they find a piece of high quality content, they won’t just reward the webpage where that content lives, they will also reward the person who wrote it.
You know that killer guest post you wrote for that big-time blog? Guess what? Now it’s possible to tell Google you’re the author and boost your Author Rank.
You know your crazy popular Google+ update? Guess what? Now it’s possible to tell Google you’re the author and boost your Author Rank.
Now you may get credit for all the excellent content you write, regardless of where you write it. This could lead to more visibility in search results. More visibility in search results could lead to more traffic, more income, more a lot of things.
It’s worth paying attention to Author Rank.
Google recognizes that there are people on the web who produce really great content. Google also recognizes there are people on the web who produce not-so-good content.
Google wants the content of good authors to rise to the top of the search results, and they want the stuff of the not-so-good authors to sink to the bottom.
How to improve your Author Rank
Casey Markee encourages authors to think of the acronym EAT, which stands for Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness. He believes Google uses these factors when determining what kind of content to return in the SERPs. Be those things.
Danny Sullivan suggests authors should use bylines, which signal to Google who the author is of content.
Dan Virgillito explains Author Rank is based on “factors such as the social sharing of their posts, quality of backlinks to their content, interactions with their content, PageRank and the authority of publishing sites.” He also notes the importance of bylines.
For many, concentration on solid content is the best start to establishing and improving Author Rank. Beyond that, some other suggestions are the usual:
- Guest posting on sites that will include your name in the byline. Read My Top Guest Posting Tips.
- Promote your content on social media. See my posts about social media on my Contents page.
Funny how we find ourselves right back at the basics. If you’re producing excellent content, you’re doing a lot of things right.