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05 Nov 2013

How Author Rank Has Evolved Beyond Google

How-Author-Rank-Has-Evolved-Beyond-Google
Writers – or companies – who seek to educate need to have an audience. To do that they need to be able to show their own worth and open doors so they have greater opportunities for reaching their professional goals or at least improving aspects of them.

An aspect like their bottom line.

When it comes to content marketing and SEO, “educate” means letting people into your world to see how it operates – whether it’s selling tickets or growing tomatoes. The saying is, write what you know. But how do you let people online know what you know?

The answer is to develop authors who can be found when people search for information on subjects you or your company truly have expertise about. One more thing – you have to have content out there to be found.

Google Author Rank (not a term Google ever uses) has been around for a couple of years, since 2011, when it started out as an “author spotlighting experiment” thought to be most useful as an anti-scrapping tool. Google filed a patent for “Agent Rank” back in 2005.

The idea that Author Rank is building to be “Bigger than Panda and Penguin combined” is palatable. It seems this year, as Google pushes more resources to Google+ coupled with the fact that the idea of Author Rank has broken out beyond the SEO world, that the possibility of Author Rank actually making a difference has now arrived .. but it hasn’t, yet.

Name Yourself as an Author, Then Specialize

Individuals can make their name by setting themselves up as a Google+ author via a distinct e-mail and name or via their Google+ profile (both methods listed here). Then if they use this profile and a little bit of “rel=Author” code, Google can track every article written.

This makes guest blogging even more valuable than it already is.

Businesses can also take ownership of a Google+ profile (or profiles for specific brands or services). It’s unclear whether AR from business Google+ pages would work quite the same. However, posting content to Google+ itself is one way to get noticed on the search results page with your company’s logo in full force. For example, two companies show up with their Google+ accounts in a search for “how are playing cards made.”

Allowing employees the freedom to write about what they know in the context of your business will work just as well, if not better (more connected G+ profiles, more experts, all associated with your company).

Write With Extreme Subject Matter Focus

How-Author-Rank-Has-Evolved-Beyond-Google-Quote-2The key to efficiency and success with Author Rank is to be extremely focused on what you write about. Not doing so is often where Google+ strategies fall apart. Specializing is the entire point of Author Rank.

If Jane Doe is attached only to articles about mining metals, then Google will find her name more and more related to those terms in a kind of global co-occurrence relationship. However, if Ms. Doe also writes about dog grooming, carpentry, window replacement, toenail fungus and a 100 other things and puts her Google+ author profile link at the end of those articles, then there is no expertise value found in her profile.

Elusive Author Rank Success

It’s inconceivable that Google has put all this work into attaching an author to their work, and then will let go without producing any results for authors.

Yet, you can read a thousand stories about “rel=author” AR and Author Rank and not find anyone who can say they have benefited directly from signing up and implementing a broad strategy. And that’s a problem for something that’s been around more than two years.

As Google’s Webmaster Tools analyst John Mueller mentioned in a Google Hangout at the end of September, authorship is not yet used for ranking.

The reason why might be something as simple as there’s not enough people or companies adopting authorship. All statements from Google employees and officials say, it is not, yet, fully being implemented internally but also make it clear Author Rank is being worked on.

One recent move by Google shows that they are looking more deeply at content and are able to identify quality authors. Their In-Depth articles module sometimes now appears at the bottom of pages when searching for broad ranging issues such as the U.S. Constitution, the Bible, engineering or even Legos. This is a recent, over-the-summer, addition.

There is already a decent benefit to being a Google+ author. Any content attached to a Google+ profile takes up more real estate on the search engine page with a person’s authorship rich snippet, including whichever photo is attached to the Google+ profile. People respond to images, and in particular, faces. Higher click-thru rates for these posts are being noticed. However, even this comes with a warning. Recently, Google has said it will be more picky about the rich snippets they include and how many.

Klout as a Noun, Not a Verb

How-Author-Rank-Has-Evolved-Beyond-Google-Quote-1Google is not the only name to consider when it comes to Author Rank. Arguably, unless Google gets more in-depth as to their plans, they may be left behind.

In a slight tangent of “expertise authority,” Klout has partnered with Bing to promote status earned through Klout. It comes at authorship from a different angle – people have to know your name first.

“You’ll now be able to easily share your professional accomplishments and highlights,” Klout’s Oct. 11 news release said, “as well as your most influential moments on Instagram and Twitter, when people search for you on Bing.”

This seems to advance an effort by Bing early last year to promote “Bing Linked” pages, which was still focused on knowing a person’s name first rather than subject matter expertise. If you hadn’t heard of these, you’re not alone.

The new relationship between Bing and Klout means results will show up prominently in Bing search results, much as Google+ posts take up more real estate on the front page of its results. What this potentially does is integrate a lot of your social media presence in with your other online locations like your website.

Klout has been easy to ignore – it was a game, and a lot of people patting each other on the back. Turns out the key phrase in that sentence is, there was “a lot of people.” If a big group gathers and decides someone talks about Printing 3D Widgets better than everyone else, then that matters.

It used to be an insular world, to be sure. Like Google+ and Author Rank, it’s not anymore. It’s worth noting, with Bing you get Yahoo ranking, as well, because Bing largely runs Yahoo’s search engine now. It’s unclear, at this time, how the Klout news will transfer into Yahoo results, as well.

You’re Published – Let Others Know

When people want to hear what you have to say, they will actively seek out you or your company’s name. In this way, you have made loyalty your primary metric.

Even if you don’t want to work through the few Author Rank hoops, at least find a way to show the world your company has expertise. This comes down to what we’ve always said here – think like a publisher, let people know you’re there to help them learn.