SEO: What Is Google AuthorRank & Why You Should Plan For It Right Now
By now, it's commonly accepted that blogging is one of the most important ways to generate traffic on your website. Google algorithm changes have made it necessary to create quality content frequently and consistently in order to compete in the new world of SEO. But as happens often these days, things are changing once again. This time, it's not just the content that matters, though. With Google's AuthorRank, you matter, too.
What is Google AuthorRank?
Remember PageRank? That Google algorithm determines page authority based on how many times a page is linked to by other websites and by the authority of the website linking to it. So if the HubSpot homepage (PageRank 7/10) links to this blog post, big PageRank boost for us, meaning a higher ranking is search.
With the rise of the social Internet and its effect on search, individuals now have the ability to both be an authority and have other people confirm that. Google AuthorRank works like a reputation engine that will determine which individuals are creating high-quality content.
How Do SEOs Expect AuthorRank to Work?
General consensus is that Google AuthorRank will be used along with Google PageRank. As AJ Kohn puts it, Google wants to see web content with both high Google AuthorRank and PageRank.
This isn't terribly new considering how important social signals have become for all search engines. What's new, and even outside of some people's comfort zones, is that authorship is integrated with Google+, so that your profile shows up next to posts you've written.
Google AuthorRank, When and Why?
Why is easy. Google's continuing quest to provide only the best results (killing content farms and content spammers) means it needs to start determining authority of both the page and its author. A real person with real social influence will have that reputation applied to the content that real person creates.
When is a little fuzzier. To some extent the concept behind AuthorRank is already in place for those of us who are adding Google+ users to Circles and have activated “Search, plus Your World” results. And a public social profile's Page Rank is already applied to links that you share on Twitter.
Now that Google has a way to determine authorship based on the information in your Google+ profile, it's only a matter of time before AuthorRank becomes a full-scale factor in search ranking.
What Does This Mean for Company Blogs?
It's still common for corporate and company blogs to eliminate bylines or have a post authored by the company. Well, corporations aren't people. Google Authorship means that companies are going to have to loosen the reins a bit and allow employees (or even specialized freelancers) to be more public facing than they were before.
At Kuno, all of our team members are set up as public facing representatives of the company. A level of trust is necessary when it comes to that. But the benefit is that these authors will add a human face to the brand.
The key for companies is to let these individuals be human. They have likes and dislikes. They have friends and family. The personal and professional are collapsing into each other more and more everyday. And people aren't going to give your authors much authority if all they do is talk about your company.
If you need to show employees how to do this right, have them look at Scott Monty, the global head of social media for Ford. It's cars, marketing and Sherlock Holmes that make his social profiles tick. For me, it's marketing, movies and random singing. The more interesting you allow employees to be, the more people will be interested in them... and the higher their AuthorRank.
What Does It Mean for Individual Authors?
Get on Google+ now if you're not there. Use it if you're on it but not active. Socialize with more people if you're already using it. And remember to connect the sites you contribute to with Google+ (see the helpful links below). Just remember to focus your efforts.
You can't be an expert in everything. The content you produce should be high-quality because you have a passion for that topic. Again, for me it's marketing and movies (and a little TV). Outside of that, I'm not producing much content associated with my authorship status. As you develop this content, make sure you're connecting with others on Google+ who are interested in those topics and interacting with them.
And because this is just the tip of the iceberg, individuals should check out this SEOMoz blog post by Mike Arnesen for more preparation information.
These are Google's new rules, and if you want to rank, you need to play by them. While we don't know when AuthorRank will become a serious factor, you need to get serious about it now... or risk being penalized later.
More Helpful Links:
photo credit: rachaelvoorhees
Dan Stasiewski is an Enterprise Data Consultant at Kuno. When he's not talking about marketing data and trends, he's probably in a movie theater... or randomly breaking into song. You can connect with Dan via Twitter, LinkedIn or Google Plus.