Still mourning the recent death of Google Authorship? Wipe away those tears and remember that Google Author Rank lives on!
The late Authorship program was formed so that authors could connect their content to their identity. It was a strong concept, but it failed to live up to expectations. Similarly, Author Rank is an SEO theory that maintains that Google’s perception of an author’s authority and trustworthiness can boost (or hinder) the ranking of that author’s online content. Both programs revolve around the importance of connecting authors to their work, but Authorship was a formal program and Author Rank is a (somewhat) unconfirmed idea. And while Authorship is now in its grave, Author Rank appears to live on.
Even though you can no longer use Google Authorship to connect your name to your content, maintaining an online presence is still important. As appealing as anonymity is in the online world, a verified online profile gives you credibility and authority, which make Google more likely to trust you, which could in turn improve your content’s ranking, assuming Author Rank exists at all, that is . . .
The Ins and Outs of Google Author Rank
Author Rank Basics
First of all, Author Rank is not affiliated with Google Authorship and the term Author Rank wasn’t even created by Google (we have the SEO community to thank for the term and concept).
Author Rank is the idea that the author of an article (and their authority, trustworthiness, etc.) can affect the article’s ranking. Most SEOs accept that a form of Author Rank is presently at work within Google’s algorithm, subtly shifting page rankings based on the online authority of authors, and that a more extensive Author Rank-like program will be implemented in the future.
Although it’s unofficial, Google employees have confirmed that a form of Author Rank does exist at Google (under a different name, perhaps). For example, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt discussed authorship and anonymity in his book, The New Digital Age, which was released last year. He wrote:
“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.”
Although his comments were purely speculation, we’ve seen other Google officials make similar statements. For example, Matt Cutts (head of web spam) has discussed promoting authorities on topics and the importance of online identities. He’s also admitted that Author Rank comes into play with in-depth articles (or at least, he’s “pretty sure” that this is true).
Author Rank in a World Without Authorship
Now that Authorship is in its grave, you might be wondering what will happen to Author Rank. Is it on its death bed? Will it become irrelevant? Most importantly: should we be worried about any of this?
In short: no, you don’t need to be worried about it, but knowledge is power and we’d like you to note a few things. First, although Authorship has ended, Google can still determine who is the author of an article using other means. For example, consider adding (informal but important) bylines to your articles. Clearly and visibly attaching your name to your content is important because it (1) allows you to boast about your work (just kidding!) and (2) helps Google make a connection between you, the author, and your content. So in addition to bylines, consider adding links from your web content to your Google+ profile. This isn’t a surefire way to boost your rankings, but it certainly couldn’t hurt.
Is Author Rank THE NEXT BIG THING in SEO? No, but it’s important to realize that although Authorship is dead, the importance of an author’s online authority and presence has not gone away. Google Author Rank, hazy though it may be, is evidence of that. And as far as we can tell, Google is still very interested in pursuing the connection between an author’s authority and their content’s SERP rankings.
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