What if Author Rank Never Happens?

Authority

We recently concluded an entire series of articles by our own Demian Farnworth on the topics of Authorship, Author Rank, and Google+ for the online content creator.

It was a smashing success, which indicates that writers and other online content creators are excited about these topics. And you should be.

But let’s be clear – as best as anyone can tell, Author Rank has not been implemented yet. And that means there’s some chance it may never become an algorithmic aspect of the way Google ranks web pages.

To briefly recap:

  • Authorship is the way Google knows who the creator of a piece of content is, no matter which site that content resides on.
  • Author Rank is the idea – supported by patents filed by Google – that who creates a page of content (and links out from that page), based on their historical reputation for creating content people actually like, would become one of the signals Google relies on when ranking relevant results of a particular topic.
  • Google+ is a massive topical network (as opposed to a traditional social network) that provides Google with direct data about what people like and share when it comes to content on the web.

Authorship and Google+ are the real deal, right now. And they both have demonstrated value to content creators and site owners.

Author Rank is still in the speculation phase. So what happens if it never happens?

It absolutely doesn’t matter.

Everything you need to succeed is already here

During the last 7 years or so, there have been two different approaches to SEO.

One approach was to game the algorithm, get slapped, get back up, and game again.

The other approach was to create great content, attract natural links and social sharing, and focus primarily on pleasing people while also artfully spoon-feeding Google.

Guess which approach won?

You already have the ability to own the search rankings as a savvy content creator. Let’s look at what would matter if Author Rank were actually implemented.

  • Find out what topics people want
  • Create great content that people want
  • Gently tweak that content so Google knows what to do with it
  • Have a strong distribution network (Facebook, Twitter, Google+)
  • Have real-world relationships with influential people in your field
  • Build an authoritative website
  • Write at other authoritative websites

Do all that right now, and you don’t need Author Rank. Because, as AJ Kohn recently pointed out, you’ll have authority.

And authority is all you need.

All You Need is Authority

Since 2006, we’ve been telling you how it is. And we told you 2013 is a tipping point for online writers.

It’s all about authority.

Authority is what people respond to.

Authority is what Google wants.

We’re here to help you get more of it.

About the author

Brian Clark


Brian Clark is founder of Copyblogger and host of New Rainmaker. Get more from Brian on .

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Comments

  1. This is purely speculation of course, but I can’t imagine that Google would be going to all of the trouble to link content to authors through G+ without something bigger in mind. Especially since they have been working so hard to remove low quality content from search with Panda and other algorithm updates. Maybe they won’t call it Author Rank, but I can see them using author authority to rank one piece of content over another in the near future.

    • I have the same feeling, Kristi. It’s hard to see all the visible things they are doing not to think something bigger is happening behind the scenes. But we will never confidently know until they say so. Regardless, like Brian said, it doesn’t matter … build authority anyway.

      • Tom Southern :

        Demian, your point about “something bigger … happening behind the scenes.” hits on something I’ve been
        thinking, that Google may be looking (speculatively) at linking all people’s activities on the internet to decide what “reputation” they get awarded.

    • Kristi, I am right there with you on the ‘bigger plan’ in the background. It feels like they needed to prompt up Google+, so they started linking their FB competing platform up with the necessity of online writers to participate to get more of a footing in search.

      And if you look at all the changes they’ve been making, one at a time, well, it’s interesting to say the least. And I’m seeing some interesting private test results that favor G products (G: Google, product: content on blogs) over bigger, non-G products. Still working on that one though.

      • Bruce, I agree–I strongly suspect that content shared on G+ counts for more in the ranking algo than the same content shared elsewhere. After all, Google can much more easily assess your authority on G+ than on other networks.

    • Google wastes a lot of time doing a lot of things that don’t pan out, but I still believe in Author Rank :)

    • I’m with Kikolani on this one. I never did or liked the methods of gaming the algorithm. For that reason I’ve stuck with real marketing methods – Now more than ever with my latest 2 year old project. In the meantime, I’ve been focusing my efforts rather that being as dispersed as I once was. Still condensing, but I still have a lot to do. Nonetheless, I’m very happy with the results from Authorship as I started using it the second it was released… back when Google was taking forever to activate Authorship links.

    • I am totally agree with Kristi. Moreover, Google Authorship is a good thing to have. People will tend to click on your link when they see your face. I hope that helps. :)

    • Tom Southern :

      You’re right here, Kristi. Google is definitely up to something with regard to raising content quality. Whether it works out positively for quality writing remains to be seen.

  2. Brian, I am so relieved to see your post today, and it inspires me to share how much trouble I’m having with the whole AR system. I followed the Google+ instructions and it still hasn’t worked. One publisher and I have tried everything to get it to work, but it just won’t. I just tell people to Google me because they will find plenty of stuff out there, just without my photo. Big deal. As constant innovators, I believe that Google engineers will come up with something that’s more user-friendly than the present AR system, which is NOT. In the meantime, and probably ‘way beyond, everything you listed in this post is definitely the best plan.

    • Mia,

      I’ve run into the same thing as you- the author profile in search results seems pretty hit or miss for now. I’ve been able to successfully link mine on a couple of blogs, but not on others using exactly the same process.

      At one point I heard speculation that Google had some kind of secret process or algorithm for determining which sites show the author pic in results, based on how large and established the site is, but who knows if that’s true. In my experience that has been the case, though- my pic has shown up on my larger sites (and ones with more content).

  3. I’ve been on G+ for a few weeks and I see this is a big deal beyond AR. Now each person’s power to influence others (not just the # of fans) is public knowledge through ripples. With numbers and visual charts.

    AR was the initial motivation to go on G+ but I realize this is something a lot more.

  4. Great piece Brian! Even for us beginners here, creating authority through solid, informative and educational information can be done and, should be approached in that manner…Thanks again for the post, it really hit home man.

  5. I suspect for a lot of people (not avid Copyblogger readers, though) that the idea of author rank and even online authority is beyond comprehension in a way that makes the idea usable. At least in the short run.

    Using the same set of steps and getting different results is going to make another group of people quit shortly out of the starting gate. That is going to leave a fair amount of space for early adopters who stick it out and are willing to go through the times of conflicting results.

    I think people who are willing to become experts, look like and act like experts are going to be few in number. If we are willing to keep writing or otherwise producing indexable content, not only is our body of work going to grow, but our little partition of space on the search engine’s hard drives is going to grow in proportion; and get optimized so we are in the “most used” section. :-)

  6. I created and run the largest and most active community on the web on this topic (Google Authorship and Author Rank Community on Google), and I whole-heartedly endorse this message Brian! We’ve got to get people off focusing on some elusive and unknowable alleged “score” by Google and onto the things that truly work to build “rank” for authors, the very things you’ve covered in this post. This will be one of my top recommended posts for people to read about Author Rank, along with the one by AJ Kohn you linked in your post.

    • Thanks Mark. It’s disturbing to see so many people get lost in speculation and minutia related to what the algorithm might act like. We already know what works!

      • Not at all surprised that you are at the forefront of promoting what build real authority and author “rank” Brian. You guys demonstrate day in and day out that you know what works!

      • Tom Southern :

        Great point to remind us to concentrate on what matters: Readers! And not to get bogged down by b.s.o. Thanks Brian.

  7. So true! If you make good content and go where your people are, it doesn’t matter how often the Internet tactics change. You’ll still rule. :)

  8. Completely agree that authority is what matters.

    But there are a couple of other reasons why authority works in search and is worth paying for, even if google hasn’t added it directly to its algorithm. Authors with authority have audiences, and in many cases, the ability to move those audiences to their content from social networks. Those audiences stay engaged longer on the site. So even Authority isn’t directly accounted for by rel=author (yet), the second order metrics like engagement, and social reach are accounted for in the current system.
    At Movable Media, we have found that when we enlist authors for our clients who have a total following of over 5000 in their combined audiences, we see somewhere between 2x to 5x more traffic from search and social sources.

  9. I will never forget when Dan Poynter gave me a badge that said authority. He said that because I had co-authored 5 ebooks and hundreds of articles and blogs, I was an author and being an author gave me authority. Since then I happily put my name to anything I write and I hope that one day, Google will give me an authority badge too. Although, having an unusual name helps to be found on Google.
    I hope you are right Brian about this year being a tipping point.

  10. Unusual names rock. :D

  11. It seems like much of the research from authoritative sites lately all points towards the same SEO advice: don’t think too much about SEO. Think more about building an impressive body of content that *people* will want to read and share and you’ll be miles ahead of those thinking primarily about keywords.

    Certainly, it doesn’t hurt to do keyword research and keep in mind popular search terms and their level of competition, but it’s one of the smallest parts to developing the kind of content that people, and by extension Google, will pay attention to.

  12. It doesn’t bother me. Writing, for me, is very personal. I’ve got to like what I am writing first before expecting others to like it. If I can do that, I am already well-ranked within my heart.

  13. Authority takes time. We earn authority based on our experience, our education, our reputation, and more. I appreciate the articles and tips to help me understand social networking and blogging. It adds to my overall understanding and experience.

  14. Authority takes time! What! I want it right now. My blog is two weeks old, but I should be on the front page of google search, right?! That’s what some SEO company told me. Should I give them all my money?

  15. If the author ranking does not happen, Google will lose some credibility for not following through it what it said it will.

  16. Authority is what a bog requires and authority is what makes a blog popular. If you understand your customers and they like your content, your blog will rule the internet. Without authority, your blog will suffer from Google continuous updates.

  17. Nice! I have to admit, I don’t see AuthorRank disappearing any time soon. It’s the perfect vehicle for Google to link content creators with their social media platform. Google+ to me is more about information flows, rather than the social aspect as we use it today. Sometimes I think Google understands us better than we understand ourselves ;)

    • You’re thinking of authorship, which is different (but the first step toward Author Rank). As the article states, we have no proof that Author Rank exists yet.

  18. Well said, It is good to spend your time on creating useful and valuable content for readers. That’s what readers wants from you. However, Google loves social signals at the moment. So building a social influence around your blog is not a bad idea.

    Great post! indeed.
    Regards,
    Amrik Virdi

  19. I agree with AJ and hence with Kristi. Google is definitely working on this or something very similar. This can become a major wake up call on the way SEO is done today. I am not not sure though if Google is able to sort all out in the short term. I would see this happening in the next few years, but not just yet.

  20. First, thanks a lot for this great post with new thoughts on the subject.

    I think that the hype around Author Rank is backfiring on Google, as everyone is doing their best to prepare themselves for changes in the SERP.
    Basically, Google told us what they want, quality content – but the Author Rank speculation is giving many people a reason to stay around Google Plus, and continue to republish the same “how to, do this, top 5 best” posts, which are poor attempts to game a system, that we do not know yet how works.

    Anyways, I look forward to see how Google Plus has evolved at the end of 2013 :-)

  21. I contribute most of the content for the 350pages library.
    a) Do I have to put my ?rel=author code on every article page that I write or just on the home page of the website?
    b) In the future, if some of the customers contribute some content, I assume that we put their code on the pages that they write?
    c) Is it possible for a company to be an ‘author’ so we can link to the company Google+ page without having to link to individual staff member’s google accounts?

    Sorry there’s so many questions but it’s sometimes difficult for a business to get to grips with all this when they are simply trying to ‘market’ their business and not the individuals who work in the business. But maybe the world is now all about people and not businesses.

  22. I don’t see how Google won’t implement this one way or another. It’s all about building authority and trust with personal sources of content right now. It’s kind of a speculative post, as was noted, but Google will definitely implement the same concept somehow into their algorithm. Might as well prepare for it now.

  23. Personally, I believe the integration of Author Rank is inevitable. Why would Google waste such a golden opportunity? They have the chance to improve SERP quality while simultaneously giving a huge edge to Google+. Search will evolve, and I have absolutely zero doubt that Author Rank will be an essential part of that..

    Google wants social dominance by any means necessary, and Author Rank will prove to be an invaluable tool for accomplishing this. Then again, perhaps I am slightly biased. I’d like to see content mills rendered obsolete.

  24. ” I’d like to see content mills rendered obsolete.” Well put Aiden!

  25. Tom Southern :

    Whatever happens, persuading bloggers that their success lies in writing what readers want to read and remembering readers are other human beings by engaging with those readers is a good thing. Whether Google trying to collect and collate information about people online through their social media info and linking it to rankability (yet to be seen if it happens), is a good thing, is debatable.

    • I suppose everything is debatable. I’m rather curious though, what makes you think the implementation of Author Rank could possibly be worse than the current state of the SERPs? What are the possible negative consequences? Doesn’t it seem more practical to reward those specializing in a field, as opposed to ranking some idiot that took 15 minutes to put together a Squidoo lens?

      As for the likelihood of Author Rank becoming a factor in Google’s search algorithm, I doubt it’s just baseless sensationalism. Search will look radically different five years from now. I don’t think many people would challenge that assertion. So it begs the question, why would Google drop the ball and let Authorship go to waste? “Author Rank” may never happen, but its equivalent is bound to emerge eventually. It would be tragic if Authorship was never taken to the next level.

      Yes, everyone understands that quality content is important. It’s been hammered into our heads for years. However, capitalizing on major algorithm changes will always be extremely profitable.

  26. No!!! I really want to be an authority blogger though. Anyway.

    Thanks a lot for this article dude. I bookmarked it, and I was recommended here by Elliot Hulse by the way. he’s awesome.

    I want to be the best YouTube blogger on the internet. Thanks for motivating me even more towards my goal dude!!!!

    Love Mmike

  27. I wonder how long before people start spawning fake identities on Google trying to game Author Rank ;)

    I think it’ll give Google great information about both an author’s area of expertise as well as how sites are linked together – both of which will help reduce spam.