Google introduced authorship in June 28th, 2011 as a pilot phase testing but since then the community of authors willing to display their image in the search results have grown tremendously. Authorship was a way for Google to move from anonymous web to known web in order to reduce the amount of spam in the search results. As per Google, authorship helps the users to find quality content on the web and provides them an opportunity to engage with content authors using Google Plus. Many webmasters have witnessed an increase in traffic and CTR by a simple addition of author mark up in their website. But, Google Plus authorship is more than that! With Google filing patents related to utilizing the information of agents to enhance the search results, the show has just started!
What Is Author Rank Or Agent Rank (AR)?
Author Rank also known by the name Agent Rank is a metric used by Google to rate the quality and engagement of authors. Web documents written by people having high author rank are ranked higher in the search results as compared to the content written by people who have much lesser author rank. This however works in sync with other metrics like Domain Authority and search query relevancy. But, with the rising importance of Google Authorship and with so many webmasters opting to display their picture in the search results, the author rank is set to change the methodologies adopted by SEO industry in the near future.
Factors Which Influence The Agent Rank (AR)
Agent Rank (AR) is a score given to each and every agent (author) based on the following factors:
1- The quality of the content. In-depth and comprehensive writings are more likely to have a positive effect.
2- The amount of plus ones the content receives. Google Plus ones are an important factor in measuring the quality and engagement score of an article.
3- Number of comments given by other users. Comments are a great way to analyze the spark provided by the content. Valuable and user friendly content receives maximum amount of attention in the form of appreciable comments.
4- The number of people in the author circles and the authority of those people. Not only the number of people in the author circles matters but instead the authority and reputation of those people makes a fair guess for Google to provide an Author Rank.
5- The quality of sites which publishes the content counting DA and PR as sub metrics. Authors who publish content on sites that are already included in the trusted seed set of Google are more likely to have a boost in their author rank as compared to the authors writing for non trusted seeds.
6- The number of social shares the content receives including and excluding Google Plus. Author Rank is incomplete without the true value of engagement received by the number of social shares the article is able to achieve. Counts do matter but who shares them matters the most.
7- The Page Rank of the actual content created by the author. Page Rank is still a valuable metric and content created by authors which quality for a high Page Rank are given a high Author Rank.
8- The number of contributions made by the author. The more valuable contributions, the better would be the Agent Rank.
9- The number of backlinks and the quality of those backlinks pointing to the created content. Google does not neglect its good old formula of counting backlinks for any web page. Content written by authors that get lots of high authority and high Page Rank domains pointing to them are given a higher score.
10- Industry affiliations and author name citations across the web is a real world metric that Google considers.
Apart from these main factors, there are several other factors which Google counts but those are hard to recognize and disclose. The important ones for computing Agent Rank have been described above.
How To Verify Authorship?
There are two simple steps through which you can verify your content in order to display author information in the search results as shown in the image below:
These steps are as follows:
Step 1: Create a Google Plus profile by visiting here. Make sure to add an impressive headshot for better visibility in the search results. The photo should be recognizable and clear.
Step 2: Verify your email address by visiting plus.google.com/authorship
Just by these two simple steps, you can enable Google to display your profile picture in the search results. Make sure your name appears in each of the pages you create and that name should match with the name in your Google Plus profile. This will help Google to accurately identify the page author.
Identity Verification Using Google Plus
With authorship, Google wanted to know the identity of people writing the content. This was made possible by a social platform like Google Plus where the actual identity of people can easily be verified. So, Google used the social influence and verification details of Google Plus profiles to create the base of Agent Rank. This is displayed in the figure given below where content pieces from agents are verified and assigned a digital signature using proper verification process before Author Rank is assigned to them. This verification process is done with the help of Google Plus.
Further, author verification is used as a form of digital signature and this directly influences the ranking of web documents written by the verified agents. The metrics used by the Agent Rank has already been described above. But, this is true that web pages written by agents having high author rank receive a boost in the search results. This has been clearly described in the Agent Rank Patent filed by Google. The patent information can be viewed here.
How Google Ranks User Generated Web Content?
Digital signatures using Agent Ranking system can directly influence the rankings of web pages in the Google search results. Therefore, having a high reputational score can provide a direct increase in rankings provided the other ranking factors remains in sync with the search query.
Role Of Reputational Scores In Agent Ranking System
Google will determine a reputational score for all the agents under the Agent Ranking System. Agents having high reputational scores would be promoted in the search results. The computation of scores will depend on several factors, the context being the most important. If any author writes content related to SEO and internet marketing and receives a high reputational score based on that then SEO and internet marketing related content written by that author will receive a boost in the search results. However, if the same author writes on a topic related to automobiles or wildlife then the reputational score would be scored in a different manner. Hence, author rank is directly related to the context of the information and the reputational score assigned to the authors.
It is therefore, extremely difficult to fool Google by using the same author for every industry. In a real world scenario, every industry has an expert and content written by those experts would be promoted in the search results related to those industries. This would help to reduce spamming and return quality documents in the search results.
I must point out here that reputational scores would not be easy to manipulate because reputational scores are not that easy to increase. Any agent would put his/her reputational score at risk by endorsing content in an inappropriate manner.
5 Tips To Leverage Agent Rank
Now comes the most interesting part of the entire article. How can we boost our brand visibility using Agent Rank? Here are 5 important tips which you can use to leverage the power of Agent Rank.
1- Become an Industry Icon
Ask a simple question to yourself like- how many people within your industry recognize you? If the answer is a clear Very Few then you need to work a lot in order to enable Agent Rank metric to work in your favour. Authors having noteworthy industry affiliations and reputation are the ones who will capitalize on this metric. This clearly indicates that you need to increase your industry affiliations, tie ups, become a regular and known face in seminars and meet ups and get as much industry recognition for yourself as you can. People should be able to recognize you when any discussion happens related to your industry. This is where the power of Author Rank would come into play. If we search anything on SEO and if the search query is able to track and identify content written by Rand Fishkin, Matt Cutts or Danny Sullivan then Google knows that these 3 authors have the highest reputational score related to the SEO and search marketing industry. Hence, content written by them would get promoted in the search results. Becoming an industry icon takes both time and effort but this is what Google is looking for! Believe me, its worth investing.
2- Get Social Love
Remain socially active on popular channels like Google Plus, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Increase your followers and get as many people to have you in your circles as you can. Authors who are socially active and can influence the virtual world of social media have high reputational scores. It is common to see results from authors having 20 thousand plus or even more followers in their circles. This is a clear indication how Google values your social score while computing the reputational score.
The content written by you should receive a lot of social shares including but not limited to plus ones, tweets, likes, pins etc. This will increase the social signals pointing to the content written by you and work towards increasing your author rank. It is worth to mention here that social shares are computed using two different metrics. One is the number of social shares and the other one is the reputation of profiles who share the content. Hence, not only the count matters but instead, the quality of the count matters the most.
3- Contribute Regularly
Regular contributions on sites having high Domain Authority, Page Rank, Industry Affiliations, and Traffic etc can be counted as highly valuable. The more contributions you have under your name, the better your chances of increasing other metrics associated with the overall ranking system.
Regularly contributing and publishing your columns in sites related to your industry can make Google see you as a trusted person and rate your content as trustworthy. This surely helps to increase the overall Agent Rank score.
4- Focus on Quality
Getting your content focused on the user and making it valuable for them should be your first priority. You should never lose your focus on quality whenever you are publishing any content under your name. Content that is highly valued should be comprehensive, user friendly, full of facts, citations, should use unique information along with expert opinions. Getting your content published regularly on reputed and trusted seed sites can enhance your reputational score.
5- Provide Your Opinion and Work on Feedbacks
Appreciate and respond to the comments received on content authored by you. User engagement is the key and responding to other users comments can be a great way to increase engagement and add value to the entire article by increasing the number of discussions. Most importantly, content which have a lot of comments in them quality for rankings under in-depth articles feature recently added by Google. Getting your article featured under in-depth articles feature is another great way to increase your reputational score.
Author Rank is set to play a bigger role in the coming years so start working towards it in order to capitalize this factor and make it work on your favour.