Google+ AuthorRank
As Google continues its quest to provide its users with the most authoritative and relevant search results, the folks over at Mountain View have devised a strategy for connecting authors with their content.

Their technique is called AuthorRank, and it's shaping up to change how quality content is pushed through the SERP's.

What is AuthorRank?

AuthorRank is a quality score or online reputation measured by the quality of content that an author has published. Here's the specific language from Google's Agent Rank patent:

The identity of individual agents responsible for content can be used to influence search ratings.

Assuming that a given agent has a high reputational score, representing an established reputation for authoring valuable content, then additional content authored and signed by that agent will be promoted relative to unsigned content or content from less reputable agents in search results.

This means that when an author publishes content on a certain subject, their AuthorRank will increase and they will be considered more authoritative for that subject. For example if I publish 2-3 articles a week about Search Engine Optimization, my AuthorRank will begin to increase in the category of SEO. Now the same reputation points do not carry over if I publish an article on, say, knitting. This is because although I have a high reputation for SEO, that does not relate to me having any knowledge about knitting. This means that your AuthorRank is split up into the various categories you produce content for.

How does AuthorRank Affect the SERP's?

As it stands today, AuthorRank has no direct effect on PageRank, however I foresee it having a strong impact in the future. As Google tirelessly tries to update their algorithm with the purpose in mind of serving up only quality content for its users, it only makes sense that it starts awarding content publishers for producing said quality content.

Even though today there is no direct impact on PageRank, giving yourself authorship of an article can be leveraged to affect your click through rate in the SERP's. When you give yourself authorship of an article, information about you is pulled from your Google+ profile and displayed next to your article in the SERP's.

This is what Google calls a "Rich Snippet". This is a great way of getting your articles to stand out in the SERP's. Notice that your Google+ profile picture, your name and how many circles you are in is displayed directly next to your article in the SERP's. This is the biggest benefit today, of giving yourself authorship of an article, as your AuthorRank is currently just a stored value for Google's future use.

How do you give yourself authorship of an article you may ask? With the rel="author" attribute of course!

How to leverage rel="author" and start building AuthorRank

You've seen it countless times – the section at the bottom of a blog post that talks about the author and links to all their related social networks. Most people don't take the time to read these so they are often neglected by the author. However with AuthorRank this "About the Author" section becomes very important.

Including this section in your articles alone will not give you authorship of an article in Google's eyes. To tell Google that you are the author of the content you must include the rel="author" attribute in either the <a> tag or the URL when linking to your Google+ profile.

Adding rel="author" to the tag:

<a href="https://plus.google.com/u/0/118293635348546493797" rel="author">My Google+ Profile</a>

Adding ?rel=author to the URL:

<a href="https://plus.google.com/u/0/118293635348546493797?rel=author">My Google+ Profile</a>

You can also add author ship in the header of your page with the <link> tag:

<link rel="author" href="https://plus.google.com/118293635348546493797">

Now what your blog is properly configured you need to make sure your Google+ profile is as well.

Login to your Google+ account and make sure your profile is set to public.

Next, add yourself as a "contributor" to the sites you publish content for.

That's it! You are now set up to start building your AuthorRank.

I myself am very excited to see what Google decides to do with AuthorRank, but it seems clear to me that with the combination of Google+ (an identity platform) and rel="author" (a digital signature), Google will begin to use AuthorRank as a way to help deal with the massive amount of content that currently exists on the web. My advice is to start building your AuthorRank by publishing quality content on your blog as soon as possible, because if Google does decide to influence search results based on AuthorRank, that update could come as a huge hit to those who currently outsource and produce low quality content for their blogs.

Leave a comment below and let me know how you think Google could use AuthorRank to affect PageRank and what it may means for SEO's in the future.

Update!

Google has gotten stricter for when they decide to show the author's bio pic in the search results. Essentially you can still follow the same steps above to generate an author bio image in the search results page, however there are a few new considerations to be aware of:

  • Always link to your Google+ profile using the auhtor's name. The name should be the same as what appears on Google+.
    • <a href="https://plus.google.com/u/0/118293635348546493797" rel="author">Darcy Burk</a>
  • Google is very particular about the "by line" ensure that only 1 instance of the word "by" appears on the page. Some blogs add aditional "by lines" when authors edit the page.
    • Blog post by: Darcy Burk, Edited by: Hank Spumoni
  • Do not implement domain wide auhtorship. Many websites started adding authorship to pages that had no right having authorship. IE the home page. Google has already talked about how Authorship should only be applied when the URL/page contains a single article (or subsequent versions of the article) or single piece of content, by the same author.

Follow these updated best practices for authorship in 2014 and you too can have a fancy Rich Snippet author image shown in your search result.

If you liked this, you might also enjoy 5 Page Quality Indicators That Can Outweigh PageRank

Darcy Burk

Darcy is an Senior Online Sales Consultant at Trader Corp. Learn more about to learn more about SEO & Web Development at darcyburk.com.

SEO Expert Toronto & Freelance Web Developer Toronto |

You May Also Like

8 Responses to “Google+ Authorship: Best Practices To Get A Rich Snippet In 2014”

  1. Shockley Au says:

    Great post, D'Arcy! I didn't realize that AuthorRank reputation points are topic-specific. I wonder if Google also looks at how closely related the topics are that you write about (i.e., writing about PPC also helps your AR for SEO blog posts).

  2. Matt Coffy says:

    Thanks for sharing these information with us, D'Arcy. I admit, I'm with you in believing of the eventuality that Google will update and include AuthorRank to be a factor to affect PageRank. Quality content after all is the general focus of these algorithm changes.

  3. Robert Tyson says:

    Thanks for this post. This is going to be big, I'm sure of it.

    I really think we are going to see G+ sneak up and become taken much more seriously by the public at large as it becomes clear what the implications of features like these are.

  4. Great tip about to include "contributor". I just updated mine on G+.

  5. Maneet Puri says:

    Nicely written, and provides very vital information for authors publishing contents on world wide web! At this point of time AR may not be having any impact on SERPs but knowing how Google evolves on data its gathers, chances of it getting good weightage in calculation of position in search results in future is pretty high.

  6. The more Google+ grows the more important it is going to be for SEO so i completely agree with your assessment. We have already seen how it uses author title photos in searches now.

  7. John Grover says:

    Thank you Darcy for pointing this out, it's all coming together now! Will be following you on this to see it developes.

  8. [...] blog posts was written for SEP's blog. It's an interesting "how-to" for adding authorship markup to your website in order to display your Google+ profile picture beside your search [...]