There’s been many lively discussions around Google Authorship and Author Rank ranging from how it will work to does it even exist. We know that Google Authorship exists. You can sign up for it. But the big question is whether or not it is a ranking factor yet in Google’s search results. And there are a lot of ideas swirling around about how to build a high author rank score.
Let’s start with Google and why they created Google Authorship. And the answer is easy. Google is the king of search and they are incredibly dedicated to bringing their users the best search results possible for any user’s search query. One idea floating around is that to present better search results Google thought it would be a good idea to index authors and their content and measure the social interaction on their posts to determine the quality of the author. High quality authors might have the edge in top rankings in Google’s search results. Most people following the Google Authorship saga know this means that Google will probably be looking at how many +1′s a post gets, if it is shared, and who is giving the +1′s and sharing the post. It is the popular belief that a +1 from a recognized expert is going to mean more than a +1 from somebody with a lower “Google Plus Score”.
Authorship and Author Rank is About Ranking Content
Although these social signals are getting a lot of buzz, let’s not forget what they are doing and that is rating and scoring content.
Google wants to determine an author’s expertise and will measure it with social signals but they first need to know what content they are measuring. They will want to know what an author (anyone of us) is about. And the best way to do that is to do what Google does best and that is keep track of what the author writes about and how well it is received.
An author has to establish him or herself as an expert in a subject matter. And the way to do that is to obviously create a significant body of keyword rich work.
Since we are talking authorship the most obvious way to establish subject matter is with a blog. In fact, when setting up Google Authorship you link your “by-line” in your blog to your Google Plus profile and then back from the profile to the blog.
Think of Google Authorship as a Website
I like to think of Google authorship as an object or container that will hold all of the information about the author and the social signals associated with his content. Remember what we hear over and over again. Content is king. The author is rated on the content that he or she creates and will be ranked in the search results accordingly.
For example, if there is a search query for the term, “catfishing in Iowa”, the first thing that Google will do is search their index for all the content that is relevant to the search query, “catfishing in Iowa”. The Google algorithm will determine the most relevant content based on the usual signals of keywords, headlines, meta description, inbound links and so on. After determining the best responses for the search query Google will then determine which content is the most reliable. by checking the author rank of the creators of the content. The author who has content on “catfishing in Iowa” that meets the first criterion of the basic SEO algorithm and has the highest author rank is probably going to get more favorable ranking in the search results.
Where Some People Might Be Making a Wrong Turn
Now where I thing a lot of confusion comes into play is when we look at Google Plus. Since we know that author rank involves Google Plus and Google Plus is a social network it would make sense that Google Plus will somehow be deeply integrated into the whole Google Authorship scene. I think one could assume that Google Plus is probably a very obvious place for Google to gather social signals on an Author’s content.
We hear a lot of people already talking about scoring Google points by sharing content on Google Plus which they hope will garner +1′s and be shared to improve their author ranking. And here is where I think a few people might be putting the cart in front of the horse. Some people appear to be more interested in creating positive social signals than paying attention the content that they should be creating. Many people are all over the map generally sharing other people’s content with a brief comment rather than creating and sharing their own content. They are hoping to receive Google pluses for this activity not realizing that the bulk of the Google juice will probably go to the original creator of the content being shared.
For many of the people that do create original content in their posts it is often a just a paragraph or two not really about anything in particular. And I’m not saying this is wrong. It’s a great way to socialize, meet new people, build relationships and all of that. However, it is not necessarily creating what Google is looking for with Google Authorship and that is establishing oneself as a content expert. You have to create specific content before the social signals will mean anything. Without establishing oneself as a reliable provider of content in a particular subject matter, the +1′s won’t carry that much weight. You have to create original content along with your popularity score.
There are a few places to create content ranging from your blog and website to Google Plus. I include Google Plus because we know that Google quickly indexes our posts on G+ because we often see those posts in Google’s personal search results. So it must be keeping track of this content and who is writing it and the social signals that accompany it which Google will use to determine author rank and placement in the search results.
A Possible Approach to Developing Author Rank
As a result, I think it would be advantageous for somebody who would like to eventually develop high author rank to create a body of work that establishes them as an experts and is relevant to their specific keywords.
I see Google authorship as an entity similar to website. A website consists of content and when SEO experts works to get a website ranked high in the search results for a keyword they optimize the content of the website as much as possible stopping short of keyword stuffing. They try to include the keyword in the domain name, in the website title, page title, meta description, in headlines, in the body of the work and in anchor text.
Google Authorship can also be viewed as a collection of content, everything the author writes about. And the same rules will probably apply. The author’s content should be keyword rich in the areas that he or she want to appear high in the search results.
An author can get added mileage by sharing their optimized blog post in Google Plus. This does a few things. First, it gets the content immediately indexed by Google. And it also does something else. It provides a powerful inbound link to the original blog post.
I have evidence that the richer the blog post and Google Plus post are in relevant keywords the higher the content will rank in the search results. I’ve proven this over and over again and have screen capture videos to verify this.
Real Life Examples
A practical example of this in the real estate industry. Real Estate agents who post 90% of the time about houses for sale in the city they live in rank higher in the search results for search queries on houses compared to the agents who do not have a body of work centered around the keywords “houses for sale”.
Granted some of these agents have super optimized websites and/or blogs and would probably get first page rankings without the additional bump from Google Plus. But some of the agents blogs aren’t necessarily that strong and are more than likely getting a boost from the body of work they created on Google Plus focused on the keywords, “Houses for Sale + their city”.
I’ve also seen this type of results outside the real estate industry. I’ve noticed that individuals focused on one or two keywords like Google Hangouts or Google Communities do they best in the search results for these keywords. Again, if you just think of your Google authorship as a Google website it all makes sense. And why should Google treat Google Plus any differently than the rest of the web. Only this time instead of indexing a website they are going to index an authors body of work to determine what it is about and how relevant it will be to any given search.
Key Take Aways
So what is the key take away here.
Writers or anybody else pursuing author rank should become prolific in a specific subject and become a content expert in the eyes of Google. Do this by creating original content in your blogs and in Google Plus.
Ask yourself if somebody read your profile page would it reflect who you are or your goals for using G+? Would it appeal to your potential customer? In fact, ask yourself are you posting for your customer or your cronies and would a customer enjoy and find value in reading your Google+ profile page posts by post. Building online relationships is great, but more than likely your customers are searching for you in Google. You need to take the steps to get your content in front of your customers. And you can do this by becoming a Google recognized expert in your subject matter.
Happy blogging and posting.