Did Matt Cutts Announce Author Rank and Nobody Noticed

Matt Cutts at Pubcon 2013I think Matt Cutts announced the existence of Author Rank at Pubcon 2013 in Las Vegas and nobody noticed.

Let’s begin by reviewing what Author Rank is.  Some of the best information on Author Rank comes from AJ Kohn.  In an article in Blind Five Year Old, AJ says.

The idea behind AuthorRank is that your reputation as a content creator will influence the ranking of search results.

He then provides 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.

Now let’s jump to Matt Cutts keynote at Pubcon 2013.  Matt Cutts begins by telling us that one of the best ways of looking at where Google is going is looking at where Google has gone. He then goes through a list of recent Google’s activities and talks about voice search, conversational search, Google Now, Panda, and subtly slips in what looks like author rank.

Matt Cutts said Google has been looking at detecting and boosting authorities.  He gave an example, “If you are an authority in the medical space we want to be able to know that and start to push you up a little bit higher whenever a medical query comes along.  He says this isn’t done by hand and applies to thousands of queries.

This is what is described in the Author Agent patent.  Google is identifying authorities and giving those authorities a boost in the rankings.

So, why didn’t Matt Cutts identify this as author rank?  We can probably get a hint from what he said about Page Rank.  He addressed the popular question when are the page rank scores going to be updated.  He said that internally the page rank scores are updated every day but that the pipeline feed to the Google tool bar broke earlier in the year.  When deciding whether to fix it or not, they chose not to do so right away because people were already obsessing too much over page rank.  My guess is Google probably wants to avoid the media frenzy and obsession with author rank if it were specifically identified.  Instead they casually announced the functionality of author rank as described by AJ Kohn and in the patent.  A quiet nondescript roll out just like Hummingbird.

If you have any doubt that authors are being scored you only have to fast forward to the end of keynote when Matt Cutts talks about tightening up authorship.  He said that Google wants to make sure that who Google shows as authors are high quality authors and if they reduce the number of authors they show by 10 to 15 percent it radically improves the quality of authors that they show.  He would not be able to make such a definitive statement without having some kind of score on all the authorship authors.

The facts for this article have been extracted from the video below.

1:28 The best way to look at where Google is going is by looking at where we have gone.

9:15 Looking at detecting and boosting authorities

23:50 Tightening up Authorship

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