Google Author Rank: The Sasquatch of SEO

Why Google Author Rank is the Sasquatch of SEO

“Excuse me? Did you hear Matt Cutts said Author Rank is real?”

When it comes to the topic of Google Author Rank and whether it is a reality today, the True Believers are only slightly less fanatical than people convinced that the following are real:

  • Sasquatch (Big Foot)
  • UFO abductions
  • The Kardashians

OK, one of those may actually be real, but probably shouldn’t be.

The Author Rank True Believers were fanned into a new frenzy this week after the Pubcon keynote address by Google’s Matt Cutts. Cutts made a few interesting but still somewhat vague remarks about how Google is moving toward boosting subject area authorities. 

What’s interesting about his language in that address (you can hear it for yourself in the embedded video in the post linked above) is that it is not clearly present tense. He doesn’t say that boosting subject authorities is something they are (currently) doing, but says, and I quote, this is something they “want to be able” to do.

You don’t say you want to do something you are already doing.

Now I’ll give one benefit of the doubt. That quote was in a section of the talk that was about the things Google is currently doing to improve search quality. So maybe the out-of-sync future tense verbs mean that this is something they are currently working on, or maybe even experimenting with. But it doesn’t sound like a confident pronouncement of “we are now doing this.

And Here’s Why I Don’t Give a Rip, On or Off

People who follow me regularly might be surprised to hear me say I don’t really care whether Author Rank is a present reality. After all, I’ve probably become one of the best-known speakers and writers on the topic. I created and run the largest Google Authorship and Author Rank community on the web. I work with businesses large and small to build content strategies predicated upon the firm belief that establishing author authority will be crucial to search marketing in the years ahead.

So why would I be saying I couldn’t give a flying sasquatch whether or not Author Rank is switched on yet?

Glad you asked!

1. Author Authority Already “Works”

Authors! Google wants to pump you up in search!

Google wants to pump you up in search!

You don’t need Google Author Rank to build real author authority online.

Sure it would be nice for Google to “pump you up” in search results. But if you are already doing the right things, you’ve already got a bigger authority reach than Google alone could ever give you.

Real authorities earn the trust of people who consume their content. They’re name becomes associated with “knowledgeable,” “helpful,” and “cutting edge” in people’s minds with their topic. Those people are going to recommend that authority to others, both on and offline. They are going to share their content on social media and link to their sites. In short, a real authority doesn’t need to wait for Google to tell her she is one. She already has a huge audience saying it every day.

2. Author Authority Is Already Powerful in Personalized Search

Bill Gassett real estate salesWhen I’m searching for how to use social media to increase real estate sales, and related topics, I’m never surprised to see Bill Gassett pop up time and again. Google knows he’s in my Google network, and therefore it is more likely that his content on the subject will have relevance and weight with me.

So Google pumps him up in my results when I search logged in to my Google+ account.

That means that your Google+ network becomes a powerful booster of your authority to those for whom it should count the most. The larger a network you grow, and the more PageRank authority your G+ profile gains, the more often you’ll show up higher in search for relevant searches by people in your network (and perhaps even to your extended network).

3. Whenever Author Rank Arrives, I’m Ready

Put me in, coach! I'm ready for Google Auhthor Rank!

Put me in, coach!

Rather than wasting hours speculating on whether “Author Rank” (which I now prefer to call “author subject authority boosting”) began last year, last Tuesday, or will be here in 36 day, 17 hours, 23 minutes, I’m spending my time (and the time of people I work with) future proofing our content and reputations.

There is one thing I can say with absolute certainty: Google wants to know who the trusted authorities are in every different subject area. And they want to boost those people and their content.

I’m convinced that if you’ve properly set up Google Authorship; and you’re creating memorable, well-targeted, authoritative content; and you’re building effective networks of fans and key influencer relationships to help spread it, you’re well in position for whenever “AuthorRank” comes calling.”

Photo Credits: Sasquatch by ( kurtz ) and junior ball player by Zac Wong, via a Creative Commons license


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