Google Author Rank: The Sasquatch of SEO
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”
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
When 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
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
Right now, the only effect of Authorship markup that I can see is the presence of “rich snippets” alongside some of Google’s search results. And from what I’ve witnessed in my own admittedly informal testing, the pages that get those rich snippets are often lower-ranking pages. (I tend to see more author photos and bylines on page 5 or 6 of the SERPs than I do on page 1 or 2.) If AuthorRank were a reality, I’d expect to see more rich snippets on highly-ranked search results.
Thanks for this post. I came to the same conclusion by studying all the posting you and others have been doing. It’s pretty obvious. I had also gotten a bit tired of the twenty posts checking each day (or so it seemed) if Google was or was not boosting people. From what I see, you and others are clearly boosted because you have quality content. It is pretty clear and pretty simple. I can either spend hours each night hoping for a squeak revealing the golden goose or I can busy myself doing the good work. Either way that gets me to the same goal. I will rank higher because what I have offered online has been valuable to others. I’m better off being about the good work.
When Google rolled this out my first thought was “sure, I know about this and so do many bloggers, authors and writers online BUT the general public could care less about Google Plus and Google Authorship”. So I then figured who cares. Sure my name is associated with my blog and other articles floating out there. But does the regular joe schmoe, who could care less about who I am and more about whether my article is good, care?
I get it, Google is trying to get people to claim and build authority, like Stephen King is as a horror novelist. But like you stated, one can do that without Google.
I only claimed authorship to see my name in searches and look more official. And not sure about the ranking yet. I don’t see it in my search results.
Until the day our society is actually controlled by robots, I will always consider that one person worth as an author and speaker is based on the opinion of the audience. And Author Rank will just reflect that not establish something new. Cause the bots can’t decide if your a good author or not. Your audience decides that.