UPDATE: Author Rank as it is described in this post – adding a rel=”author” to a link to your Google+ profile from a page you write at, or linking to pages you contribute to from your Google+ profile – is no longer used by Google; mostly because the adoption rate was too low.
However, I don’t believe for a second Google abandoned their plans to pursue something similar to Author Rank as in ‘the concept of author authority in search results’ – possibly referred to as Authoritative Rank, as reflected in a patent filed by Google in 2015.
For further reading on the subject, let me suggest Mark Traphagen’s post at Moz.com.
The Hoffmans are a typical family leaving large in our age of instant gratification, which means my 6 year-old daughter Emma has a very slim chance of ever benefitting financially after my husband and I are gone.
Luckily, not all is lost for Emma.
Her internet-savvy mom discovered a brilliant way to pave Emma’s way to her own future internet stardom.
Sounds laughable, but think about it. By the time she’s ready to start a blog of her own, whether it’s a couple of years from now or after she graduates from college just to find out that she can’t get a “normal” job, if I start working on her Author Rank NOW, she’ll be hard to beat.
Instead of giving her a fish, I’ll be teaching her how to fish, right?
Allow me to delight in my own brilliancy for a moment… and then get down to business: Author Rank.
It’s not like it’s the first post written on the topic, so why am I writing one here at Traffic Generation Café?
TL;DR You should definitely read this post because:
- This post is the place to get the skinny on Author Rank: what it is, why we need it, etc – without having to read dozens of articles to get the gist.
- We’ll also talk about Google Authorship vs Author Rank, plus where PageRank fits in – something many bloggers (including me until I wrote this post) are still a bit fuzzy about.
- I’ll do my best to give you a kick in the rear to start building your Author Rank today and explain how to do it.
- If you stick around, I’ll tell you what my new favorite abbreviation TL;DR stands for.
What Is Google Authorship?
Google Authorship makes you eligible to get the Authorship Rich Snippet in search results:
- your profile photo next to the result;
- the number of Google+ circles you are in;
- and a link to more search results for your related content.
Why You HAVE TO Set Up Google Authorship
The immediate advantages of claiming Google Authorship:
- Higher visibility – stand out in the search results with your profile photo.
- Higher click-through rates (CTR) – people are more likely to click on your result if you have your photo attached, even if your result is more toward the bottom of the page. In some cases, your CTR can increase as much as 150% per marketing research company Catalyst.
The future advantage of claiming Google Authorship:
- Start building your Author Rank NOW.
Matt Cutts on Authorship
Google’s Matt Cutts put out a new Webmaster Help video discussing Authorship.
Specifically, he responds to the user-submitted question:
Will Google be evaluating the use of rel=”author” moving forward as more sites use the feature on generic, non-article/news pages, such as the home page or an about page?
Google Authorship vs Author Rank?
What’s the difference between Google Authorship and Author Rank?
Google Authorship ties a Google+ profile to pieces of content.
Author Rank is a numeric score, similar to PageRank, assigned to authors based on their content on a particular topic.
What Is Author Rank?
Author Rank doesn’t actually exist (yet); it’s a user-generated term.
The idea behind Author Rank is that your reputation as a content creator will influence search engine rankings.
Author Rank Background
The concept of Author Rank as it pertains to Google comes from a series of patents Google published.
These patents go back as far as 2005 and the original set of patents is known as the “agent rank patents“. They all focus on identifying agents online.
“Agents” could be a lot of different things, like an author, or a brand, or different bits of data. Once those agents are identified, Google then can measure their trustworthiness, authority, and determine their influence on search engine rankings accordingly.
Algorithms can’t measure trustworthiness, authority, and relevancy, but they can follow the way people measure them.
So the core idea behind this ranking system is identifying individual agents, watching their interactions with each other and information, and ranking that information according to the interaction observed.
How would Google go about identifying those authority agents?
For a few years after the original filing in 2005, Agent Rank patents remained just an idea.
In 2011, Eric Schmidt stated that it was still Google’s goal to identify agents in order to improve search quality, stating “it would be useful if we had strong identity so we could weed (spammers) out.”
The following month (September 2011), Google filed a continuation patent referencing a “portable identity platform”, which sounds a whole lot like Google+ – profiles that form a digital signature system of sorts.
Google+ allows Google to do what they set out to do in 2005: attribute content to specific “agents” and rank them.
Additional Reading on Author Rank
Author Rank – AJ Kohn, BlindFiveYearOld.com
Google Authorship, Author Rank and Social SEO with Mark Traphagen – Martin Shervington at martinshervington.com
How to Prepare for Author Rank and Get the Jump on Google – Mike Arnesen at Moz.com
When Is Author Rank Coming?
It doesn’t matter when it’s coming because once it does, it’ll be too late.
Sites that have been carefully crafting their influence as powerful content creators, building their future Author Rank will undoubtedly have an upper hand and will float to the top of search engine rankings as a result.
If you’ve done nothing, you’ll be left behind. That simple.
It won’t be a penalty like Panda or Penguin, but it might as well feel like one.
As AJ Kohn said:
“Author Rank could be more disruptive than all of the Panda updates combined…
Panda will feel like a speedbump if Google can implement a fully realized version of AuthorRank.”
Author Rank and PageRank
Google+ profiles are web pages, and as such, they can be ranked on Google just like any other web page AND they have/pass PageRank like any other web page.
Yes, your Google+ profile can be (and should be) optimized just like any other site.
Yes, it can gain authority and pass that authority in the form of PageRank to other sites you link out to from your Google+ profile – your main site, for instance.
Yes, it can be a powerful tool in your SEO toolbox.
Yes, it will help you to increase your future Author Rank.
What’s Your Google+ Profile PR?
You used to be able to easily see your Google+ profile PageRank in the Google toolbar, but it’s not the case any longer.
Now, in order for you to check your PR, you’ll need to copy your Google+ profile URL (it would look something like this: https://plus.google.com/115854344437995415484/), and check it through a site like prchecker.net.
Just to give you a point of reference, my current Google+ profile PR is 3. Most SEOs will tell you that pages with PR between 3 and 6 are generally doing pretty well and show a lot of authority.
What’s your Google+ PR? Let me know in comments.
How to Increase Your Google+ Profile PR
It stands to reason that there are two main ways that Google+ profiles and pages gain their PageRank:
- through links from authority pages around the web – the “old fashioned” way.
- other Google+ profiles – Google can obviously easily track any interaction between Google+ profiles and any mention would be considered a “link”.
Here are some practical ways to increase your Google+ profile PR and visibility:
1. Make it your only social media connection on your main site.
As I said in my post on how to get more Facebook fans, DON’T do this:
Too many choices lead to making NO choice.
Instead, choose ONE social media network you want to build and stick with it.
Do you want to get more Twitter followers? Then make it all about Twitter.
Are you working on getting more Facebook fans? Then Facebook it is.
Do you want to build Google+ presence? Yep, you got it.
2. Link to your Google+ profile from other social media accounts.
Most social media platforms allow you to interlink your social media accounts. Make sure your interlink your Google+ profile with as many as you can.
3. Link to your Google+ profile from guest posts
Most bloggers allow their guest bloggers to use 2 links in their author bio.
I’d recommend that one of them should go to your optin landing page (like this one for Traffic Generation Café) and the second one – to your Google+ profile.
4. Ask bloggers currently linking to you
If you are writing killer content, other bloggers are bound to link to it. Why not ask them to add a link to your Google+ profile in their mentions?
As a matter of fact, that’s what I am planning on doing from now on. It takes a bit of leg work, but might be well-worth it at the end.
5. Install Google+ comments
Now that it’s possible to add Google+ comments to many blogging platforms, including WordPress, I highly recommend you do it.
You don’t have to sacrifice the native WordPress comment system; you can simply add Google+ comment system as an alternative, like you see in my comment section below.
For instructions on how to add Google+ comments, check out Kim Castleberry’s How To Add Google+ Comments To WordPress Easily.
I use Google+ Comments by Alex Moss here at Traffic Generation Café.
6. Publish mini blog posts to your Google+ profile
This is one thing that I love about Google+ – no one is looking for 140-character long updates.
It’s OK to publish more. It’s OK to express your thoughts. It’s OK to rant. It’s OK to use Google+ as a mini blogging platform.
It’s not only OK, but it’s good for engagement, brand visibility, Author Rank, etc.
People will link to those updates just like they would link to a blog post.
Google Plus SEO: Everybody’s Talks About It – How Do You DO It? – Mark Traphagen at windmillnetworking.com
10 Dead Simple Tips to Take Advantage of Google+ for SEO – Cyrus Shepard at Moz.com
Where Google+ Fits in
Why You Need Google+ Rant
Google+ is not yet another feeble attempt for Google to break into social media market.
According to Google’s Senior Vice President of Social Vic Gundotra:
“You have to understand what Google+ is. It’s really the unification of all of Google’s services, with a common social layer.”
Why Google+ is so important to Google?
- the more people create Google+ accounts, the more of them surf internet logged into Google.
- this allows Google to track their interests very closely.
- the data collected allows Google to better tailor and personalized both organic and paid search results.
- the more on-target the search results are, the more responsive the search engine users will be.
- as a result, the user satisfaction is up, causing those users to come back to Google again and again.
In Guy Kawasaki’s book, “What the Plus“, he writes:
“…Google+ is to Facebook and Twitter what Macintosh is to Windows: better, but fewer people use it…”
I also love how +Mike Elgan described the difference between Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ in his How I view Twitter, Facebook and Google+ post on Google+ (great example of mini blogging on Google+):
“Twitter is Penn Station.
…Yes, there is some content on Twitter, just as there is “content” at Penn Station (restaurants, Madison Square Garden, etc.), but it’s lightweight content designed for people in a hurry.
Like Penn Station, Twitter is useful, valuable and necessary, but mostly as a conveyer of minds from one place that isn’t Twitter to another place that isn’t Twitter.
Facebook is Long Island.
Like Long Island, Facebook is a great place to live if you want to spend your time with family and friends.
And like Long Island, Facebook is an island.
Google+ is New York City.
Like New York City, Google+ is a huge, beautiful, vibrant, multi-cultural engine of ideas.
Like New York City, Google+ is a great destination and a great place to live for people who want to meet interesting new people all the time, create and publish content and be intellectually stimulated…”
Google+ has also outgrown Twitter as the second largest social media platform.
Google+ and Author Rank
Now that we (hopefully) understand the difference and correlation between Google Authorship, Author Rank, and PageRank, it’s impossible to ignore Google+ and its role in the future of SEO.
As I mentioned above, Google+ became the perfect platform for Google to develop their digital signature system that they can use to track authors (“agents”) and their content, watch the interaction between authors and content, and rank those authors accordingly (i.e. assign Author Rank).
If Author Rank is the brain, then Google+ is the muscle that will transform SEO in the (near) future.
TL;DR You need to be there. You need to be on Google+.
The State of My Google+ Profile
Just to level the playing field here, I have, for all intents and purposes, abandoned my Google+ profile.
I created it back when Google+ first started, but haven’t given it much attention since then.
I’ve been using all the familiar excuses of…
- I don’t have enough time for yet another social media platform;
- not as many people are using Google+;
- etc, etc, etc.
However, as a big fan of search engine traffic and after doing extensive research on Author Rank and what it means for the future of SEO, I see no choice, but to do what I should’ve done a long time ago – start actively building my Google+ presence.
Here are my starting stats:
- I haven’t customized my profile to keep up with any Google+ changes;
- I haven’t done much SEO for my profile (yes, you can optimize your Google+ profile to show up on Google for your desired search terms);
- roughly 12,000 have me in their circles;
- I post randomly and mostly links to my own posts;
- I don’t track engagement in any way, although I’ve become better since installing Google+ comments at Traffic Generation Café;
- my referral traffic from Google+ is abysmal – most other social media networks are way ahead of it.
I can definitely do better than that.
As +Bruce Bates said this morning:
Too bad “deserving” doesn’t automatically translate to “getting it”…
Oh well, I guess I’ll have to do it the old-fashioned way – by giving it all I’ve got.
Today, I am starting to follow my own advice and dive into Google+.
Here’s some additional reading to help you.
How to Start Using Google+
… or kick it up a notch.
Google Plus Bite-Sized Tutorial for the Busy Marketer – Ana Hoffman at Traffic Generation Café
The Ultimate Google+ Quickstarter Guide (VIDEO) – Martin Shervington at martinshervington.com
The Ultimate Guide to Google Plus Posts – Martin Shervington at martinshervington.com
The Ultimate List of Google+ Tips – Amy Lynn Andrews at bloggingwithamy.com
The Official Google Plus Translation Guide – Rand Wilson on Google+
How to Build Your Author Rank: Checklist
Let’s get back to Author Rank before I let you go and take a look at some things you can do today to increase your Author Rank.
1. Establish Google Authorship
Make sure you create that tie between your online identity and your content.
Once again, here’s how to set up your content to be eligible for Google Authorship.
2. Write Killer Content
Create memorable content in your niche – the kind of stuff you want to be known for.
You won’t be recognized as an authority in something you are actually not an authority in. Makes perfect sense, yet somehow it hasn’t sunk in for many online business owners.
Actually becoming an expert in your field is the first huge leap to being recognized as such by others.
TL;DR Don’t write anything that’s not worth reading.
Author Rank is a very topic-centered concept.
As an author, you can earn different Author Rank in different topic areas.
Define your area of expertise and stick with it.
If you try to develop your Author Rank in one too many areas, it might end up being fairly weak in a lot of different topics instead of strong in one.
That’s how Google relevancy works: the more specific to a topic you are, the better chances are that Google (and your readers) will recognize you as one as well.
4. Promote your Google+ Profile
Once again, your Google+ profile is your author hub and Google uses it to tie your content together.
It only makes sense to promote it like you would your website itself.
Build links to it.
5. Find/connect with Google+ influencers in your niche
To make this step easier, here’s your first influencer to add to your circles:
Author Rank: Marketing Takeaway
Is Author Rank a reality today?
No. But it’s no longer about if it happens, but when.
And when it happens, you want to be there; no question about it.
TL;DR Start working on your Author Rank today or you could be too late tomorrow.
PS TL;DR stands for “too long; didn’t read” 😉