Production of quality content is one of the most important parts of marketing on the web today. Whether that means fresh, relevant articles or videos meant to be evergreen content or any other flavor you can think up. It is content that forms the substance of the web itself and it is content, and its distribution, that marketers have to be focused on. It doesn’t matter what niche a business is in, without the right content there will be no traffic.
All the greatest search engine optimization (SEO) tactics in the world can’t truly help sites with low quality content rank effectively any more. It’s not just the search engines who have changed the game, it is also the consumers who are genuinely hungry for great content which appeals to them and meets their needs.They are using social media to share what’s great and complain about what’s not so great.
Businesses now need to bring their best game to the table and there are a lot of things they need to keep in mind when it comes to producing and distributing that content. Google Author Rank is one of those things to keep in mind and it’s what we are going to focus on today (not to be confused with Amazon Author Rank). We’re going to learn what it is, how it came about, how it works and the many ways that it can help all kinds of businesses that are promoting what they have to sell online. As it turns out, this could end up being one of the most crucial factors of marketing your site in Google for many enterprises in the near future, so be sure to consider carefully the information below.
The Definition of Author Rank and Its History
Google’s Author Rank is a system designed by the search engine giant to rank sources of content rather than content itself. This system is designed to plug into the Google + social network, Google Authorship and Google’s search engine, to monitor the popularity of the author through a variety of different signals. This allows Google to know how trusted a source of content appears to be on the web so that they can rank the more popular and trusted sources more highly in their search results and thus give their searchers more of what they are looking for at what they hope will be a higher level of quality. In essence, low quality content churned out from anonymous sources has been a problem for Google in the past and Google Authorship as well as Author Rank can be seen as a means of trying to combat that kind of low value content in the search engines.
There are a lot of factors that go into Author Rank because it was designed to be a complex and hopefully effective way of vetting content sources. Page Rank is one factor and the average Page Rank of the author’s content will come into play, along with the number of sites that content is posted on and the authority of those sites, as well. Those with credits on Google Books or Google Scholar will get benefits and something like a citation on an extremely high authority site such as Wikipedia would be a major advantage, as well. Being connected with other high authority authors will improve standings too, and this is why the use of Google + will matter.
However, Google + will matter for another reason, too, and that is that Author Rank factors in social engagement in a big way. Google will factor in how many +1’s and Google + shares your content gets on Google Plus as well as the site where that content was originally published. The number of Circles you’re included in on Google +, as well as how many posts you make on the social networking site will also matter. Whether or not you get comments on your content and actually respond to them yourself will be another crucial measure of engagement that is factored in. However, Google also looks closely at subscriptions and audience engagement for videos you author on YouTube, another site it owns. Beyond this, social media sites such as LinkedIn, SlideShare, Twitter and Quora will also feed into this surveying of how potent and engaging your content is. In all, Google has said that over 200 signals will be used to determine Author Rank.
Google’s Author Rank has a surprisingly long history, being traced by tech journalists back to the summer of 2005 when Google filed for a patent for something called Agent Rank. This patent was designed to rate ‘agents’ and the content they create or distribute. The purpose was to measure how that content was received and what the level of engagement with it by users was. The point was to be able to rank these agents by how popular their content ended up being. At that time, there was no real way to definitively identify agents because Google had not yet brought the world its social media platform, Google +. No other company had developed a platform that Google deemed sufficient for its needs, either.
By summer of 2011, Google began rolling out Google + (which was first called Google Circles) which now has several hundred million users and is in direct competition with rival Facebook as a social networking platform. By connecting Google + with Google Authorship, Author Rank could begin to happen. By combining the power of Author Rank and Page Rank, Google now hopes to be able to cut spammers out of its listings and focus on delivering to its search users the content they are looking for.
Why Author Rank is Important to Those Using the Web
Google has stated that they developed Author Rank as a way to improve the quality of their search results and, since Google is the world’s largest search engine, this is going to have an impact on a great many people. The concept of turning to ‘trusted sources’ is designed to try to cut down on the kind of content that once ran wild across Google and the web in general. Low quality content can be a nuisance, but the problem comes when that content is not factually accurate. If it achieves a high-ranking by doing search engine manipulations then people may believe that it’s accurate because many users, by and large, trust Google to bring them relevant and truthful information despite the fact that the search engine has no real way of controlling the content it links to.
The fact is, having bogus or manipulative content ranking high in a search engine can be bad, because it can lead people to unreliable information, which looks poorly on the search engine that gave you the information. Whether or not it is wise to follow information found online and take it at face value is certainly open to questioning, but users can feel perhaps a bit safer knowing that Author Rank is in use and that, hopefully, the best sources of information on topics will rise to the top of the search results in Google in the near future.
Another benefit for users is that with Author Rank in operation, there is greater emphasis on who posted the content they are consuming. Since those wanting to make the most of Author Rank will most likely also be using Google +, fans of authors will be able to connect with them more directly and follow the fresh content they put out. Consumers have shown a preference for being able to keep in touch with good sources of content so this may make that easier for them to do.
Author Rank may seem like just another Google change, but many industry observers believe it will be revolutionary in a way similar to Page Rank. There is more emphasis on having a picture to go with the author profile (generally the author’s head shot) and that puts a more human face on the web. While we can’t know what the effects will be, we can agree that just about anything Google does is big enough to affect millions of users.
Why Author Rank Matters for Marketers
So far, when it comes to Google, most marketers have been focused on obtaining better rankings in the search results by seeking to build a higher Page Rank. That will, of course, continue to be relevant, but with the arrival of Author Rank, which factors in the signal from Page Rank, those with products or services to promote are going to need to work to become a steady, reliable source of quality content related to their niche. Instead of simply relying on their own site to bring in visitors, it is the content that is really going to matter.
Marketers will now be building a reputation that isn’t tied to a site as much as it is to a name. This is a kind of branding that many may not yet be used to, but it does seem to dovetail perfectly with the increasingly social nature of the web and the drive towards transparency that has been developing online in recent years thanks to sites like Facebook, Twitter and so forth. Those that can connect with their audience freely and openly, rather than hide behind an anonymous website, will end up succeeding as Author Rank grows in importance – assuming that it does.
Those who want their content to be prominent in Google’s search results are going to have to focus on developing engaging content and distributing it in ways that will boost their rankings. In many ways, Author Rank makes sense, but those who learn to maximize it will surely have to develop specific strategies that make sense for their brand and their content, too. It looks as if Author Rank’s real value will end up being tied to SEO and organic listings, which may be a welcome change.
How Author Rank Helps with Content Marketing
As mentioned earlier, when it comes to Author Rank, content marketing is going to be a real focal point because this is what is going to generate results. Anyone selling anything is going to need to build trust with their audience and unless they have a powerful reputation offline, they are going to need to do what they can to build a trusted reputation online. This will most likely involve producing extremely high quality content and distributing it via many different avenues.
Google Plus is going to be important for determining Author Rank, but it’s not the only social media platform that has importance in obtaining a good ranking. What matters even more than a presence in social media is how engaging the content is. Benefits are given for things like +1 via Google Plus, shares on Google Plus, re-tweets on Twitter and so forth. The idea is that whether your content is appearing on your own site or being shared on other sites, how it gets interacted with will factor into your Author Rank so it makes sense to create the most engaging content possible and get it the widest exposure you possibly can. That’s a far cry from how content creation and distribution once worked.
The goal with content marketing designed to really improve Author Rank should be to make it good enough that people want to share it. This is important for any content marketing, of course, but for those who want the highest Author Rank they can obtain, making sure that what they make is going to get shared across their audience is definitely very important. In addition, focus in terms of the type of content you develop and distribute is also going to become more important.
How Author Rank Can Be a Benefit for Personal Branding
Those who are incorporating their own identity into their brand are definitely going to see benefits by becoming a Google Author if they obtain a high enough ranking. This is one more way for them to nail down their credentials and explain what they are about. Content marketing tends to work well for those that are able to create engaging content, but for those that can’t outsourcing professional content creation services may be in order.
Personal brands are built around identity and with Authorship a reliable way to confirm who made what content, bonds can be forged more easily with those readers who may wind up connecting with the author of content they like via Google Plus, through that author’s site and so forth. Establishing trust with any audience takes time, of course, but building that trust could become easier when great content, distributed the right way, results in a high Author Rank. This could retroactively affect all the content of that author, in theory, elevating it higher in the search results and having a powerful effect at promoting the author’s personal brand. There are a lot of entrepreneurs who could, and most likely will, benefit from this effect, at least in Google’s search results.
While organic traffic from Google might not be a big focus for a personal brand, it should be remembered that a lot of people do rely on Google’s results. You never know when they will link to or share your content because it ranked highly. Even journalists use Google in their work and they may wind up citing your content if it is exceptionally good, bringing you traffic that you might never have gotten access to any other way. This is why Author Rank will matter to personal brands.
Not All Companies Will Want What Author Rank Has to Offer
Companies face different challenges than brands that are based on an individual. There is speculation that some companies may not be interested in having their employees author content and this would clearly put up a roadblock to obtaining a high Author Rank for that content. Each company will need to decide whether or not obtaining a good Author Rank fits in with their marketing style and method, but some may wind up turning to outsourced professional writers who can create engaging content on their behalf and then attribute it to a person that can act as the forward face of the company.
Some companies will likely find that getting more of their staff authoring content online builds recognition for their brand and puts a human face on their company that can build trust with their customer base. This is definitely a powerful way to utilize the possibilities of high Author Rank and provided those who will be creating and sharing content are doing so frequently, the benefits could be quite strong. Using this strategy could create more ways for people to relate to the company and it’s products or services which means that a larger net is being cast in the quest for more customers – that’s a sound marketing move by the standards of most in business.
Author Rank Can Help Sites Achieve Additional Authority
One of the advantages of pursuing Author Rank is that it pushes up content in Google’s search results. That means, additionally, that it will most likely help it flow across Google Plus where it has the opportunity to be shared more. All of these things are more ‘social proof’ that content (and thereby the source it came from) is deserving in authority. More links can then be expected to help further this effect and boost a site’s credibility with its audience and prospective members of that audience, alike.
One of the things that many who have been studying Author Rank suggest is networking with other big names. Content that gets shared by someone with a high Author Rank or from a site that has a high Page Rank is bound to push up the authority of the original source. Networking then offers a brand new level of value that is actually measured by Google in a new way using Author Rank. By socializing with others inside and outside of your niche, you may end up giving your content and your author profile a boost.
It is worth saying that niche focus will now matter quite a lot and those producing content really should try to stay laser focused on their niche when they can. This should assist in making sure that content ranks well and authority is granted in the right niche that is likely to attract a relevant audience to the enterprise doing the content marketing.
Be Careful About Leaning to Heavily on Author Rank as Proof of Authority
In general, relying too heavily on any promotional platform is not always the best idea. Many marketers found out the hard way that when Google makes changes, if they built their entire business based around traffic from that search engine the effects can be devastating. As interesting and useful as Author Rank can be, it would not be wise to rely too heavily on it. It may not treat all authors as fairly as hoped, for instance, and we can not know the specifics of it since Google does not reveal how all of their technology functions. Changes could be made to how Author Rank is calculated and also, in the end, Google is going to look out for its own best interests since it is a corporation with a bottom line to think about.
The key here is that anyone doing content marketing should be focused on creating the best, most engaging content they can anyway. If they can’t create it themselves then turn to professional firms or experienced freelancers who can get the job done right, on time and on budget. That content should be distributed widely, not just on Google. There are many different social media platforms, important blogs and other search engines, too, which could all use great content and who can reach audiences that Google may or may not reach. Focusing on serving the needs of your core audience will always be the best choice and let Author Rank and other factors play their role without over emphasizing their importance in your marketing.
Those Who Want to Leverage Author Rank Need a Strong Plan Going In
Getting serious about Google Authorship and building a strong Author Rank for your content is going to require sound marketing strategy. Those that succeed will most likely be those who not only create and share great content, but who are using Google Plus very regularly and engaging their audience as often as possible. Making connections with other influential people on that social media site and others, too, will bolster the Author Rank of content that these marketers have to distribute and should bring good results.
The thing is, in order to begin this and really stay consistent enough for your efforts to mean something, you will need to have a steady flow of content and a schedule you are planning to stick to in terms of when you release it. That is going to require planning and strategy in order to pull it off. A lot of entrepreneurs will need to outsource in order to focus more on the activities in their business that bring them the most income. As powerful as great marketing is, it is sometimes cheaper to buy it than it is to invest the time and energy needed to create great content and then get it seen. As always, just be sure that whatever route you take to achieve the Author Rank results you want makes sense for your business, its audience and the products or services it has to sell.
- AJ Kohns Author Rank post – AJ wrote the first piece of Author Rank that I recall reading anywhere, although I didn’t pay enough attention to it at the time.
- How to Prepare for AuthorRank and Get the Jump on Google – SEOMoz reminded me of the AJ posts and opened my eyes to what I needed to start paying more attention to. Mind you we have been doing AUthorship since it inception, but the big picture is now clear.
- Google Authorship is Valuable for SEO & Easy to Set Up – My post on Google Authorship almost two months ago, read this post and implement it on your sites.