Author Rank is Coming, Despite Wrinkles to Be Ironed Out

  • ByDaniel Ducloux

  • Tuesday, March 5, 2013

By Cody Cahill, Page One Power

If you operate in the SEO realm, you’d have to have had your head in the sand not to have heard all about Google Authorship, that system by which authors of content can have their picture show up in the SERPs by linking their work to their Google Plus account.

[visit our  Dallas SEO page]It’s gotten a tremendous amount of attention in the SEO community in the past year, with content producers scrambling to make sure their Authorship profiles are optimized and all of their content pages have the appropriate tags embedded into the code.

At this point it seems that the hubbub about Authorship has outpaced the actual benefits one receives, but this is because the consensus in the SEO world is that Google has only shown us the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the entire purpose of authorship.  The widespread expectation, seemingly confirmed through Google’s actions, is that Authorship will soon morph into Author Rank, at least once Google can iron out the many wrinkles inherent in a major overhaul of their search results.

What is Author Rank?

Briefly, Author Rank is based on Google’s patented “Agent Rank” tool, which was formulated with the intention of having certain online content rank higher than others because it is digitally connected to an authoritative and trusted individual.  A person with a high “Author Rank” might see his work featured more prominently in the search results than less-authoritative agents or work published by anonymous or unknown authors.

Author Rank would be built up over time based on the popularity and trust of the content produced, and also on social signals, particularly those derived on Google Plus, the platform which facilitates Google’s attempts to match online content to specific individuals.

The idea is that Author Rank will eventually become a complement to Google’s Page Rank system, and that the listings that appear in the SERPs will be based on the authority and trust of not only the domain and page, but also on the trust and authority of the specific author, where appropriate.

Google sees this as a way to boost the visibility of certain authors who have demonstrated their niche expertise and also as a way to weed out the spammers and hackers who attempt to achieve their rank through means other than establishing an authoritative voice on their chosen subject.

Waiting Game

As previously mentioned, Google has yet to implement Author Rank into their system for producing search results, and as of now the only perk for having Authorship enabled is that it enables one’s picture to be listed in the search results next to their content, which in general is believed to increase click-through-rates and promote author visibility.

It appears that the reason that Google has yet to launch a fully operational Author Rank system is because there are too many loose ends to tidy up; Google is undoubtedly testing this feature and thus far appears to be less than thrilled with the results.

Some of the major issues with Authorship have been discussed recently on the Google Plus Authorship and Author Rank Community (a fantastic resource, BTW).  The members of that community are incredibly adept at following the latest developments on the Author Rank front, and have noticed a few peculiarities that shed some light on the issues Google needs to address before a full-fledged Author Rank program can be unveiled.

One of the biggest issues for Google is matching authoritative content to an individual author in instances where that person has not personally linked their content through their Google Plus page.  While Authorship tags and Google Plus connections have become common practices for those in the SEO and certain tech industries, for the majority of online content producers it is not yet a habit for them to worry about Google Authorship, whether they even know it exists.

As much as Google would love to have everyone using Google Plus, and most soothsayers agree that more and more people will be compelled to do so in the future, they are also aware that for Author Rank to help improve search results, there needs to be some way to rank authoritative authors, even if they don’t manually connect their work to their Google Plus account.


Google has been trying to figure out a way to do this, and the results appear to be more than a little buggy at this point.  One of the most infamous examples occurred late in 2012, when Google attempted to automate an Authorship link for certain New York Times articles.  Instead of properly linking Times authors to their work, the results ended up crediting a certain piece, written in 2010, to famed author Truman Capote, who died in 1984!  Somehow the Google automaton had skimmed over the actual writer of the piece and honed in on the name of Capote which was only mentioned in passing in the author’s bio at the bottom of the piece.

It was quickly remedied, but it served to highlight the difficulties Google will have in trying to auto-associate content.  More recently, a discussion on the aforementioned G+ Community pointed out that Google was attempting to add Authorship status to search results of books.  In what appeared to be another series of auto-association errors, community members found a whole host of mixups in which the wrong author was given credit for a certain piece of work.

Bottom line

Sooner or later, Google is going to straighten out the kinks in their author-attribution model and Author Rank will be unveiled, likely in a gradual yet emphatic fashion.   There’s little doubt that getting your foot in the Authorship door now, and begin building your author authority and trust now, will pay dividends when Author Rank is finally, and forcefully, implemented.

Cody Cahill is counting on posts like this one to eventually build his Author Rank to the point where he is able to dominate the world.  See more of his writing on the Page One Power’s link building blog.

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