One of the most significant changes to come out of the recent Google Algorithm updates is the coming implementation of Author Rank. Author Rank is Google’s way of determining an author’s authority and properly identifying the author of an article.
Here are three reasons why you need to claim your Author Rank and how to go about doing it.
1) Author Rank will continue to play a bigger and bigger role in search engine returns
Up until the Google Panda update, websites were moved to the top of the returns based on Page Rank. The problem however, is that it was very easy to manipulate Page Rank. Black Hat SEOs looking to game the system would “spin” the same article over and over again making small changes such as swapping out synonyms, changing basic sentence structure and the like until they had tens or even hundreds of versions of the same article. They would then publish the key word stuffed articles on as many websites that they possibly could with backlinks to the page they wanted to move up the search engine rankings.
Google would see all the incoming links wrapped around the appropriate keywords and think that there must be something important on the page and move it up the search engine returns. It didn’t matter if the actual content on the page sucked. It didn’t matter if it made sense at all. The goal was to get to the top of the rankings and it worked.
Author Rank is one of the ways Google is working to stop such abuse. It helps factor in the quality of the writer and the quality of the content he/she has produced into the search engine returns.
Although it has yet to be seen how much Author Rank will factor into the returns be assured that it will.
2) Everyone Gets to See Your Smiling Face
When you’ve properly claimed your Author Profile, Google will show your smiling mug next to anything you write and publish on the internet. And although this may seem a bit vain, it actually plays a functional role. People are more likely to click through on a search engine return showing the user profile than one that doesn’t. And ultimately that’s the goal isn’t it?
It also helps to protect your content. One of the old black hat SEO tricks was to steal blog posts or other information, often publishing directly from another website’s RSS feed and publish it as your own. The rel=author markup helps Google determine the original author and assign proper credit as credit is due.
3) Connects Your Content Across the Web
Along with your own personal blog or website, you can also include your authorship markup on articles you write for other online publications. This not only provides a way for readers to follow you and find more of your content, it helps Google see your online authority.
For example, say you write an article for a large site such as Huffington Post or the New York Times which receives a number of comments and sharing. If the article includes the proper authorship markup, Google will know that you also publish on your own website (which may not receive the same level of traffic). This in turn could bring other posts you’ve written up the search engine rankings especially for those who have demonstrated an interest in your articles through sharing, following on Google+ on other indicators.
Note the relative nature of that last comment. Google search results are becoming more and more individualized and this trend is only going to continue.
How to Claim Your Google Author Profile
Step 1) Fully complete your G+ profile
You do have a Google+ profile don’t you? If you don’t, stop what you’re doing and create one now. Don’t worry….I’ll wait. Be sure to add a good head shot to your profile picture. That’s what will show up in the Google search results.
Step 2) Connect your Google+ Profile to Content You’ve Created
Under the “About” section of your Google+ profile you will see a section titled “Contributor to.” Link this section to your website and other content you’ve published.
Step 3) Add the “rel=author” markup to your website.
This is where it can get a little tricky. If you are using WordPress there are a number of plugins that can make the process much easier. I personally use the Genesis theme which now includes a field in the User Profile for setting up your G+ authorship. Just copy and paste a link to your G+ profile and link G+ to your website and you are all set.
Your G+ profile link can be found in the address bar when looking at your G+ profile. It should read “plus.google.com/u/0/xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx/” where “x” equals a series of numbers specific to your profile.
If you are not using WordPress, Genesis or a WP Plugin, you can also manually add the code “<rel=author> href=”http://www.plus.google.com/u/o/xxxxxxxxxx/” “to the header on on your website and link your Google+ “Contributor to” your site. By placing the link in the header, Google will see it on every page of your site.
However, this won’t work on a multiple author site as Google will see the link in the header and not recognize individual links different author pages. For a multiple author website you need to either directly add the G+ link into the blog post or create an author bio box with the link that will automatically show on any post written by that author. Again, if using WordPress there are a number of plugins available to do this.
Step 3) Link Content on Other Sites to Your G+ Profile
Most websites that accept guest blog posts or other content will provide a short author box along with a link to your website and possible a second social media profile. Ask the site to include a “rel=author” link to your G+ profile. Be sure to add your author profile or the article under the “Contributor to” portion of your G+ profile.
Step 4) Test the Markup
Once everything is in place, Google provides the Rich Snippit tool to test that everything is working properly. When all is good, the Rich Snippits tool will show a sample search engine return with your smiling mug looking out proudly from the page.
Another Piece of the SEO Puzzle
There is still a great deal of speculation as to how Google will use “Author Rank” there are other advantages to claiming authorship than just search engine rankings. Authorship helps you claim your content, increases click through rates and provides adds social recognition to the search engine results (note the number of people in my Google circles in the profile above).
And of course, now that you’ve got a Google+ profile, you can add me to your circles. Drop me a note that you read this post and I’ll be sure to add you back.