By Amy @BubbleJobs
Pre-Google+, the idea that Google might favour your content based on your own author profile was a bit of an urban myth. I mean, how would Google even begin to know who actually wrote the piece regardless of what the author bio said? And what factors would it use to determine how prolific an author was and where they should rank?
Of course, with the introduction of Google+ a few years ago and Author Rank that’s all changed. In 2013 it’s not enough to just write a blog, put it out there and hope it gets shared. These days you need to create a name for yourself as individual blogger and build up your own audience to ensure your content gets ranked and your blog gets the attention it deserves.
What Is Author Rank?
In 2005 Google filed a patent for something called Agent Rank which basically detailed a system which ranks “agents” based on their content and how their content is received. The idea being that Google would favour results tied to high quality, established experts over anyone else in the search results. Now, this didn’t really mean all that much or really register with the industry until Google+ was launched in 2011. Why? Because Google had no real way to identify and verify these “agents”.
When Google+ was introduced everything changed. Google now had a way to identify and verify these “agents” and introduced Google Authorship, allowing users to effectively tie their blog and other online content to their Google+ profile. This Authorship implementation meant Google could now identify and rank “agents” or authors based on the content linked to their profiles… and the phrase “Author Rank” was born.
Now, it’s important to point out that Google has yet to officially confirm Author Rank but previewed excerpts from Eric Schmidt’s soon-to-be-released book suggests Google’s definitely going to start favouring content linked to verified accounts before too long… and Google+ Authorship is pretty much the only tool they have at their disposal to do this with.
“Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.”
How Does Google Calculate Author Rank?
Like I said, Google haven’t officially confirmed Author Rank but in this video from 2011, Google’s Matt Cutts and Othar Hansson confirm that Google “hopes to” use author information as a ranking signal for Google. This has led lots of SEOs to speculate about what factors Google might consider when assessing Author Rank. These include:
- Average Page Rank of author’s content
- Average number of +1s and Google+ shares each piece of content receives
- Number of Google+ Circles the author is in
- Number and authority of sites the author’s content has been featured on
- Level of on-site engagement (comments, author responses) for each piece of content
- Social shares and quantifiable metrics
How Do You Build Up Author Rank?
So now we know what Author Rank is and how it might be calculated, it’s time to look at how you might be able to build your Author Rank up. First up, it goes without saying that you need to verify yourself as an author and tie your content to your Google+ account (this article gives you a great step by step guide on how to claim Google Authorship for your WordPress site).
Following that, it’s time to start building up your presence. Although we still don’t know for sure exactly what Google wants from an author, it’s a good bet some of the factors listed in the last paragraph are definitely going to be used when calculating rankings so I’m going to look at each of them in turn.
- Average Page Rank of author’s content – With this one, the Page Rank of the site you’re blogging on is what matters. The solution? Work hard to ensure you publish only quality content on your blog (which will build your blog’s Page Rank naturally) and try to only guest blog on quality sites which have a respectable Page Rank.
- Average number of +1s and Google+ shares each piece of content receives – Just like inbound links, Google could see each +1 and share as a vote of confidence for a blog. The solution? Share your content on Google+ regularly, both on your news feed and in your Communities (you can find out how to utilise Google+ Communities for content marketing here), and be sure to respond to comments.
- Number of Google+ Circles the author is in – Just like followers on Twitter, the more circles an author is in, the more authority they’re seen to have. The solution? Just like Twitter, share useful content, engage in conversations and don’t be afraid to add others to your circles – remember, it’s all about building up your network.
- Number and authority of sites the author’s content has been featured on – Just like the first point, the focus is on quality content on quality sites. The solution? Don’t be afraid to guest blog but be selective about the sites you work with – and be sure to attribute the article back to your Google+ profile.
- Level of on-site engagement (comments, author responses) for each piece of content – This one is all to do with reaction and feedback from your audience. The solution? While you can’t make your readers comment, you can certainly encourage them by asking questions at the end of your blog or asking for feedback. And don’t forget to respond to a comment even if you don’t necessarily agree with it – it’s the conversation element that’s key.
- Social shares and quantifiable metrics – Lastly there’s the feedback element off-site – how often your content is shared on things like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. The solution? Create great content that people want to share and encourage them to share it! Make sure you have social sharing buttons on every post and don’t be afraid to share it from your own profiles or brand accounts.
So there you go; now you know what Google Author Rank is and how you could build yours up. Got anymore ideas for improving your Google Author Rank? Let us know – leave us a comment or send us a tweet – @BubbleJobs.