ORLANDO, FLORIDA-Google has been including more and more social signals into how they rank websites in search results. They’ve been pushing their social network Google+ extensively too, but it looks like all this could be leading up to a bigger shift in their algorithm that makes these social markers even more important.
Many of the bloggers in the SEO community have been talking about authorship, suggesting that it is building up to something major, and warning that people who fail to get on board will be at a disadvantage when it happens.
I recently did a post about Google authorship and why you’re already behind if you don’t have it. The gist is that Google authorship is a way to connect the content you create to your Google+ profile no matter where it lives. Claiming your content provides the searcher with additional information right from the search results, and it has a few other perks too.
What could this be leading up to?
If you listen to what others who watch the industry trends are saying, this is building up to AuthorRank, a way to inform PageRank and enable Google to rank high-quality content more appropriately. According to AJ Kohn, who runs an online marketing firm specializing in search engine optimization marketing, it could be more disruptive than all of the Panda updates combined.
“If what he says is true, companies that wait to act until it happens will be too late,” says Ali Husayni, our resident expert SEO consultant and CEO. “The impact could be so big that people who haven’t done anything to prepare might as well have been penalized. Companies need to be proactive starting now and build AuthorRank for the people who contribute content to their websites.”
How will AuthorRank work?
At this point, mostly everything is speculation, but this is how some Google SEO experts are analyzing the clues. Kohn, who made the bold statement about AuthorRank versus Panda, says that combined with the web of people and the web of links, this change can create a more savvy view of trust and authority that will be used to rank search results.
This is my best translation of all that.
The idea behind AuthorRank has been in the works for a while now. Just one of the patents Google applied for related to this is from May 2011, but that was actually a continuation of a string of applications dating back to 2005. Learn more about it.
Their mission as a search engine has been to provide people with the most timely, most relevant search results possible by using an algorithm that is constantly being tweaked to think and act like a real person would. Obviously, an algorithm isn’t a person though and that makes it difficult for it to determine the quality of content since that can be quite subjective. Every time Google changes the algorithm to fix a search quality problem, spammers find a way to manipulate it or work around it, hence Matt Cutts’ job security.
It would make sense that Google wants a more concrete way to help the algorithm figure out what sites deserve to be ranked well in their search results. Read through the patent, and you see that they’ve had the framework for it. Last summer, they rolled out Google+, which is a platform that establishes people and companies identities. And now there is authorship, which is a way to verify who is creating what.
Add it all together, and it appears to be a way to identity what site or which person is responsible for content, assign the content or person a score or AuthorRank and combine that with all the other factors they use when ordering results of a search. Better score? Better rank.
“I wouldn’t be surprised to see Google working AuthorRank into their algorithm soon,” says Husayni. “Adding it makes sense. Plus, all the clues are there-the push for more social interaction, authorship, and the ongoing efforts to measure site trust and authority.”
What have you heard about authorship and AuthorRank? Do you think this is the next big change for the search engine algorithm? Share your thoughts.