From it’s very beginning, Google has used PageRank as a successful indicator of the value and authority of a given piece of content on the web. The concept of using links as a measurement of value; a vote, an endorsement etc.; was one of the fundamental reasons behind the accuracy of its search results and ultimately the success of Google as the search engine that we all know and love. That, and the clean interface anyway!
Since those early days though, the web has moved on. Ever since the web 2.0 boom, and in particular the emergence of Social websites, more and more people are able to contribute and distribute content on the web.
Consequently, search engines now have more (although not necessarily better) content to process and, in turn, more signals to take from them. Judging merit on links alone just doesn’t make sense for today’s World Wide Web and Google have clearly known this for some time.
“We know that great content comes from great authors, and we’re looking closely at ways this markup could help us highlight authors and rank search results.” – Othar Hansson, Google Software Engineer
The catalyst here is that there’s always been a key area where PageRank alone has failed.
What happens when an author steps away from their normal soap box and contributes elsewhere? Shouldn’t their authority go with them? Should that content, if related to their particular expertise, not be recognised as holding the same value as that made on their own site?
Over recent years, social signals have come into the mix providing a great way for search engines to tap into what’s hot and happening ‘right now’ but what about taking it beyond the grapevine? What about understanding things at an author level too? Understanding an individual, their connections and their impact on the web as a whole is key to the future of search!
The original patent made back in 2007 named Author Rank as “Agent Rank” and spoke about having a digital signature that associates an agent (author) with one or more pieces of content on the web.
Understanding the author brings in a whole new set of metrics and signals on determining the value of the content and the appropriate ranking it deserves. Understanding an author, the content they produce, the topics they specialise in, the relationships they have, where they publish and the impact and engagement levels of their content takes things to a whole new level.
AuthorRank doesn’t come to replace PageRank, it comes to aid and to bridge the gaps that PageRank alone cannot fill.
Most of all, though, it helps Google in the battle of separating the Wheat from the Chaff; delivering high quality content and filtering out the noise. Gaming AuthorRank, Google hopes, will be hard; real hard.
So what might influence Author Rank?
Below are a few ideas on signals that could potentially be used to measure AuthorRank and things you might want to have in the back of your mind moving forward into 2013:
- Google+’s, Likes, Retweets etc
- Google+ Circle Reach
- Author Rank of individuals sharing/endorsing your content
- Uptake velocity of content
- Comments/User Engagement
- Frequency of Posts
- Topical relevancy
- Author Connections & Relationships
- Distribution/Publication Channels (website connections)
- Accrued PageRank of content produced
Although there hasn’t been any real official statements from Google on AuthorRank and how/if it’s being used in ranking today’s search results, you can read between the lines and sure as hell bet it will be at some point in the future.
Personalised search, Authorship mark up, Google+, Ripples, Knowledge Graph, Google Comments (if/when that arrives); notice a connection here?…
All of these new features and services demonstrate Google’s commitment and movement towards understanding the people, relationships and entities that make up the web; and delivering/ranking the content in its index with all of this in mind.
Judging by the Knowledge graph results we’re already starting to see for key individuals around a topic, it’s possible that some form of AuthorRank could very well already be at play here.
As the concept develops and uptake in Google+ and Authorship mark-up increases, more and more influence will start to come from AuthorRank. The question is, are you ready?
What can I do NOW?
The answer is simple, become a true authority in your niche.
Build a voice that people want to listen to and will trust.
- Produce “great content” based around your particular market
- Make insightful contributions beyond just your site
- Embrace social. Build relationships, share and engage. Build a voice that people want to listen to and trust.
- Set up and use Google+ as a channel to distribute your content, voice your opinions and engage.
- If you haven’t already, set up the Authorship Mark-up that was released June 2011! Not only will this tie your Authorship to your content but it will also help you stand out in SERPs and improve CTR.
- A business is rarely just one person. Get other team members to develop their own personal brand under the business umbrella.
As Chris mentioned in our first post, start off the year by really taking a good hard look at your 2013 contact strategy, but don’t forget to tie this in with the authorship to make sure you get the most out of your efforts!