---- Google Authorship not (yet) a ranking factor, per John Mueller
coachm - 12:56 pm on Oct 6, 2013 (gmt 0)
First, I shouldn't have mentioned the "real world expert", since it's MY personal issue, and to my knowledge google hasn't mentioned that. It's a bit of a red herring to the topic.
Let's make the assumption google doesn't screw up how authorship is used, I know, an unlikely scenario.
1. Think of taking credit for writing something (claiming authorship) is part of creating one's personal brand. If you wish to remain anon. online or off, you can't take advantage of that. Your choice.
2. Using the authorship tag won't and shouldn't confer any advantages at all UNLESS you have a reputation as illustrated by content that creates that reputation, and avaliable elsewhere, i.e. on amazon, on high rep. blogs etc. So, there's no advantage to "ghosts", except if they try to forge authorship. Fake profiles won't work, because all they will do is link to a bunch of other junk. I'm sure people will try but it's like today's keyword stuffing. It won't (or shouldn't work).
Authorship means "I wrote this". Companies don't write things. People do. Authorship is about the person. Not the publisher, which is what the company/blog owner, etc is.
I mentioned Forbes before because they, and HBR, etc, dominate the SERPS for almost all business searches, and in depth articles. They aren't benefitting from author or pub tags yet, but neither do they need to. I see writers getting a fairer shake with the authorship tag, the little guy who writes here and there, different places, different platforms, and can gain from having a personal brand.
As for companies "losing" if an employee with a good persona brand leaves, that can be covered in contracting as someone else indicated, but look, why should they be able to take advantage of MY personal brand, once I leave?
I see lots of good possibilities here. Google, for example, could incorporate links in its serps to OTHER content from the same author. (e.g. someone searches [business term], comes across something I wrote, and also sees an option to look at "Books by this author" which goes to Google Books, or amazon (right!). Or an option to see "Other articles by this author".
I don't really see a downside here. I don't see why a company should be able to claim authorship, when content is written by PEOPLE.
Would you rather read an article from Nike or from Joe Nobody at someblog.com?
Nike doesn't write. They publish. If Google uses the publisher tag somehow to improve Nike's SERP position, that covers that, but the reality is those companies already rank for EVERYTHING.
Let's come at it from another angle. Who would you rather read about a certain make of footwear? Nike? Or a known basketball player that reviews footwear and occasionally writes a blog? Or Joe Nobody?
The basketball player is the ONE that would benefit from the authorship tag. Nike shouldn't and wouldn't anyway. Joe Nobody won't either because he has no "authored" content that would boost his rank.
I'm going to see Nike anyway. I'm not interested in Joe, but he isn't going to get a boost. I WOULD like to see the basketball player's opinions, which right now, would not be findable in the SERPS, unless I search specifically for his name.