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Google confirms Author Rank impacts rankings but not really

     
8:00 pm on Mar 13, 2014 (gmt 0)

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[twitter.com...]

An interesting back and forth on Twitter about how Author Rank is not currently a ranking factor but is used by Google for some other things.

I feel Mark Traphagen sums it up nicely when he tweeted
In other words, I know Authorship is important & useful, but wrong at this point to say it is a direct factor in rankings
10:14 pm on Mar 13, 2014 (gmt 0)

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To be a bit more specific, what is "author rank"? A link back to G with the rel author tag?
1:51 am on Mar 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Nope, that's just the method of letting them know the author of an article, combined with a link back to the site from the G+ profile.

Nobody actually knows what author rank consists of, but expect that it'll have something to do with quality of content, and I'm sure the link graph will be in there, as well as some kind of user satisfaction metrics.

Authors who have a good rank will rank higher than another author who doesn't. That is the supposed effect, anyway.
12:51 pm on Mar 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Nope, that's just the method of letting them know the author of an article, combined with a link back to the site from the G+ profile.


That's clear enough and what I thought it meant - it involves a G+ profile.

I have a beef with that and have recently removed all author links between my sites and my G+ profile. I have the rel author tag but it links to my own personal website about myself which contains far more information than on my rather skeletal G+ profile.

It will be interesting to see if that has an effect. I'm not the only one who has rel author tags back to a personal profile rather than a G+ profile.

I think G will treat both the same.
3:44 pm on Mar 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Google Authorship markup and Google AuthorRank are two different things.

- Authorship markup is what Dymero described: "a method of letting them know the author of an article, combined with a link back to the site from the G+ profile." (If you're lucky, using such authorship markup will get you a "rich snippet" with a photo and byline, or sometimes just a byline, in Google's search results.)

- AuthorRank (a term that Google doesn't use) is a concept that was inspired by Google's "AgentRank" patents. The idea is to let authors' reputations travel with them, so to speak. If Barry Schwartz has earned a reputation as a search writer through his work for Search Engine Land and his own site, his articles about search for other online media will get a rankings boost. (That's the broad-stroke principle: Google has said that AuthorRank or "author authority" isn't yet a ranking factor, and it could be a long time before it is.)
11:10 pm on Mar 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for that Editorialguy but that leaves me confused and it would be really good to clarify what Author Rank is and whether G use it.

You say:
AuthorRank (a term that Google doesn't use) ....


But MC writes in his tweet:
@marktraphagen to be fair, it (i.e. author rank as stated in the question MC was answering) does come into play in some ways. For example, in-depth articles use that data, I'm pretty sure.


That leaves me unclear as to whether G does or doesn't use the term, MC seems to refer to it almost directly.

Is it possibly that they don't directly refer to it but they acknowledge it and it does come into play in certain circumstances? Note that MC uses the words "in some ways" without limiting that to in depth articles, and it may come into play more in the future.

Confused!
11:16 pm on Mar 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Matt Cutts might use the term in response to Mark Traphagen's usage, but it isn't a Google term, it's a third-party term.

Here are a couple of links that may be helpful. They point to articles by AJ Kohn, one of the leading (and earliest) writers on the topics of AuthorRank and Google Authorship:

[blindfiveyearold.com...]

More recent:

[blindfiveyearold.com...]
8:00 am on Mar 17, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for those links, useful.
8:47 am on Mar 17, 2014 (gmt 0)

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For reference, we had a not entirely successful discussion in this forum about the more recent of the two AJ Kohn articles that EditorialGuy links to....

Google Authorship deemphasizing markup, moving to entity extraction?
Oct 2013
http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4619465.htm [webmasterworld.com]

What people weren't getting in the discussion is that Authorship isn't a copyright mechanism... it's a way of assigning sort of "a portable reputation" to an author (in an area or areas of expertise), and letting that reputation attach to the author's articles around the web.

Google is being very cautious about how it is phasing this reputation in as a ranking factor in non-personalized searches.

Regarding "in-depth" articles, to see how a reputation for expertise in an area might work with the kind of article Matt Cutts suggests, this thread might be helpful...

In-Depth Articles - Only for Brands and Google ? Or for Everyone?
Aug 2013
http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4599873.htm [webmasterworld.com]

I've only seen these articles in positions 8, 9, and 10 on page one, for the limited types of searches described in the discussion. That's most definitely making some articles more prominent than they might otherwise be, but, again, I wouldn't generalize that to call Authorship a "ranking" factor, or to say that Matt is now talking about "Author Rank".

I'm sure it's coming, though in many cases I assume that the question of who wrote an article would be important (or desirable) only in personalized search.
2:49 pm on Mar 17, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I'm sure it's coming, though in many cases I assume that the question of who wrote an article would be important (or desirable) only in personalized search.


I think there are two types of "importance" to be considered here:

(1) Importance or value to the individual user, and...

(2) Importance or value as a signal to Google's ranking algorithm.

If I'm a fan of Nigella Lawson and have a habit of clicking on her recipes when I'm doing food searches on Google, then it makes sense for Google to give a boost to her recipes in my recipe-search results. (That's the idea behind personalized search.)

If a lot of people are fans of Nigella Lawson and her recipes appear regularly on authoritative sites, then it probably makes sense for Google to give a boost to her recipes in everybody's recipe-search results. (That's the idea behind "AuthorRank.")
12:55 pm on Mar 22, 2014 (gmt 0)

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EditorialGuy very nicely explained.
Thanks
4:21 pm on Mar 23, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Google Authorship means that your Google plus picture is going to appear next to the listing. Most of the time, listings with pictures are going to get more clicks than listings without pictures.
If it gets more clicks than the people above it, it will move up and displace them. Does that make it a ranking factor?

Indirectly I think it is.
7:30 pm on Mar 23, 2014 (gmt 0)

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If Author Rank or Authorship were to play a part in rankings, Google would have to have some sort of mechanism in place for the author to ratify the authenticity of an article, otherwise you get all sorts of potential issues with online identity theft and fake-author articles, not to mention the potential for unethical types to try and sully the reputation of a well-ranking author. It's a potential honeypot for black-hatters.
7:54 pm on Mar 23, 2014 (gmt 0)

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If Author Rank or Authorship were to play a part in rankings, Google would have to have some sort of mechanism in place for the author to ratify the authenticity of an article/


Google Authorship involves a two-way verification: A code snippet on the article page points to a Google+ profile, and the author's Google+ profile includes a "Contributes to" section.

In other words, if I write about widgets for Widgetology.org, I list "Widgetology.org" in my Google+ profile, and my Widgetology.org articles have the URL of my profile in the authorship code.
8:04 pm on Mar 23, 2014 (gmt 0)

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That seems sensible. AuthorRank - should it become a Google reality - could use the same procedure one assumes.