Google first released PageRank to assess the popularity of a webpage and in a recent interview, Matt Cutts has confirmed the existence of AuthorRank on Twitter and discussed the development in a 2013 interview. For some time now, Google has made it possible for authors to link their articles to their Google+ profile pages. This feature appeared to be a convenient way to make it possible to view articles you have written along with a profile photo in search results. The profile photo must be a real likeness and can’t be a graphic or avatar. However, the truth beyond Google AuthorRank is much more involved than that. Google has always tried to provide users with the most authoritative and relevant search results. Toward that aim, Matt Cutts has confirmed that not only is Google AuthorRank a real thing, it uses a special algorithm that effectively sorts subject area experts from non-experts.

AuthorRank Explained

AuthorRank works by integrating a Google+ profile page with all the articles written by that author. Google specifies that it only shows the link when it would benefit users. Authors must configure a website to use AuthorRank before Google can detect articles written by the author. An author can set this up in one of two ways. Using Webmaster tools, an author can verify an email address associated with the domain name that contains the articles. If an author doesn’t want to use the email associated with the domain, it’s possible to insert markup in the article page. Authors can create hidden markup to designate articles using the Google Structured Data Markup Helper tool provided by Google.

Response to Panda

One of the reasons for the AuthorRank addition is to help minimize the effects that Google’s Panda search algorithm had on legitimate websites. Some high-quality websites noticed that their search engine ranking dropped significantly after the release of Panda. By creating authorship code and incorporating the code into the website, webmasters can help sites that are on the fence regain credibility in the eyes of Google. When searching for content, users that come across an author profile can now see all of the articles written by that author in a more visible way. The algorithm allows Google to place most of the search results for a single author in one section. However, this also makes it less likely that search results for the same website will appear further on as Internet users flip through to search results not displayed on the front page. Blackhat spamming and link spamming sites can be controlled more readily and kept out of the search results. Authoritative and honest sites should notice a rise in search engine ranking with the new AuthorRank program.

Search Engine Display

The actual appearance of Google AuthorRank sites can be seen by searching for one of the sample queries provided by Google. “Steven+Levy+Google+Plus” provides you with a list of search results that displays any articles detailing that search query, but at the top of the page, you can see Steven Levy’s own blog. This new way of viewing search engine results helps to build trust in articles written by a certain author and provided additional added value to readers. People interested in searching for articles by a specific author can do so with the knowledge that the articles are verified by the article’s author. Google continues to astound people as they unveil what appears to be the true reason behind Google Plus. Not only does Google Plus provide a place to connect with friends and colleagues, it is quickly becoming an indispensable tool for bloggers and content creators. Using Google Authorship may not make an author’s articles reach the top of the search engine results, but it’s beginning to look like it could very well mean the difference in how high those articles get ranked. A similar article that uses verified Google Authorship markup language could very well beat out an article with no such credentials.

Helping Small Business

Google Authorship should help small businesses build their brand and increase their following. So much of what is written on the Internet is difficult to attribute to an authoritative source. By using the appropriate markup language, customers now have one more tool to sort out the spammers and the real deal. Google continues to prove that they are going to continue to develop ways to reduce or eliminate content that seeks only to bring in advertising dollars without providing a real need to users. To this end, authors can build a reputation over time and develop a true following of readers.

The days of purchasing backlinks and using other methods of tricking search engines are coming to an end as Google continues to become more aggressive in the fight against spam and low-quality content. AuthorRank can also help businesses that deal with hacked websites and plagiarism of their content. When Google sees two similar articles, it can check for the appropriate author markup language and give the more authoritative article a higher ranking. The AuthorRank program could substantially reduce the amount of plagiarism, spinned content, and automated text that some webmasters have used to boost results.

AuthorRank Requirements

Google requires authors to meet certain criteria for AuthorRank to work properly. The profile picture of the author must clearly identify the author and use a recognizable headshot. The Google+ profile must also be visible and set to the public. This setting can be easily changed in the Profile Discovery section of the author’s Google+ profile page. The authors must also use a verified email address with a matching domain name. As an example, a generic Gmail address won’t work to verify a personalized domain name. Finally, make certain that the page doesn’t include a noindex call and ensure that the markup language isn’t visible to the public. Provided the author follows all the steps to set up a profile to use AuthorRank, the results are eligible to appear in Google. However, Google is careful to point out that AuthorRank is only going to be used when it would benefit the searcher.

The Webmaster’s Role

Website owners should start creating profiles for all of the authors on the webpage and following the rules outlined in the Google Webmaster Guidelines. Hiring authors to create real content for your page and attributing articles to those authors is now a great way to increase your viewership. In many ways, Google AuthorRank makes the world small again. Authors and webmasters can now effectively cut through the noise and get their voices heard again. As search engines continue to become more effective and sophisticated, readers can expect to get ever more relevant content.

Matt Cutts has confirmed that in-depth articles that use data should start to see some benefit from the AuthorRank program. However, a complete roll-out and its overall role in search engine optimization are still in the early stages of development. While it would be wrong to say authorship directly affects ranking at this point, Google has certainly made it clear that the program will continue to develop and the purpose behind the program is to read out the poor quality, non-attributable content from authoritative and respected content.