Have you heard of Author Rank (or Authorship)?
If not, you will. It has the potential to change a lot in the blogging world. We should all pay close attention.
What is Author Rank?
Author Rank is a Google thing.
(That reminds me, Google does not give up its secrets easily. Therefore, it's important to mention that much of the following information, although based on strong evidence, hasn't been confirmed by Google outright. Still, to ignore it is foolish in my opinion.)
OK, so Author Rank is a Google thing.
To get the most out of the explanation, let me set the stage. I think a little background will help clarify.
We all know Google's main forte is search, right?
You know the drill. You're curious about a topic and you want to find more information about it, so you google it. In less than a second, Google gives you pages and pages of search results (SERP = Search Engine Results Page). These search results are lists of webpages Google thinks will provide the information you're looking for.
Here's an example of the first page of search results for the query "how to fly a kite":
Of course, Google doesn't just list all those webpages randomly. Oh no. Google wants everyone to keep using their search engine (they're making a lot of money after all), so they have a keen interest in keeping all of us searchers very happy.
How can they keep us happy? By providing search results that are relevant and useful. How will they make us unhappy? By providing search results that are spammy, irrelevant or unhelpful.
So, Google goes to great lengths to list the most useful, the most relevant, the most trusted webpages on Page 1 of those search results. The sites that Google thinks are a little less relevant are on Page 2, and ones they deem a little less relevant than that are on Page 3. And on and on it goes.
How does Google determine which webpages should land at the top of the search results? Until recently, it's been largely based on the popularity of those webpages. The popularity of a webpage is determined by a secret formula called an algorithm. An algorithm considers many factors, a big one being how often other high quality webpages link to this one. (This is all the basics of SEO. Read more here.)
Suffice it to say, Google has been on a constant hunt for high quality webpages to keep their searchers happy.
How search is changing
This has worked fairly well for Google in the past, but now things are changing in two obvious ways.
- The internet is getting more and more social. That is, the internet is more and more about people connecting to people, and less and less about people connecting to webpages.
- With the rise of social media, people are everywhere. Many of us have a presence on our own blogs, on other blogs as guests or contributors, on multiple social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+ and countless others. We have content floating all over the place.
These two new realities make the old way of searching–that is, connecting people to webpages–a bit outdated.
What if Google credited you for great content no matter where you published it? What if there was a way to account for this "person to person connection" in search results?
Google has already taken steps in this direction when they introduced Personalized Search. Now there appears to be something else on the horizon, positioned to make a huge impact on bloggers, website owners and content creators everywhere.
Enter Author Rank.
Actually, before we talk about Author Rank we have to talk about Authorship. The two terms are often used together and sometimes used interchangeably even though they're not really interchangeable. It's good to know the difference.
Authorship is the thing Google uses to determine Author Rank. As Mark Traphagen says, "Authorship is the tool, and Author Rank is the (potential) thing built with that tool."
Google has always ranked webpages. Now it appears Google will rank individual authors too.
Many believe Google wants to keep track of authors, so that when they find a piece of high quality content, they won't just reward the webpage where that content lives, they will also reward the person who wrote it.
You know that killer guest post you wrote for that big time blog? Guess what? Now it's possible to tell Google you're the author and boost your Author Rank.
You know your crazy popular Google+ update? Guess what? Now it's possible to tell Google you're the author and boost your Author Rank.
This is (potentially) huge. Now you can get credit for all the excellent content you write, regardless of where you write it. This could lead to more visibility in search results. More visibility in search results could lead to more traffic, more income, more a lot of things. Hello.
Let's say one day you stumbled across my How to Blog series.
Let's say you found it very helpful.
Let's say you liked my style.
Let's say you followed the steps and were ecstatic that you created a fantastic blog of your own.
Let's say you thought I was a ninja writer of how-to guides.
Now let's say some time passes and you decide you want to write an ebook. So naturally, you google "how to write an ebook." And on the first page of those search results you see this:
I'm not sure if you caught it, but one of these results is not like the other.
Let's say you recognize me immediately and shout, "HEY! There's Amy! She's that ninja writer of how-to guides that helped me start my fantastic blog. It was so helpful! I love her style! I bet she can help me write an ebook too."
Which search result are you most likely to click?
You see? This is a win-win-win. It's a win for you because you already know me and trust that this will be useful.
It's a win for me because I get more exposure and more traffic.
It's a win for Google because they have made another searcher happy.
See how that works?