Search engine algorithms try to take as many metrics and factors into account as possible when generating results, but thus far only Google has begun to implement the novel and possibly revolutionary Authorship markup- a method by which Google can verify the author of a web page and judge the credibility of the content based on who wrote it instead of where it’s posted.
The future of SEO
Authorship is still in its infancy and not yet fully developed and integrated into Google’s algorithm, but already it’s obvious to anyone who keeps up with SEO that a big shift in focus is taking place: Author identity is beginning to take precedence over traditional SEO factors like keyword density, anchor relevancy, and sheer volume of backlinks. That’s not to say these metrics are unimportant, rather that they must be used in conjunction with an authoritative Google+ author profile in the future for effective rankings.
With this new angle on determining authority, businesses that use search engines for exposure will need to tweak their content and publishing strategy to stay ahead of the curb when Authorship is in full force. Already many websites are adopting Authorship markup as evidenced by the slew of mug shots and profile pictures that now dominate Google’s search results, and you can bet that pages with Authorship enabled are already seeing increased CTR (Click Through Rate) and maybe even a jump in rankings.
How to stay Authorship-friendly
So how exactly does the average web marketing project capitalize on Google’s newfound focus on author identity? An obvious first step would be to enable Authorship markup onsite using either “rel=author” HTML tags, Google’s email submission method, or a plugin like AuthorSure if you run WordPress.
Google identifies the author of a web page by associating it with their Google+ profile, which means that much more emphasis needs to be put on the quality of content producers G+ profiles because that’s how Google will be calculating AuthorRank, a new metric used to gauge the authority that an author has on a certain subject. Author Rank can be improved by publishing high-quality content frequently, filling out as many profile fields and providing as much information as possible, using a professional profile picture, and participating in discussions on Google+.
The culmination of the effects of Penguin, Panda, and now Authorship can be described as a massive paradigm shift from the “old web” where users were not at all surprised to see search results littered with spammy and sales-heavy pitches to the “new web”, where search results are more relevant and authoritative and even tailored specifically to users’ interests. AJ Kohn of esteemed SEO blog BlindFiveYearOld clarifies:
“Panda is a domain level filter that distinguishes between low-quality and high-quality sites. It essentially uses an aggregate score of documents on a domain to determine quality. Ultimately, Panda treats great content the same way as lousy content. It’s a blunt instrument.
AuthorRank goes much further by combining the web of people with the web of links. It’s a page level application of authority based on the reputation of the author. Not only that, AuthorRank can be used to make the link graph more accurate, reducing or eliminating the impact of manufactured link building efforts that undermine true trust and authority.”
For web-based businesses, this essentially means that having a frequently updated blog full of high-quality content from credible contributors is more important than ever for generating search engine traffic. Keyword stuffing, spun content and the like are becoming relics of the past as Google discovers that it’s more important to find out who wrote an article as opposed to where it is hosted.