Google is always working to improve their user’s online experience, and are constantly finding new ways to deliver high quality SERP’s that are both relevant and useful. Over the last year, the Panda and Penguin algorithms have sought to penalize, or at the very least marginalize, low quality content. Google, and other search engines, recognize that their users are looking for quality. They know that web surfers are searching for highly relevant, informative, and trustworthy search results. But how can search filters identify quality content? And how can the filter apply values to the trustworthiness of the content provider?
Google Authorship, and AuthorRank, are poised to become the next big developments in the ongoing quest to provide accurate, informative and trustworthy search results for online queries.
What are Google Authorship and AuthorRank?
To begin with, we need to understand Google Authorship and AuthorRank, and what their purpose is in the search engine equation. Google Authorship is a new project that allows authors to link their online content with their Google+ profile. By linking an author’s online identity to their written work, Google Authorship helps writers to build an online reputation. High quality content that can be directly linked to an author’s profile and biography, helps to build name recognition.
AuthorRank is the end result of Google Authorship. It is a kind of trust evaluation, in which values are given to authors and content that receive the most positive online recognition. For example, if John Doe writes an article on car maintenance that gets good response online, and is linked to other high scoring sites, the writer’s AuthorRank will improve.
Ultimately, as the author provides more online content, those articles will be linked to his online identity and will show up in search results. So, if someone searches for information on engine repair, John Doe’s positively scored article will get a higher ranking and will be accompanied by links to his other online content. Thus building, and reinforcing, the author’s online identity and level of trustworthiness. Google’s AuthorRank is a way for writers to develop a digital identity on which they can build a personal online reputation for quality content.
What Does AuthorRank Mean for the Future?
Google Authorship is only now being tested, but it is slowly working its way into general search results. Even now a general search for any given topic will return a number of results that are identified with specific authors. While these results will not supersede general page rankings, they will soon become a greater part of the ranking equation. If Penguin and Panda were designed to identify low quality content and marginalize it, Google’s AuthorRank is designed to identify high quality content and reward it.
Ultimately this will mean a new emphasis on content, with a high value placed on the author’s identity and reputation. Think of the internet as a library, and a search engine as a librarian. If we ask the librarian for a book on the Roman Empire, they are more likely to suggest those books that have been repeatedly checked out, and that have received the best reviews. The librarian may then suggest other books by the same author, reinforcing the author’s reputation as a writer and researcher of merit. The slim volume that has hardly ever been checked out, and that has a review history indicating it is wildly inaccurate, will remain on the shelf gathering dust. The author of that slim volume will languish in anonymity, or be forced to write better books.
In effect, the AuthorRank becomes the informed librarian, sorting through relevant material to offer the most accurate, informative and well regarded answers to an online search. In doing so, the AuthorRank “librarian” also suggests other articles written by the same author, regardless of subject matter, thereby building up the author’s reputation as a trustworthy source for information. The better the reputation, and the higher the trustworthiness value, the better the page ranking.
AuthorRank, like any page ranking protocol, will never be fool proof. SEO’s and webmasters should know better than to look for easy fixes to achieving an increased online visibility. But what Google Authorship, and AuthorRank, does do is to place an even greater emphasis on quality online content. Mass produced articles that are designed to just hit a few keywords and phrases will begin to suffer as author’s digital identities become a greater factor in providing relevant search results to the internet user’s query.