A recent development suggests that Google may be strategically leveraging its search dominance to make big gains in social media. A cornerstone of this is Author Rank.
The first signals I picked up were that a few of my social media guru friends were much more active on G+ than Facebook. This was happening about the same time that a new round of fairly meaty Author Rank blog posts started running post patterns on my Feedly.
Authorship, or Author Rank could well be the new Page Rank. As social media signals had become more and more important in search engine rankings, weighting influence, reputation, and credibly was an algorithm waiting to happen.
What You Need to Know About Author Rank
As it stands today Author Rank will inform and not supplant Page Rank, but it is not to difficult to imagine a landscape where social network profile/pages and web sites blur to the extent that social ranking could be more important that page ranking.
While there does appear to be a good amount of Matt Cutts, Google algorithm tea leave reading going on about Author Rank’s roll out, you don’t need worry about that. Personal author rankings based on history and reputation that are tied to social influence online are important with or without Author Rank. Besides that it will definitely happen.
Be Real and Use Google Plus
For those in the business who remember scrambling to get back search traffic after Panda and Penguin bites, this is different. When Author Rank is rolled out it won’t be as disruptive. The fact that people aren’t sure if they’re using it now in search rankings hints at that.
The diagnosis for web publishers is pretty much to keep it real and use Google Plus often.
Since Panda and Penguin, SEO authorities have stressed the importance of constantly generating good, original content (although it’s not as if they weren’t saying this all the time before Author Rank anyway). The shift that occurred was that sites were punished for contrived or spammy links. For a few of my sites, it meant taking down mash-up or feed generated news. Now everything needs to be curated by humans. The other implication was that social links may turn out to be the most important kind of links. And this segues directly and almost organically into the importance of social signals.
In 2010, Matt Cutts famously admitted that Google was factoring Facebook and Twitter links into search. So then the logical progression for Google became to figure out who’s got the good content from mountains of social data, and use that to deliver the good stuff in search results.
The all or nothing integration of Google Plus into all of your Google tools makes sense in this light. It’s now apparent that the hub or platform that will be used to weigh Author Rank will certainly not be Facebook.
There are a few things you can do to shine the spokes that roll out from out from this hub. First use REL=author - for starters make sure you’ve got:
- A link from your blog post or article to your author page using rel=”author”
- A link from your author page to your Google profile page using rel=”me”
Some Tips From the Experts
Here’s a great “Cheat Sheet” from Copyblogger:
- Implement the authorship markup — When Google first rolled out authorship markup, it was intimidating. I wrote a couple of guides for clients trying to explain the process and it wasn’t easy. Google simplified the process with their authorship sign-up tool. However, you can pull it off in just a couple minutes if you are using the Genesis Framework for WordPress. Make sure you associate it with your Google+ profile, use a good headshot, and check your status with therich snippet tool.
- Boost activity on social sites — Put some quality time into interacting on social media sites, especially Google+. Focus on your top three. For example, for me that would be my blog, Twitter, and Google+. For you that might mean Google+, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.
- Connect with influencers — Get in a habit of re-sharing content from your friends and thought leaders. “+1″ their posts and make intelligent comments. Write interesting posts on Google+ and quote these influencers by name. Build upon the content they’ve already created — add to or challenge their work in a re-share.
- Continue to create and publish great content — This is what you will ultimately be judged upon, and is the core driver of the qualitative history of a writer that’s behind Author Rank. Keep writing and publishing those thoughtful, useful blog posts and building your authoritative bank of content.
(I told you they’d say to keep writing great content. They always say that.)
- Check your Google+ feed five times and interact.
- Chip away at your weekly blog post (you blog weekly already, right?).
- Read a post on a site you’ve targeted for guest blogging and leave a quality comment. Start building visibility (and/or a relationship) with the authors and editors.
- Look for two or three interesting people on Google+, circle them, and interact with something they’ve posted.
So the battle rages on. While Facebook is investing big money into figuring out how to make more and more of your online and mobile life live on Facebook, most notably with Open Graph Search and Facebook Home, Google is injecting its DNA deeper and deeper into social media.
DAVID VYORST is Co-Founder of Relay Station Social Media LLC.
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