Author Rank and Authority: Get the Jump on SEO in 2013

One of Google’s longtime goals has been to personalize the Web for every single user. In this online world, Google would have the ability to use human aspects, rather than cold code, in order to assess ranking factors.

Sounds a little too futuristic to be possible, right?


Author Rank, Google latest algorithmic update, is about to take Web 2.0 technologies one step further, putting an author’s qualifications and expertise at the forefront of their search engine algorithm. Not surprisingly, Author Rank is being hailed as the largest update to Google’s algorithm since, well, ever. If you thought Panda screwed with your SEO efforts, get ready. Your content marketing strategy is about to be turned upside down.

What is Author Rank?

On the surface, Google Author Rank is a simple measurement of a website’s authority. But let’s dig a little deeper. The purpose of Author Rank is to identify individuals, their knowledge within certain subjects, and what other peers think of their authority. Based on a patent for Agent Rank that Google filed back in 2005 (yup, this update has been nearly eight years in the making), Agent Rank (which has morphed into Author Rank) uses a number of parameters to determine an author or agent’s position within any given field. These parameters take into consideration an agent’s popularity, as well as their knowledge of a topic.

The million dollar question is, of course, how?

Historically, Google lacked the data needed to fully use social interactions as an influential ranking factor.

And then they rolled out Google+.

Yep, Facebook and Twitter’s tired cousin, Google+ is about to become every content producer’s best friend.

How it Works

Here’s how Google outlined the concept in their original patent filing for Agent Rank:

“The name of the writer can be used to influence the ranking of web search results by indicating the writer responsible for a particular content piece … Assuming that a given writer has a high reputational score, representing an established reputation for authoring valuable content, then additional content authored and signed by that writer will be promoted relative to unsigned content or content from less reputable writers in search results.”

As such, it’s time to get serious about your blogging and publishing habits. Some factors that are likely to have an impact on your newfound Author Rank include:

  • The number of followers that you have on various social networks.
  • How often your content is shared.
  • What others think of your published content (i.e. how many links, pluses, Tweets, Likes, etc. your content receives).

Now, this probably doesn’t sound like anything new. It’s not, really – these factors have been impacting your content SER rankings for quite some time now. The difference is that Author Rank now ties these metrics to an individual rather than the website that hosts the content.

In other words, Google can now “remember” the authority and credibility of an individual based on their body of published online work. You can now take some of your Google “juice” with you wherever you blog using the following tag:

<rel=”author” link=”your-googlplus-url” />


What was that I just heard? Was that the sound of a pay raise for the bloggers on your corporate team?

As Brian Clark of CopyBlogger fame recently wrote, you can’t have authority without an author. If you haven’t hired a quality in-house writer, or found a reliable ghost writing partner, now’s the time to get looking.

‘Cause blogging just became badass.