According to a poll I conducted, one of the top questions people have for Matt Cutts right now is this: “Is Google putting more trust in content based on Google Authorship?”
I submitted the question, along with others, to Matt for a video response at Google Moderator, but I doubt he will answer this one until a later time when Google sees success in Author Rank, or perhaps he won’t answer it at all for other reasons.
There’s a big difference between Google Authorship and Author Rank.
What is Google Authorship?
Google Authorship involves setting up your Google+ personal profile with one or more blogs or websites where your original articles are found. It can apply to guest posts, articles and documents you provide to any site on the web – intended for authors, writers, contributors and journalists but anyone can setup Google Authorship.
When it’s setup properly, Google displays your Google+ profile image next to your content in the search results. Some say this increases click-throughs, but that is up for debate depending on the type of content. What is clear is that Google displays search results with authorship emphasis and sometimes with more links to a particular author’s content when G deems it appropriate for a user.
What’s Author Rank?
Mark Traphagen has been following Authorship and Author Rank for years and defines it like this: Author Rank is a concept that continues to evolve – that Google may use social signals and other engagement signals to score various agents which could act as ranking signals for search.
Many people assume that Google Authorship is the primary factor of Author Rank but Traphagen, an authority on Google Authorship and Author Rank, points out that Google has many problems implementing Author Rank. Traphagen outlines some of the implementation problems Google has with Author Rank and goes on to say that “Google+ combined with Google Authorship can be powerful assets” to build up a company online.
Recently Matt Cutts suggested that the concept of Author Rank will be rolling out to some degree in the coming months. Here’s the quote from the video: What should we expect in the next few months in terms of SEO for Google?
“We’re doing a better job of detecting when someone is sort of an authority in a specific space – you know it could be medical, it could be travel, whatever and trying to make sure those rank a little more highly if you’re some sort of authority, or according to the algorithms, a site that might be a little more appropriate for users.”
Trying to interpret what Matt means is difficult by design, but sometimes the comments of others are useful. I tend to agree with Coach Cijave’s comment:
“IMHO the smartest thing is for businesses to start acting like real businesses. Build a brand, have great products and services, make customers happy (and listen to them ongoing to KEEP them happy), encourage your happy customers to talk about you in a positive light – be creative with technology not abusive with it. And LEARN how search works and how people use search. In other words – think about the fundamentals of good business/good customer service FIRST. Its pretty simple.”
Google has always used trust indicators in their algo with things like domain names, incoming links, outgoing links and branding – check my post Six Trust Indicators That Google Sniffs Out.
It’s clear that Google wants to identify specific agents who have authority in their topic and who can be a trusted publisher or author for ranking purposes, but how and when that rolls out is an unknown.
It’s difficult to tell at this point if Google is putting more trust in Google Authorship content but with the growing adoption of Google+, authors and businesses ought to take advantage of Google Authorship and Google Publisher today – before G assigns scoring engagement to various agents (whatever that means).
If G does assign more trust to certain authors and publishers and less to others, what should businesses do to take advantage it?