2013 is the year that is going to bring the quality SEO and content marketing professionals to the forefront, while leaving everyone else to clean up after Penguins and Pandas.
The biggest game-changer we’re going to see this year is without a doubt going to be Author Rank. Although Google has had internal discussions about Author Rank before – calling it Agent Rank in 2005 – it’s the first time in the brief history of the search engine optimization game that the quality of the author is actually going to significantly affect the rankings of your website.
Here’s what Google had to say in their patent filing circa 2005 for their “Agent Rank” idea:
“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.”
In summary, authors that are seen as authoritative in a given niche will be favored over those that spin content and dump links in all corners of the Web. Basically, it’s time to start thinking about who writes the content on your site and to start building authoritative profiles for the future.
Let’s take a look at three quick steps you can take to improve author authority.
SETTING UP YOUR GOOGLE+ PROFILE
Since the rel=”author” tag connects your Google+ profile to content you produce, you’re obviously going to need a Google+ profile that’s properly optimized in order to utilize the attribute.
Besides the usual profile information — name, education, where you live, high quality image, etc. — you’ll need to add the name and complete URL of the blog or blogs you produce content for in the section of the profile called “Contributor To.” Simply click on the “Profile” button and click the blue “Edit” button. Scroll down to the “Contributor” section of your profile and click “Add custom link” before filling in the Label and URL fields to specify the name and URL of the blog you are contributing to.
Be sure to click the “Done editing” link at the top of the page and double check to be sure the new information was added.
Copy and save the URL in the address bar of your browser. You’ll need it in the next step of the process.
USING THE REL=”AUTHOR” ATTRIBUTE
In order to build the credibility of an author, you first have to let Google know who you are and what you’re writing. Google is calling this “authorship markup” but it’s not nearly as complicated as it appears. The intention is to simply connect your Google+ account to whatever it is you are writing so that you’re credited with writing the content associated with this Google+ account.
Single Author Blogs
For a single author blog, the process is pretty simple. All you’ll need to do is add the new attribute – rel=”author” – to your standard “a href=” link code – linking users to your Google+ account.
It’ll look something like this:
You can add this wherever you’d like, but the obvious place would be somewhere within your author bio.
Don’t forget to check your “Author Stats” to monitor clicks and impressions to your content.
Multiple Author Blogs
Multi-author blogs are a bit tricky.
If the author bylines an individual author bio page, we’re going to use a variation of the rel=”author” tag. This variation is known as the rel=”me” attribute.
Essentially we’re linking from our in-article bio to our bio page which in turn links to our Google+ account. Still with me? From the in-article bio, the link looks like this:
Then, if we made our way to the individual author bio page, we’d link our name to our Google+ account using the rel=”author” attribute. That link would look like this:
It’s important to link using the name as anchor text. Anything else won’t delivered the desired results.
If your multi-author blog doesn’t use individual author pages, then you’ll simply follow the procedure for single-author blogs.
If you’re using a CMS, like WordPress, there are plug-ins that will do all of this for you. Not a bad option if code gives you the sweats, like it does me.
Email is also an option, but you’ll need an email address that matches the domain of the website in which you are claiming the content. Great for your own sites, but not as easy if you are a guest contributor. In either case, here are some simple instructions to set up email verification.
PRODUCE GREAT CONTENT ON YOUR SITE AND OTHERS
Once you’ve successfully optimized your Google+ profile and implemented the authorship markup attribute it’s time to get out there and start proving your worth by producing great content.
We’d all like to gain instant authority by producing great content on some of the biggest and most authoritative sites online, but for most of us that’s not an option. Writing great, shareable content on your own blog is a great place to start. Once you’ve proven your worth as a writer you can leverage the content you’re producing on your blog into pitches to produce one-off or recurring content on other websites – and that’s where you’ll begin to gain authority.
The key is the production of shareable content of extremely high quality published by the most authoritative websites online – although the authority of the site isn’t the only factor when determining author rank. Social indicators such as shares and +1’s seem to be just as important — and almost universally overlooked — as where your content appears. To simplify the concept, content that is often shared and discussed on a site with a weaker authority rating is more valuable than weak content on a higher quality site. Create content that gets people talking and sharing and it might not matter where you write, as you’ll be raising the profile of the entire site over time as you consistently produce top-notch content.
So, to run over the concepts one more time in summary:
- 1.)Set up and optimize your Google+ profile
- 2.)Make sure you’re using the rel=”author” attribute correctly
- 3.)Get out there and produce great content
As complex as the idea is, it’s equally simple. Great content is something that can’t be manipulated. Unlike backlinks, content of real value can’t be automated and it certainly isn’t something that’s going to come cheap or easily. It’s a value-adding proposition when it comes to SERPs and it’s time everyone in the SEO world took notice. If you aren’t producing great content, it’s time to find someone who can.
Nathaniel Broughton is an Internet entrepreneur and investor. Dating to 2002, he has helped produce three Inc 500 award-winning companies. He is a co-founder of Spread Effect, an Internet marketing company that helps agencies and in-house marketing teams create content and promote it.
Based in La Jolla, CA., Broughton is an active investor via his fund Growth Partner Capital. Whether it’s for help getting links, publicity, money or connections, he is always open to new contacts and opportunities to assist other entrepreneurs.