What is AuthorRank and How Does It Work?

Let me preface this entire article by saying this is theory. AuthorRank was never officially a thing. Unofficially, the SEO echo chamber whispered that Google was ranking authors based on the quality, frequency and engagement around their content.

Over the past 2 or 3 years, Google has introduced a steady stream of updates to their search engine algorithm that has dramatically changed the way the more tactical side of the SEO industry has been operating for the last decade.

While these wide sweeping changes have helped clean up the search results and provide higher quality content to search engine users, Google is still looking to make additional changes that will provide better results for their users.

One other change that is on the horizon is AuthorRank. Back in 2005, Google applied for a patent for “Agent Rank.” This patent was looking to rank “agents” and use the type of reception they received for their content as a way to rank websites in the search results.

The theory behind this patent is that if an author was perceived as an expert in their field they would typically produce higher quality content on a consistent basis. The trouble for Google when applying for this patent is that the search engine giant did not have the data required to make an informed decision on which author should be treated as an expert.

Fast forward to the release of Google+, Google’s social media website, and now the search engine company has access to social signals that will help them determine whether or not a specific author is consistently producing high quality content.

It is because of Google+ that Google is able to utilize AuthorRank when determining whether or not one specific author’s content should be placed on the first page of the search results or not.

How AuthorRank (Might) Work

As stated earlier, the idea behind AuthorRank is to identify individuals who contain a high level of knowledge about a specific subject in order to ensure that person’s content is easily found within the search results. Knowing how Google determines a quality author will help you use this ranking factor to your advantage when trying to get different pages of your website found in the search results.

Since we know that Google uses lots of different signals to determine where a specific website is ranked for certain keywords, it safe to assume that many social signals will be used when deciding whether or not a person is considered a trusted author.

More than any other available metric, social signals (likes, retweets, mentions, content sharing, etc…) are probably the best way to determine whether or not one particular author is creating high quality content – as people tend to only share content via social media when they they find it entertaining, useful or valuable.

While we do not know for certain how Google determines AuthorRank, it is widely believed that the following social signals are an important piece of the puzzle.

  • PageRank of Articles
  • Number of Inbound Links
  • Engagement on Google+
  • Number of +1s
  • Number of Circlers
  • Posting Frequency
  • Authority of Publishing Sites
  • Comments Per Post
  • Authority on Social Networks

As you can see, social media plays an integral role in determining whether or not an author is consistently producing high quality content.

This would leave you to believe that Google values content people are sharing frequently on social networks. After all, you must be producing content that provides some type of value for any significant social media activity to happen around your content.

How AuthorRank May Change Content Marketing

When Google released their Penguin and Panda search engine algorithm updates, the way (lazy) Internet marketers went about their business changed dramatically. From what many have speculated, it will not be enough to just produce high quality content for your website, but you will also need to gain the social signals required to be viewed as a trusted author.

Getting your website’s visitors to share your content via social media websites and add you to their Google+ circles will become just as important as producing high quality content – or so it is being said.

As I always like to say: only Google really knows. While you may be able to get a lot of visitors to your website who view multiple pages, if they are not triggering the social signals Google views as important indicators of high quality content, your website could still struggle to gain high rankings in the search results.

The Influence of AuthorRank on The Popularity of Content Marketing

With AuthorRank potentially being factored into overall PageRank, the importance of website owners attaching real people to their content marketing efforts (and building the authority of these authors) is expected to rise in popularity over the coming years.

By making a conscious effort to improve the social signals related to your content around the web, particularly increasing the number of people with relevant interests who have you in circles and in your circles on Google+, you will have a head start on your competition when / if Google places more emphasis on AuthorRank in the future.

Since your Authorship account will already have a positive standing in the eyes of Google, any new pieces of content you create for any website might fair much better in search results (some speculate), or at least get indexed much faster than if you were starting with a brand new Author account that was relatively unknown.

While there are many factors at work when determining the ranking of a website in the search results, AuthorRank is definitely something business owners should look more into in 2013. Google has been searching for a way to determine the quality of content based on social signals for years, and may have the data to conduct this type of analysis thanks to their social media website, Google+.

By taking social factors such as number of +1s, PageRank of an article written by an author, number of inbound links and social media engagement, Google feels it can gain insight into whether or not a specific author is consistently producing high quality content.

Since Google is looking to put the highest quality content in front of its users, it is only logical that articles written by individuals with a high AuthorRank would be given priority in the search results over content produced by people who do not have a track record of producing well received content. Working now to improve your AuthorRank could pay big dividends down the road when this factor is included in Google’s ranking process.

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Analytics & AdWords certified growth engineer with over a decade experience in making businesses successful. I own and operate AXZM and often speak at top national industry conferences on the topics of strategy, design and marketing technology. Work with me or learn more about me here. Follow me @nawlready

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You must be pretty smart because you're here. We like your style. You can have all of our latest tools, tactics and growth strategies FREE, in your inbox, every month or so. 

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