<< by on March 12th, 2013
Continuing with the Semantic SEO Track today at SMX West, the next session I attended today was the session on authorship, featuring Mike Arnesen of SwellPath (@mike_arnesen), Lisa Weinberger of Bankrate, Inc. (@PearlyWrites) and AJ Kohn of Blind Five Year Old (@ajkohn).
Mike was up first and focused on the journey to quality search results via authorship. Many search results today may seem like a lost cause. Even though there have been many algorithm updates, we often still have to dig through many results to get to the result we want. Search should instead be a tool that connects us with resources that inspire us.
“Great content comes from great authors, and we’re looking closely at ways this markup could help us highlight authors and rank search results.” – Othar Hansson, Google
The ideas behind authorship aren’t new. It’s about trust, value and relationships.
Good content has traditionally hard to spot before clicking on the results. Algorithm changes helped stop spammers from filling results up with bad content or spammy content. But algorithm updates just aren’t enough. Authorship lets us connect with people through search.
If highlighting authorship is good, then rewarding authority is GREAT. Think of it as “author rank”. And PageRank (PR)-based rankings + AR = BETTER RESULTS. In 2005, Google filed a patent for something called “Agent Rank”, to understand people and rank data based on this. When Google+ launched, Google now had a way to verify an identity and create a “digital signature system”.
How can you have bulletproof implementation?
- Create a Google+ profile and fill out the information. Add sites where you blog, etc.
- Then point back to Google+ from your site.
- Use rel=author tag from your content that points to you Google+ profile, OR
- Use rel=author from content to the about page then rel=me from about page to Google+
There are no shortcuts on building AuthorRank. Have real people recognize you as an authority and let Google recognize that. Google is going to look at specific factors:
- How quickly and how often is your content shared?
- How are your comments received?
- Does your content have comments?
What about companies? The short answer is no. Google’s content view is focused on individuals and experts, not larger publishers as experts. Authorship is about people and it’s a powerful tool.
AJ was up next and covered the “what ifs” and “buts” around authorship.
Can anyone be an author?
Yes! Anyone can be an author. If you put authorship markup in place, go to Google Webmaster Tools and “fetch as Googlebot” to help
Does OLD content qualify?
Yes! As long as it’s there and it gets crawled again, it can get authorship.
Can ANY content be authored?
No. For instance, transactional content should not be authored.
What about ghostwriters?
You can, but it may not work out the way you hope. If you want to be an authority, you have to put the work in.
But do I have to?
Yes. Keep calm and stop whining.
Can you have co-authors?
Not yet, unfortunately. There can only be one “assigned” author showing.
What if an author leaves?
It makes sense to keep authorship in place. Just because someone leaves doesn’t mean they didn’t create the content.
Can you change authors?
You can, but at some point, Google may catch on. It does however, need to change.
What does Authorship do exactly?
- An authorship result disrupts the normal CTR you would see in the rankings.
- If you click on an authored result and you stay on that page for some time and they you go back, it will give you more links from that person. (pretty cool!)
- Search for content by author.
How do you know if Authorship is working?
Author stats appear in Google Webmaster Tools. You will only see your OWN authorship, not others. You also might get a new authorship welcome letter. Also use the rich snippet testing tool to test it, but the tool is buggy, so don’t always trust it.
What about Bing?
Bing has “tags”, but…. meh. Not so much.
What is AuthorRank?
Authorship is not the same as AuthorRank. For more on this, read AJ’s post on it at bit.ly/authorrank.
What about anonymity?
People are beginning to want to know where the content comes from. Would you trust a doctor who was anonymous?
Lisa was up last and focused on content development with a purpose — she has to measure outcomes. Half of the plan involves creating the content and the other half is the promotion. They decide the goal, clarify the goal, create the strategy and execute. They want to get the most exposure for each piece of content possible.
- Does it focus on keywords?
- Can we earn authoritative links?
- Will it perform well in sharing?
Once content is created and is ready to be promoted, they look for authority influencers. Before the content is created, they think about who the audience is. Authority influencers in these spaces are often eager to share the content, which can be good for PR and inbound links.
To datamine influencers, they look at:
- social network
- neighborhood analysis
They also created a tool using the Twitter API and looked for certain parameters, such as number of followers and topics.