Jonathan Leger – SEO And Internet Marketing Blog Internet Marketing Blog

4Apr/12Off

Google Authorship – The Next PageRank?

Let's face it: despite their best attempts to improve their algorithm, Google has been gamed. If you hang out at any of the big SEO forums (particularly the ones frequented by the white hats), you hear more and more moaning about Google's inability to "get it right" in one way or another. I can testify to the fact that, despite the claims to the contrary, getting links is still the primary way to rank in Google.

Google has made some progress in using machine learning to identify poor quality -- but not much. The search results abound with examples of hideous, poorly written content that a human being would immediately label "SPAM" but Google has given high rankings.

Don't get me wrong here, I rarely search for something in Google and don't find what I'm looking for. But I recognize that the results I'm seeing are usually put there through the efforts of people who understand link building and search engine optimization. Google would like you to believe that the search results are in the order they're in because of authority or popularity, but what do they use to determine authority and popularity? Links. And links can be bought, sold and gamed.

Enter Google authorship. Google now lets you link the content you create to your Google+ profile so that its algorithm knows that you are the author. From your Google+ profile you add the sites that you are a contributor to, thus verifying the authenticity of the content claiming it was written by you. This makes for stand-out search results like the number one result for chlorine based life. That's cool, but based on some patents Google has filed, some theorize that this authorship will be worked into Google's ranking algorithm in the future.

How might that work? Well, if all of the content you create can be reliably linked to your profile, then (the theory goes) Google could use social signals to determine how much authority you have as an Author. Does your work get shared, retweeted and passed around a lot? How quickly does that happen? What's the bounce rate like for the content you create (that is, if something you wrote appears in the search results, do users click through and "disappear" from Google -- meaning they stayed on your site -- or do they immediately return to the search results to check the next result)?

The thinking is that you could build up a reputation for quality and authority that Google could incorporate into their ranking algorithm. Sounds like a great idea, right? Prevent SPAM through reputation that isn't only link-based. Could this be the next PageRank?

While I certainly don't have an issue with the idea of working to improve the search results through this kind of Authorship profiling, there are a number of major hurdles that would have to be overcome before AuthorRank could make its way into the algorithm.

1. Authorship Relies on Google+

Right now Google requires you to link to your Google+ profile in order to establish authorship. While that makes sense, and is a great way for Google to promote Google+, they have a long way to go before its ubiquitous enough to be useful for more than a handful of searches. After all, Google+ only has about 90 million total users right now. Compare that to Facebook's 895 million active users (who knows how many Google+ users are actively using it) and you can see that Google has a lot of ground to gain.

Maybe if you could link to your Facebook page to establish authorship... Yeah, right!

2. Social Signals Can Be Gamed

The second a site's ranking in Google is influenced by the social signals that surround a verified author's content, a massive number of social signal manufacturing and automation services will appear. There are already sites and services setup to game Google+, Twitter and Facebook social signals.

In fact, social signals are much easier to game than link building. It's very inexpensive to click on +1 buttons, Like buttons or to setup free Twitter accounts for the purpose of fake-tweeting about your latest article or product, especially when compared to the cost of getting links on sites that themselves have a lot of links, age and authority. Proxy services make it easy for you to sit at your computer and appear to be a hundred different people (or even a thousand if you're willing to pay for it--and when search traffic is involved, people will pay for it).

Google has already demonstrated that it is not good at figuring out the difference between a "natural" and a "paid" link. It's not good at figuring out the difference between an article created by a PhD and a ten dollar article written by a freelancer. Will it be any better at determining "real" versus "fake" social signals? Frankly, I doubt it.

3. Your Mechanic's Authorship

Then there's the problem of authorship as it relates to things like local search results. Will your mechanic have to have a Google+ profile in order to rank well for "Somewhere, TX car repair"? Or what about ecommerce search results for iPhone cases or food processors? Is it really necessary to have a strong author reputation to get a page ranked that's trying to sell a toilet plunger?

It seems to me that the range of queries that authorship could legitimately influence is fairly limited, even if Google could get the algorithm right and somehow prevent the social signals it would need from being gamed. Based on their track record so far, that's highly unlikely.

All the same, I think it's a good idea to make sure Google knows you're the author of your content. I have this blog linked to my Google+ profile. It's easy to do. If nothing else, perhaps search results that include my blog posts will stand out from the rest because a picture of yours truly will be alongside them. That would certainly improve click-through rates, if nothing else.

So what do you think? Have I missed something here? Is Google Authorship the next PageRank? Please leave your thoughts and questions in a comment below.

(Shameless Commercial Plug: While I've got your attention, don't forget that I've just launched my awesome new Private Label Rights membership at ThriftyContent.com. It's certainly worth a look! :D )

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Comments (126) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Thanks John, for this article! I agree, that one should use Google+ to claim / list ones own content and websites. But as you yourself, I am very skeptical that an approach to rank content based on Google Authorship will be successful. Google was initially successful because it had a great algorhytm that looked at the internet out of a box, without people having to add much. The same will be needed with social content and rankings. Unless Google incorporates everything it sees, stuff via it’s own services and stuff outside, e.g. on Facebook, it will fail.

  2. I believe that you absolutely right. Even best, Google+ share operations are added now as backlinks from Google to your website.

    Still, while Google+ and social signals are important, I think you can’t make a theory about the next PageRank, and avoid things like schema.org and other meta tags for describing the semantic of content.

    But lets face it, Google search engine is much more then just list of query results. It is a compound of searching tools, and if you are not allowed to have presence in the relevant network, then all you have to do is prayer.

    Lets take for example the “shopping” search. You can’t submit there without being a true on-line store. You are not allowed to join if your site contains affiliation links.

    Now, lets imagine a user that is ready to buy. This user will probably use the “shopping” search that provide him even price comparison tool. What chance, an affiliation site have then, to make a sale?

    And the same is for local business. I see no reason, not to believe that the crucial factor for being found as local business, is now (or will be soon), your Google Places account.

    The idea is becoming clear. Back to the source!!!
    If you want buyers, be a on-line store, if you want customers to visit your local store, then have a local store that is published in Google places. If you want authority, create a true web service, do something unique – be naive!!!

    The content submitted on Facebook by 99.999% of users is completely naive. Clean of SEO! Most of the users don’t even know that putting a keyword in a title as an effect. If they are doing this, they doing this naively because of the context, not as an act of manipulation.

    And since Google compete with Facebook, and this is not a secret, Google is going back again to naive factors.

    I believe that keep thinking the web in terms of SEO manipulation is a conceptual mistake after 2011. SEO has become a tool again, and can not replace a true essence. And after spending so much time and money on learning the SEO issues I say Unfortunately!!!

    Going back to the source!!! This is the next PageRank.

  3. Hi John

    You write that you often use Google to make a Search – without finding what you need. And notes that link is being traded – BUT isen’t Googles Panda update also trying to locate and give negative pr to linkbuilders wich only goal is to manipulate with search result? In time that should prevent and remove the sites that not have content you search on…

    Btw, nice blog :)

    Benjamin

    • What I said was that I rarely DON’T find what I need in Google. And if finding “linkbuilders” was Panda’s goal, it failed miserably, because all the same linkbuilders that I follow are still ranking well.

  4. Stimulating article.

    1) Google + is incomprehensible and surely doomed to fail. Even the name fails with its odd mixture of mathematical symbol with ordinary text.
    2) The panda changes seem to have favoured “directory” type web sites. If you’re looking around for travel arrangements, holidays, etc. the bigger ones do well because people stay on them longer.
    3) And what about google targeted advertising ? Bizarre. If (for example) I look for a greenhouse, I am targeted with greenhouse advertisements for ever after. But these are dead ducks – I will already have bought one or decided against.

    Sorry if these comments are off topic – just how I feel about google at the moment.

  5. Maybe part of the answer is that Google has become too big, too successful, and too monopolistic. I get the sense that the Google VIPs are arrogant and especially out-of-touch with the way that their algorithm changes can devastate a person’s business. For instance, I had a some keywords that ranked #1 on page one of Google for several years. Then late last year due to Google’s algorithm change, these keyword results were found in “limbo” on page 5 or greater. Hey Google — were your old algorithms that screwed up?
    I always thought it was a real good idea to submit my websites to various directories. To me, this was kind of like an entrepreneur listing his business in the Yellow Pages. But then god-like, all knowing, all powerful Google suddenly decided to de-value directory listings. The result, some people with websites that were several years old fell off the face of the earth from a search engine perspective. In my instance, the $5,000 per month I was making online soon became less than $500 per month. But Google doesn’t consider this. Google doesn’t care. The truth is that there is so much competition for most keywords that Google could have ten different results EVERYDAY on page one for EVERY keyword in their database and they wouldn’t miss a beat. In this scenario, let’s say that one day my keyword phrases is number 3 on page one of the Google search results and then the next day it is on page 13. People searching for my keyword phrase will still have 10 results on page one of Google–and Google will still have advertisers compete for this keyword in their AdWords program. Google wins and the common person is totally screwed. Way to go Google. You will soon be more hated by online marketers and entrepreneurs than Congress.

    • Unfortunately I did other things when it was possible to earn $5000/mo on autopilot. I entered into the game on end of 2010 and truly, on 8/2012 I still believed I found the formula. But it was just going worse. Google simply put a cap on how many impression a website can get! There is no other explanation for flat graphs of impressions you can see when you are using GWT.

      Business model that is relying on Google organic search is not a good choice these days. In fact it is a fatal flaw in the business.

      I wrote about it. Check the link.

  6. Hi John, your points are really useful and interesting. Authorship that’s related with Social signal like Google+, Adwords is of course to be considered by Google as long as theirs, but so far I still believe that new update quality contents with generic targets has much impact for search result although no much SEO Optimization, it’s based on my experience.

  7. It doesn’t matter what google does. They change, we game. It’s a never ending circle. This will go on for a long time. Hackers hack, security closes the loophole. Hackers find another loophole. You gotta play the game. Its all a game.
    Good artical.
    Marty

  8. Awesome information. I’m just an ordinary plumber, with a ton of information on my blog site. I often get people calling me from the 800# just to say how helpful it was, lol. Those calls cost me money but it’s still nice to hear. My site is nothing fancy but I’m’ getting amazing results, good traffic, great leads. All because of decent content. I’ve never spend 1 single dollar for any marketing services.

  9. Initially it looks nice when the authors picture appears against some search result, but as time passes and a lot of results appear with the pictures, I think it will experience the Banner blindness phenomenon. Just a thought.

  10. Thanks for this post!

    Especially thank you for your “Shameless Plug” at the end as I missed the email about your new Thrifty Content! Dunno how I missed that… wait, I do… it is cuz I get sooo much SPAM from Marketers, I must have accidentally deleted it. Yep, that’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it! :D

  11. You have the point and I guess I need to start focusing on my authorship, just in case Google placed heavy weights on this.

  12. What I don’t like is that I have built up ‘profiles/pen names’ that are now authority sites over the last four years…and now those profiles cannot exist in Google+

    Do I therefore now add myself as the expert…and look like I am a ‘now-all’?

    I have just set up a Google+ profile as ‘me’ but I hate displaying myself to the world.

    • That’s an excellent point. Given that it’s standard practice for authors to write under pen names, I wonder how Google plans on handling that?

      • I have several facebook profiles (almost one for each market I’m in), It’s getting complicated as now I use a VPN for many of these.

        Looks like we’ll start to have a series of profiles for google+ and make these pen profiles the experts. ;)

  13. I don’t know about you all, but after many years of SEO, I am getting sick and tired of battling Google and their nonsense. They have been a pain is everyone’s butt since day one. I know they are the biggest and have set ” the standard” for search engine optimization. Still, I see them as complete tyrants trying to play God, and I for one am ready to focus on optimizing for other search engines other than Google. The only reason Google is as big as they are is because the consumer has made them so. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I don’t like the fact that they use my Google analytics to check things like my bounce rate and other things so that they can simply use this information against me. Why give them bullets to fire right back at you? I recently pulled the analytics to “stick in knife in Google bots ruddy eye,” until I can come up with a better solution. Google has built a powerful empire and does what they want to your website rankings, and there is little or nothing you can do about it. It’s not a democracy out there, it’s tyranny. Their army of dweebs act as judge and jury. I recently got one of their “your links appear artificial emails.” I guess they want me to fall on my knees and confess and grovel to get my links back. I am like screw you clowns!. I don’t care what Matt Cutts says, Google does not want SEO. Google does not want you to do ANYTHING to improve your ranking. Google WANTS YOU TO PAY for advertising via pay per click just like traditional advertising. Don’t be fooled by their nonsense about building good content and they will come. For most businesses out there trying to make it, “They will not come”, and Google knows it. I have gone out of my way to write good content and it takes an eternity for people to link back, if even at all. Google is living in some kind of dreamland utopia that is not reality. I say we all start working in Yahoo or Bing, cause Google is going to continue to make things worse for anyone involved in SEO. We’re fighting an uphill battle here friends!

  14. Jonathon;
    Interesting. Thanks for the article. On the one hand this sounds like another way to add pressure to increase participation in G+. On the other side it looks like one more optimization into the mix of an increasingly complex algorithm. Many parts of which can be gamed. If I were the paranoid type; I would also add that it seems like a blatant request for us to tell them how many different niches we own and have great articles on.
    I have a further challenge with it as I have a verry common name which I have used on several of my blogs, my articles can be attributed to any of the several thousands of people who share my handle. In fact I see that I commented on this blog earlier… not!
    This whole social aspect also bothers me. Do you have to become the glib silver tongued goose, maven of the internet, before your site and articles get credence? Make your private life an open book to develop empathy? You can get a 1000 likes on Fiverr in no time at all. Further there are hundreds of great blogs and article writers out there who share their knowledge in their niches who will never participate in G+ authorship stats.
    Thanks again for a great article.
    Michael Brown

    • Yeah, I’ve been thinking the same thing as you. Notice my name??

      I can also relate to Susan above regarding “pen names/profiles.” I sat down with a list of different profiles that I “should” create. If I do all of them, I will be spending my time trying to stay sane instead of writing content.

      Donna :)

      PS Donna White is my REAL name. LOL

  15. Yes, totally agrees, Google has really made a huge mess out of what used to be a good thing, sure hope they have a shake out soon, so we can get back to the business of quality content, because right now, bing is getting more and more popular.

  16. The whole social signals idea for determining SERPS is the same like backlinks were /are. Supposedly, it is a vote for your site. Well, last time I checked, you can buy these votes the same way you can buy backlinks. Anything from Digg, to Google+ to Twitter followers. True, Google is improving their algorithm all the time. But let’s not forget, that the scripts to game Google are very likely to keep improving too.

    • That’s really the point of my post. Yes, Google needs to work to improve their algorithm. Yes, authorship tracking has some notable benefits. Yes, it will be gamed.

  17. Hmmm, I kinda saw this coming the first time I saw a pic beside a search result. So I signed up so people could see my wonderful pic. Can they get it in the algorythmn? Maybe in a year or so. Will it help clickthrus to have your pic there in the serps? I see more traffic since I did it. ;)

  18. I dont think Google Plus would come close to where FB is until the latter makes a couple mistakes. On the other hand I think that FB might collaborate with Bing and Google gets displaced.

    Brin is older that Zuckerberg.

  19. I haven’t signed up for Google plus. I always thought it was a poor man’s Facebook but I guess I will have to use it so my sites are seen as more reputable. It’s all about SEO nowadays.

    • Brock,

      That’s the only reason I joined Google +. Plus 1′s, Google site reveiws and citations are all the new social signals Google puts ranking authority on.
      These will become almost as important as backlinks themselves in the near future.

  20. This seems a logical next step and in sync with the move to more social signals being used for ranking. The issue of it only being with G+ right now I’d assume would be a short term one and over time there would be other ways to show authorship. Guess its time to run a few experiments to see how this works

  21. Hi John,

    Interesting article, but the way I see it, it doesn`t really matter what Google adds to their algorithm. In the end, people will always find a way to game the system.

  22. Jon, I bought your ThriftyContent and I was scrolling through your article and couldn’t find you mentioning about claiming authorship to your PLR article or a spun article or modified one. Could you mention about it on your blog?

  23. It seems a bit overwhelming, John….thanks for your information, it makes it easy to keep up with everything new. I appreciate that I can come here and get informed.

  24. Game trick would be publish an article and buy some tweets, likes and Google Plus likes to get better authorship. Easy trick but can be pricy.

  25. Google Authorship Really Boost Your Search Engine Rankings And Page Rank Matter :D

  26. Thanks for the update here – Has given me an insight into what is happening ahead.

  27. If there is a workaround it will be found and exploited, and the original intent of the change will be muffled. It always has been this way, always will be this way.

    Maybe they should go back to the old telephone operator model? Be hard to game that one.

  28. Great article. I appreciate your understanding of Google and how it really works. Lately there’s been a lot of talk about how Google will be judging links and the quality of your link building.

    Honestly, I really don’t see any big changes coming in that arena. Google isn’t omnipotent, and if you use the site the way they suggest, you can get some really good results. They’re still a business, and they get it, that’s why they offer so many free business services and training. They will even give a backlink. All you have to do is build a site with their free site builder and then link to your site for more information.

    Google is still the number one site in the world. Facebook might be the king of social, but Google offers so many ways to market your business for free, it’s a good idea to use them too. They’re not going anywhere.

    • ummm… if the brief history of the internet (or the 20th century’s exponential advances in technology of all kinds culminating in the internet) are any indication… it suggests that assuming anything no matter how ‘number 1′ (netscape, ford and gm, myspace, not the best examples off top of my head but there are plenty more) something is it can be usurped very quickly – no one would argue that things dont change at an almost frightening pace with the net… google still makes all its money from ads on search. As John points points out despite its size and resources google overall has continued to struggle massively with preventing gaming of their rankings – their scrambling at this point to constantly shuffle the deck i feel is as much a scare tactic to try and frustrate us types into giving up… while they (given that their own history is such a case) are all too aware that new innovations can spread – now even faster – like wildfire. The net is frankly too big for the 10 results on a page model without truly achieving the vision of the semantic web, which is bordering on real AI – something they would like to have you think is nearing achievement but in reality is nowhere close. I think that as quickly as google rose to prominence it could topple (not disappear) but take a massive downgrade in importance over the next few years – i have no idea the model or innovation that may surpass it, but thats the point – they know it and are showing plenty of signs of their own awareness that being a Goliath now does not in any way mean they will be around for good… in some ways it works against them the bigger they grow. I see more volatile behavior and moves by google as a sign of moderate panic – and i dont think its in any way facebook really ultimately that is the threat. It is someone just like they were a decade or so ago fiddling with some new concept in a dorm or garage.

  29. Thought provoking stuff there Jon!

    Especially the part where you talk about gaming this new “pagerank”.

    It is probably a good idea to remember that google is “in business”, as we all are, to provide to people what it is that they are searching for, and by doing that the best that we can (without being “evil”), surely success will follow.

  30. This is the best article I have read on this subject. I still cannot get my authorship to work. I keep getting error messages and will have to probably hire someone to fix it but in the meantime, it’s good to know it’s not going to impact my rankings. I still want to get it to work because as you point out, it will increase click throughs and well it’s just cool to see my photo on google results :-)

  31. Great post, Jon. Will it ever occur to the guys at Google that they attract “gamers” because they do so much of it themselves? One can always hope…

    “Do no evil” isn’t the same as shootin’ straight…

    Regards,
    Bill

  32. Good points. But how about the privacy when it comes authorship? A lot of webmaster and bloggers online use a screen name for their privacy.

    Regarding links, you’re right! it can be gamed which when I began doing link building, I did it manually.Sigh!

  33. This is all fine and dandy – but I feel very uncomfortable with anything that gives Google even more control than it already has.

    It is already far and away the market leader and in my experience abuses its power. I had both my adsense and adwords accounts closed and Google refuses to discuss this. (In the case of the adsense account they said that it was “at risk of invalid clicks” – note, not that they were sure this had happened or would even tell me on which website or why.) Loss of the adwords account meant loss of my Google Affiliate Network account – since the two have to be linked.

    Forcing a link to a personal profile really would be the kiss of death for anyone Google takes a passing dislike to. I dare say there would be ways to work around it, but until Google becomes a lot more accountable, I don’t like the drift of this.

    Claire

  34. You hit the nail on the head when you give the example of a mechanic. In fact, it’s the millions of nuts and bolts businesses that I think will struggle (and are struggling) to get social with their content. Let’s face it, nobody wants to get social with a mechanic web page all about repairing clutches. Think insurance brokers, lawyers, accountants, etc. It’s possible to do, but are people going to engage in discussion with such businesses and their content?

    I think to date it’s been a struggle. However, if Google continues incorporating social signals as part of the algo, such content producers will have no choice. Some will buy social signals (yes, it’s even easier than building quality links). While others will try and be creative and engaging.

    I’m on the fence about social signals and the usual “dry business websites” that need to engage. I built up an offline business (a dry business) with blogging. At first I didn’t think blogging could do the job, but I did it anyway. I managed to get a ton of new clients. Therefore, although skeptical, I suspect it’s possible to engage socially with any business. I just have to figure it out by testing new methods.

    Jon, please keep your thoughts and research coming on the latest Google algo changes. It’s good stuff.

  35. Jon,

    Good post as always. There is a lot of chatter going on about this subject right now so it’s good to get your perspective on it.

    Sherri,

    That’s something I hadn’t thought about at all. But, very good point.

  36. Hey, great article.
    I really like how you boil things down to reality. I actually look forward to viewing your opinion on things, whereas most others I do not.

    I hope you don’t mind.
    But speaking of links. Could you tell us how your 1 way links is fairing from the G de-indexing the networks please?

    We all need reliable links.

    That would be the #1 blog post I would like to see too.
    I.E. What Now – The new strategy in link building!

    I would really like your take on what links are the best links now. As you say it boils down to links, so, where do we get them?

    That is likely the #1 topic on most peoples minds.

    Thanks, Patrick

  37. Jonathan,

    I love your take on things. It’s a fresh of breath air that brings everyone back to earth on SEO.

    Bravo.

    I couldn’t agree with you more.

  38. Hello Jonathon, I’m playing the google plus ownership game.. While agreeing with the points you made about gaming the engines, for my better content, everything that can help is applied!!!

  39. Hi John,

    I follow to link from the email you send today. This could be a big change in the near future for those doing SEO. It could be the next PR thing but will see.

    Thanks for great post!

  40. Thanks Jonathan for an excellent article.

    I’ll follow the tips here, regarding my Google + profile Make’s a lot of sense, when writing your own articles and getting the recognition along with Google establishing your authorship.

    Looks like your ahead Jonathan of the game on this piece !

    Nice work !

    Libertyed:)

  41. With the recent Panda updates, the website with the most authority wins, even if the content was copied from the original author on his or her own website. This is a way for original content to be credited to the original author. It basically fixes a flaw in the Panda “penalty” (which cannot increase your rankings, just hurt them)

  42. I’m wondering, does this leave the door open of malicious individuals claim content that isn’t really theirs? Seems like first claim first serve. Could be yet another blunder in the works.

    • Pardon the early morning typo. I meant to say:

      I’m wondering, does this leave the door open for malicious individuals to claim content that isn’t really theirs? Seems like first claim first serve. Could this be yet another blunder in the works?

    • No, because the profile being linked to has to verify that the linking content belongs to them.

  43. Good post. I do agree, but still have to make the content good for the reader to like, share, plus etc.

    One thing I have struggled with is to get my photo to appear in the SERPs of Google. It did at first for like 2 days then stopped showing. I changed everything the way Google says in your link above but I still can’t get it to work – any other guidance?

    Cheers

    Brian

  44. It’s still in dark. I think we need to wait until sun rise. I am not happy with the frequent change but really want something that will bring quality search for real searchers. Thanks for making me clear about Google’s latest update.

  45. Thank you very much for a timely and cogent analysis of Google authorship. I do wonder, however, if true social sharing can be easily gamed. Can Google tell if the same post has been shared multiple times? And let’s be clear, posting on a social site is not the same as true sharing where a long chain of readers have shared the same post. If a post has been shared just once or if it has been passed from one to another a hundred times, can Google tell the difference? I bet they can!

    • There are already networks of people setup to share, +1 and Like your content. It’s not just one person doing it all, it’s large teams of people doing it for you. And those people use proxies that make them appear to be multiple people. So it’s exponential. Google can’t tell the difference anymore than they’ve been able to tell the difference between a paid and “natural” link because there is no difference, not from an algorithmic point of view.

  46. Hi Jon,

    Thank you for your considerations. I’m not sure what to think about this, but obviously big G is trying to gain even more power on the Internet. Maybe their intention is to ‘rule the Web’ in the future… Anyway, I’ll continue to build links, but also to get a few +1′s.

    Kanute

  47. Quite rational. It’s inevitable. Just as facebook claims as much as it can from it’s users, Google plus is going to use as many of it’s better tools to it’s advantage while explaining to you how it’s to yours.

    Great job. Probably right.

  48. I can see that the authorship issue will become more important over time. What I don’t understand, Jon, is that Google only links one or two pages of my site to my profile in the listings. Have no idea why, authorship is picked up for one page, it is not picked up for all of them. Any ideas?

  49. Without PR value Google’s authorship feature has playing well in SERP. I have seen someone using a sexy, eye catchy girl photo instead of their own face as their social pro pic. :)

    However, Jonathan, I liked your assumption. Who knows, Google may already decided to use your idea. :P

  50. John,
    Great info and something that seems plausible but as you mentioned how many people really use Google+, I have an account and never use it but it is something I should start to use if there are benefits for future rankings.

    Trying to keep up with Google and all there updates is a job in itself, I lost a few good rankings with the last Panda update but am confident to regain with the new info that is out there, all it means is a little more work on older sites that I haven’t spent much time on the past couple years.

  51. I’m not a expert, don’t claim to be, and one thing I don’t trust is that back linkers are smarter than Google, their engineers and money, eventually they will catch up to the game. That is my opinion. Sometimes you see criminals pull off amazing feats and you wonder, why don’t they just put their time and energy into something legal? Why don’t Internet Marketers just put their time and energy into providing something worthwhile. Weighing short term gains over longevity may make you money but someday it will crash and you will too. (ask anyone burned by Panda if it was a big let down) I for one rejoice in the sufferings of the gamers who got canned. Go Authority

    • The reason is that just creating great content doesn’t get you ranked in the Google. If you want to rank, you have to beat the other guy, and the other guy is building links from everywhere he can. It’s really a trade off: create great content for years and hope that somebody notices and it eventually goes viral and you rank, or ensure that you rank immediately so you can see the profits immediately. On top of that, Google’s algorithm updates have hit a lot of people who did everything by the book very hard, leading many of them to give up on what Google says it wants you to do and do things the way that works.

  52. Everyone keeps saying that links are everything right, but I don’t believe it, my site has the least amount of backlinks out of any other blog in my field yet I get more traffic then all but a few. If it were just backlinks then this doesn’t make sense why I get more traffic, any explanations?

    • It’s not just how many links, but where they come from. Links from unique domains that themselves are well linked are more powerful than links from lesser sites.

    • It is important also to distinguish from where your traffic comes from. Maybe you you are getting large amounts of direct traffic? Backlinking is for the purpose of ranking better which in turn brings more traffic. But ranking well is not the only way to get lots of traffic. Is your large amount of traffic coming from the organic search results or??

      • 75% from search I get 2000 unique a day, and for jonathan I looked at other peoples links and they have it seems links from more authority sites than what I’m linked to that’s why i’m puzzled and wondering if Links really are what it’s about? I’ve never done backlinking but after reading your blog maybe i should be doing something I’m just worried if I do it affects my site negatively.

  53. Thanks for the update sir Jonathan… I am really been wonder this days on how to work with SEO… I am having a lot of problems recently… and this update is really helpful…

    Keep on rockin’!

  54. This article rocks.
    How do i as a newbie begin to understand issues about info marketing…my head is blasted from so much content…will be happy to have a mentor!

  55. Very interesting post Jon.

    It sure does make sense that Google will use that information somehow in their search algorithms but as you say, it won’t be prefect and i’m sure that people will find around it and how to game it.

    It will be very interesting to see where this will develop and how things will evolve in the near future. It seems Google is working hard over the past year and making many changes regarding SEO and the way the SERPs look.

  56. Hi,

    This is good for me to linking up my google +1 to my sites.
    This update is new for seo gamer.
    Good luck.

  57. I must agree that your argument is right on point. I’m a big fan of Google and what they are doing to rid the internet of spam content. However, to say that it is a perfect system is pushing it too far.

    What Google is doing with Google Authorship and Google+ will only make content marketers who understand what is going on to be on Google+. That of course will be making G+ more relevant in the social media circle!

    For now, we just need to give it to Google for coming up with all these. Thanks for sharing this.

  58. For the moment I think its a mishmash of many factors (backlinks, social, Google +, citations etc) but I can see a time when Google Authorship will become a big part of the algorithm. I also think microdata will play a bigger role in the future also.

    You should link your best content to your Google+ profile even if it has limited seo value now, it will play a much bigger role in the future. You will also benifit from a better click through rate in the serps having you image show up.

  59. I doubt if Google would be able distinguish between true authorship and that which is gamed. Building strong author reputation may be tricky for some legit local businesses. Who do they plan to address this? Even if it takes off looking good, there are always some technical loop holes.

  60. Hi Jon

    I was not able to set up Google+ on my ecommerce email address even though it is a google apps business address so had to go for another gmail address.

    Thanks for this sensible explanation. I have not been able to get my head around this authorship issue at all. It still sounds messy and not for John and Jane Smith.

    Thanks for you excellent new venture Thriftycontent. I am already making great use of it.

    Irene

  61. I kinda newbie in this SEO thing. But always learn more every day. I have a question. What if i write about my blog on websites such as Shvoong, Triond, Bukisa, etc. Would they make my rank increase? Thanks. I am looking forward to hear from you.

  62. I think Google is just doing what it has to do. It knows links can be gamed, it also knows that social signals and everything else can be gamed; however, it needs to try and improve things some how and it needs to continue to try and improve them.

    I also think that with recent updates that Google is trying to put the fear of God into the little guy who will automatically stop doing link building etc because they are afraid of the dreaded email from Google in their webmaster tools inbox.

    Google knows it can’t stop everyone, but if they can put fear out there and discourage a certain amount of people from even trying, then they are doing something productive in their eyes.

    I can see why they are doing what they are doing and in their position I would probably be taking the same actions. They know people have always gamed the system and people will always try, and in my view they are moving more towards ranking Authority sites and sites that aren’t afraid to show ownership of their content and have others comment on it.

    Long term, for the sake of the Internet this might be a good thing. However, for the little guy who just puts together an adsense or affiliate site in a few hours, they will probably find it hard and hard. But that’s just my view.

    Great post, as always Jonathan.

  63. It’s important to remember that authorship is one of hundreds of factors that contribute to ranking. Uhm, once it is integrated in the algo, that is.

    While all your points are valid, here are a few more aspects how authorship might help Google:

    => Authorship could be used to evaluate links. Meaning: an outbound link on a page from an author with lots of ‘social support’ might be worth more than a link on pages from anonymous authors.

    That would actually make it harder to game the system, for example with backlinking schemes.

    You now have to support whatever you do to game the system in many more ways. Only when different types of signals come together, will Google accept the gaming.

    => I predict that 2 or 3 years from now we will see verified authorship on a larger scale. Now it’s only for celebs, but if I were Google, I’d try to get it for as many people as possible. It will be optional, but everyone who verifies his identity could get higher trust from Google. Another piece of the puzzle that would make gaming the system harder.

    Of course it’s still doable, but getting more complicated.

    By the way: people keep critizising Google for not having a perfect ranking system. But how in the world could anyone expect it to have one? It’s practically impossible!

  64. I’m sorry to burst the bubble…

    Maybe it’s because Google can’t determine a lot of thinks, but links don’t make to much difference. There are a few more important thinks and a “good” onpage SEO is KEY.

    Bold to say something like that? Uhmmm, NO.

    I did the SEO for Flytouch3.nl and there are almost NO links pointing to the domain exept a few natural born. And quess what! It’s been ranking for months now at nr.1 in Google for all of it’s major keywords in a very competitive branche/niche being the tablet pc’s. Yes it’s a local (dutch) site, but still, the Google game works everywhere the same…

    And think about this…where is all the algoritme talking coming from anyway…Not Google… No, from all the IM’s making money with it!

  65. Just like the shopping results pictures in google that tends to gravitate clicks the idea of an author and his photo appearing in the results is very powerful especially when the context of the search is strongly associated with trust.

    If I am searching on a topic that is very important to me such as my personal safety or self defence I would be interested to see the authority on the subject appear so I can evaluate him/her. Now the problem will be when everyone has their picture on page 1 of the results, do you assume the #1 guy is the best ? How will google know he/she is the best self defence authority. It is a subjective thing. Maybe something like hproduct and hreview will appear for authority so that people can vote and generate those yellow stars in the results as they do for products.

  66. I’m not convinced – I think it will play a part but only a small one.

    Reasons
    - Only a small percentage of people are on google+ and even less use it. It’s not engaging people. The reasons the numbers and growth are high is it’s a forced join once in the Google ecosystem.
    - It’s not a scalable factor. All sites have links not all sites have profiles.
    - Authorship is for the Author how are brands going to use this? Employees are going to want to keep there own profile not channel into the company.

    In saying all this I’ve had my sites linked to my profile from the moment it came out! I’ve not seen a ranking increase but CTR has improved with the photo in the SERPs

    Interesting article

    Thanks

    Greg

  67. John,

    I always love reading your blog posts because when 90% of other people are running around like headless chickens fretting about Groogle and what works and what’s dead (based on theory not testing) . . you always come out with a logical post based on hard facts and testing.

    It does seem though that the shift is towards branding and putting your mark on everything that you produce meaning you make sure it is good . . which I am all for instead of millions of crappy seo filler content articles with lots of words but little to no “meat”.

  68. Google is doing their best to guarantee their users the best searching experience… problem is, it isn’t enough, not by a long shot…
    There will always be people looking for ways to game the system, no matter how airtight or perfect the system is, and Google’s algorithm is far from perfect as it is now.
    This is a hint of where Google is heading to. They want Google+ to gain popularity, and somehow this helps a bit, and they will keep doing whatever it takes to improve their search algorithm.

  69. Google authorship will not be the next big thing. It is already being gamed very heavily and succesfully.

    There is a tool you can get from a certain forum that checks for articles in a chosen niche published in the last 24 hours, checks whether they have already been claimed by “Google authorship” – if not it scrapes them, reposts them to your own blog..then CLAIMS THEM under Google authorship, pings and bookmarks them. It even creates Google accounts for different niches to do this under. This bot is/was given away free at this “dark headwear” forum.

    I tried it once to see whether it works – it is flawless. I’m not promoting it here, just saying that that’s what’s happening already.

    Incredibly simple to “game” the system – done before the wider IM and SEO community has even begun discussing “Authorship” as a meme.

    Also – if you have more than one site in a niche it’s a dangerous thing to do. You are identifying your self promotional footprint to Google without them having to work if you do this pure white hat (i.e with one G account)

    “Look, the guy who wrote this article promoting lawn mowers on “mowmylawn dot com” is the same guy who wrote this other article on “locallawns dot com” with a link pointing to it. So that’s self promotion then.”

    Do we really want the psychopathic G algorithm to know even more about our promotional efforts than it already does?
    Do we want to give them that information FOR NOTHING?

    I’ve said it before. G is responsible for barely 50% of my website traffic by direct referral. Website traffic increases year on year – Googles percantage decreases. And I’ll do my darndest to keep that trend going. I want to be in the position where I’m not held to ransom by this Huge Unwieldy Self Serving Oaf that is Google

  70. Thanks for sharing the ideas John :-)

    I think the automation and marketing advantages it may bring are great. On the other hand it is just useless as hell and just puts another steps of “to dos” on our plate.

    Unfortunately gone are the days where one could just crreate good, valuable content and focus on that only.

    Now there is so many manipulators out there (and the authorship will just be manipulated as well) that in order to rank you gotta play the game too! Which takes resources (time and money) away from actually DOING the VALUABLE stuff.

  71. Hello Jon,

    You already answered the question where Google is heading in this quote:
    ‘I rarely search for something in Google and don’t find what I’m looking for’

    Google hasn’t got a clue what they are doing, and whatever it is that they are doing, the search results are so bad, that people will stop using them.

    They have grown so big, that it has become unmanageble. They can’t quickly adapt, plus they’ve slapped so many people (not just the im seo crowd !) that these people will be happy to slap them back big way.

    Only in 2012 they have already made two big mistakes, apart from this seo stuff, the number one mistake is changing the privacy policy so that nobody trusts them anymore, number two is doing a You Tube makeover, letting everybody know that whatever you do with your channel …. etc.

    All the best

  72. I think that it is a good idea to link to your profile in Google +, so that you can be recognised as the author, however I find Googles webmaster tools very complicated to work my way around, and usually after I’ve been looking for something for an hour or so, I give up on it.

  73. Links (backlinks) are still going to be good for a long while yet. You see evidence of this when you send out a press release. And re: the Panda thing – aren’t they talking about an animal? It shouldn’t even be a concern to anyone who produces quality content that helps people learn new stuff. :)

  74. Hi John

    In a comment of yours
    “My understanding is that if your name appears on the content then it should be linked with authorship to your personal Google+ profile. If it’s company information, then it would not. I’m not an authority, though.”

    Does this mean, it is always best to put your name as the author on the end of all your content/articles? Would it be good to go to all my sites and do this?

    Regards.

    Kevin

    • You can do it that way, or alternatively use your author page to be the place where you link back to, then link to your Google+ profile from there. Both methods work.

      In short, yes you need to link each of your articles to your Google+ profile (either directly or via the author page on your site), and then you need to link back to the *home page* of each of the sites where your articles appear from the “Contributor To” section on your Google+ profile. Only thing to watch there is that you link to the www or the non-www version accurately. Ie if your site is at yoursite.com then don’t link back to http://www.yoursite.com

      Liz

  75. Excellent article Jonathan! Really gives me much to think about on G+ and its impact on my clients sites, as well as my own.

  76. I also enjoyed the article and I am glad for the update. But I do not understand Google authorship yet I am still learning internet marketing, SEO and algorithms and I hope I spelled it correct :) However, at least I know now to look out for authorship.

    Take Care,

  77. How far has all this come from the very first day you set up your site to start blogging. Was it once quite a bit of fun? Is it still fun?

    Whatever Google can do to bring the fun back into this game, I for one say, “Bring It On”

  78. I think it’s time to start blocking googlebot from my sites. Enough is enough – google parasitize and make money on other sites content, time to stop it.

  79. Aside from the accountability that comes with having your name and image plastered across your content, which should increase readership trust. Surely the main benefit of authorship right now is CTr from SERPs. I use authorship and review stars on my blog and I have believe that I am getting a higher than average CTR for my SERP position for any given keyword.

    I have even had new readers ask me about the rich text snippets and mention that it was what drew them to my site from their search query.

    It becomes less effective in my niche with the more competitive keywords as most authors have it.

    So my advice would be don’t use it, if your in my niche that is :-)

  80. Jon, thanks for sharing your insights on this. I get very frustrated with all the new products which immediately appear in response to any changes from G – I suspect the same emails I get, pop into their ‘inbox’ too! This week with all the news about deindexing of article networks and the importance of posting content to web 2.0 sites, ‘bingo’ out comes a product to automate that process and allow mass submissions!
    On topic – re Google Authorship, what are your thoughts about putting the Google badge site-wide on a site where some of the content is from guest posts? I wonder whether there would be implications about this (as mentioned in your ‘mechanic’ analogy above)?
    Thanks, Alison

  81. I completely agree with the fact that the Authorship is increasing and its the future page rank and even more important, but in my personal opinion, Google needs some more time before they can actually start ranking on its basis, google will need time till all or most of the writers turn to this authorship, and then gradually Google will start judge the behavior and authenticity of the people.

  82. Hi John,

    I think Big Brother just wants to get bigger. G already has its nose so far up our … business that we can hardly breathe without wondering what are the G implications of breathing.

    G+? I wouldn’t touch it with a 10 foot Pole. Or a Czech.

  83. While I can see some benefits in Google Authorship (I use it myself), I think Google’s primary purpose is to increase usage in Google+

  84. I don’t this this “Authorship” will do any good. If you look at all the black hat forums , these guys are doing quite a good work in tricking Google’s SERP. The “social networking” type of SERP authority , I believe , it’s the weakest one. It’s so much easier getting G+ hits or FB likes than getting real hard links with authority sites.
    And there is another thing here, if I , let’s say, sell cars, and I have a website “mycars.com” what would be the bad thing if I try all sort of paid link building services to rank my site and I actually rank my site to appear no. 1 in G. when surfers type “Cars” ? It’s not like my competitors aren’t doing the same thing as I am.
    The improvements G. is trying to make , in my opinion will not do anything good. The top 20 results in SERP for various competitive keywords will still be some sort of search engine spam and in respect to Google+ it will probably not even scratch the surface of keyword ranking in SERP.

  85. I can see Google doing this. If for nothing else than to build Google+ and get a chunk of Facebook’s power.

  86. John,

    I write under several pen / author names as many authors do. I don’t use Google+ yet, but I believe that you must use your real name there. If this is true then how can you tie ‘authorship’ with Google+?

    John

    • This is the problem I’ve been looking at. Even if you would want to use authorship and tie into your google+ account, it’s only good for one name. What do you do with the pen names? Let someone steal the content and authorship as mentioned above some black hatters are already?

      Putting on my tin foil hat, I think it’s just another power play by google trying to get more data and more control.

  87. I ain’t sure, but Google is likely to stress more on Google authorship. This will eventually help in curbing the spammers.
    But social signal is a dangerous tactics to considered as one of the ranking signal. It will help big brands and spammers only.

  88. I think you need to look way more in to the non social media implementation of author trust. Social trust is a factor, but you should definitely check out googles patents on how author trust is going to work in regards to actual content quality and even author niche. Since Google is adopting a strong hard to gain easy to lose policy that goes way beyond any automated and damnable techniques.

    • I’ve read up on it. The thing is that Google’s proven itself unable to distinguish paid links versus “natural” ones, etc., so why should we believe they’ll be able to distinguish true authorship versus that which is gamed?

      • If an author trust value needs to be backed by quality content then it will be much harder to game. Judging by what Google has been able to do so far and combining it with link trust I expect to see Author trust be based on factors that will affect page value and/or link value such as

        Author Content Quality
        Social Activity
        Social Reach/edgerank style
        Author Category

        While some people argue how far google can judge written quality, I would expect to see a panda style hit, if x% of content is trash, ding author value.

        I also expect Authority to be considered as well as Author, how many people trust the author on their respective niche etc.

  89. It definitely WONT “replace” PR or authority.

    Why? Because google CANNOT openly afford to give more weightage (even if they might be right now) to people/companies on their own platform.

    I mean, there are 800 million other people NOT using google+ right, and I am sure that at least 1/10th of those users write something somewhere…

    Getting my point?

    Of course, as marketers, we definitely should link our g+ to our blogs to ‘get that face’ in the serps.

    Amod

  90. As usual John, a great article.

    I’m confused about this whole Google +/ authoring thing to be honest…

    Let’s say I have multiple product sites, in different niches, selling different products.

    I also have a ‘masthead’ company site where all of those products are showcased

    Do I set up just one Google + account for the company site or Do I just set up one ‘personal’ Google + account under my own name, and then link everything to do with ALL my sites back to my personal profile on Google +

    I keep trying to find an answer to this, but when I pose the question on different forums, I get different opinions, or they just don’t know.

    –Glen

    • My understanding is that if your name appears on the content then it should be linked with authorship to your personal Google+ profile. If it’s company information, then it would not. I’m not an authority, though.

      • You are correct Jonathan. I write all of my content under my name and my 2 main websites are linked to my personal G+ account. So when content appears on google then my profile pic also appears. I also have a separate page for the business which comes under the banner of the personal page but in my opinion the pages are not of much use unless you are a well known brand – a business page cannot ‘circle’ people unless they circle you first.

      • I don’t think that Google have communicated the way the “authorship proof of article ownership” system should work, well at all. There was a confusing series of announcements that ended up with Google finally telling people to put their email addresses on each article! I mean you’d have to be insane to do that. In short they have given out three different methods for making Authorship work for individuals without making it clear how it’s supposed to work for companies. This is in the context of having also announced Google+ Pages which are made for organisations and companies. So if you set up a Google+ page for your business, you can also associate a logo with that page, it sounds reasonable that the logo should take the place of the face photo in the case where you point the article you’ve written to the Google+ Page profile as opposed to your personal profile.

        But when you look at all the information they’ve published, it seems that the Google+ Page is*only* for identifying the home page of a site using rel=publisher as opposed to rel=author. Whereas individual articles are all about the individuals that wrote them …. we’ve set our stuff up to work like this but while my face shows in the SERPs I’m still waiting for my logo to show for my home page.

        I implemented Google Authorship on my site as soon as I heard about it and it has improved my visibility and rankings. So it is worth doing

        Hope that helps.
        Liz

        • My head is spinning with all the implications of trying to tie thousands of pages of original corporate content to an author / publisher for our business. Does this mean we need to create a “Betty Crocker” type persona in order to maintain some sort of personal privacy for a corporate in-house author (in my own case, me, aka Ms. PS Card)? And our content is medical related so we have healthcare privacy & advice issues as well in the social realm. My gut feeling is, this initiative is more about Google+ market share vs FB.

  91. Hey John,

    Interesting article.

    The thing for me is that this can be gamed as well…they’re really starting to chase their tail a bit now.

    Reading all the releases from them over the last two weeks it’s becoming more and more difficult to workout what exactly they want from us as SEOs.

    Frustrating…

  92. Hi John,

    Everytime there’s a Panda update, the spam sites seem to float to the top of the search engines, along with old and out dated results (circa 2001).

    I for one would like to see Authorship – as I’m fed up with large sites that are spidered every 2 minutes stealing my content and getting it indexed before they visit my site and index it. Hence I’m continually producing “Duplicate Content”.

    Bring it on Big G!

  93. That’s very interesting. Linking to Google plus is something that’s been talked about for a while but I haven’t seen anything about how to do it before. Thanks for this info.
    Janny

  94. I’m already doing it myself on sites that I care for. I figure it lends credibility to the content, plus makes it stand out in the search results.

  95. Just like you mentioned, the intent of Google is to reward great author. I think in future it will play a role in SEO, just like the social signal. The key is we will never know the weight they play in the SEO role.

    Social signals and links could be easily gamed and I am sure Google noticed that. So, all Google do is to diverse and optimize their ranking algorithm as good as possible (or called the best practice). However, SEO player will catch up easily no matter how Google update their algorithm, Panda, blog network, over optimization penalty, etc…All this can be tweaked and optimized…

  96. Hey John,

    Thanks for sharing this update. At least we have the edge on whats coming. Keep rockin’

    Cheers,
    $onny


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