By Craig Fitzgerald
In the last few years, Google has emphasized quality editorial content as a means of boosting your search engine rankings. Now it’s suggesting that the way forward isn’t just what you wrote, but who wrote it.
In January, Pando Daily ran an excellent article by Erin Griffith entitled “How Google Author Rank could change content marketing… and journalism”. In the article, Griffith writes “Now Google is verifying individual writers through its social network, Google+ with something called Author Rank — Bylined stories rank higher, and they get more real estate. Most importantly, they return clickthrough rates that are 40 percent greater than normal, according to Greg Boser, President of SEO agency BlueGlass.”
Here’s an automotive example of what the article’s talking about: do a google search for “Hyundai Blue Link review”. Google will return about 909,000 results. The first result, naturally comes from Hyundai. But the second and third results don’t come from some anonymous bit of advertising copy. They come from two actual human beings, neither of which you’ve probably ever heard of. They come from two writers whose names and photographs are right next to the articles in question, and who are influential in multiple Google+ circles.
It means that not only is bylined content important, and not only is having a recognized name in the industry important. It means that having a Google+ account is going to be increasingly important. Erin Griffith writes, “The emphasis before was about what was on the page not who wrote it.” Now who wrote it is going to become increasingly important. “Google wants those writers to have identities.”
There’s a bit of self-serving encouragement to get someone – anyone – to sign up with a Google+ account, to be sure. But the bottom line here is that Google is trying to weed out SEO spammers by attaching a name to a piece of content.
It’s not an overnight revision that’s going to drive your page to the bottom of search results, but it is a clue to what Google is heading towards in the next five to seven years.