Insight & expertise

AuthorRank and SEO – a Prediction for 2013

By Unknown, blog post 14/01/2013

AuthorRank isn’t exactly revolutionary news for 2013. Speculation about its implementation has been growing furiously ever since this Google patent was released in 2011:

“The digital signatures can be used to influence the ranking of web search results by indicating the agent responsible for a particular content piece. In one implementation, the reputation for an agent is expressed as a numerical score. A high reputational score indicates that the agent has an established positive reputation.”
 Google Patent (11 May, 2011)

Because of this, and the multitude of useful articles out there about it already, making a prediction about the timing of the update or the possible factors involved in measuring the ranking would be fruitless to the point of lunacy.

So instead, I’ll be prophesying what impact it will have on SEO.

What Is AuthorRank?

Before I lose myself completely and dive right into shoving my crystal ball in your face, you should know what AuthorRank actually is.

The extract from the patent above is an over complicated way of saying that your site’s rankings may be affected by the reputation of your agent profile.

“AuthorRank is going to be huge, no doubt about it.”

In this case we can safely assume ‘agent profile’ is your Google+ authorship – the little picture that appears in the SERPs beside the posts you’ve written.

Now, at the moment, there is no evidence that these pictures affect rankings at all, only click through rates. But if AuthorRank was to come in, then the entire catalogue of your contributions to the web would contribute to an overall score, as long as they were tagged under your authorship.

This score would then have a positive impact on your site’s rankings.

What Does That Mean for SEO?

Previously SEO was an activity often done behind the scenes without much accreditation to the faces involved in it – whether that’s guest blogging or on-site optimisation. But with AuthorRank everything you do online will be used to assign not only authorship but also authenticity and authority to you, your work and your site.

It’s huge right? Some SEO thought leaders are even saying the implementation of AuthorRank is likely to cause more disruption to rankings than all of the Google Panda updates combined.

The Predictions

So here goes – my predictions for the relationship between AuthorRank and SEO. We’ll see at the end of the year if any came true and what the true extent of their influence was.

 1. The requirements for high AuthorRank scores will be exponential – It seems very unlikely that simply having 10 more posts than your closest competitor will mean you leap above them in the SERPs.

In fact, I think we will see very little fluctuation at the bottom end of AuthorRank scores and their effects on rankings (I’m even going to the extent of saying that pages with authors who have lower scores than their competitors will sometimes rank higher in these bottom brackets – much to the dismay of many bloggers I imagine).

Google really want the best at the top. Because of this, I’m predicting that the highest AuthorRank scores will require much more than just a large number of blog posts. The authors holding these values will have most likely been posting for years and years across a huge variety of platforms, hold a great deal of respect in their field and regularly gain hundreds if not thousands of +1s and shares for their posts. And because of this, their impact on a site’s rankings will be an order of magnitude higher than those with lower scores.

2. AuthorRank will be able to handle multiple specialisations – Say your Google+ profile lists you as a contributor to SEOmoz and Gamespot. Now say you post actively and evenly across both sites, giving you a decent author score. Sounds fair that your hard work would benefit both sites right? As, to the community, you’re clearly an authority in your respective topic areas.

But what if there was a gaming author who posts the same amount as you, but only about gaming. In this case, surely he’s the better candidate for an improved ranking effect? I don’t think this will be true.

I actually predict that Google will be able to not only distinguish between the different areas you specialise in, but will assign unique AuthorRank scores to each area, as well as a combination of your contributions for an overall score.

3. There will be nowhere to hide – If you haven’t already noticed, Google’s penchant for making the internet completely onymous has been growing steadily for the last two years. Whether that’s poking YouTube users to use their real name or AuthorRank, soon there won’t be any benefit in hiding behind a screen name.

Because of this, and the Google+ demand that you have to be a real person to own a profile, it means there is really nowhere to hide. And I predict that this will both reduce the amount of guest blogging that occurs online and eliminate any benefit from doing it anonymously.

The great thing if this prediction comes true is those operating black hat seo tactics to gain links through articles just above the Panda quality threshold won’t be able to operate effectively anymore.

4. Those not already doing it will have a long way to go – If prediction one is true, then those people with the highest AuthorRank scores will have put years of work into building their profile and the content associated with their name.

By not thinking about it now, you are giving yourself a huge amount to do when it eventually does come in.

Having said this, I predict that most of the internet will be in this boat, resulting in a huge outcry from those whose rankings suddenly plummet in favour of sites with an authoritative and well respected author behind the helm.

5. Instant celebrities or figures pushed rapidly into the news may get instantly high AuthorRank – If Microsoft were to get a new CEO, regardless of how much they had offered to the internet before their appointment, it is very unlikely that Google would keep them at their current AuthorRank.

People will want to hear what they have to say. And by receiving more notoriety, it’s reasonable to suggest that this should be reflected online.

I predict that figures who garner overnight newsworthiness or who are talked about in high volumes very quickly will automatically receive a higher AuthorRank, a boost which would be completely unrelated to the normal score factors.

There you have it. AuthorRank is going to be huge, no doubt about it. And if any of the above predictions come true, it will mean a massive upheaval in the SEO for small to large businesses alike.

If you skim read this post during your coffee break, with the sole purpose of taking in as little as possible, please just soak up this one point – start thinking about AuthorRank.

You can do that right now by asking me any questions you might have about it or even letting me know your own predictions below.

Image Source: Seishin17 on Flickr