Post-Google Authorship: How To Manage Your Website’s Authors

Post-Google Authorship: How To Manage Your Website’s Authors

Death is often temporary and perplexing in the world of search and Google, a fact only further proved when John Mueller of Google Webmaster Tools announced that Google would no longer support rel=author markup. Consequently, SEO professionals who preached authorship as the future of content ownership and recognition are losing trust from online marketers and authors who dutifully followed suit to maximize their content marketing strategies.

But the loss of trust is premature; when you separate Google authorship from Author Rank, a path for managing your digital content becomes clearer and just as impactful.

Why Should I Still Care?

As Search Engine Land describes, Author Rank is derived from Google’s 2007 agent rank patent and its relevance was renewed after CEO Eric Schmidt’s comment in his 2013 book.

“Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top [verified] results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.”

We now know that authorship markup and Google+ will not be a catalyst in identifying content ownership. This is no surprise for industry masterminds. In a post covering the end of authorship, content platform ClearVoice (which uses its own crawlers to evaluate content) reported that of more than 51 million posts crawled, 70 percent used Twitter markup while only 30 percent utilized Google+ markup. As Google’s team analyzed this same information, it was obvious they needed to go back to the drawing board—after all, there are 343 million active G+ accounts compared to the 255 million active Twitter users.

A World of Social Networks

So, what will be the key to identifying content ownership and quality? Perhaps Facebook, with more than one billion active users, will play a role if required to be attached with bylines. Although personal Facebook accounts are usually not associated with people’s business ventures. Especially for high profile writers, linking to Facebook would be inconvenient and awkward. Perhaps LinkedIn? The digital resume social network with 300 million active users would make a natural fit.

These social network partnerships sound great—let’s not forget that Google is first and foremost a business A business with the most powerful team of engineers, developers and SEO experts the world has ever seen. Ideally they want to control authorship in an algorithmic fashion. Unfortunately we can’t predict when or how this could happen. Webmasters should still cover their bases.

  • Continue to use rel=author. It can’t hurt, but it could save you a headache way down the road.
  • Use all the social cards possible. Real people have real social profiles, spam doesn’t.
  • Use bylines with author pages. A simple step to instantly show content ownership to web crawlers.

Remember What Matters: Ownership

The takeaway from this fiasco is that Google is like an uncontrollable emotional girlfriend…OK, not really. But Google’s goal remains the same, determine content tied to verified profiles compared to non-verified content. This will improve their search, which means more PPC dollars and revenue opportunities.

It’s also spam fighting measure:

  • Crappy guest posts: These never have real authors associated with them.
  • Author is “admin.”: A way of hiding the authors identity, common on casual or spammy blogs.
  • Fake authors: Used for irrelevant link building campaigns. (The real Karrie)
  • Empty content getting authorship credit: Real estate agents adding markup on listings, skewing data.

The ability to verify authors via their published work would eliminate these problems.

Continue to make great content, bring in expert contributors to add depth and validity to your site. If you’re launching a blog, common setups like WordPress with GoDaddy hosting, make it easy to set up social cards and bylines via plug-ins like SEO Yoast. It may seem irrational to do things on hypothetical premise, but that’s SEO in a nutshell. If author rank ever becomes a reality, your rankings will thank you.