Google Authorship was first introduced in 2011 as a method for writers and bloggers to lay claim on their published content. This was part of Google’s efforts to discourage duplicating, scraping, and basically stealing original content. Authors will get to earn recognition and credit for their articles and blog posts even if they are copied and published by other websites.
Authorship also helps differentiate spam from articles. The theory is that a by attaching a face and an identity to content, and since the registration for authorship requires writers to indicate which websites they are attached with, people will be less inclined to copy or produce spammy content. Their site ranking and reputation as writers will be at stake.
The Correlation with Panda & Penguin
In that same vein, Google Authorship encourages writers and websites to improve on their content quality. Seeing as content is a very important factor in PageRank ever since Panda and Penguin, doing so will help a website climb up the ranks.
Authorship will allow writers and websites to provide live links leading back to their own sites even if their content is published on another site, as is the case for guest blogging or guest posting. Since having excessive links on a page will red flags for Penguin (and since no one really knows what “excessive” means or how many constitutes an excess), many websites are limiting the number of links embedded on each page.
When guest posting, having a Google Authorship account will ensure that there will be at least one or two links leading back to the author’s profile page or website. These links will be included in the short bio that will be shown on the page.
Actually, an Author’s bio snippet and the link to his Google+ account will be shown on the SERPs already, so that’s an added benefit. If he filled out his Authorship account properly, his social media links and Authorship profile links will be shown as well. The author’s name will be visible even if searchers don’t click the link generated by the search.
Gaining Readership and Recognition
Another advantage brought on by authorship is that readers will get to attach a name and even a face to the article or blog post they are reading. That may not sound much, but when a piece of content impresses people so much, they tend to remember the writer and store that information away for later research. They begin to recognize which authors produce informative articles, which ones know what they are talking about, and which ones really provide effective tips or advice.
As mentioned above, Google Authorship displays, at the very least, the name of the author and his Google+ link on the SERPs. This allows searchers to find more articles written by the same author, if there are any. Of course, they will only be inclined to look more of the author’s articles if they are sufficiently impressed and convinced by their authority and the quality of their articles.
Isn’t it that when you look through results in Google and you come across an author or website you recognize and trust, you’ll bypass the other results even if said author and/or website occupies a slot that sits near the bottom of the first page? That’s how people in the Search Engine Optimization community, for example, gain prominence and become recognized as authorities in their niche.
Obviously, this is heading towards brand recognition and thought leadership. Google Authorship may not always or even quickly make this happen (although in some cases it did happen fast, and authors suddenly find themselves at the top spot on the SERPs because of one excellent article or two), but it can definitely help lay the foundations for it.
The Google+ Advantage
It no longer comes as a surprise that the Google search engine tends to favor websites and content that are attached to their brand name in one way or another. Recall that when Google+ was recently introduced and the +1 function was starting to gain momentum, there had been talks about how articles and webpages that get plenty of +1s end up topping the search results. Some opined it was biased, while some took it in stride and instead took advantage of this new function to optimize their own webpages.
Articles written by registered authors, and the authors themselves, can earn +1s from readers who are logged into their Google accounts. Seeing as many Internet users have Google accounts, there is plenty of opportunity to earn those +1s. The only thing authors and websites need to do is write excellent content that deserve to earn those favors.
It’s possible though that it’s not just about biases. Content and websites, and indeed authors, that are attached with Google’s markups earn higher rankings because these are the content the search engine have unlimited access to. It has also been noticed that content published with the authorship markup tend to be indexed quickly, which we know is the first step to getting ranked and included on the SERPs.
With the addition of the +1 function, readers are able to concretely show which articles and websites have earned their trust. If they like what they read, if the author has proven his knowledge and expertise in the subject matter, readers can click on that button. Each +1 earned is another person satisfied by the quality of the content. That is yet another factor Google considers for ranking websites. It probably qualifies for social signals too, considering that Google+ is a social platform.
There are probably even more avenues for Google Authorship to help improve PageRank. We can say though that it promotes four important things that everyone knows to be the major qualifiers for a high PageRank from Google:
- Authorship promotes the production of informative, high-quality content.
- Authorship discourages spam and content duplication.
- Authorship inspires social activity and input by virtue of the +1 function.
Authorship helps authors and websites gain readership, thought leadership and pursue branding.