Authors, Google May Be Looking For You

author at work You may have noticed that there are many more visible authors on the Internet. In many search results, Google shows a small picture of the author to the left of the small snippet that describes the content. It seems likely that Google is putting much more emphasis on the author of a given Web page in deciding whether this is likely to be a quality article that deserves a higher ranking. Apparently the concept involves the notion of an Author Rank. This is likely to be the hot topic in search for 2013. Here we will describe what is involved in that concept and you will find at the very end of this post a really puzzling question that arises on this.

Google Authorship

Othar Hansson introduced the concept of Google Authorship in June 2011. This encouraged authors to link their Google+ profile to the content they created. Shortly thereafter, Google announced that it was piloting the display of author information in search results to help users discover great content. As an example in a search for Google authorship, the results display lots of author pictures. This would seem to be a win win situation. Google has a method of eliminating spam Web pages while the author will undoubtedly benefit from increased traffic to his various online properties.

How To Let Google Know You Are The Author

It was not long before a number of people were describing the mechanism for informing Google of your authorship. Brian Gardiner described his approach and Joost de Valk gave a slightly simpler series of steps. As he said, everyone should be concentrating on that rel=”author” tag. Once you’ve followed these steps, you can use the rich snippet testing tool to confirm that your author verification process has worked correct

Checking Whether Google Found You

Even after you have correctly verified your authorship, you may find that your image is still not appearing in search results. Google has indicated that it may only show such an image where it feels this will help establish the authority of the particular item. Provided you have verified your websites with Google Webmaster Tools, there is another way to check whether Google has been able to use the author information you have provided. On the Google Webmaster Tools desktop in the left column under the the Labs link you will find a link to Author Stats. At that link you will find a page which shows search statistics for pages for which you are the verified author.  Even though no image may be shown when such a page appears in search results, the Author Rank may well have influenced how high it appears in the rankings.

Surprise, Surprise!

In the results for the SMM online properties, I was somewhat surprised to see that an article written in April 2005 was included in the list. The title was ‘Blink Then Click – How Visitors Explore Websites‘, which appeared in Search Engine Guide.  Doing a search for that title gives the result shown in the image below: barry welford author The ‘Barry Welford’ link takes you to the profile on Search Engine Guide. Bear in mind that this is one of the items for which I am supposedly the verified author. I am indeed the author but neither the article nor the profile include tags to my Google Plus Profile. In other words there are no tags for either rel=”author” or rel=”me” in either web page. That is hardly surprising for Web pages created back in 2005.

The Burning Question, Archaeology Or Current Practice

This raises an interesting question on the Google methodology about authors and Author Ranking. Is this item like a find in archaeology indicating some more rudimentary method of checking on authors that was used prior to 2011? Or alternatively could it be that Google searches out authors for online properties even where these have not been verified with the rel=”author” tag. I encourage others to check their Author Stats via Google Webmaster Tools and see whether they have any ancient web pages for which they are the verified author before the Author Verification process was in place. If indeed this occurs quite often, this leads to some intriguing speculation on what Google may be up to. Photo credit: author at work image courtesy of joelgoodman via photopin cc
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