There is no such thing as Author Rank. Yet.

 
 

Author Rank? Hold your horses.

Disambiguation: This article is about Author Rank. For our Authorship related articles click here.

Author Rank is a popular concept in the SEO industry and one of the hottest topics in 2012. What I find strange about the whole thing is that nobody has any shred of proof that Author Rank plays any role in Google’s search algorithm today. I figured the best way to find out what’s going on is to actually ask somebody at Google – John Mueller.

I followed up by a hypothetical scenario and asked John if it would make any algorithmic difference if I wrote a post on my blog or Larry Page wrote one with verified authorship. According to John, the effect and benefit would be indirect as Larry’s post is more likely to be shared and linked to than mine.

The idea of having an immediate boost for a published piece of content on the basis of writer’s authority alone seems rather ‘wild‘ to John.

So there you have it, even though much research has been done in this area, it appears that Google is not yet using Author Rank in its ranking algorithm.

When it does become a factor, we’ll surely be able to read about it on Google’s official blog.

Hangout Recording

The discussion about Author Rank starts at 12:50:

Authorship, Rich Snippets & Author Rank

September, 2012

Guest Panel: Bill Slawski, AJ Kohn & Mark Traphagen.

We’re discussing impact on CTR in search results, implementation statistics and the issue of rich snippet and review spam. We’ll use real data samples in our demonstration. The second part of the hangout will be dedicated to discussion about authorship as a search engine quality signal and the much debated concept of “AuthorRank”. Slides: http://cdn.dejanseo.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Authorship-Hangout.pdf

Dan Petrovic is a well-known Australian SEO and a managing director of Dejan SEO. He has published numerous research articles in the field of search engine optimisation and online marketing. Dan's work is highly regarded by the world-wide SEO community and featured on some of the most reputable websites in the industry.

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23 Responses to “There is no such thing as Author Rank. Yet.”

  1. Great post Dan and nice to get a bit of confirmation on this.

     
    • Andy Drinkwater - iNET SEO
  2. I think it’s still worthwhile preparing for this – attach authorship to your posts and interact with people on G+ (therefore getting in lots of people’s circles). There are plenty of benefits to doing this anyway, and then if Google eventually does bring in “Author Rank” you’ll be well ahead of the curve and won’t have to play catch-up :)

     
    • Luke Chapman
  3. Yes, it’s good to have clarity. I am a fan of the concept and I hope to see it in action.

     
    • Dejan SEO
  4. Of course, same with Google+ and +’s.

     
    • Dejan SEO
  5. Not as a single metric, but when you build page authority with your authorship you are ranking your name as a single keyword, it may not be authorship-esque, but you are being ranked regardless.

     
    • Martin Harris
  6. Good point about it not serving as a ranking signal (yet) Dan. At this stage uptake of Authorship isn’t widespread enough for it to be useful as a signal in most searches. On the other hand though, the value of Authorship isn’t just in its potential as an additional ranking signal; I’m sure I remember seeing a study (though I can’t recall where at the moment) which showed that the CTR for results with an author thumbnail were much higher than for results without one.
    Also, as with John’s example of Larry’s post being likely to get more shares and links than yours, I would imagine that with any comparison of two results which both show author thumbnails, the better known personality (in this case Larry – sorry) is going to be even more attractive to searchers.
    So while it may not directly influence rankings right now it would be foolish to ignore the benefits that can be gained in other ways. Much like writing an enticing meta description, it won’t boost rankings but it will improve CTRs.

     
    • Ken Jones
  7. ok so a battle of mugshots in the serps Greeeeeat!

     
  8. Great post, this. Nice to see an article that is evidenced (or, in this case, lack of evidence) based rather than the usual thinking out loud then pretending its authoritative that passes for so much of our industries output.

    Authorrank makes a lot of sense, but there’s always been a bit of a catch-22 – If your Google, how do you prevent me sticking, say, “rel=author “Rand@seomoz..”” into every post I put out and leaching off his reputation? Their answer is the two-way link it to a Google+ account, but Google+ takeup and authoriship implementation is so low at present that it’s practically useless as a ranking signal.

    Having the photo in the SERP is nice, and I guess that’s part of Goog’s attempt to convince webmasters to sign up. But, yeah, I’ve seen no evidence that it effects rankings as of yet, and I wish people would stop maing these claims as fact.

     
    • Mike
  9. Appreciate you writing this, Dan. All of us would do well to slow down a bit and think about what we say and write.

     
  10. Maybe author rank doesn’t make any effect directly but having a G+ account linked with post would certainly make difference. and in coming days the importance will be more and more.

     
    • Quazi
  11. Care to show/explain how having a G account and interlinking it can make a difference?
    (The only way I can see that currently having any impact is the “normal” stuff (links/PR etc.)

     
    • Lyndon NA
  12. First things first – Bangup job on the separation of Authorship and AuthorRank!
    (Tired of people getting the two mixed up)

    Hardly a surprise to be honest – G still aren’t ready … and when they are, I wouldn’t expect to see major/massive changes. The idea will be to not upset the SERPs too much, and to introduce it as a low-level influence at the early stages.
    There are multiple ways G could introduce the influence – it will be interesting to see how the introduce it to the mix.

     
    • Lyndon NA
  13. Thanks Dan for clearing out the issue.. I’ve been sceptical when people are rushing on blogging and reposting the ‘Authorank’ stuff. Maybe they want to be among the first to prove or reveal it?

     
    • Llewelyn Lipi
  14. Using Authorship as a ranking signal through G+ services would be one more “monopoly issue”. I think, Google don’t want more problems than they have now.

     
    • Grandifer
  15. I agree with some of the previous comments that it couldn’t hurt to prepare for this, especially if there is a reasonable assumption that this could be implemented in the future.

     
  16. Nice one,
    Author rank brings reputation in terms of online presence. If some author writes for an organization, then likely are the chances that people will look for the company of the author.

     
  17. Excellent. People who’ve recently become internet marketeers are running on theories / opinions when there’s no need – the facts are much easier and better.

     
    • davidquaid
  18. Wait a minute. Just because Dan’s post doesn’t get a higher or lower ranking than another post written by Larry does not mean that Author Rank is not a currently a ranking factor. That’s bad logic because it assumes that Author Rank must apply to posts with different content.

    The question should have been: what if Dan and Larry both post the exact same post? My best guess is that the one with the better reputation gets credited in this special case as the “original author” and the “duplicate” loses points. This is where Author Rank would play a role in ranking.

     
  19. While there may not be any evidence that you rank better, there is already plenty of evidence that having your author image in the SERP results in a higher click-through rate. For our own blog, our posts with verified author resulted in a 484% higher click-through rate than our posts that did not. Almost 5 times the response! http://www.marketingtechblog.com/rel-author-ctr/

     
  20. Not yet but I think it makes sense this to happen. In your hypothetical case scenario, in the future, I think your site would actually benefit and build up on the “trust” because someone as Larry Page carried out his authority to your site. I think it does make sense but G+ needs to evolve more to a stage where Google can consider this as an extra signal

     
  21. I’m going to continue to blog as if this is a reality. Considering +1s of people in your circles appear in search results, this is just something that can’t be ignored as I’ve seen you confirm in multiple comments. But, this is a good point to keep in mind editorially – we can’t refer to it as an actual thing yet. I needed that clarification. Thanks!

     
  22. Great article Jan on Author Rank. I am trying to get into this topic and I have also written a article on this.
    Is Author Rank the future of SEO?
    http://etechdiary.com/google-author-rank-biggest-google-update/

    It will be an honor if you could just review it and share your views.

     
    • Nishant Soni
  23. Dan,
    Thanks for this informative resource. This share is the most extensive discussion on authorship. I go by the simple idea that it is equivalent to a digital signature. All the panelists’ views are so revealing and really worthwhile to watch.

     
    • Spook SEO

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