Dumb SEO Questions

(Entry was posted by Scott Clark on this post in the Dumb SEO Questions community on Facebook, Thursday, April 4, 2019).

Contributor bylines for blog posts

What`s the current best thinking on contributor bylines for blog posts at very high E-A-T companies?

In the past few years, and recently via the Quality Raters` Guidelines discussions on E-A-T Authorship and Brand SEO it has become less clear to me what types of blog post byline/bio strategies is best for "contributor" posts at high-authority companies. The options frequently used for bylines of high-authority, contributor posts are

1. Author: HumanName, Contributor to CompanyName 
2. Author: Humanname 
3. Author: CompanyName Team (e.g. Ghostwriting)
4. No Author byline on contributed articles.

Where 1 & 2 may or may not link to an Authorname BIO linked to all other posts they`ve done for CompanyName.

I wrote years ago about how specific GhostWriting approaches @ BuzzMaven (feel free to google it) are less desirable but I would love to hear opinions of others.

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Selected answers from the Dumb SEO Questions G+ community.

  • Ryan Jones: This is one of those things I wouldn`t approach from an SEO lens, but a `what`s best for the authors?` lens.
  • Scott Clark: Of course what`s best for the contributing authors is to have their name and byline on the page. The company who hired them, however, may feel they`re "admitting" they needed to reach out for expertise versus in-housing it? And linking to 3rd party social profiles is something many B2B firms (especially at the scale of my clients) might question.
  • Casey Markee: Marie Haynes and myself covered this in detail in the recent SEM Rush Webinar here. You may want to check that out:

    We talked in detail about how to handle this, what Google says in the QRGs about it specifically and what we recommend.

    Well worth your time.
  • Clair Elise Belmonte: Hm. This is interesting. I’ve been thinking about this a lot since the medic update, where it became very beneficial to list the author and link to a bio showing that they are a credible authority on the subject.
    For brands like that, I think the question is less “what’s best for the authors” and more “what’s best for the brand.” If a Doctor or nutritionist outlines a piece that’s written and researched by someone without a degree in that, then checked for accuracy by the doctor/a team, wouldn’t it be better for the brand to list it is “Brand team” or the Doctor, regardless of who wrote it.
    Are you including bios or pages for writers?
  • Scott Clark: They do, but some are underdeveloped and there is a mixture in how it`s handled (ghostwriter vs contributor) visa-vis my original question.
  • Clair Elise Belmonte: Ah got it. Tricky tricky.
    In my view, no need to mention that a contributor is a contributor if they’re given a byline. It seems superfluous. As a writer myself, I vote give everyone a byline and a bio/page unless it’s branded content or something that comes specifically from the brand team like a company announcement.

    Do you have any stats on whether ghostwritten “from the team” posts perform better than articles with a byline author but no bio? Would love to see that.
  • Scott Clark: Too much noise in that data as the articles themselves have pretty widely variant engagements.
  • Michael Martinez: E-A-T is not a ranking factor and the Google algorithm does not take these kinds of things into consideration. The purpose of E-A-T is to give the Quality Raters a non-algorithmic means to provide feedback on the algorithms being evaluated. E-A-T exists completely outside the search system that everyday users rely on. It`s not something that any Web marketer should be trying to optimize for because there is absolutely no way to optimize for it. Google has stated clearly, plainly, and repeatedly that E-A-T is not used for rankings. They have also said their ranking systems and signals attempt to approximate the kind of quality assessment that E-A-T is meant to describe, but it will never be a ranking system or signal.
  • Scott Clark: I`m familiar with the ways the QRG is used to check machine learning based improvements. I`m not trying to optimize for it as if it were a ranking factor. I`m looking generally into how Google is considering the entities of authors and brands and whether or not having brand-as-author should be more actively discouraged in 2019. I think that there are reasons to believe that the algo is building/using graph nodes and edges around both authors and brands separately.
  • Michael Martinez: I agree with you on your point about Google extrapolating entity information from Website markup. But they are constantly experimenting with new ways to find that information, and to confirm their methods they evaluate against millions if not tens of millions of examples. Just this week I began seeing Knowledge Boxes for bloggers who have nothing but their own Websites or maybe LinkedIn profiles (no Wikipedia articles, no Google My Business pages, no Freebase stuff, etc.). Here is one that has changed twice this week (for me). So I think your best bet is to use standard, common markup and attribution methods. But nothing is carven in stone. ON EDIT: Okay, they added the Wikipedia link ... it keeps changing.
  • Scott Clark: Sometimes I wonder if Google shows stuff for Barry just to throw us off, knowing he`ll blast it all over social media in a few minutes. Love ya Barry, but it`s true.
  • Michael Martinez: Well, I saw a couple like this yesterday and Barry`s was much plainer and simpler, so I thought it would be a good example. I only get a couple of Knowledge Boxes in Google, myself, and many more in Bing. If you search for my books, for example, you can usually (but not always) see a Knowledge Box. So they are mixing it up as they go along.
  • Michael Martinez: This might be a better example. I do absolutely nothing to optimize for my name in Google (for historical reasons not relevant here). But Google knows I am a published author. Its ability to connect the dots is limited and slightly inaccurate but here are two screen captures, the first one for the title of one of my books. The link in the Knowledge Box takes you to a Google search for my name (although it doesn`t replicate the normal search for my name).
  • Michael Martinez: I can only embed 1 picture per comment.
  • Michael Martinez: As an aside, I HAVE tried to claim some of my Knowledge Panels. Google`s verification process is absurd. But I don`t really need to claim one (yet) because like I said they do seem to do a pretty good job of connecting the dots without any help from me.

View original question in the Dumb SEO Questions community on Facebook, Thursday, April 4, 2019).

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