Dumb SEO Questions

(Entry was posted by Jim Munro on this post in the Dumb SEO Questions community on Facebook, 09/08/2013).

Discussion: Google Authorship and Author Rank are ongoing initiatives at Google

What is your opinion on this?

I just read these two sentences on the web:  " Google Authorship and Author Rank are ongoing initiatives at Google, and neither are fully implemented. Google has confirmed that social signals are a factor in their ranking algorithm, and further that Authorship is a contributing factor to those signals. "

I like to know your opinion but here is mine first:

I am probably wrong (which is why I am asking this question) but I have not read or heard anything to vouch that "Author Rank" is "an ongoing initiative at Google."

I am not disputing that social signals are a factor in Google`s ranking algorithms but my understanding is that, while Authorship is a Google initiative, I have not heard any official statement that Authorship "is a contributing factor to social signals".

Neither have I seen or heard anything reliable enough to convince me that authorship affects the ranking algorithms or causes a page with authorship to rank higher than it normally would without it.

What`s your opinion?
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Selected answers from the Dumb SEO Questions Facebook & G+ community.

  • Rand Wilson: authorship is clearly an ongoing initiative.. But, I have seen nothing more than hopes and wishes of bloggers trying to make a name for themselves that Author Rank is an initiative...
    I think Google has confirmed, in general, that social signals are a (one of hundreds)  ;ranking factor.. I havn't seen anything other than hopes, dreams and assumptions that Authorship is a contributing factor.
  • Jim Munro: We could be brothers. :)
  • GSE Soft Solutions: prevents spamming...
  • Rand Wilson: Really +GSE Soft Solutions ;care to explain how?  ;(hint: it doesn't)
  • John Allen: +Jim Munro ;it depends on who you're talking to, and what they are selling.  ;Case in "We're Now Living in a Google Authorship World " point ;https://plus.google.com/113726866156010030193/posts/QKuFmPt6x5N
  • Al Remetch: I've only seen posts get top ranking on page one with no page rank, and no inbound links, and appear there before any social signals were accumulated. Most so called experts used to say it isn't any kind of author ranking. Although one of the popular pundits is now calling it some kind of authorship authority. Some of the people who think an author scoring system is at work have seen what looks like decent evidence. They see content going to page one with no other driving factor. Some of the people who are sure there is no author scoring at work I think are judging by their own experience of not getting top rankings. Since they aren't seeing there content on page one, they are sure author rank doesn't exist. However, they have done very little to build real Google cred to actually build author rank. So far +David Amerland seems to be the only major pundit to have the courage to break from the pack and admit evidence of a author scoring system that influences ranking. Other pundits are waiting for a press release from Google which probably be very slow in coming because Google doesn't want to tip it's hand.

    Other's answer some of the ranking anomalies calling it Google profile rank which might have some validity. However, a lot of content is getting top ranking before it is ever shared a Gplus. And isn't a "profile rank" really about the person the profile represents, the author. 
  • Justin Y: I think there's too much noise and not enough data. The end.
  • John Allen: +Al Remetch ;I live on the east coast. Today a friend of mine who lives in LA said he did a search for "Google Authorship" A Google plus post I created came up on page one of his search. He thought I was somebody. Granted it was not a blog I created which had google plus authorship attached to it. But I assume the reason why I came up on page one for his search is because he too has Google Plus and we both have each other in circles. If anyone on this thread ran a search for "google authorship" it would be very doubtful I would come up on page one because you all have in your circles people who are bigger influencers than myself. But in time I believe all google search with be about influencers within anyone's given social circles Google Plus having the most influence. Weather they have authorship or not. It will be about who Google considers an influencer. And I believe the easiest lest scientific way to guess who is an influencer is to research posts "Ripples" ;
  • Al Remetch: +John Allen you're right. You are talking about personal search results. But I'm not. Google will always need a way to judge the validity of content. That will either be page rank, social signals, author rank, or a combination of all of these signals. 
  • Masatake Wasa: +Jim Munro, you know my views, but here they go anyway.

    I think they are ongoing initiatives in the sense that Google is working on the viability of implementation, but I doubt it has implemented author rank or authorship with regard to organic search, as opposed to personalized search.

    In my view, there is a policy issue, in that if Google were seen to promote Google+ through its strong market position in organic search - and the degree of Google's dominance in organic search market is more pronounced in Europe - then such would be seen as an abusive behaviour. In other words, if organic ranking is positively affected by authorship tied to Google+, then Google is giving a strong incentive to webmasters to create a Google+ profile so that they can rank better or not lose their rankings. Webmasters will be creating and using Google+, not necessarily because they want to use Google+ or think it's a great product, but because they feel that they need to do so for organic search.

    Authorship tied to Google+ is something manipulable as well: Google wants a person to have one Google+ profile only, which would represent the whole person, but people have multiple profiles for different topics, and a profile can be maintained by more than one individual. Google+ profiles are an imperfect medium to establish the identity of the integral, whole person. Furthermore, Google does not check the credentials, professional qualifications, educational backgrounds, etc, that people put on their profiles, and to do so would probably be prohibitively complicated and expensive, so there is no guarantee that Google+ profile accurately represents the person behind it.

    Author rank - as a concept - does not have to rely on authorship tied to a Google+ profile, so long as Google can be reasonably confident something is written or created by someone, and that person has also written or created other materials. In other words, it is Google having the ability to tie materials back to the actual person, not a representation of that person - which could be partial - in the shape of a Google+ profile. I wouldn't know how Google would achieve it, but if it can, then I can see author rank being implemented. People might find that creepy, though.

    Anyway, authorship and author rank - this time it is taken that the rank is inherent in a Google+ profile - can and will be used in personalized search, which is tied to the Google+ landscape. So a very important question in my mind is: how large will personalized search be for Google?
  • Jim Munro: Thank you, Masatake. :)

    Thank you, Al, John, Justin, Rand. :)
  • Alexandru Cobuz: To be honest authorship is more like a marketing strategy for Google as well, to improve their social network. The autorship is a big thing for any website in any niche. You have an advantage when your image shows up near your search result and stats indicated that people are more likely to trust those sites and to click on those more often.

    And now with the image showing up in results people tend to go to sites above #5 in first page, a better distribution of ctr, plus (on the long term) the new visits on the websites will add correlations to your websites position (page visit time, bounce rate, etc).
  • David Harry: Meh... just another case of ignorance. Google never had anything called "AuthorRank" so it is quite easy for them to say "No, we don't use it"  ;
    Sadly, this is like "TrustRank" in that people associated it with Google, when in fact that was a name Yahoo used for that concept.

    Soooooo ... let's at least get that sorted first. This all started (for SEOs and eventually marketing types) with the AgentRank patent. First filed in 2005 and then awarded in 07. ;

    More here; ;http://www.seobythesea.com/2013/03/googles-agent-rank-author-rank-patent-filing/

    Now, going beyond all of that silly confusion, what we do know is;

    A. Google likes entities (see metaweb / knowledge graph)

    B. Google likes authority and related associated concepts and categorizations.

    C. Google likes the social graph and potentially behavioural data.

    It is the general growth and manifestation of some of these concepts that people are rolling into a term they've created; AuthorRank

    This is NOT something invented by Google per se, it is something created by SEOs and marketers that have ignorance and agendas driving their words.

    I personally believe on must be fairly short sighted to try and boil down the above points (A,B.C) into something along the lines of what most consider to be AuthorRank. ;

    Once upon a time folks used to ask about the "Google sandbox". Was there one? No. Were there a set of algorithms that gave the appearance of one? Indeed.

    Google's various graphs (social, link, entity, temporal, knowledge) and personalizations (behavioural, localized, social etc) do indeed show signs of what one might attribute to AR, but indeed it's a short sighted 'box' solution that marketers are using at the moment.

    Just sayin.... know your search evolution and know how IR works. It'll go a long way for ya

View original question in the Dumb SEO Questions community on Facebook, 09/08/2013).

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