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At the same time as it was sending ripples through the SEO world with over-optimization penalties, updates to Panda and the impact of Penguin, Google was also ruffling feathers and changing its game with author rank.

Here’s how Google explains this new update: “Assuming that a given agent has a high reputational score, representing an established reputation for authoring valuable content, then additional content authored and signed by that agent will be promoted relative to unsigned content or content from less reputable agents in search results.”

Translation: if content on a page is tied to an author who has a strong author rank with Google, that page’s search ranking should be higher than it otherwise would be.

There are a few things to unpack, however, if you want to understand how to SEO your site or have more informed discussions with your SEO inbound marketers. Most importantly, from the perspective of the paranoids, Google will be factoring various aspects of Google+ and pages receiving plus-one clicks in assigning quality scores to authors.

If you post something — writing, photos, or video for example — and use Google’s Authorship tools to link your Google+ identity to that content, when such content gets plus-one votes, your author rank will improve. This isn’t the only way to receive ranking, but it does create a kind of closed loop, where those who are active and receive attention on Google’s social media site will notice their content ranking higher on the search giant’s SERPs.

Only one aspect of SEO matters when it comes to author rank — the author score of your content in the subject or topic where you want to rank. You also must pay attention to the author scores of those linking to your content. Other actions that suggest positive attention to your content: speed of link sharing within the sector and comments on the content.

Author ranks won’t replace traditional search ranking metrics — namely the things Penguin and Panda care about, but it will supplement them. The idea is, by giving users the ability to up-vote and down-vote not just content but authors, Google will be able to produce higher-quality search results that help people find the information they want.

For small businesses and companies concerned with SEO, this means it’s time to start thinking about developing authorship. There hasn’t been a big announcement about author rank yet, so it’s probably not in full-scale implementation. But that doesn’t mean you can’t look for an inbound marketing firm that’s focusing on developing its authorship, or even think about taking steps on Google+ to develop your own content quality reputation within your industry.

While author rank might shake things up a lot, if you’re prepared, you’ll be fine. And, if they never roll it out, your efforts will only help you.

Visit us at and learn more about Author Rank and how it can improve your rankings and increase traffic.

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