Growing role of Author Rank
The SEO by the Sea blog by Bill Slawski has been one of the must-read blogs on the SEO sphere for many years. Bill's signature posting is based around uncovering new patents that Google and the other search engines have either filed or had approved, deciphering their sometimes impenetrable language and giving his thoughts on what they may mean for the future of search.
Digital signature, document relevance and topic expertise
A recent post by Bill pointed towards an interesting series of patents that Google has just had granted regarding authorship. 'Author Rank' has long been touted as a growing facet of website ranking, however, up until now it hasn't been clear as to how exactly Google intends to establish who is an authority on which topic. These latest patents granted at the start of June would appear to make this a bit clearer.
In essence, Google is developing a system based on determining the authority score of an author for a particular topic, which in one of the patents they call an 'Authority Signature Value'. This is based on an author providing a 'digital signature' to their work that will follow their published works across the internet.
There is also a patent that demonstrates how particular documents may be broken down into topics, determining how authoritative these documents are would be based upon how authoritative they are on those topics.
Sagar Kamdar, Google's Director of Product Management on Search outlines why Google is moving towards with this system, 'content associated with a real identity is often of higher quality than content published anonymously.'
In total there are six patents all of which point towards how these elements will work together to form an authorship quality score. Bill's post has a rundown which includes the abstract of each patent.
What does this mean for individuals and businesses in search?
Whilst we believe that 'Author Rank' will begin to grow in importance, it will not be a fully formed ranking factor for a while yet. Matt Cutts alluded to this in a recent interview with Eric Enge at Stone Temple consulting, 'Links are still the best way that we've found ……….. maybe over time social or authorship or other types of markup will give us a lot more information about that.' The 2013 Moz ranking factors survey would also seem to bear this out - authorship metrics were the second highest in the list of future SEO predictions, but links are considered the most important aspect of the algorithm at the moment.