Future Google Rankings will be Determined by Rel=”Author”

Matt Polsky looking past or futureGoogle has made a massive push for businesses and online content curators to produce works that provide real subject matter, and more importantly, content that people want to actually read, post on social, email to friends, and, yes, link to as well.

But, why would they not? Google’s primary purpose is to put the most relevant, authoritative sources in front of searchers, and if they aren’t, someone isn’t doing their job.

So, how do you react to these updates and prepare for future ones? What about small businesses? Can you just become an authority?

All these questions can be answered with a single tag – rel=”author”.

Rel=”author” marks the shift of weighing the influence of an individual over that of a brand or website. Otherwise known as AuthorRank or AgentRank, rel=”author” is a way for niche experts to build authority through providing insight on subject matter that is most relevant to their specialty.

Currently, when you claim your content with authorship markup, you receive a rich snippet picture next to your content in search, as well as a see more articles link and the number people in your Google+ Circles.

The snippet alone is reason enough to begin using this tag; however, this is just the beginning.


AuthorRank is in the opening stages and could easily change how websites will need to provide information to their users – if they expect the subject matter to be seen.

In addition to changing how content is served, Google could take this to many different levels. For example:

  • Ranking for a Subject

Matt Polsky tag cloudPossibly the most recent thing to happen, if it hasn’t already, is the ability to affect the search results of an entire website through the trusted content of one or many authors. Think of it as your own personal tag cloud with every title tag and keyword you use the most.

In short, if you write most about marketing, SEO and blogging, you will be more authoritative for these terms than for, say, washing machines.

  • Rankings from Followers

Google+ and author markup has added more of a human element to content. No more is it an anonymous face behind the content, but a real person linking to a social media account. So what does this mean? This means that Google doesn’t only want to measure the influence of what you write about, but wants to associate you with who follows you, who you follow, the types of employees that work with you or for you and the customers you serve.

  • Geolocation for Searches

Where does your Google+ say you are from? Where do you live? These are things Google can take into consideration as the algorithm decides on where your content is best served.

  • Feed for the Knowledge Graph

This is a no brainer, since it is already being used to some extent. Why would Google need to search out Wikipedia when they can just pull the info from your Google+?

For the late bloomers who have yet to realize the changing landscape, this means the demise of anonymous content writers and the birth of subject matter experts that will rule niches.

Anyone who has not yet marked up their content with rel=”author” should know one thing – it’s extremely easy to implement. Here is a quick guide of marking up your content and taking full advantage of AuthorRank.

Start out by creating a Google+ Profile and find a recognizable headshot for the profile photo to brand yourself.

From here you have two options of implementation.

The two options you have:

  1. You Own the Site or Have an Email with the same Domain as your content:

If you fall into this category, you will need to have an email with the same domain as your content. For example, matt@mattpolsky.com is the email I use for author verification on my site.

From here, you post your email to Google+ and submit the email address to Google’s Authorship Page to be verified.

Next, and most importantly, make sure every article you post or have posted has a clear byline identifying you as the author (i.e. By Matt Polsky or Written By: Matt Polsky)

Matt Polsky on Google+

2. You are a guest author or do not have an email address with the same domain as your content:

In this case, all you need to do is create a link to your Google+ profile from the page that your work appears on. For instance, my byline for any contributing pieces is:

Matt Polsky specializes in producing creative, scalable and adaptive organic marketing strategies for Veterans United Home Loans, the nation’s leading dedicated provider of VA Home Loans. In his spare time, Matt guest lectures on SEO, conversion optimization and link building. Connect with Matt on his personal website, via Twitter @mattpolsky or on Google+.

If you break that down, my link to Google+ looks something like this <a href=”https://plus.google.com/117670727243090395767?rel=author“>Google+</a>. If the link is missing the parameter ?rel=author, then Google will not associate you as the author.

From here, add a link to your Google+ contributor section with the domain of the website you wrote for. This is done by clicking on View Profile -> Edit Profile -> Contributor To -> Add custom link. Again, if you don’t want to display this, you can make it private.

No matter which option fits you, remember that you can check your markup through Google’s structured data testing tool.

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Matt Polsky

I'm the Director and Head of SEO for Veterans United Home Loans. I've been in online marketing since 2007 and focus on producing scalable inbound marketing strategies for everyone - ranging from small businesses and startups to enterprise level companies. Thoughts and posts on this site are my own. Read more about my background here or connect with me on Google+.