Ralf Schulz
By Ralf Schulz | SEO | September 10, 2014

Google Authorship is Dead: What Now?

Google-Authorship2Three years ago Google started an experiment called Google Authorship, but on August 28th that experiment ended. This has left us with only one question, what happens to Author Rank?

Starting with the Basics

What is/was Google Authorship? Well, it was originally created so that authors of original content had a way to identify themselves. It was implemented using authorship markup on the backend of websites. Over time, this was linked into Google+ in the attempt to have a clean, Google-controlled, author-identifying system that could manage the relationship between authors and their content.

Google Authorship was designed to reward authors (and their content) when author names would appear next to stories and pictures. This would also allow the author’s name to appear within search results (including a picture of the author).

If you’ve included authorship markup on your page, should you be worried about leaving it there? The answer is simple: no. Google tells us that it’ll just be ignored. But if Google ignores it, then why should we leave it there? Because other companies could still be ranking based on Google’s system. For example, things like rel=author and rel=me are a simplified format that other services could continue to use.

What about Authorship Rank?

how-to-install-google-authorshipOne of the metrics produced by Google Authorship is Author Rank (a term that actually came from the SEO community and not Google itself). This term implied that if a trustworthy writer produced an article it would potentially give the article a ranking boost from the get-go.

What’s the Future of Author Rank?

Although Google Authorship is dead, Google has said that dropping the program shouldn’t have an effect on the ongoing ranking factors for article search. They also mentioned that dropping the program doesn’t mean that they won’t continue to explore how authors will get rewarded in the future. Just because they didn’t hit the nail on the head this time doesn’t mean that they are throwing away the idea.

As I mentioned earlier, Google is currently overlooking any authorship markup posted on your site but it’s not worth getting rid of yet because other services could still be using a similar ranking system. So how will things get ranked moving forward? The answer is that Google has other ways to understand who is an authoritative author. One example: Google will look at bylines that existed before Authorship. These bylines are not going anywhere as of right now.

In conclusion

Because Author Rank is still around it, doesn’t make sense to remove the code just yet (even though authorship has disappeared). If it appears again in the future, authorship will also only be one of many SEO ranking factors and certainly won’t be a primary factor. For now it is most important to allow your authors to rank naturally just as Google intends. If you are an author, make sure the quality of your stories or articles makes you proud and Google will continue to reward you.

Thanks for reading and happy optimizing.

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