To begin a discussion of Google Authorship and Author Rank we should begin with what is involved in searching the internet.
Google uses complicated mathematical algorithms to determine search results. An entire industry has been built up around securing a desirable position on search engine results pages or “SERP’s” (that’s right, SEO).
Google looks at a ton of factors to determine the ordering of their results. Helping you find the most relevant things possible is central to their business. They don’t continually tweak and change their formulas just to be jerks; they are attempting to provide a better product based on user data.
The Search (Algorithm) Process
Here we will simplify the search process. Google looks for content that is most frequently associated with your search. If you are searching “cookies” then a site with the words “cookie” or “cookies” appearing ten or twelve times may look great.
Then, if there were links from popular cooking websites or blogs that are all pointing to our “cookies” page it would appear even more attractive to Google.
Scamming the System
It is easy to see how someone may attempt to artificially inflate their rank to influence the SERP. Many Google algorithm updates have been focused on penalizing people who stuff their pages with keywords or build “link farms”; pages with nothing but links to websites.
There is an everlasting battle being waged between people trying to game the system and the engineers at Google. Google wants to prevent bad or artificial content from having a high rank because they know that you, the consumer, do not want crappy content.
When you search for “cookies” you want the internet to give you results cataloging the finest cookies in the land, not a website littered with ads and affiliate links.
Author Rank and Google Authorship
Google Authorship is an important new piece of Google’s puzzle. It offers websites with the opportunity to attribute authorship (think “credit”) to the person who wrote the page.
This is beneficial because it is easier to trust a real person than it is to put faith in “anonymous” or “staff”. If Ted Nugent tells you something about guns or J.K.Rowling speaks about writing a book, you can take either of them at their word. They have credibility.
People can now go through a simple process, available here, and gain the ability to attribute things they have written back to their Google+ profile.
An Example, Using Ant Farms
Say you are an ant farm vendor and your website maintains a blog on the subject. You include relevant information, pictures, video, and everything is formatted for online readership. People begin to “like”, “+1”, or otherwise share your posts. Each approval increases your fledgling rank.
A renowned insect enthusiast asks you to write a piece for his website. Now your work is on a reputable website that links back to your blog and your profile, double bonus. You have more exposure so more people are giving you +1 and your rank continues to grow as your ant farm empire expands.
Effect on Google Search
Soon, your author rank is good for more than just getting ant farm nerds to notice you. Content written by a highly ranked specialist will carry far more weight than something written by “anonymous”.
So you find some small website for custom built glow-in-the-dark ant farms and write posts for their blog. Their position on the SERP is positively influenced by your awesome author rank and everyone is happy.
Also, it is really cool because the author’s picture will appear next to the search results:
Google’s job is to find things, but that is not all they do. A lot of time is spent “encouraging” people to produce GOOD CONTENT. Google can only find the best search result if they have good stuff to search through.
Through authorship Google has provided authors a way to take credit for their writing and build clout. They have also armed themselves with the ability to penalize authors for writing crap or posting on spammy websites.
Author Rank is helping usher in a new age of internet accountability. Any writer or content creator who wishes to be taken seriously will have to stand by their work.