Updates to this post here: Maybe Authorship Is A Defensive Play
I buy into authorship / author rank as a ranking signal. I can envision the Googlers drawing a web on the white board with the outline to making this “one” supplemental ranking algorithm. The social signals we expected to see take dominance seem to have flamed out before they became a product release, while the spammer market continues buying and selling “likes” and “pluses” like blood diamonds.
The question I see bloggers ask is, “how can Google favor sites fairly through authorship when some high profile domains don’t really promote authors, or have enough concentrated authors?” Think through this. Here’s my WAG on what’s going to happen (I’ve actually been pretty accurate so far… I know, I’m surprised too!).
First, this is likely going to be one algorithm in the pack of all the others. While some algos routinely get turned down with others being turned up (remember, “the natural search algorithm” we refer to is more like a rope made up of smaller algorithms embedded or encasing), this one would be vibrant. It will influence, but not at the cost of domain authority. It would have to be a conditional algorithm, maybe based on the type of sites it ranks against. It’s not going to be a game changer and make everyone change the way they’re producing content on the web. As crazy as Google can be, they’re not trying to turn users into their dogs.
Whether an intended component of author rank, I see it as a counter-balance to the “google favors big brands” complaint that they experienced in the past (and I accuse them again of now thanks to Penguin). Authority (using this not of the more common off-page metric, but instead of on-page authority) could only be counted by the brands impact on the web. Now, it’s digging deeper to spread the experts and relevance apart, opposed to their former approach of aggregating everything. Google makes things we think aren’t scalable just that.
In this there’s a chance that good writers can get the chance to beat, say, Mashable calibur sites, and give their little webpagse the chance for its 15 minutes of fame, because Google could potentially see it was deserving of it based on the writer’s past proving of themselves. Here’s an example – once upon a time I wrote a post about the link shortener services that passed SEO value. I went through every one I could find and tested each one. I got some traffic because I tapped into an interest before anyone else (it seemed). But then, the might Search Engine Land posted a very similar article, and mine got crushed. Still some first page rankings, but ultimately it faded. In this new model, despite my GreenlaneSEO having a PR of 2, I might actually have a chance to beat SEL and maintain some rankings for my own authority thanks to the added push of my personal brand equity.
Maybe I got authorship all wrong, but it makes sense to me. This is an optimization Google needs to make, and it looks to me like they know it. What do you think?