I came across this great article the other day on The Daily SEO Blog from SEOMoz about authorship markup and how it might impact link building. Since Google looks at the quality of a link to determine its relevance and value when ranking a site in the SERPs, being able to verify the author of a link helps verify that the link is trust worthy. As the author (Tom Anthony) points out, this gives Google two advantages:
Knowing this is an authored link, by a human who they have data about, they can place far more trust in a link. Its [sic] likely that a link authored manually by a human is of higher quality, and that a human is unlikely to claim responsibility for a link if it is spammy.
Furthermore it allows them to change the weighting of links according to the AuthorRank of the author who placed the link.
So authorship markup can help Google clean up the search results and improve their ranking factors, but why should the average site owner bother with authorship markup? How is it going to help their SEO?
As Google said when they announced authorship markup,
…authorship is a great way to identify and highlight high-quality content. Plus, the web is centered around people. People discovering content on the web often want to learn more about its author, see other content by that author, and even interact with the author.
Recommended for YouWebcast: Your Viral Voice: How to Create Conversations that Convert to Sales
The rel=author markup (which connects to you Google+ account), helps link together all the content that you have created and is scattered across the web. If you’ve been publishing content online for even a few years, chances are you’ve created hundreds of blogs posts, articles, white papers and other pieces of content. Authorship markup tells Google that you are the owner of all of those pieces of content. Since the search engine knows you are the original author, it helps protect any of your content that is scrapped or plagiarized from outperforming your work in the search results.
Since the search results will display your name and picture (pulled from your Google+ profile), users will be able to easily find more of your content in the search results. Having your image attached to a listing also makes that link more dynamic and jump out on the page, helping increase click throughs.
From a link building perspective, the SEOMoz article mentions that “we need a shift in our mindset from where we are getting links from to who we are getting links from.” Since Google is essentially trying to quantify the authority of an author, getting a more trusted author to link to your site is going to be increasingly important. While links from trusted domains are very valuable, getting links from trusted people might be where Google is looking for sites to focus on.
I’ve implemented the rel=author markup on my sites and blogs because I want to make sure my name and content are well connected should Google ever decide to really focus on author authority as a ranking signal. It’s not very hard to implement, and the long terms potential benefits are worth the time spent adding the code.