In a recent clarification on social media, Google’s Search Liaison addressed a widespread misconception regarding the influence of author bylines on search rankings.
Misconception In The SEO Community
The issue arose after a notable publication suggested that including author bylines could boost content’s visibility in Google’s search results.
According to the publication, this claim has prompted many websites to adjust their content strategies under the assumption that bylines would boost their ranking.
Google’s Clarification On Bylines
Google’s Search Liaison took to X (formerly Twitter) to address the misinformation.
In a response, the liaison stated:
“I know this will be a ‘simple, almost quaint answer’ but this part of the article is wrong nor cites us saying this. Google doesn’t somehow ‘check out our credentials.'”
He emphasized that Google doesn’t use bylines as a direct ranking signal and that the publication’s claim was incorrect.
Bylines, the liaison explained, aren’t a tool for improving search rankings but rather for the benefit of the readers.
“Author bylines aren’t something you do for Google, and they don’t help you rank better. They’re something you do for your readers — and publications doing them may exhibit the type of other characteristics our ranking systems find align with useful content.”
Further Clarification Regarding Author Bylines
Google’s Search Liaison continued:
“Just adding a byline doesn’t give a ranking boost. Nor do we somehow read information in or near a byline and think ‘Oh, they say they’re an expert, so this must be written by an expert.'”
He noted that while having accurate bylines and information might correlate with quality content, they aren’t direct ranking factors.
He adds that plenty of content without bylines ranks well, reinforcing that they’re not required to succeed in search rankings.
Key Takeaways For SEO Professionals
For SEO professionals, the key points to remember are:
- Google doesn’t use author bylines as a factor in search rankings.
- Bylines should be included for reader benefit and might coincide with other quality signals.
- Quality content can rank well with or without an author byline.
- Google plans to update its documentation to help clarify ranking factors and improve communication with SEO professionals.
This clarification from Google’s Search Liaison serves as another reminder to create high-quality content that serves your audience rather than strategies that have no direct impact on search rankings.
Update On Bylines For Google News
While Google’s Search Liaison clarified that bylines don’t influence search rankings, he noted that they are required for news sites to be eligible to appear in Google News.
In a follow-up statement, the Liaison explained:
“Google Search doesn’t require bylines. You’re referring to Google News, I believe. Bylines are required there for eligibility under the transparency policy. But having them doesn’t cause you to rank better in News nor Search.”
Therefore, while author bylines don’t impact search ranking, they are a requirement for news sites to be included in Google News results.
However, the presence of bylines alone doesn’t improve ranking within Google News either. They are simply a prerequisite for news sites to be considered for inclusion.
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