Google has been at the forefront of rich markup for search engines, having multiplied both their support for rich data and the portion of the time that rich results are shown. Their recent collaboration with competitors Bing and Yahoo! for schema.org, a site that standardizes and educates about markup language, further demonstrates the company’s enthusiasm. Yesterday (June 7th) Google launched another markup option: Authorship. This new markup may have significant implications for SEO.
Here’s how authorship works: Sites that have large portions of content written by a specific author can denote the author of each piece of content and can specify the author’s page on the site. The author page can then include markup that specifies what select data on the page is. Google can then display portions of the specified data from the search engine results page, giving direct links to the author’s page, other content from the same writer, and other pages that belong to the same author (such as social sites).
This is a great way to specify who wrote content and give some appropriate credit, information, and cross-promotion for that author. However, there are also several implications for SEO:
- The release of the +1 button and the increasing prominence of social data in search means that a single user action, such as clicking on the +1, can help bolster your search rank. Combine this with the author tag and what you get is a search component that ranks authors by popularity.
- The Panda search algorithm update declared much more severe punishments for bad behavior. One of the violations that now results in more pain is duplicating content from other sites. It’s sometimes ambiguous, however, who the original author was. The author tag may help resolve this.
- The Google News algorithm examines the popularity of stories based on how many people report that story, or a related one. This is a great way to see what’s big but doesn’t catch breaking news immediately. Implementing author popularity and the popularity of their previous articles may be a new factor in ranking news stories.
The markup is brand new and none of its impact can be said for certain. At the very least, though, it’s phenomenal news for those who write.