SEO in 2013: The Rising Influence of AuthorRank

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When considering major trends that will impact SEO in 2013 it’s clear that AuthorRank will play an increasingly important role in marketers’ search and SEO strategies.


PageRank has long been the standard high-level metric used to identify the relative quality of a Web page. There is arguably limited value in using PageRank as a quality metric over the last few years, but it can still be meaningful in conjunction with other quality metrics (i.e. domain authority, page authority, etc.)

In 2013 a new quality metric will take the spotlight when it comes to page quality and search engine ranking. This metric is affectionately known as AuthorRank (or Agent Rank, according to Google’s patent).

Here’s why AuthorRank will help reshape SEO in 2013:

AuthorRank: A Brief Overview

Content quality, as measured by search engines, is no longer based solely on the authority of a domain or Web page. It is increasingly based on the reputation and authority of the individual that authored the content. This reputational score grades authors on the Web and used that grade when ordering natural search engine results.

How is AuthorRank Established?

The standard method for an author on the Web to be credited by Google with the content they produce is to tie pages they have written to their Google Plus profiles. This is done using rich snippets. Authors are then ranked based on the engagement factors of the content they produce. These factors include: social endorsements (tweets, +1’s, shares, likes); the influence and relevancy of those providing the social endorsements; comments on social networks (such as Yelp); the influence and relevancy of those commenting; and the quality and relevancy of inbound links pointing to the content. The more an author writes on a topic, and the more engagement with that content, the higher that author’s rank will be for a specific topic.

Leveraging AuthorRank for Search Engine Rankings

There are several ways for marketers to improve AuthorRank on their brand’s website. These include finding authors who already have AuthorRank and building the AuthorRank of those within the organization.

Brands that do not currently have authors with a strong online reputation should conduct author outreach for short-term content. They should also build up the AuthorRank of those within their organization to leverage in the long term.

Author outreach consists of identifying and reaching out to authors that already have authority in the space most relevant to a brand’s industry.

Conducting Google searches for a set of keywords that the brand trying to rank for and looking for rich snippet-enhanced results is a great way to identify authoritative authors in the space. Within those rich-snippet-enhanced results will be a line item indicating how many Google Plus circles the author is included in. That number is a good metric to consider when assessing the writer’s relative AuthorRank value to a brand. Scoring authors based on the number of Google Plus circles they are included in, combined with the number of relevant search queries for which they appear, will provide a prioritized list of potential authors to engage for content marketing opportunities. Connect with those authors and reach out to them to provide fresh content for your brand’s site.

Targeting popular websites and blogs is important so that more eyes will be on the content. This will increase opportunities for online engagement and commenting, two critical factors in improving a site’s AuthorRank. As the presence and influence of the author’s work increases so will the brand’s AuthorRank, which will increase site traffic over the long run.

As search marketing and SEO become more content-focused disciplines, marketers in 2013 will need to pay attention to AuthorRank. The days of PageRank’s hold over SEO are numbered. The era of AuthorRank’s dominance of SEO is here.

 Image credits: AuthorRank – courtesy © Andreas Gradin –

Marc Purtell

Marc Purtell

VP of Search Marketing at Direct Focus Online
Marc Purtell is VP of Search Marketing at Direct Focus Online, a full service digital marketing agency that employs hundreds of marketing experts worldwide. He... Read Full Bio
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  • James Hughes

    Hi -thanks for sharing this post on author ranking.

    I think this will be valuable going into 2013 in terms of keeping your blog or website in front of viewers.

    I’m going to look at implementing more social media channels from my blog to encourage more interaction.

    Many thanks

    James Hughes

    • Marc Purtell

      That’s the right idea James. The more interaction you achieve will not only cast a wider net, but also better position you as an expert in the eyes of both search engines and readers.

  • Joanne

    Great article Marc. If there was ever a better reason to finally get right into Google+, the time is now…

    • Marc Purtell

      Thanks Joanne. Start building that followership now 🙂

  • PBL Kumar

    We talked a lot about content but this does not appear to be valid for Ecommerce business!

    What do you think about a ecommerce that has little content or no content?

    the authorship is making Google more strong interms of SEO, many linking back to, is this some thing google wants i belive if we set no follow to Google plus it ignore authorship? or not

    • Marc Purtell

      That’s a great question. This can indeed relate to eCommerce business by either including a resource section on the site or a blog which gives advice related to the products or services offered that the target consumer would find beneficial. From there you can either leverage authors who already have authority within the vertical or start building AuthorRank of yourself or your writers.

  • Sebastian Cowie

    AuthorRank can only be a good thing.

    It almost forces you to publish only the best content and strive to be ahead of your peers. The ability to check other posts by the same writer means that you’ve got to be especially careful about what you publish as you won’t want to be associated with drivel.

    I think PageRank will be here to stay for a while yet, but the days of buying PageRank are hopefully coming to an end!

  • Andre Daniel

    I think This has been Google’s aim for a long time. It is no coincidence that Google + profiles and author rank are an attempt make people take their web property more seriously but also you have to take it more seriously…WITH US! Meaning doing all of your web tasks and using our applications made by us.

    That aside, building up a great reputation through AuthorRank I would have though is long over due. Brick and Mortar businesses rely heavily on word of mouth, reputation and service to their customers. Web businesses can do the same.

  • David Viniker

    PageRank remains the current major player in webpage positioning. It is a combination of webpage PageRank and HomePage PageRank (IMHO the best metric we have of Website Authority). Google also gives a boost to the effective PageRank of HomePages that are themselves competing for a keyword.

    High PageRank does not guarantee good positioning. Rather, if your webpage has relatively low combined PageRank and HomePage PageRank compared to the top 10 competitors for a keyword, top page positioning on Google is highly unlikely with White Hat techniques.

    There has been no change in the importance of PageRank from 2010 to late 2012 despite the several major changes in the Google algorithm including Panda, Penguin and AuthorRank. This is from an ongoing study of 5,000 keywords.

    The effect of AuthorRank is currently unknown because at this time we have no means to measure it.

    Kind regards


  • Marjory

    I think author rank will be especially important for e-commerce but it will manifest in product reviews:

  • Wholesale Energy

    Find it curious that Google would tie search results to google plus profiles and their usage. Google Plus and circles is relatively new and not widely adopted, so it is hardly a good indicator of relevance on the web. This appears to be just another attempt to push for adoption of a google product, much like chrome was pushed as a SEO benefiting web browser. I’m worried if google continues to use these tactics the search engine will lose credibility when looking for search results as it will be prioritizing google product users in the rankings.

    • WiseCajun

      I totally agree with Wholesale Energy. Google is tying its lame Google+ social networking apparatus to its search engine algorithms, which is unfair. Thank god it has an emerging competitor called Bing, which not has 15% of the market and growing. Google has turned into an ugly monopoly and needs to be checked by the competition!

      • Creative Director

        Yes, I have to agree with that. When one looks through the layers, it becomes clearly evident what Google is trying to do.

  • MaAnna

    Thanks for this post, Marc, and tips for increasing AuthorRank. Could you clarify how bringing in authors from outside the company increases the brand’s AuthorRank? Does this type of guest posting also increase the author’s standing too? Does any engagement that follows contribute to the brand or author’s score, or both?

    • Marc Purtell

      By bringing in authors from outside, the AuthorRank of those authors would translate to the authority of the content they produce. It may or may not help the brand as a whole, but the specific content on a brand’s website provided by an authoritative author would certainly be in a better position to rank in search engines and garner visibility. Any engagement with that content (i.e. comments, social shares, etc.) would help build authority of both the author and the brand.

      • MaAnna

        Thanks Marc. Then participating in guest posting where you’re likely to get a lot of engagement is a win-win in a bigger way now too.

  • Jeff Tippett

    Marc–thanks for this great post. Makes me a bit remiss that I signed up for G+ so long ago yet have neglected activity and engagement. But your info is persuasive enough to get me going. Time to build some circles! Thanks again for sharing.


  • Reagen of

    Thanks Marc! Now i got to force my writer to create her personal G-plus account to effectively utilize Author the markup. It’s been really a struggle to get her to signup. I hope this article could help me shed a light to her strong conviction of “no social media life”. lol.
    I’d love to see how big classified websites respond to this update. What sort of strategy will they employ given that they continue to dominate SERP (PH market) with no known SEO.

  • Chandler Bryson

    Thank you Mark to let us aware of author rank, SEO in 2013 is going to be different with terms like author rank etc. You described perfectly about author rank that how does it get establish & what factors do matter to get author rank.

  • Mr.Chau243

    Thanks for sharing good post Marc Purtell, author rank will be the main major factor in quality content ranking, so improving G+ profile and pushing quality content on it. The 2013 time is now…

  • Linda Whitehead

    How legitimate is it for Google to be placing high value on reviews when there is a whole black market providing fake reviews on Yelp and other sites?
    For example, here is the text of an email received by one of my clients yesterday: “I can provide high quality Yelp Reviews for your business. These are 100% safe, done with different IP’s and written by professional Canadian copywriters – really detailed & 50 words long. My reviews won’t get filtered – 100% money back guarantee. This is totally legal.
    Prices are $75 per review (4 stars) and $100 per review (5 stars). Minimum order: 4 reviews.
    You can pay through PayPal, Email transfer or check.”

    • Robert Wiley Hughey

      Do you know what I enjoy? I like the services that certify reviews. I also trust the work done over the past couple of years to get a true sense of a reviewer and a product that is reviewed.

      And I also love when people don’t pay attention to how sophisticated the algorithms of Google and Amazon can seem to get so incredibly fast. I don’t much like cheaters either, and when a cheater gets nailed for choosing the low road I find that especially satisfying.

      Just have faith that universally: the better quality a product that provides a better user experience will always find its way to the top. It’s one of the beauties of the Internet and Electronic Commerce.

  • Tony

    People are going to find ways to game this system like they do every other. I think this will make it harder though.

    I am going to kill off all my small niche sites as the domain expire and concentrate everything on a few larger ones. I think the main effect of that you are going to need the social signals and it will be too difficult to build enough if they are spread over too many sites.

  • Craig Griffiths

    I have been producing content for a few years and have never really done much worrying about what Google thought. Then one day I get a message saying I am part of the authorship program.

    Just keep writing and they will find you.

  • Walt

    Great article. Would welcome your opinion on SEO vs SEM (PPC) and if this is the beginning of the end to PPC campaigns as SEO strategies take center stage with small businesses.

    • Reagen of

      Hi Walt, I don’t think will see an end to PPC anytime soon as Google continues continues to experiment with it’s search results. From 10 slots down to 7 slots – more space for paid ads below the fold. Now we have a modified navigation/search tools on top of SERP (below serach box) this too could be another indication that Google will push more ads down our throat soon.

  • Sean Fleming (@flemingsean)

    This is great news for the PR industry. And bad news for the SEO industry, sector, economy, category, division, field, sphere, domain, scene, realm, business, community.

    When it comes to helping businesses elevate their search ranking, the answer is at long last the two things the PR industry excels at…. quality content and quality content.

    While I accept not all SEO ‘consultants’ are like this, the approach to SEO of cramming sites with cheap links and every permutation of key word and phrase has done nothing to improve the quality of anyone’s online experience.

    Oh, with the exception of the SEO consultants – theirs is, after all, a multi-million-dollar industry based on ruining web content.

    • R W Hughey

      And yet, do the two industries have to be mutually exclusive? I began to thrive in my SEO work when I applied smart PR practices, and SEO-educated reps in pretty much any industry shine just a bit brighter. I love SEO, and I tell you what – I’ve made every mistake there is times four trying to understand the basics. My largest mistake was paying attention to one too many “Experts.”

      You see, I started finally understanding the “big secret” of the entire Social Web we find ourselves in here at the end of 2012. You already know it too: We all Must Strive to produce Exceptional Products (innovative if possible, but the very best value we can create for our customers, regardless of skill levels) and combine that with a Social Presence dedicated to lifting others around you forward and upward…and then, like magic, your own site, product and social web’s standing shoots up through the stratosphere. But then, you’re in Public Relations, so your industry has known this “secret” since before the Internet. 🙂

  • Joao Alexandre

    Is it a wonder that the way to get yourself “tracked” as an author is to associate your content to your Gplus account? While the end is of merit, the means are a little too freaky. Too much control, in too many places.

  • Richard Beck

    This should be welcomed news for writers who write to write and for writers who don’t like wasting their time pandering to or peddling their goods to publishers who prefer to publish propaganda for causes rather than publish writing that might endure longer than it takes to change a curriculum in a middle school.

  • Bob Smith

    Very good article. Anyone who is doing SEO for themselves or their clients should be aware. Thanks.

  • Matt Morgan

    It’s all about who is responsible for quality (and low quality) content published on the web rather than what…

  • Samantha

    I guess I don’t really understand. It sounds like Google is trying to force a monopoly on email, blogs, and social networking by forcing anyone with a web page to join Google+ if they want their page to be seen? And how does your social popularity have anything to do with what you’re capable of in business? There are innovators, entrepreneurs, executives, managers, salespeople, office personnel, and warehouse/production. As far as this authorship goes, the salespeople will be highest ranking. So if I’m looking for an SUV- if any of these popularity people ever mentions the word “SUV” in a post on their personal Facebook page, that page is going to come up before say- Nissan?
    So, how is anyone suppose to be able to start a new company? We’re going back in time to the days of knocking on doors? You see- I obviously can’t be understanding this correctly, I hope. And I need to because I’ll be starting close to a dozen Internet based companies in the next year.

  • Aj Singh

    This is a great article, I would have never thought this would be significant. I’m inspired to revive my G+ effort. I’m aspiring to have an improved AuthorRank, anyone else have useful tips out there?

  • Laust Kehlet

    Well and then there were the stupidity of us who thought Google + was a helpless social media that wanted to be like Facebook… Well ofc Google – the big evil – had other and more sophisticated plans to crush their competitors playing a game were Facebook doesn’t stand a chance…
    Very good article on Authorrank and Google!

  • Kurt Henninger

    Great point……but….authorship only matters if you don’t have a big brand name. You think that big brands are going to implement authorship? IMO not any time soon. Big brands don’t need authorship on search engines IMO

  • Ken Skaggs

    I love it Marc. As a long-time writer, but SEO newbie, this really makes me feel confident that success is closer than I thought. My sites have decent page-rank, but maybe after I plaster my G+ link on all my old articles I might see another boost. I hope you’re right. Now I better get networking on G+!

  • Prime Aque

    Actually I am afraid about this news. How about the new comers? AuthorRank will help a lot to those authors who have been blogging for years providing relevant contents… how about the one that is just planning to make a blog or website? Hiring authors? Anyway, I will be busy checking my G+ account! Thank you so much!

    • Marc Purtell

      Prime, if you are starting a blog or website with no budget to hire authors, it’s a great opportunity to build your own AuthorRank. Make sure you are properly set up in Google’s Authorship Program and keep pushing out engaging, shareable content 🙂

  • RB

    I think Google is looking for other ways to rank content besides back links/on-page, they have social and author rank to push on web masters now. Author rank doesn’t fit in well with every business, there’s probably not a well known author dedicated to writing content about medical catheters! What about for those businesses? Even social media doesn’t lend to every business – so they are back to ranking via back links, on-page, etc… Also doesn’t this ‘high content’ output (suggested by Google and promoted by more intense competition) leave the internet saturated with the same types of content on tons of blogs? I think it does – I see it all the time. Marketers say – ‘How many different ways can we re-name this keyword rich title to make it unique for our site?’, but there’s tons of duplicate content out there, just renamed and re-written – same ideas – so what kind of value is this adding to the web?

  • PCRoger

    I have been trying to build my own author rank over the past year, but it is a slow process. A process, though, that I think will be worth it.

  • Andreas Peter Høgfeldt Andersen

    I also think that author rank will become very important for SEO in 2013. I also think that mobile friendly design will become more important, since these platforms market share on visitors is increasing. I wrote down my thoughts about SEO in 2013 in the article below. What do you think about my thoughts?

  • SEOGirl

    I like the importance Author Rank has given to quality content production with a silent message that the importance of links still remains. Its easy to get the Authority links as well as traffic from G+ or Facebook or Twitter so why not leverage them!

  • Eric Bryant

    We’re experiencing something very interesting relating to the +1 social ad extension, the Google Display Network, remarketing and an upsurge in organic traffic. We’re currently trying to make sense of the mechanics of it all. But there’s little doubt that G+ is having a noticeable positive effect on CTR, organic search traffic and ROI.

  • Nick

    I didn’t take Google+ seriously for a while until it became increasingly clear that your profile would influence your search rankings. Now that G+ is growing rapidly, you better start investing some time in building your online presence if you want to compete in search results. The beauty is that it’s still early for you to a head start.

  • Erika Barbosa

    Thanks so much for your post Marc! I’ve heard a lot about how AuthorRank can positively impact the website it is associate with, but can it also have a negative impact? For example, if you have a contributor that doesn’t have a positive AuthorRank, can that actually negatively affect the website in Google’s eyes?

    • Marc Purtell

      Hey Erika, thanks for reading! The positive effect of Author Rank on search rankings has actually since been confirmed by Google’s Eric Schmidt “Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.”

      Based on this, there is indeed a negative result of not having established AuthorRank, as the top of the SERPs will be dominated by those who do 🙂

      • Erika Barbosa

        Thanks for your feedback Marc! Let’s say you have a blogger for your company (who has Authorship) and has a low AuthorRank; can that actually negatively affect the company’s blog that the author is linked to?

      • Marc Purtell

        I wouldn’t say that simply having a low-ranked author as a contributor would have a negative effect, but any posts that author produces would be unlikely to outrank those with an established AuthorRank.

  • Dtan

    While the concept sounds good, I just hope it won’t get manipulated. Many years ago when PageRank was conceived, the idea of how successful of a website or blog is, will based solely on how high the number of the green bar indicates and nothing else matters. Same goes when AuthorRank, I just hope it doesn’t end up the same fate as its predecessor.

    • Andreas Peter Høgfeldt Andersen

      It will not be easy to manupulate. First it is much easier to manipulate links, than to manipulate authority. Second, I don’t think that Google will ever launch a way to calculate author rank or show author rank in a toolbar. They’ve learned from Pagerank and right now they are also working on removing Pagerank from the toolbar.The only reason why they don’t do that now, is that many ordinary people use the pagerank to identify good and bad sites. If this gets irrelevant, they will remove pagerank.

  • keyword removed

    thank for your sharing about AuthorRank, now i understand what its it AuthorLink and that fungtion, i will try to increas AuthorRank for make more website traffic, thank again for your sharing and best regart for you

  • Arun Singh

    Author rank really matter and most important now to increase our website author rank. Thanks for sharing nice post on author rank.