Google dominates the search engine market, so whatever it does has an influence on which websites are more visible to potential visitors.
PageRank was a system based on variables that ranked a site based on keywords and key-phrases, which and how many other sites link or refer a given website, how many links a website has, and many other factors. Overall, web pages are ranked by hundreds if not thousands of variables. In an attempt to further improve search engine results, Google introduced a system that takes into account any web content author(s).
High-quality authors and content creators can boost the profile of their work and their site with a boost of recognition from new Google’s search engine site-ranking system. Content authors are graded on their reputation, credibility and quality of their work. AuthorRank is the name of this new ranking factor, and it’s gotten a lot of attention in the media lately.
AuthorRank has several interesting features, such as time-on-site and a system of variables relating to an author’s content that basically adds up to a positive-mention count. Time-on-site tracks how long a user stays on a website that appears in Google search results. There is a cutoff time, unspecified at this point, beyond which a site raises its profile on Google’s ranking system. The rationale is that if visitors stay on the site longer, they are more likely to be interested and engaged with the site’s content. This implies a higher-quality website deserving of better placement in search results.
Another important feature of Google’s search ranking system is measures of positive mention, reference by other content and reach of a given author’s content. This is a measure of popularity, important to a site’s overall ranking. Lastly, AuthorRank-influenced results may look distinct, depending on other information an author provides to Google. Search results influenced by AuthorRank may include author’s name and picture in a small tab next to the website link.
If content does not have a reputable author, it may pay to ask a reputable author create some content for your site. Their credibility will likely boost your site reputation. Search engine rank is also driven by social signals such as Facebook “likes,” tweets, shares and other indication of popularity, credibility, quality or approval.
Additionally, it is a good idea to generate website content and features to entice a visitor to stay on the site. The longer they stay and browse your site, the better your bounce rate and page views. The logic of this ranking is to get a rough measure of visitors’ interest. Two sites may have an equal number of visiting clicks, but if one site has visitors leaving after an average of 15 seconds and the other one has them staying for over 5 minutes, the second site will be seen as more favorable to Google.
What is an objective measure of credibility and productivity? For example, how does one rank:
- a physics professor who wrote a few singularly creative but practically useless articles about possible causes of galactic Dark Flow
- a financial planner who publishes a few practical articles about investing in unconventional assets
- a popular and respected plumber who frequently posts about people’s propensity to ignore leaks as well as interesting stuff he’s found in drain pipes
Basically, AuthorRank digitizes a problem that has plagued the academic world for a long time: the relationship between popularity and quality.
There are other potential pitfalls and possibility for unfairness with implementing AuthorRank. Google may give special prominence to already-established authors at the expense of creating a higher barrier to entry for newer, less experienced authors to gain popularity and site visits.
With Author Rank, Google is verifying individual writers through Google+; once you connect your website with your Google+ account, search results will show your headline and byline next to the result for your content. This helps you cross-reference your content across multiple channels on the web under a central identity.