SEOs have been chattering about authorship as a potential new ranking signal, since the HTML 5 specifications were first released in 2011. Although HTML 5 is not going to be finalized for another few years, many of the markup language’s new features are already supported by leading web browsers and in use by web and software developers.
One of the new features that HTML 5 allows for is a rel=author tag, which tells a web browser that a certain individual is the author responsible for the content on that page. This tag will put a face behind a name, showing an author’s head shot and byline when a piece of blog or web content comes up in the search results.
Authorship goes hand-in-hand with many of Google’s recent algorithm changes, all of which focus on serving up more relevant, higher quality search results. It seems as though attributing authorship using this rel=author tag will let engines like Google know that the content is authentic, high-quality and written by a real person (and not spun or ghost-written).
I can imagine searching on Google a year or so from now, and only ‘trusting’ content that appears with a real photo and byline. In a few years, I can imagine a SERP where every piece of blog content and news has a photo and byline.
If you want to get a head-start and begin integrating authorship into your blog and content marketing strategy, visit these helpful resources:
Matt Cutts video on implementing rel=author: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gG3Oh7Ues8A
Linking your content to a Google+ account: http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=2539557
Troubleshooting rel=author implementation: http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1306778
A recent Pubcon talk on the new author tag: http://www.pubcon.com/google-author-tag
SocialMediaToday.com on the importance of authorship: http://socialmediatoday.com/liz-wilson/852201/content-creators-here-s-why-you-need-be-google-author
SEOMoz blog on preparing for Google author signals: http://www.seomoz.org/blog/how-to-prepare-for-authorrank-and-get-the-jump-on-google
AJ Kohn’s blog on how author tags may affect SEO: http://www.blindfiveyearold.com/author-rank
SocialMediaExaminer.com post all about authorship: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/google-author-tags/
An Eric Enge Interview with Sagar Kamdar, a group product manager for Google search: http://www.stonetemple.com/relauthor-defined-with-googles-sagar-kamdar/