How To Establish Yourself As An Author Google Wants To Promote

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This started out as a post titled, ” Your Google Authorship Picture Disappeared… Now What?” and after I started writing it I realized that while the headline was timely with Google’s recent reduction in authorship I wanted to focus on something that would be timeless: How to establish yourself as an author Google wants to promote and one that people love. Which I think will benefit you even more. So, I hope you enjoy.

Google Authorship Picture DisappearedIf your Google authorship photo disappeared from the search results, you’re not alone. Hundreds of thousands of other people are having the same problem you are right now. Let’s take a closer look at why this may be happening.

Back in October (2013) Matt Cutts, Google’s head of web spam announced at PubCon in Las Vegas that Google was going to reduce the amount of authorship photos appearing in search results by 10-15 percent.

Here is an excerpt of what Matt said:

“We want to make sure that the people who we show as authors are high quality authors. And so we’re looking at the process of possibly tightening that up. It turns out if we reduce the amount of authorship we are showing by just about 10 or 15 percent, we’re radically able to improve the quality of the authors that we show. Which is another nice signal for those searchers and users who are typing into Google and say, ‘Ah, I see this picture, I see this person is an author. This is something I can trust. This is content that I really want to see.’ So it’s not just going to be about the markup; it’s going to be about the quality of the author.”

In December, Google took action on Matt’s promise. On Dec 11th while trying to solve why one client’s Google authorship photo wasn’t showing up I noticed that there were no authorship photos at all for anyone in the local pack results on Google organic search. Over the next few days/weeks there were a slew of reports of authorship showing up less in search results and reports of people’s authorship photos going MIA (missing in action).

Attack on the Local Pack

The attack on the local pack has been confirmed. Google is still not showing any authorship photos in the local pack area of the search results. Could this possibly allude to things to come? Could Google be making room for publisher mark up which would display an icon/logo of the business in the search results? See comments below for more on this discussion.

So, How much has Authorship been reduced?

Mozcast features is a great tool that tracks how often different search features show up in search results. Below is the history for Authorship showing up in search results for most of Dec.


As you can see there was a reduction in the amount of times Authorship was showing in the SERPs from roughly about 23 percent down to about 20 percent. While many individual authors lost their authorship photo in the search results, Dr. Pete from Moz showed that much of the loss was based on the query (the search term entered in Google). Effectively this is Google saying, “It’s not you, It’s us. We just aren’t ready to commit to showing authorship photos for this particular search query.” While it’s hard to hear those words… what are you going to do?

When it’s not query related… it’s you.

This reduction in authorship has highlighted the importance of establishing one’s authority as an author in their niche. Everyone is asking the question why did some Authors get spared while other authors were shown the way to the guillotine? Well, as you can see in Matt’s announcement, Google wants to make sure that the authors they are showing are “high quality.” Google wants to provide us, its users, with the best experience possible and they are constantly testing different formulas on how to make it the best possible experience. But what do they consider high quality? That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it?

Patterns Emerge

As droves of authors lost their authorship photos one can start to see patterns emerge. Authors with less established authority, history, low quality sites or quality of writing fell quickly while established authors, on trusted websites and or ones writing great content held on firmly to their prized authorship photos.

So, How do you get Google to Like You?

Believe it or not, Google is fairly open with this “magic” formula to not only get Google to want to post your picture on its wall, but to also build a following. The so called “magic” formula isn’t magic at all, it’s a matter of understanding what users want and delivering that to them in your own unique way that keeps their attention and keeps them coming back. Hey look at that. Real marketing. Who knew?

Below are 5 basic principles that every author should know if they’re trying to build their reputation online.

Authorship Ranking Factors 

1 Quality & Depth of Content

Write great content! Easier said than done, right? Writing great content means you have to understand your audience. What questions do they have, what are their problems, what makes them happy or sad, etc. Understanding the demographics and psychographics of your audience can really go a long way to helping you write the type of content that speaks to them. Here are some great tips from some authorities on content strategy.

2 Author Credibility & Quality

Over time, as you become known for writing high quality content Google may see you as an established author on your specific area(s) of expertise (See Google’s patent on “Agent Rank” as it’s pretty detailed on this matter, but a more digestible explanation was written by Bill Slawski) and choose to show you more often when people are searching on that topic. There is a lot of speculation as to whether Google is currently utilizing some form of “Author Rank“, but the simple fact of the matter is that they are already determining which authors to show based on a set of quality factors that they established.

3 Website Credibility & Quality

There are a number of factors that go into a website’s authority and quality when it comes to Google. First, make sure you’re following best practices for your own site. Also, when you get published on other sites think quality over quantity. You should carefully review a site that you’re going to publish content on to make sure that they curate their content carefully and don’t just accept any author with a pulse. The sites you connect yourself with will (if Google implements the theory behind their patent) impact your authority as an author so having a ton of low quality sites won’t do you any good.

4 Search Query

You can be the greatest author in the world and if Google isn’t showing authorship for a certain search query then that’s their prerogative and there’s not anything you can do about it. What you can do, is understand which queries tend to display authorship results and write great content about a topic that will serve your audience. Also, just because your authorship photo doesn’t show up for a search query doesn’t mean that Google won’t count that content towards establishing you as an authoritative author on that topic.

5 Does the Searcher Know the Author? (Basically are you connected on Google+)

This comes into play when the user is logged into Google. If you do a good job at connecting with people on Google+, when they’re logged in and search for content on Google you’re more likely to appear for them because you’re connected. Google feels because of the connection you have with them that the content may be more relevant to you. I tend to agree with them on this topic.

I think you get the idea. It’s extremely important to connect and engage on social networks, but if you’re interested in building your authority as an author than you especially need to be active on Google+. Interact on Google+ with real people in communities, on posts, in comments… any chance you get. Ask and answer questions. Be a resource. Share great content. Promote great content and amazing people. In other words… Give and you shall receive (But give just for the joy of giving… not because you want something in return. My own humble advice.).

Directly from the Horses Mouth… I mean Webmasters Mouth

John Mueller (Sorry John, didn’t mean to refer to you as a horse.), a Webmaster Trends Analyst for Google, discusses authorship In this video below and sheds some light on what Google looks at to determine if an author should be shown for a query or not.

Because the above video is rather long I isolated the video above to where John starts talking about authorship. Also, here is what he said as best as I could transcribe it “We use a variety of factors to figure out when we should show that and one of them is kind of when we can recognize that this author is someone we should show in search in general and another could be whether or not the person searching knows this author so for example if their in their Google+ circles and those kind of things. It’s a variety of things that come together, but if you want to be known as an author of high quality content then all of these things generally try to come together so, you to publish high quality content, you want make sure that your content is published on websites that are known to have high quality content, all of those things kind of naturally come together to let us know that you’re an author of high quality content and also that your users recognize you as someone… an author of high quality content so that it makes sense for us to recommend the content like that.

Note to Self: John mentioned “High Quality Content” 5 times in about a minute of talking. This may be important.

This is Not the End… It’s Just the Beginning.

Google is shaking up the world of authorship and it’s no longer as easy as setting up authorship correctly and then you see your pretty picture in the search results. If you truly want to establish yourself as an author worthy of Google’s admiration it’s important that you create high quality content, that you do this consistently, develop your website’s authority and/or write for websites with high authority and connect/engage with your audience through social networks (especially Google+).

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