Last week, I was having multiple platform conversations with my old colleague and friend Stuart Bruce, we were chatting on Skype, Google+, Twitter and email. It led us to discuss Google+ in a little more detail. I have been impressed with how Google has developed Google+ as it has got some truly brilliant features and it keeps adding more and more but I wasn’t still convinced about how useful it actually was as I have always thought of it as a social media ghost town full of Google employees and SEO consultants.

The truth is it still is a bit like that but that is all about to change as Google pushes through Google Author Rank.

So what exactly does Google Author Rank mean? Essentially it is examining your content and this will have an influence on where your website appears in relevant search results. Each of us (bloggers/geeks) will have their content evaluated by the magic Google machine and then out come our page rankings. The more influential you are the higher your content will appear. I think this is a great move as it means even content that is written for humans but is for SEO purposes might start to die a death and we will be left with the best content coming out highest from the finest writers. I predicted a while back that this would happen when I wrote about writing for people not spiders. In essence, Google will become a human search engine that uses each of our online reputations to deliver the most relevant results.

I first wrote about Google+ back in July 2011 when I looked at the demographic and the growth of the platform and tried to shy away from claiming it was the second coming. I had previously been burnt by the 1st coming of Google Buzz which was useful but two years too late.

Sean McGinnis commented in his interesting article on the new addition to the Google portfolio:

I’m convinced that Google will find a way to include this claimed content into a larger “author rank” calculation (if it has not already done so). One of the ways to combat spam is to ensure transparency – transparency of intent, of purpose, but most importantly of IDENTITY. How many spammers do you know that use their real names while conducting their spamalicious activities? Not many.

The only way to claim your content is by signing up for a Google+ account with your real name, and linking that content on other third party sites up with your Google+ account.

He also gives a useful pro-tip that you can use the rel=author tag in your guest posts on third party sites as well. Use the Contributor section of your Google profile for this.

OK I am now sold but how do I get prepared for the big change?

  1. Make sure you have a Google+ profile (mine is here)
  2. Make sure each blog post your write has “by firstname lastname” (the name must match that used on your Google+ profile).
  3. Go to and “apply” for your authorship with Google officially.
  4. Verify your authorship by email once you receive it.

So don’t be too scared this isn’t going to change too much and is probably not going to destroy as many website rankings like that of Google Pengiun or Panda but it is likely to have some effect. And as long as you keep writing interesting content and keep speaking with your online friends you have nothing to worry about. Will this spell the beginning of the end of the SEO specialist or will they continue to invent new ways to beat the system? I don’t think it’s the end for SEO but I do expect more and more SEO companies to be either buying digital PR teams or launching subsiduduary PR companies because it will compliment their offers. It makes business sense I suppose.

About Chris Norton

Chris Norton is the founder of Prohibition and an award winning communications consultant with more than twenty years’ experience. He was a lecturer at Leeds Beckett University and has had a varied PR career having worked both in-house and in a number of large consultancies. He is an Integrated PR and social media blogger and writes on a wide variety of blogs across a huge amount of topics from digital marketing, social media marketing right through to technology and crisis management.