What is Author Authority?
Author Authority is a concept that describes the authority an individual author has built up on the web for a certain topic. Authors who publish on trustworthy websites build up authority, which is then applied when they publish on other platforms.
The concept of Author Authority has been around for years in a more basic form than today.
Remember how in 2011, Google started showing author pictures in combination with a Google Plus profile for articles that contained the authorship markup (
rel="author" link relationship)?
You could say that that was the first time when many SEOs started to think about Author Authority.
“But those author pictures were removed in 2014, right?” you ask.
Yep, and mid 2016 Google stopped using this authorship markup completely.
But the underlying concept of Author Authority never went away. It was still there, and it recently became very relevant again because it was mentioned specifically after Google updated its Search Quality Rater Guidelines (SQRG), and the August 1, 2018 Google update that followed.
Is Author Authority a ranking factor now? Probably not, but since the SQRG describes where Google wants her algorithms to go it makes sense to pay attention to this.
Why should you care about Author Authority?
When users are searching for information on a certain topic, they prefer authoritative sources. If Glenn Gabe and a relatively unknown SEO both write about Google’s latest broad core update, which article will you trust more?
In most cases, probably Glenn Gabe’s article, as he’s an authority in the SEO scene (especially when it comes to analyzing Google updates).
Now let’s apply this to SEO: knowing Google, they’ll try to catch this train of thought in an algorithm and apply it to web search. That’s where Author Authority comes in.
While lots of SEOs have forgotten about Author Authority, in today’s SEO era there’s a strong focus on Expertise, Authority, and Trust. It’s always important to explain to search engines who wrote a post.
To quote Mark Traphagen: “The fact that author reputation and credibility are now included in the quality rater guidelines is significant.”
Author Authority is particularly interesting today because of the rise of fake news. When put to good use, Author Authority will decrease the amount of fake news reaching the big audiences.
How do you communicate Author Authority to search engines?
There are three important elements for successfully communicating Author Authority:
- The About page
- Links to social media profiles
- Biographies for every article published
Everything revolves around the About page. All of the author’s articles and social media profiles link to it, as it’s the main resource about the author.
The About page
The author’s About page explains in detail why the author is a trusted expert and authority on a specific topic.
Typical things to include:
- Their experience in the specific field
- Organizations they are associated with
- Awards they have won
- Links to pages backing up their authority, such as Wikipedia pages and interviews on well known websites
- Published articles on other authoritative sites
Implement a Schema.org type Person communicating who this page is about and where to find their about page and social media profiles.
Links to social media profiles
The author’s social media profiles help build up their image and authority. Their name, a short bio, and links to the about page and other social media platforms need to be present on these social media profiles.
Biographies for every article published
In order for you to fully benefit from Author Rank, it’s essential for every page published to contain information about who created the content and is responsible for it, as stated in section 2.5.2 of the SQRG:
This is especially interesting for articles. We recommend that the author’s biography contain:
- Their name
- A biography describing their expertise and authority on the topic
- Links to social media profiles: Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn
- Link to the About page
If it’s not possible to include everything, at least make sure a link to the About page is included in the biography.
Additionally, implement the Schema.org type Article that references the author with the
Author field and the publisher with the
How do you increase your Author Authority?
So you have everything mentioned in the previous section covered. What now?
You want to increase your Author Authority… but how do you go about this?
It all comes down to:
- Publishing articles on authoritative sites surrounding your area of expertise only (while making sure your bio is set up well). We can’t be experts on all subjects, so stick to your own area of expertise.
- Growing your following on social media, and being active there in general.
- Doing AMAs; getting interviewed and quoted on other sites.
- Making sure the content you wrote, is actually read, shared, liked, commented on and linked to. The more authoritative the people are that engage with, and share, your content the better.
Search engines find authority increasingly important. So if you are an authority on a topic and you publish online, be sure to let search engines know about that. Let search engines connect the dots, and apply your authority to the articles you’re publishing!