Back in the day, it was fairly easy to get your website ranked #1 on Google. All you had to do was build as many links as you could, because more links equaled higher rank. As most SEOs know these days, that is simply not the case. In fact, building too many low quality links too quickly will get you penalized. Google even attacked the blog networks as of recent, sending thousands of high page rank sites to the bottom of the barrel – let alone in the barrel at all. Google has since begun figuring out ways to decipher whether a link is trustworthy or not, especially from blog networks.
So, how is Google doing this? The answer is…
rel=”author” and rel=”me”
These HTML tags are Google’s new experiment to give authors credit for their content. By adding a link to your Google+ profile with ?rel=author added to the end of it is the easy way to do it for those who don’t have access to their header file, or don’t know how to do it the way Google would prefer you to do so. What this does is it notifies Google that the owner of the linked Google+ account is responsible for that content.
But what stops me from linking to President Obama’s profile and claiming he wrote something about pulling 100% of troops out of Afghanistan and Google believing it to be him? Well, Google has implemented a checks and balances system (pun definitely intended) to ensure this sort of thing is prevented. You will receive a notification in your Google+ account asking you to confirm that you are, in fact, the author of whatever content was linked to your profile. If you don’t confirm, that blog post or article will not be accredited to that author, and will simply not be trusted as content put out by President Obama.
What exactly does this mean for SEO?
For those people who write a lot of value adding content, this could mean that once you write a blog, it could get instant credit, and because you have provided a lot of good content that people share, your new content will be deemed as trustworthy, causing your blog to rank higher in the search engines.
While this is new and Google is still working out the kinks, I highly recommend everyone start doing this, because well, Google said to do so. I like the fact that they are doing this, because it will help weed out a lot of the black hat SEOs out there who write over-optimized blogs simply for keyword stuffing. If you consistently put out value-adding content, you will surely, over time, start to gain some Google street credit.
Check out this video below by Google’s Matt Cutts and Othar Hansson where they go into more detail about how this process works:
The authorship markup can be a little confusing for those who aren’t too familiar with HTML, so check out this excellent post by Joost De Valk. He takes you step by step through the process and explains rel=”author” and rel=”me” into greater detail.
While links are still around 60% of Google’s algorithm, it is definitely a good idea to stay on top of what Google is up to, because things like this will end up becoming a larger part of the algorithm, while number of (quality) links will begin to ride the bench.