What Hath Matt Said? Is Google Boosting Individual Authors as Subject Authorities?

Matt Cutts on boosting subject authorities in search

Has Matt Cutts Confirmed that Author Rank Is Coming?

Among the hottest recurring topics in SEO over the past two years, certainly speculation about Google AuthorRank has to be in anyone’s Top 10 List. When Google first announced Google Authorship in the summer of 2011, Google spokespersons Matt Cutts and Othar Hansson stated that it might be used at some point in the future to find authors who were respected subject-area authorities and give them a boost in the Google search rankings. Thus was born the concept of “Google AuthorRank,” which Google patent expert Bill Slawski had already associated with older Google “Agent Rank” patents.

Google: Authorship Does Not (Yet) Affect Search Rankings

Many expected we would see Author Rank in play by the end of 2011. But 2011 rolled into 2012 and then on into 2013, and still there was no conclusive evidence that any kind of author ranking system was in play. Sure Google had fully rolled out Authorship in search, and over the past two years many authors were able to get the coveted author photo next to search results for their content (which has recently been cut back some). But not only could careful SEO testers find no evidence that having authorship affected search rankings, during the fall of 2013 Google spokesperson John Mueller explicitly stated that Authorship was not being used to affect search. A couple of weeks later Googler Pierre Far made the same confirmation at SMX East in New York.

But Matt Cutts said…

However, at several points throughout 2013, Google’s best known spokesperson Matt Cutts made intriguing statements about subject authorities and search rankings. The first I’ve found was in May, and the latest just this past week. In every case, what Matt said was virtually identical in essence: Google wants to (or is) getting better at finding and boosting subject-area authorities, those who are have gained authority that Google understands that is, and giving them a boost in search results.

Many bloggers and social media posters have jumped on those statements and assumed Matt was referring to individual subject area authorities, i.e. “authors” as Google calls them. And if that were the case, then it would seem that something like an author rank was already here or soon to come.

I’m calling not so fast! [Read more…]

Introducing Virante AuthorRank! How Do You Rate As an Influential Author?




These are the currency of the web today. In some ways, the social web has brought us back around to the way our parents and grandparents did business. Just like them, we want to figure out who can be trusted on any given topic. Who speaks with authority that we can rely on? That person can be said to wield true influence.

More and more the world of search is moving from linking up people with the best sites, to linking up people with the best people who can reliably provide the information, expertise, and help being sought.

But how do we determine who those people are for any given topic?

Enter Google AuthorRank

By now many people have at least heard of something called “Google AuthorRank.” For years, in patents and in scattered videos and blog posts, Google has talked about its desire to uniquely identify authors, connect them to their original content across the web, and then be able to score their topical authority based on various signals around their content.

Google has made some significant strides in that direction, including:

  • The unveiling in June 2011 of Google+, which allows the creation of unique profiles linked to real people.
  • The introduction, at about the same time, of Google Authorship, which encouraged content creators to create verified links between their Google+ profiles and their content on the web (rel=”author”). This in turn qualified those authors to earn an author rich snippet for search results for their content.

Google Authorship search result

But even though these basic pieces Google would need to make use of any kind of author ranking in search results have existed now for over two years, there is still no evidence that Google actually has implemented any such scheme, at least as of this writing. In fact, as recently as September 2013 Google spokesperson John Mueller confirmed that Google Authorship is not yet a ranking factor in search.

Enter Virante AuthorRank

Even though Google may not yet be implementing any plans to boost authors in search according to their measured authority, Google Authorship has proven already that such author authority is valuable. Google has been showing these author rich snippet results in search for over two years now because they realize that searchers trust content that comes from real people. Furthermore, authorship results help establish trusted personal brands. When someone sees the same face in their results again and again, and that person consistently provides reliable content, they will begin to seek out that author’s content, and recommend it to their friends.

So at Virante Search Marketing, we realized that such authors have real value, and need to be recognized. Even before Google implements any kind of author ranking system, there ought to be a way to quickly evaluate authors according to the value they bring. So we created Virante AuthorRank.

AuthorRank score example

Virante AuthorRank is a set of scores that reflects the overall search engine ranking power of a particular author’s content. That is, it assess the types of signals that seem to most affect the search ranking ability of a piece of content. Among the factors evaluated are

  • Use of Google Authorship
  • Diversity of sites to which an author contributes
  • Link value of sites to which an author contributes
  • Volume of content produced by author
  • Link value of content produced by author

These metrics (using data drawn directly from Google and from Open Site Explorer created by Moz) are combined by our proprietary formula to produce a Virante AuthorRank score, along with several other scores assessing specific areas of the author’s content authority.

The tool is currently in beta. We are still testing and debugging it. So be aware that any score given today may change in the future, not only as the individual author’s search authority changes, but as we make corrections and add new data capabilities to the tool.

Important: In order for our tool to assess authored content authority, the Google+ profile of the author must have links in the Contributor To category of the author’s link section that link to domains where that author has published content.

Have more questions? Check our Virante AuthorRank FAQ

To check your AuthorRank score, click the button below:

Get Your AuthorRank Score


Virante AuthorRank Score Key

Here is an explanation of each of the scores provided in your Virante AuthorRank scoring:

  • AuthorRank: This is the author’s overall Virante AuthorRank score. It is a combination of all the factors we assess. Use this to compare the overall search authority of the author’s content to other authors.
  • AuthorTrust: This score is based on Moz’s MozTrust metric. MozTrust measures the “link ‘distance’ between a given page and a seeded trust source on the Internet. Think of this like six degrees of separation: The closer you are linked to a trusted website, the more trust you have, yourself.” So a higher AuthorTrust score indicates that the link graph of an author’s content tends to contain and be closer to more of the kinds of sites that search engines trust, and thus give more weight to their links.
  • AuthorExternalRank: This score evaluates only the strength of links from external websites to the Author’s content. So it excludes other factors such as diversity of content sites, domain authority of those sites, and volume of content. So you can use this score to evaluate how well regarded and/or how often cited the author’s content is by other sites.
  • Avg Page Authority: This score assesses the average search authority of the pages of content published by the author, isolated from any other factors.
  • Avg Domain Authority: This score assesses the average search authority of the domains (publishers or sites) on which the author’s content is published.

Get Your AuthorRank Score

 Have more questions? Check our Virante AuthorRank FAQ