Author Authority vs. Publisher Authority for SEO

Author Authority vs. Publisher Authority for SEO

For some time now, there has been the misconception that Google+ is meant to be a competitive social media platform to Facebook and/or Twitter. While social is absolutely part of the core offering, it is NOT the main purpose for G+.

Remember Google Buzz and Google Wave? For those of you who do not, these were Google’s failed attempts at creating an integrated social platform back around 2010. A few of the bleeding edge types jumped on them immediately. But neither tool really took hold, and they were shuttered in short order.

These platforms were built because Google knew they had to figure out how to integrate social signals into search. It was also clear that they could not depend on established social media leaders Twitter and Facebook for their data.

So they created Google+ knowing that the market for social media platforms was already saturated. Why would they do this?

It’s all about Identity Verification. It always has been. Enter Author Authority.

Author Authority

I have written about author markup and author authority in the past. This is a key driver of Google+. Their goal is to eliminate spam and trickery in the SERPs. What better way to accomplish that objective than to rank content better when you can verify that the source is real, credible, and an authority on a topic?

Google has been thinking about this for several years. In fact, they filed a patent application in 2005 on this very topic. Here is some of the verbiage from that filing:

The identity of individual agents responsible for content can be used to influence search ratings.

Assuming that a given agent has a high reputational score, representing an established reputation for authoring valuable content, then additional content authored and signed by that agent will be promoted relative to unsigned content or content from less reputable agents in search results.

They are starting to figure out how to properly identify authors, assign them reputation scores, and rank content according to source. This is a huge development, and one which all writers and bloggers need to understand.

So now we have Domain Authority, Page Authority, and Author Authority, but that is only part of the story.

Publisher Authority

In the past, having a website meant that you had a web presence. That was it.

Now, web presence is much more than just your website. Today we need to think about how to align our social media profiles and pages, bookmarks, and off-site comments with branding and messaging requirements. It includes everything you and your brand ambassadors do online.

With so many people blogging and networking online, there needs to be a way to connect individuals to the organizations that they represent.

Enter PublisherRank, or Publisher Authority, which introduces the capability to markup an entire website as a publisher, and tie it to the publisher’s Google+ page.

The syntax for marking up a website as a publisher is very similar to that of author markup, but should be implemented sitewide (typically in the header), rather than inside an individual hyperlink. See below for reference:

Author Markup Sample

<a href=”GooglePlusProfileURL?rel=author”>Anchor Text for Link</a>

Publisher Markup Sample

<link href=”GooglePlusPageURL” rel=”publisher”/>

These two together can be very powerful. By connecting the website to a publisher’s page, and an individual’s content to their own personal profile on Google+, Google can identify the interrelationships and hierarchies of Publisher-to-Author.


There has been much ado about Author Authority in recent months, but that is only part of the identity verification effort by Google. Be sure to take Publisher Authority into account as well. They have not revealed every way that Publisher Authority will be used quite yet, but rest assured that it will matter very soon.

Are you marking up your content with rel=author? Does your website tie to a Google+ page? If not, it’s time to look into it.

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As Founder and President of Return On Now, Tommy Landry provides the vision behind our SEO and SEM methodologies. With over 25 years of business experience and a deep understanding of modern internet marketing techniques, he spends his time providing hands-on consulting, insightful content, and engaging public speaking appearances to Online Marketers of all skill levels.
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