Did you know that the reputation of your blog posts’ authors — that is, author authority — affects not just how your audience perceives your brand but also how much traffic your site gets from Google?
Think about what the word “authority” means. Here’s what the Oxford English Dictionary says:
A person with extensive or specialized knowledge about a subject; an expert. A book or other source able to supply reliable information or evidence.
Based on that definition, is your blog authoritative? Do your bloggers have extensive or specialized knowledge about the subject matter of your blog posts? Are they experts? Is your blog considered to be a source of reliable information?
You need to be able to answer each of these questions with a resounding, “Yes,” or your blog is not authoritative.
Why should a consumer visit your blog for information or buy from your business if it’s not authoritative and reliable?
The reality is they won’t buy from you. They’ll buy from the brand and business they feel the most comfortable and confident with. Your blog can either help or hurt you in that regard.
What is Author Authority?
Author authority can be defined as the reputation an author possesses in relation a certain topic. Reputation matters when you want people to trust you.
Most people rely on search engines to solve problems in their daily live and mostly end up visiting content produced by what they consider to be “expert” writers.
Whether it’s an instruction about putting a piece of furniture together, a travel or shopping suggestion, a blog about living a healthy life, or a simple digital marketing guide, people prefer hearing from experts.
As such, people might engage with an article that displays author information over one that doesn’t. In the case of an article that displays author info, people might decide to comment on an expert’s article over a rookie writer’s piece.
Author reputation might be one of many reasons why some articles have more engagement than others.
Importance of Author Authority
Though the author’s reputation may not seem critically essential in an era of SEO, it still matters.
Imagine dealing with low engagement and conversion despite maing yourself highly visible. Yes, author rank is even more essential when you’re in a competitive field.
Here are some more reasons why author reputation is important:
- Author authority helps build trust among the audience.
- Author authority improves the engagement of users. When people know that a post or a blog is written by an expert, they engage with follow-up questions, believing the author can answer them the best.
- Better engagement can lead to improved conversion.
Author Authority as an Evolving Concept
The emergence of fake news in recent years has shone a light on the concept of authorship, with author authority as a whole having evolved since Google patents for Agent Rank were first filed in 2005.
Google dropped authorship as a ranking factor in 2014 after removing authorship markup, but the company’s ongoing promotion of E-A-T — expertise, authority and trustworthiness — suggests authority’s role in raking has not vanished.
Google noted in 2017 it had updated its search quality rater guidelines (PDF download) to provide more detailed examples of low-quality webpages for raters to flag, which would help its algorithm demote “such low-quality content”.
We’ll explore below whether or not author authority makes a big difference when it comes to pleasing ranking algorithms, but Google’s own quality rater guidelines show that it can affect the growth of your blog.
Why Author Authority Matters in Blogging
Author authority can directly affect consumers’ perceptions of your brand and business. It can also positively or negatively affect the flow of visitors to your business site. Here are three primary ways author authority matters to your business blog:
1. Author Authority Establishes Brand Trust
Where would you rather get medical information:
- A blog post on a business website that doesn’t include the author’s name or biography; or
- A blog post on a business site written by a doctor that provides a comprehensive bio explaining his or her credentials, expertise, and years of experience on the post’s topic as well as links to his or her LinkedIn Profile and other social media and online profiles where you can learn more about him or her?
Most people would choose the latter, and that’s why author authority matters in blogging.
To that end, the writers who create your blog posts and other content should be experts in their fields. They should understand your business, and they should understand your audience’s needs.
That’s how you can be confident that the content created for your blog is relevant, meaningful, and valuable to your target audience.
2. Author Authority Helps You and Your Brand Get Noticed as Influencers
When you write a blog post for your business blog and you need to link to an external source so your audience can get more information that is outside the scope of your blog and business, would you rather link to an unknown, low-quality source, or to a well-known source with a trusted reputation?
If you chose the latter, then you already understand the value of author authority.
When you have a reputation for being authoritative, other influential websites written by authoritative creators will want to link to your content. Your reputation will grow and you’ll become known as a respected source with significant online influence.
As a result, your website will get more incoming links and more visitors.
Not only will you have more opportunities to convert visitors into buying customers but you’ll also get more search visitors because Google will recognize you, your authors, and your content as authoritative, high quality, and trustworthy.
3. Author Authority Increases Search Traffic to Your Business Website
Here’s a little tidbit about me that you won’t find on my resume or LinkedIn Profile. I was a Google Quality Rater before I started my own company. Working as a Google Quality Rater gave me a huge amount of knowledge about what Google thinks makes content authoritative and high quality versus what it considers to be low-quality content.
Now, it’s important to point out that when I was a Google Quality Rater, you had to sign a contract saying you wouldn’t disclose any of the factors Google uses in its quality rating process. Fast forward many years and you can find all of the current guidelines online and people writing about them freely.
Therefore, I’m going to share some insights based on the information freely available online about how Google considers author authority in its quality ratings and subsequent search rankings.
Keep in mind, Google’s search algorithm is based on hundreds of criteria that affect how search results are ranked. However, author authority still warrants careful consideration in your content marketing strategy.
In fact, author authority was so important to Google that it even created a process for people to connect their online content with their Google+ Profiles so Google could better track author’s authority and influence to better rank search results.
Authorship and Google+ have since been abandoned by Google, but you can bet author authority is still included in search results ranking factors.
How do we know that?
Because it’s one of the things Google Quality Raters today are expected to evaluate when they rank the relevancy of search results based on specific search queries.
Today, Google’s quality rater guidelines are instructed to look for the author of any page they rate, research that author to evaluate their expertise, command, and trustworthiness, and give the author a creator score. If the creator score is low enough, the entire page gets a low-quality score.
Guess what that means?
It means content written by low-quality creators is unlikely to rank well in relevant search results pages.
Google has yet to admit that this rating process will negatively affect search results, but it makes sense to believe it has a purpose. And what other purpose would that be than to adjust search rankings?
Specifically, here are the things Google Quality Raters are instructed to look for to identify what it refers to as a low-quality page or the lowest-quality page:
- An inadequate level of E-A-T.
- There is an unsatisfying amount of website information or information about the creator of the main content for the purpose of the page, and there is no good reason for anonymity.
- A mildly negative reputation for a website or creator of the main content based on extensive reputation research. If a page has multiple low-quality attributes, a rating lower than Low may be appropriate.
Clearly, author authority matters to Google, and it should matter to you.
What You Should Do to Improve Your Blog’s Author Authority
Now that you understand how important author authority is to your blog and website, here are three ways you can improve your blog’s author authority.
1. Hire Authoritative Bloggers
Most importantly, if you don’t have writers on your team who are already known as authoritative online content creators with expertise in your industry, you should hire authoritative bloggers immediately.
Not only do experienced, authoritative bloggers give your blog an instant boost in credibility and reputation, but they also know how to write blog content that people want to read using the most effective style and structure.
It’s worth every penny to work with someone who knows what they’re doing and is already known by and respected by Google.
2. Build Your Own Authority or Your Team Members’ Authority
If you don’t already have writers on your team with authority, start working to build their authorship as soon as possible.
Have them start publishing amazing blog posts on your business blog, get active in relevant social media websites and groups, participate in relevant forums, and guest post on related and authoritative sites and blogs.
It’s critical that each writer uses the same name across the web, so it’s easy for Google Quality Raters and everyone else to identify them.
It will take some time to build influence and a reputation as an authority, but it’s worth the time investment when it leads to more visitors to your blog.
3. Showcase Your Authoritative Bloggers
If experienced authors are writing your blog posts, then you should make sure everyone knows it.
Include author bios with links to their social media profiles at the end of every blog, and publish an author bio page with the same link for each person who writes for you. Furthermore, include links in your writers’ bios to other sites where their content has been published.
The goal is to give visitors (and Google Quality Raters) peace of mind that the content on your blog was written by true experts. This can be a powerful way to differentiate your content from your competitors’ content and prove that your business really is the best.
How to Communicate Author Authority to Search Engines?
Let’s first understand what helps build author authority before figuring out how to communicate it to search engines.
Even the most experienced authors may have a hard time building trust if they don’t have a proper digital presence. As I noted above, building a presence in the digital world is the first important step. The good news is that you can do it for almost free.
Publishing articles on trusted sites also helps build author authority. Writers who regularly contribute their pieces to trusted sites automatically have a better reputation than the ones who don’t, even if they have a similar presence across the web world.
Most authors have their own “about” page which is the best way to communicate the authorship to search engines, though there might not be a particular ranking signal for building the author rank. Excellent about pages explain in detail why the author is an expert in a particular field. Including the author’s experience in a specific field, accomplishments and awards, and links to published articles and pages backing up their claims can help make the author’s about page more impressive.
Apart from the about page, social media profiles can also help get noticed by ranking algorithms. Some expert authors are usually more active across the web and social media, such as Twitter and LinkedIn. They regularly write for their followers, unknowingly strengthening their authorship.
And finally, we have the author bio. Since it helps build trust, make sure to write information about the person who created the content every time you publish a new piece as a publisher. A good author bio includes the name of the author, their expertise, and links to their social profile and about page.
Pro tip: Before planning anything based on an assumption, ensure you have good a understanding of Google’s latest quality rater guidelines.
Key Takeaways for Business Blogs
Author authority directly affects your brand reputation and influence. While Google isn’t saying that author authority affects search rankings and traffic, we do know that evaluating author authority is part of its content rating processes.
Therefore, hiring authoritative bloggers and building your own authority (or the authority of your team members) is essential to your blog and your business’ success.
With that in mind, make author authority a priority for your business over the next few months. It won’t be long until you start seeing positive results.