Just Another SEO Blog. With a Twist

How Links From Authored Sites Push Rankings [Case Study]

Posted by on Jul 14, 2012 in Author Rank, Featured Posts |

  • In Part 1 we’ve reviewed the basics of Authorship Markup via Google Plus, an important tool to strengthen our reputation as writers and at the same time enhancing the performance of our site, increase CTR and, hopefully, landing us a spot on Google’s good side.
  • But what if I got a link from within a post by a reputable writer? Wouldn’t this give my link an amazing added value? I believe it does, and that would probably be one of the best links you could get. This is directly tied to the concept of Author Rank.

In this 2nd part I will:

  1. Continue my reference to Tal Prihar’s article on Google Authorship Markup and AJ Kohn’s Article on Author Rank (as well as other important resources you can see at the end of this post).
  2. Share the insights from my own little experiment, where I compared between the progress of two different terms/pages on the same site, one with a percentage of backlinks from authored sites (“Term 1″), and the other without them (“Term 2″). Other than that they have the same search volume, competition and general no. of backlinks):
Short answer: Term 1 got to #1 in the UK market on a highly competitive and searched term.


 But let’s continue reviewing the basics, shall we?

I. Authorship & Author Rank

What is Author Rank?

Author Rank is a Google registered patent from 2007 which means that
Your reputation as an author will directly influence the ranking of your articles on the SERPs, no matter where they where published.

Why has this become relevant now (more than ever before)?

    1. Thanks to the creation of Google Plus, Google now has the technology to allow each and every author to digitally sign his or her content by using the Authorship Markup, and if that signature is properly placed and connected to the author’s G+ account, their post will take precedence over other unsigned posts, especially avoiding past frustrations like being outranked by someone who duplicated your content. Once the content is signed – Google is very much aware of who came 1st.
    2. Google attempts to push G+ into our lives at any cost and this digital signature is the perfect encouragement for authors aspiring for knowledge and reputation to join.
    3. Google needs an unbiased trust signal to mark quality content after PR has been seriously manipulated. According to this Post from the Head of their Authorship Project: “Great content comes from great authors, and we’re looking closely at ways this markup could help us highlight authors and rank search results.”
Deserted Google Plus Meme

From ZipMeme.com


Leveling the Playing Field: Issues and Problems Addressed by Google Authorship


  1. Motivating writers to join G+ and issue high quality content to gain reputation.
  2. Balancing the weight of links by adding another quality signal.
  3. Devaluating low quality content blogs, blog networks, satellites, article directories etc.
  4. “Threatening” high quality writers so that they don’t misuse their reputation for link schemes – Authority scores are relatively hard to earn
  5. According to the patent doc, reputation is apparently niche dependent.

As a Result, A Change of Perspective is Needed:

  1. From ‘What was written’ -> Who Wrote it
  2. From ‘Where it has been published’ -> Who Wrote it
  3. From ‘Promoting my site using low quality content’ -> Upgrade a good content piece
  4. From ‘The site is authoritative in a niche’ -> Some writers are authoritative in a niche
  5. Building a link profile for a site -> Building a link profile for yourself

Does Author Rank Replace PR?

AuthorRank DOES NOT replace *PR, it is added to it for a better assesment of the quality of a site:

  • High PR + High AR = Wonderful
  • Low PR + High AR = New content?
  • High PR + Low AR = Unnatural or irrelevant links
  • Low PR + Low AR = Bad links, no reputation

(*PR here does not refer to the old formula of links=power, but to the overall factors determining the quality of a page)

Parameters that Measure Author Rank/Agent Rank

  1. Frequency of the publications by the same author, and the amount of social shares.
  2. Who shared & how many shared the post (in his niche? Good AR?)
  3. Who are the rest of the authors in the niche?
  4. Amount and quality of comments (using an algorithm originally designed for Google Knol)
  5. Links from other authoritative authors.

Google has acquired 2 companies that developed patents in Social Analytics (studying patterns of user engagement and translating them to search result ranking factors) to help them refine this algorithm.

Could Author Rank Be Subjected to Manipulation Attempts from SEOs?

  1. It’s very easy to claim authorship on posts we didn’t write
  2. You can create various authors in one blog to strengthen reputation + sell links from those posts.
  3. Reputable authors will sell links (if you try to buy)
  4. You can steal/create G+ accounts to gain AR in small niches.
  5. Reputable writers in the same niche can create cliques or Link Schemes.

II. Case Study – Links From Authored Sites Push Rankings

google plus as evil meme

Shared by SearchEngineJournal.com

On a recent interview at SMX Matt Cutts stated that Google does not have enough data from Google Plus to count as a ranking factor. However, In a research I conducted I discovered that authorship has a positive impact not only on a an author’s reputation but also raises the quality and reputation of the site he or she are contributing to.

  • In order to prove this hypothesis I had the perfect candidates:
    - Both are internal pages of a site that has existed for only 6 months. The site itself had little rankings, mostly for the brand name (the site is operating in one of
    the most competitive industries worldwide, particularly in the UK).- Both internal pages were created at the same time, according to the principles of writing in a post semantic search era, which in other words means that
    they were created with the user in mind, giving answers to questions the user might be asking, giving the user options he might find interesting
    and related, and, most importantly, without any type of keyword stuffing or webspam!- Each page targeted a different term – both highly competitive with the same local search volume (promoted for Google UK)


After 3 months I analyzed the backlink profile of each of the pages and their ranking on that term:

  • “Term 1″ – 23 backlinks, over 20% of those are from internal pages on authored blogs or posts, all diverse anchor links on relevant sites. Rank: #1 (steady for about 3-4 weeks now, with the exception of minor fluctuations).
  • “Term 2″ – 20 backlinks, none from authored blogs, all diverse anchor links on relevant sites. Rank: Top: 7, Bottom: #20, really unstable.

It seems that authored blogs have really made the big difference between practically identical sites. Though it’s all niche and country related, it seems that an authored blog can definitely help push your SEO Efforts.

How do I find authored blogs?

  1. In his post How Authorship Will Change Linkbuilding, Tom Anthony presents a tool that checks the backlinks of a URL, crawls their authorship markup and gives you a report showing which of those competitor backlinks have successfully implemented the authorship markup via Google Plus (sample report). A wonderful tool, however requires more advanced technical skills in order to implement and use.
  2. The easiest way to find authored blogging opportunities would be to go in your Google + account and look up keywords related to your industry.
    Tip: The best blogging opportunities on g+ come up if you look up competing and more established brand names. This is much better than going in and looking for the terms that you are actually promoting, though both techniques work.
  3. Look up related keywords/possible article titles/longtails in Google (e.g. Forex tips/advice) to locate g+ influencers (search for authored results) in your niche in order to contact them and get them to write about you on their blog, or perhaps share your post in their g+ status – can’t hurt!
  4. Dig in their g+ profiles – do they have other possible influencers on their circles? You should try to contact them.

Sounds difficult? Well that’s what makes them so valuable. 1-2 links can make all the difference. Google are desperate for high quality, real and reputable recommendations on links, so what’s better than a link from a reputable writer that he also shares on g+? Besides

What can I do if I don’t find them?

The answer is simple – leverage the value of your links. Help a blogger out! I’m sure that any blogger would be glad to learn how to implement authorship markup, and what are the benefits. This is exactly how we (my colleague Emily and I) managed to obtain a link from one savvy blogger. If he’s serious about his blog, from the amount of quality posts and level of writing, why not let Google know and boost his reputation? We explained to him about benefits, advantages and wordpress plugins, and he was great. He not only implemented everything we said on his blog, but he also gave us a link and even wrote a very nice post about it entitled “Stand out at Google Search Results with Authorship Markup (rel=author)“. How great is that? And he even wrote a follow up post about it, thanks Jim!

I’m sure there are plenty of ways to find authored blogs, I would be glad if you shared those with me as well as your experience with this. Did you notice a ranking push since you started getting links from authored blogs? And now, I clear the stage for the experts :)

Important Resources and Tools Related to Author Rank

Author rank by AJ Kohn – What is AR and how you calculate it – The source of all things AR :) Follow AJ on Twitter and g+

Tal Priher’s Google Authorship – Markup & AuthorRank Lecture – One of the most important players in the Israeli SEO scene. Follow Tal on Facebook and g+

John Doherty, Distilled, Social Network Spam and Author/Agent Rank – Follow John on Twitter and g+

And now some comic relief: Cats & Author Rank , Andrew Shotland – AR – What you should NOT do :) Follow Andrew of Twitter and g+