From Authorship to Authority: Why Claiming Your Identity Matters #smxlondon

From Authorship to Authority: Why Claiming Your Identity Matters #smxlondon

17th May 2013

While “Content is King”, many marketers overlook the all-important factor of authority, and the process required to establish and maintain it.

The first session of this 2013 edition of SMX London delved into the steps to claim your own identity: brainstorming sessions between SEO, social and content development teams, content promotion tactics for gaining authority links and more.

The session had Chelsea Blacker, Jim Boykin, Maile Ohye, Grant Simmons as speakers and Elisabeth Omeloski as moderator.

Mayle OhyeThe first coming on stage for talking about Authority was Maile Ohye of Google.

She is going to talk about Authorship, but she says immediately that before talking about Authorship, we should understand that is strongly related to Online Identity, being effectively one of its expressions.

Some background first.

We had Pagerank, and we still have it. But Authorship is offering us the opportunity of having a web of people too, not just a web of things, and people are identities and these identities create content, hence we must have Authorship.

Identity and Authorship for Google are strongly and deeply related to Google+, because Google+ is the “identity service provider” for Google.

Authorship is growing in impression rate, as internal Google stats are showing, and help creating credibility.

Credibility, then, provides visible reputation to authors and informs Google about social search. It also helps to disambiguate and refine what people are searching for (i.e.: Danny Sullivan the Search Expert and Danny Sullivan the car driver).

How to claim your identity and authorship?

We can use the email verification or “handshake” with content (aka: rel=”author”).

This way we create a person node with cluster of information, each edge being bi-directional.

Remember the Google profile is also a cluster for other social profiles (i.e.: Twitter or YouTube social profiles).

Email verification is the simplest way for claiming authorship. Articles published prior to email verification are brought to authorship cluster.

“Handshake”: Site links to G+ profile with rel=”author” mark up. And then we must add the site in “contributor to” area of the G+ profile.

We can also use rel=”me” to chain pages (precisely profile pages) together.

Maile urges us to remember that Authorship is a subset of structured data and that Identity and Authorship help to craft the Knowledge Graph too.

And here are the best practices accordingly to Google:

  • Keep author consistent on article URL
  • Verify mark-up with structured data testing tool
  • Include authorship only on relevant “authored” articles (not rentals or product listings)
  • Be aware that it’s hard to merge or transfer authorship if you create Google profile with company email and then leave company
  • Understand Authorship as a part of larger concept of Identity and Structured Data

grant simmonsThe next talk was delivered by Grant Simmons.

Content is King, he said, but add Authority to it and we will have a “Kingier” content.

Old days are old and now quality over quantity is what matters.

How can we explain quality? Quality content is the same as saying trusted content.

Trust once used to be about links. Of course links are still important, but they are/were relatively easy to game, at least until Penguin.

Now trust is authority. And authorship is part of the authority game.

Who is an Authority? He/She is a known credible source about a topic.

Authority is now all about linking Entities to Identities. That’s why we must claim and connect our content.

So connect known identities to known identities via Social/Google+ and Rel=”author”. Remember that this is true also in Bing, where Facebook plays the role of Google+

We must then establish credibility, and that comes from creating great meaningful content.

Be a known credible topic expert, that is our mantra.

How? If you pass the algorithmic “review” a potential human review, if you have links and great engagement metrics, then you possibly are an “authority”.

But authority is not enough, and expertise is essential too. And what is expertise? It is being focused and consistently talking about a topic.

Kingier Content inspires interaction: mentions, associations, citations, connections, links, shares.

Resuming, being an Authority leads to

  • “Kingier” Success;
  • Better visibility;
  • Better Clickability;
  • More and better links;
  • And because being the king is always cool.

chelsea blackerThird on stage was Chelsea Blacker.

Chelsea approached the Authority topic from a very different perspective: Online Identity.

Somehow she had “unconsciously” linked to what Maile Ohye was saying just few minutes before.

We need to secure our profiles online. Chelsea asked herself what could her digital profile look like in 2076? She started talking about all the products that are flourishing around the potential use of the Facebook profiles of people who have passed away (i.e.: the memorial function offered by Facebook).

Social Media and the Internet in general are making updates visible that once were “private”. It is not just a question of photos, but also, for instance, of reviews that we post and that help portraying our personality online.

Chelsea shared also some tools to update profiles.

In order to check social profile availability:

  • Namechk
  • Namecheckr

For acquiring profiles names:

  • Knowem

Here are the lessons she learnt:

  • Have a consistent name and, possibly, an unique name;
  • Have Appropriate Avatars
  • Update Key Information
  • Some Aspects of our Digital Profile Are Cringe

How Chelsea updated her profile?

  • Youtube
  • Positive Reviews
  • Use rel=”author”
  • Keep personal sites up to date

Jim Boykin was the last speaker of this session and… tadà: Jim Boykin

Authorrank is coming out… [I was wondering when people would have call it out]

Jim Boykin was citing the infamous Eric Schmidt phrase about profiles (Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance) and how anonymity is going to not pay dividends in the search rankings [in my personal opinion he misinterpreted that phrase completely, taking it out of the its context). And then he cited Penguin 2.0 and Matt Cutts video published just few days ago, where Matt is announcing what SEOs have to expect in the next months.

Jim affirmed that PageRank is dead and that we should look for Authorrank [OMG! But it is not existing yet!!!]

Then, he started explaining some of the most known concepts of the Authorrank theory. Sincerely, I am not going to report them here, because I prefer to link to a much better explication, which is the one offered by AJ Kohn in this post.

More interesting was the Jim recipe about how having authoritative authors “working” for your site: Ego Bait.

Tactics with which you can develop an Ego Bait strategy are

  • Targeted Interviews,
  • Group Interviews,
  • Community based content,
  • Having reputed authors as Associate of our site.


Written By
Gianluca Fiorelli is an SEO and Web Marketing Strategist, who operates in the Italian, Spanish and English speaking countries market. He also works regularly as independent consultant with bigger international SEO agencies.
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