SEO – Search Engine Optimization – is a tricky numbers game that a massive amount of agencies and experts have dedicated all their time to figure out. It can be challenging for a blogger to keep up with the constant changes to the search algorithms (mostly Google’s, of course) and update behavior accordingly – particularly because a great deal of what SEO is about isn’t always relevant to the solo blogger who isn’t actually marketing a product (other than the blog itself).
But there is one SEO trick that is relatively new that IS relevant to every blogger, particularly any blogger than wants to be recognized as a writer, and that’s the rel=”author” tag.
First up, this is going to be one of those posts where I highlight the importance of Google+ again. I know lots of folks don’t like it, but the truth is, as long as Google is pairing search engine results with what is basically Google’s social database you need to pay attention.
The rel=author tag is a simple bit of code that says to Google, “I wrote this.” It creates what’s been called “Author Rank” and helps give additional weight to every single thing you write online, as long as you include that tag. Here’s how Google puts it (in a patent application, according to RavenTools.com)
The name of the writer can be used to influence the ranking of web search results by indicating the writer responsible for a particular content piece … Assuming that a given writer has a high reputational score, representing an established reputation for authoring valuable content, then additional content authored and signed by that writer will be promoted relative to unsigned content or content from less reputable writers in search results.
This is not, exactly, a simple thing to do. There are a few steps, and rather than illuminate them here I’m going to link to sources that explain it far better than I can.
First, you need to set up your Google account, and a Google+ profile. In your Google+ profile, you can add websites write for, whether you are a contributor or the owner in the right sidebar. Take the time to do that. Now, when you’re posting, there are a couple of ways to tag what you’ve written as yours. This post in Google’s Support Forum outlines two simple ways you can tag your work online as yours, even when you contribute elsewhere.
If you’re on WordPress, you can also go right into the guts of your blog and set it up so your posts there are automatically tagged.
If you use a standard signature in your posts – as many of us do to help cope with content scrapers – and include the rel=”author” tag in your signature you can also automatically tag your posts as yours.
If this still isn’t making much sense to you, well, welcome to the club. I think the best explanation I’ve found about how to do it is definitely Chris Penn’s – so read his post and hopefully he can make it clear. If you still need help (as I did), this infographic actually breaks Author Rank down beautifully.
I’ve changed how I’ve tagged and signed my posts, and with luck, it will boost my Author Rank. I’ll keep you posted.