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The idea that author authority affects Google rankings dates back to 2009. That's when Google was granted the so-called agent rank patent, and it openly disclosed the news in a release that authorship matters for SEO.

In 2011, the authorship markup was added, allowing the publisher to use either HTML5 or XFN standards to mark authors (HTML5, rel="author"), and respectively (XFN, rel="me"). That enabled Google to pinpoint articles of the same author everywhere on the Web.

It's been 12 years since 2011, so you should be asking yourself, Does authorship still matter for Google and SEO?

Google's Original Authorship Idea

Three years after the release, John Mueller announced on Google+ (which also no longer exists, just like original authorship), the official end of tracking data using rel="author" or rel="me". Because authorship was closely linked with Google+, its eventual decline contributed to abandoning the project.

And although there have been over 100 failed Google products, Google always looks to improve the search engine algorithm, and ideas like adding authorship tend to stick as a good part of article publishing. So, did it replace author tracking with something else?

Does Authorship Still Matter to Google?

Google continually optimizes its algorithm and uses privately contracted raters in the form of evaluating pages that would pop up during certain queries. After the release of SQRG—the Google Search Quality Rater Guidelines (2018)—those contractors had to abide by certain rules.

One of the major guidelines of the release determined the need for a page to have expertise, high authority, and trustworthiness.—or the well-known acronym EAT.

The Raters Guidelines have been updated several times over the years to match the basic principle of EAT. In October 2021's changelog, you can see that tracking content creators—previously called authors—is back in the game:

October 2021 update in Google's SQRG changelog

Following up on the same document, in points 2.6 and 6.6, on page 39, you can see that if there is limited information about the content creator (author), it often leads to the webpage's losing its position in the search rankings.

In an interview with, Will Bagnall, SEO expert and founder at SUSO Digital, said he thinks that in purely algorithmic terms, authorship doesn't make a significant difference to Google.

However, having a trustful persona who signs the given article under his or her name can be beneficial for other factors (e.g., conversion rate). He says that a content piece that indicates its author will inspire more confidence than one that doesn't indicate an author.

Segmenting SEO performance by the author isn't necessary. An author is only one part of the authority and expertise of a website.

Different Types of Websites Require Different Author Info

The SQRG explains that the amount of information disclosed about the content creator strictly depends on the type of page and article. For blogs and personal websites, simply linking social media in the byline, such as in LinkedIn, should be sufficient.

On the other hand, for websites that process transactions—such as e-commerce sites and marketplaces—Google prefers to have creator information to ensure that users have access to support from the site owner/seller.

Raters Assign Page Quality Ratings

Since 2018, if your page happens to rank well enough for a certain query, it might have the chance to be rated independently by Google contractors. If it comes to that, and you have presented insufficient or inadequate information for the authorship of an article, you might get bumped down in rankings.

Author authority matters in some cases and not in others. But, generally speaking, if you aim to be at the top, you should take it into account.

Also, SEO is not the only thing author authority is good for. According to Bagnall, the verification of the author likely takes place as part of an additional page analysis—at a different time from the scanning of the page itself. In other words, Google's algorithms incorporate authorship to support the findings from its raters.

Other Important Factors for Author Authority

More often than not, people think the Google search algorithm is just that: an algorithm. But the algorithm is made for people, and its goal is to give them what they look for in a few searches. If people hop onto your article due to genuine interest and they stay on the page for a long time, don't bounce, and share it with friends, it's more likely that Google will promote your content.

The more authority you build as an author—not only for SEO but also with the public—the more likely your name will attract visitors to a website that cites you as an author. A 2021 update to the content creators' policy says displaying all relevant information about authors below their work increases the potential for ranking.

Will Bagnall added that Google's algorithms can use authorship information in high-regulation niches. Details about the author could be useful for Google to verify whether the content on a webpage should be presented to Google's users based on the author's credibility.

Going the Extra Mile

Even if it's not 100% certain that Google will check all pages for author authority, you can future-proof your SEO by implementing it for your articles. Google continues to value authors who are knowledgeable, credible, and authoritative. I anticipate an increase in its use of measuring author authority as a search feature, regardless of how much of it Google is doing right now.

It's always a good idea for you to share more about yourself or other authors on your website. Building real-life authority and personality through a byline gives readers a clearer picture of whom they're sitting down with whenever searching for someone to trust.

More Resources on Google Authorship and SEO

Three Good Reasons Why Google Authorship Still Matters

The Benefits of Byline Authorship, and How to Do It Right

Google Authorship and Author Rank: Big for SEO in 2013 and Beyond

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David Tile is the founder and CEO of Article-Writing.Co, a Toronto-based thought leadership content marketing firm.

LinkedIn: David Tile

Twitter: @davidtile