At some time in 2005 Google filed a patent for something called Agent Rank.
Experts deciphered Agent Rank to be a digital signature for online writers that would, in theory, allow them to gain ownership of their work and aggregate authority for their writing through comments, likes and other social signalling such as sharing.
The ranking system wouldn’t confine the author to registering content written on just one website, allowing the ‘agent’ to create a regulated digital portfolio where their work was directly attributed to them, a luxury seldom afforded to online copywriters.
Then, in September 2011 came the well-publicised launch of the social-networking and identity service ‘Google+’, the platform on which Agent Rank (now popularly referred to as Author Rank) would/could/should operate.
By December 2012 Google+ had 500 million registered users, replacing Twitter as the second most popular social-networking platform in January 2013. Everything appears to be in place and it all seems to make sense.
As the Panda and Penguin updates made perfectly clear, Google is serious about quality and authority. Websites will be rewarded for regularly producing relevant, high-quality content. That content will gain authority if it is re-distributed and linked to because of its interest and usefulness to the user and the perceived integrity of those who share it.
The Author Rank concept fits perfectly as another contributory factor to the overall authority of a website. The esteem of an author can be interpreted within Google’s own terms on its own platform, indexed and communicated to search engines.
Speculation about whether Author Rank is already active, soon to be implemented or never to materialise will continue, as will the conversation on how best to optimise your profile. What’s for certain is that anyone serious about writing online for successful websites should join G+ sooner rather than later.
Author Rank might not seem too important just yet, but one day you might find it difficult to write online without it.
We’ll be further exploring Author Rank and Google on this blog in the coming weeks. Please stay tuned.