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Search until now has been ”one-to-many”. This means search companies have maintained a list of websites (the one) and then a second list of all the pages or articles in that website (the many). Both the list of websites and the list of articles are indexed by keywords (page topics). When you enter a keyword into a search engine, they show you either an article or a website that they think best matches that keyword.

Now this is all changing and the first question to ask is …WHY?

authorshipGoogle Authorship is a Quantum shift in web indexing.

By:

Search until now has been ”one-to-many”. This means search companies have maintained a list of websites (the one) and then a second list of all the pages or articles in that website (the many). Both the list of websites and the list of articles are indexed by keywords (page topics). When you enter a keyword into a search engine, they show you either an article or a website that they think best matches that keyword.

The problem with this system is article theft (called scraping). Currently you can type in your query for information about “widgets” and be greeted with a list of articles that are almost identical because they are actually the same article – one person wrote them and tens or hundreds of sites stole it, changed a few words and loaded it to their site. Often this is done by software capable of replicating and loading thousands of pages a day.

Now Google tried to stop this by letting a Panda loose on the search results (the Panda algorithm update). This made a big improvement but also hurt some innocents. Reputable sites unlucky enough to write of their own accord a set of words similar to a paragraph in a scraped article were penalized. Scraped articles were treated as being written by the wrong site, so the real website’s article was ranked behind copies. A website with enough “Panda strikes” had their results dropped, so legitimate sites with just one rogue editor disappeared.

All of this has been necessary because Google has to attach ownership of an article to a website, it has no other way of doing it.

There have been 27 versions of the Panda algorithm as at April 1st 2013. Certainly Panda is great in theory and has caused a huge improvement to search quality. However it is impossible to program Panda to produce the correct ownership result with Google-standard accuracy.

So all hail AUTHORSHIP!

Now we have to tell Google firstly that we are an author and then that a particular article is ours. Search has now sprouted another layer of “many” in the database relationship. This is a quantum change in the internet that probably should have had more debate. I return to this point in my next article in this series – "Authorship – What could possibly go wrong?"

OK moving on. An Author’s article gets indexed as usual with the title, meta-description and of course web address to go read it. Now however the article is also indexed with the Author’s name and a link to their other articles. For chosen Authors Google will also show some combination of their Photo, Google+ address and Google+ circle membership score.

So what is this mechanism for bestowing authority on a person? Google+ of course. To use Authorship simply register for a Google+ account, get an email address on the site that your articles are appearing on, link them together in Google+ and you are good to go.

Dont forget the website that carries your article also has to add a markup around your article that tells Google the article was written by you. In fact you can also tell Google a lot more - the markup is the schema.org code that actually came out with HTML5 and is read by all major search engines.

Then it is up to Google to decide how much Authorship information to show. This is how this article looks on Google:

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How do they decide who gets a photo and who doesnt? Well that is part of Google’s algorithm and is determined by the Author's Authority score. Criteria for that include:

  • Regularity – posting something regularly;
  • Interaction – participate in other Google+ Circles;
  • Popularity – get people reading and following you and this tells Google you must be saying something right;
  • Sleep around – Google are not jealous lovers so paste your article to your own Facebook page, Tweet it, use Bookmarking sites to promote your article, Pinterest if appropriate etc
  • Quality – submit good quality work – original, topical, spelt correctly, well-formed and not too short or long.
  • Well thats it for now on Google's Authorship initiative. I will be back soon with "what could possibly go wrong?". Good luck and may the photo be with you!

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