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Google Authorship Markup Disadvantages Everybody Ignores?

I genuinely like +Tadeusz Szewczyk but can't agree with much in this piece. I contacted him privately and we agreed to have the debate out in the open so everyone can contribute. Here's my quick rebuttal to his points.

Tad: Google may kill your ranking (if AuthorRank is implemented)
Me: Google may boost your ranking. The goal is to reward expertise. Will Google always get it right? No. But I think moving toward a meritocracy would be a step in the right direction.

Tad: Google may assign your authorship to articles you haven't written
Me: That'll happen regardless of whether you use authorship or not. Using authorship reduces this potential mishap.

Tad: Google might judge your authority based on your Google+ engagement 
Me: It hasn't happened yet and Google will be looking at the engagement graph overall not just Google+. It's also about how your content is engaged on, not your personal engagement. (See: Ripples)

Tad: Google will remember your author history
Me: You can break the authorship connection by removing it from the Contributor to section. There's also a problem with history right now. A publisher can change the author on a piece of content and Google recognizes that. So history currently isn't in place but should be IMO.

Tad: Google might dismiss your guest articles
Me: Google might determine that links from guest posts back to the author's site could be weighted less. However, I see no indication that this is anywhere on their radar. (Bigger fish to fry frankly.) And if you're worried about guest blogging links well you're in trouble anyway.

Tad: Google might judge you based on the actual image you use
Me: Authorship photos are screened but I've never seen the use of a non-standard avatar remove a site. 

I still see no indication that Authorship is impacting rank but is solely being used to highlight authors in search results. The only place this gets sticky is in personalized search where the Authorship signal often gets confused with the social signal. 

For me, there are very few disadvantages here and most of those identified by Tad could, easily, be an advantage if you're producing valuable and memorable content. 

#seo   #authorship   #authorrank  
Did you know about these disadvantages of the Google authorship markup aka rel=author?
Lyndon NA's profile photoMark Traphagen's profile photoMonika Thon-Soun's profile photoYasir Ikram's profile photo
+AJ Kohn Why are you being so nice about it? That article sucks and is full of crap. The author has a raging bias. 
Okay ... I'll throw in a few pennies for fun :D

Tad: Google may assign your authorship to articles you haven't written
AJ: That'll happen regardless of whether you use authorship or not. Using authorship reduces this potential mishap.
LNA: Is there proof that signing up for Authorship reduces the risk of G getting the auto-association of authorhsip wrong?

Tad: Google might judge your authority based on your Google+ engagement 
AJ: It hasn't happened yet and Google will be looking at the engagement graph overall not just Google+. It's also about how your content is engaged on, not your personal engagement. (See: Ripples)
LNA: Though there are patents that may pertain, we don't really know how G will decide on authority - nor what networks it will use to decide.  All we can glean from the patents is that it seems to be "peer review" based - which means you have to be seen interacting, or being referred/reviewed to gain (which means being knowlegable and non-social may play against you).

Tad: Google will remember your author history
AJ: You can break the authorship connection by removing it from the Contributor to section. There's also a problem with history right now. A publisher can change the author on a piece of content and Google recognizes that. So history currently isn't in place but should be IMO.
LNA: I think there is a difference between "history" and "display of current".  I think it likely that G will remember associations - even if they are not displayed.
AJ Kohn
While I don't agree with it +J.C. Kendall, I try to be more diplomatic and engage in a discussion. I think that's more effective in the long run.
AJ Kohn
+Lyndon NA, yes to the first. I've seen that already.

For the second, there's already a fair amount of evidence that Twitter is a very interesting source for Google and clearly they're intrigued by comments throughout the web. 

As for the third, I thought so too but to date this does not seem to be in place. I hope they do remember those associations because not doing so does open up the opportunity to swap authors which defeats the purpose of instilling confidence.
+AJ Kohn Not criticising your style, sure its more effective, and good on you, but if I ever write something that off base, feel free to go mideival on me, K? 
+J.C. Kendall - I think people should be careful of Authorship and AuthorRank.
Looking at the patents, there is a strong chance that G will be basing a large part of the "weight" on peer-review.

This may or may not reflect "quality".  What it will likely reflect is popularity ... which leaves us with an updated and broader scope version of the PR and link popularity issues we've seen for years.

As/When AuthorRank becoems and influence factor for neutral/organic SERPs - there are further possible concerns.
At present the requirements are pretty clear.  Yet there is nothing to stop G altering those, and thus resulting in profiles being pulled
Though G may treat the SERPs as neutrally as possible - it is under no such obligation for G+.  That could be a very large can of worms.
+Lyndon NA My bias is in favor of Authorship, because if my multiple experiences with plagiarists lifting my content. I dont write for SERPs, and I trust Google to work it all out. I agree that peer-review will be a part of the PR juice going forward, but I think a safe assumption that if something is +'s or shared its likely due to a positive response. 
Is it that authoship reduces the risk, or that implementing it after G screw results in a recheck and update?
(I'm not quite sure how to test this sort of thing ... it could be quite a problem)

G do tend to use what ever is available - but whether that will contribute to AuthorRank, or remain a separate thing (such as Social) ... we simply don't know.  The downside for G is that they may not beable to trust such data as readily (so either dilute teh value, distrust it for a time, allocate it else where or ignore it?).

As for the memory - I'm pretty sure they will be keeping track; they seem to remember everything else for quite some time :D
AJ Kohn
Will do +J.C. Kendall :)

+Lyndon NA, I think the odds that AuthorRank is based on popularity versus authority is quite low. 

For instance, from everything I can gather, +1s have been rendered meaningless for Google. It's not a reliable signal because it is gamed and follows popularity more than authority.

When you look at the G+ Activity API you begin to understand that they're going to be looking at signals that help to parse popularity from authority or expertise.

How many times shared? By who? For what duration? How many cascades? (Ripples) How many comments? By who? What sentiment? How many different people share content each time? The list goes on and on. 

You do not have to be present for all of those conversations though some level of engagement clearly will help. But I think there's a lot of thought going into how to get to the right signal - which is why we haven't seen it introduced as of yet.
+J.C. Kendall  Well, at present, Authorship seems to hold little sway in regards to scraping/content theft.
G appears to continue on that path as they have done for years - most popular wins.

+AJ Kohn - different perspective of popularity.Being popular means moer people, and thus more likely to get engagement in various forms, and over more time.  You've also got to account for the social behaviours ... like butt kissing etc.
The short of it is - regardless of how accurate, correct, clever or sensible you are - if you are not popular, you are going to dip out for it.
Though this is fairly close to real-life - it's not the best approach IMO.
So G are likely looking at pretty much the same thing as we've seen with the linkgraph ... with similar biases.

Not surprised over the +1 issue - far to noisy in general (people use it for bookmarking?).  That said, I think they can still use it, but as a verifier/headsup method, rather than a direct value.
+J.C. Kendall  How so?
1 piece of content, 2 URLs, 2 Profiles, 2 authorships - both of which cover the same subjects etc.
How is G meant to decide?

Even more extablished methods still have problems (sitemap, FaG tool in GWT, PubSubHubBub etc. - none clearly indicate "originator").

G have struggled with this issue for years - I've even had +John Mueller point out some of the problems in regards to seeing content first etc.
It's not an easy problem to solve.

I think in the end it will boil down to "trust" - and I've seen good honest sites get pages dropped whilst the thieves rank.
+Lyndon NA Dude, relax. My publish date to my own site is ALWAYS earlier than those who steal from me. Easy peasy.
And that there +J.C. Kendall is one of the points that +John Mueller shot down. 
You cannot trust the content.  The thieves can quite easily alter the date, inc. the one in the sitemap.
You cannot rely on crawl TS either, as some pages may not get crawled in time.

You can put as many bones in teh bucket as you can, and hope it's enough to sway who ever does the DMCA - but at the end of the day;
1) The automated system will select the most popular
2) The DMCA may be refused despite you being the originator
My concern is that Authorship will have the same problem as domain-level factors and that it will become about popularity as follows:

At the start, links were meritocratic as few people cared about how it would impact others or what it would mean. Then, you get the masses and corruptible (or bribe-able) linkers that begin to offset the value of links. Google has tried to crack down on this and still has issues and is implementing domain-level/machine learning hacks that do wholesale hits than pinpointed ones.

With Authorship, I fear the following:

At the start, I can see this looking really really good, but long-term it'll be as big of a problem as we have with newspapers/MSM today. We'll have experts writing a post where the vast majority of people aren't critical and just engage with the content and promote something awful with only a few spot-checkers noting this but then every other major organization running with it anyway and it ranking when it shouldn't.

To me that's where I see G+ Authorship failing as it's not weeding out popularity from true authority versus perceived authority.
Are you guys implying that when I author a quality piece of content on my main site that might include a video with a link pointing to + from my YT channel which also resides on a ½ dozen content aggregator sites like Scoop + Twylah and • and when I embed this video into a SlideShare preso that is subsequently downloaded and rendered on other sites and subsequently reshared by their social connections that these digitial assets won't be "more connected" to my G+ credentials than the other guys who may be more popular than me (the original content creator) if they have a larger "more popular" social following?
AJ Kohn
The popularity versus authority issue is certainly thorny +Micah Fisher-Kirshner. But take +Paul Boag and his recent 'SEO' piece at Smashing Magazine. 

What would need to take place here is first to determine the AuthorRank by topic. Is Paul knowledgeable about design or SEO? More the first than the latter.

You'd then need to look at the comments, who they were and the sentiment of those comments, even on a 3 point scale of positive, neutral and negative. 

So, +Barry Adams, +Bill Slawski and others including myself all comment (having a high AuthorRank on that topic) but our comments are negative. 

There's no doubt this is ... complex and there's ample opportunity for it to go wrong which ... is why I think it's taking so long to develop. 

That said, there will still be the problem of true authority versus perceived authority. I tend to think Seth Godin has been mailing it in for the last 3+ years, yet a massive amount of people share his 'posts' which are often just trite bits of commonsense. 

But that's where the dwell time and true digestion of content may come into play. And we know they do look at this. SheepTweets (the kind where you haven't read the content, just want to Tweet it to show that you're 'smart' by following that person) shouldn't count very much. They should count a little bit since popularity of that sort does may you an influencer, but not much.

We'll see how far they want to go to figure this out. My sense is they'd like to go pretty far so they can have a competitive advantage in surfacing valuable results, not just popular ones.
+AJ Kohn " I tend to think Seth Godin has been mailing it in for the last 3+ years, yet a massive amount of people share his 'posts' which are often just trite bits of commonsense."

We are now brothers. BINGO! 
+AJ Kohn  the data will be there that Google can use, but it won't be with dwell time. Maybe it'll have to be with knowing who are critical thinkers in the industry and that when they critique it'll be more valuable than everyone else in that same field.

The problem of internal corruption of any industry (SEO speakers at conference X, political writers who say Y but say another thing in private/after an event, etc.) is not something dwell time or content digestion will determine as it's not someone tweeting and being smart by tweeting it (lol smart and twitter), but when authorities ignore other authorities in the same field because their history is good enough to not judge critically always.
+AJ Kohn I am speaking slightly off topic but since authorship was the topic of discussion, I needed to put this in. Urs is a verified G+ account and verified G+ accounts usually have a custom G+ URL but urs doesn't have 1. Is this something that u weren't given an option or did u refrain from having 1 which is hard to believe?
AJ Kohn
+Collin Davis, I just got the verified account a few days ago. That's a separate process from getting a vanity URL which I'm still hoping to get in the future.
+AJ Kohn thanks for that. Didn't know there were two processes, 1 for verification and 1 for vanity URL.
+AJ Kohn: I can see dwell time helping in determining fake popularity from real popularity. But it does nothing (on its own) from poor authority vs real authority. Something can be seen as very useful can be very wrong and that's where I see dwell time failing (ie: #pageviewjournalism )
+J.C. Kendall not being funny, but 4 is nothing.
When you deal with things like ecommerce etc., you are likely dealing with 50+.
You may even be facing thigns like Amazon, Halfords, Ebay etc.
Who do you think G chooses - soem little site (that is the originator) or someone like Amazon?
(To make matters worse - it seems abitary - some days you'll win, some days you'll loose)

I know I give G a fair amount of flak - but in this sort of situation - they fight an uphill battle.
I just hope they start using DMCA history as a factor/metric (poss. for ranking as well as filters and decisions).
+Lyndon NA I'd hate to see them really using DMCA--so many false positives in that area... and think of all the enterprising BH SEOs having fun with that as a new metric!
+Neil Ferree
That's the general crux of the issue.
There is you, and X other people.
If G see the exact same content (or potentially highly similar) - what should they do?
They simply cannoot list All of them at the same time (and if they did, who should rank higher?).
So they have to filter some out.

That's where the initial issue resides - popular gets shown - which may have nothign to do with author.

Authorship may help towards this - in several steps.
The first is a different form of popularity (social rather than link).  Then you have profile authority - topical/subject (similar to site authority).  Then you have possible social signals (which site got +'d first, which site got shared first etc.).
All of these could contribute.

The problem is - not a single one actually translates to "originator".  It would be entirely possible to monityor "weak" sites/profiles - lift their content, claim it as yours and win every time.
Thus the hope for DMCAs to carry influence with accruement.  If 10 peopel say your stole their content ... then 10 more....

In the mean time - it's simply a matter of doing everything you can.
D/T stamp your content, put it into the sitemap and ping it, use the fetch as googlebot tool, submit to pubsubhubbub and  bookmark sites, share on social platforms, use authorship etc.
It's hard work - but I honestly see little other choce (and filing numerous DMCAs repeatedly is boring and tedious).
As an (ahem) Author (please note mildly self-deprecatory tone), I am with +J.C. Kendall wrt to being in favour of Authorship, particularly with regard to plagiarism. +Lyndon NA, Google actually did Panda-smack those who had plagiarised my entire blog and, of course, had initially beaten it out in SERP on the basis that more content from an older site tends to trump less from a newer. That said, it took Panda to do it. 

My basic take as to why Panda did smack those who stole my content is simply that serial scrapers act as unpaid content farms, and hence the variation in their quality may have been why they got smacked rather than on the basis of plagiarism per se.

But as someone who started from a zero-base, self-publishing, and had to survive the copy-paste period pre-Panda, and who is now both a Google-verified author and was given my Vanity URL on the first day they rolled it out - and whose food blog isn't about huge traffic, but there is a lot of engagement particularly in some iconic posts that do particularly well in SERP...  I don't know - I'm probably biased, but the concept of Authorship is one I'm pretty frank in embracing whole-heartedly. 
Very interesting debate to witness. I'm not even sure I can add something of value being a bit late here. I will try: my main problem is I guess that I don't trust Google. I also do not want to work for free for Google so that they get content they need to wrap ads around it. Authorship compels you to use Google+ to get authority. You need to create a lot of UGC and social relations for Google to digest.

My wife was furious when I told her that she needs to share something daily on Google+ and to socialize with peers in her trade on the site. She has enough work already and doesn't get paid for having a lot of influence as an author or curator like I do to some extent.

Also I'm trying to tell my clients that all their Facebook friends are useless for their Google authority as Google can't get most of Facebook's data. I even struggle with making them use Twitter properly let alone Google+

Now I have to tell them to use Google+ and authorship despite their audiences not using it. Why? It's because Google is creating their own environment, their own parallel Web with new rules. Hypertext was yesterday Google+ , +1 and authorship is today.

It's no wonder a site like Tumblr is one of the most popular these days because you do not have to use your real name there. Telling the whole world who you are, where you live and what you think is scary so people only show their "sellable" part. They rather do not use Google+ at all. Even Facebook is shrinking due to the privacy thing and the young generation uses Tumblr instead. A unique ID in the hands of a corporation like Google is no fun. It's tricky. You have to think twice or more times before you share or publish anything.

On the Web nobody knows that you're a dog. On Google+ and the Brave New Authorship world everybody knows that you're a Terrier and how your crap stinks. Google knows you better than your family does.
+Kathryn Kure - glad to hear the scrapers got stuffed (I detest them).  That said - that was Panda, not Authorship.
As far as we know, Authorship/AR has no influence in regards to dupes/scrapes (though I do think it can/would help (if only a little)).

As an author (depreciation ignored :D) - how do you view it?
How would you like to see them play it out and benefit you?

+Tadeusz Szewczyk - yup, the tie-in to G was one of the first issues I pointed out at the start.  I still don't think they should be using that value, they should be using their own (they basically hijacked it).
I'm hoping to see some change in the Authorship system and a lessening of the requirements.  Though I can see why they push for real name and real photo - it really doesn't suit the web fully.
They capitulated on G+ - hopefully we'll see them backdown in regards to authorship as well.
+Lyndon NA so how do you view this comment from SXSW:

“In general, we have tried to figure out who is the author of a page and tried to make sure that they are more likely to show up. You don’t want scrapers or people who are just reusing your content somehow to beat you out if you are the person who put all the elbow grease and the sweat in to make a great piece ... And we’ve gotten much better in the last year about trying to return the authoritative content.” (Cutts, 2012 SXSW).
I'm willing to give Google some data from me aslong as I get something back. Its a deal nothing more.
Google is not Mother Theresa, this is a business, "a little bit greater than mine ;)"
But those days I have to realize that the search enginee from Google gives me back results from the corner shop and not from the WWW.

"Knowledge Graph" => this are not data from Google, this are "our" work, we all have written those content. Not Google.

And like a cookie for children we become back authorship,
why: if authorship is becoming a ranking factor we all are willing to give  the big business Google our data.  And this is where the money is living ;)

I never ever can have a author rank like you +AJ Kohn  because I'm writing in German language and  this from Austria. And I'm writing for a niche.  For usability freaks ;) this are really a small audience, my WordPress turorials are all written in Germany, because their are a lot of people who can't understand enough englisch.  If I would have a great author rank at Google I know I have to write in english. But I wouldn't.

And all ranks, search metrics , sistrix rank at Germany , Author rank at Google are necessary for men, I am a woman and measure like this are really not necessary for me ;) ;)


I know that I'm an authority in my business, I know about my knowledge I do not need Google to tell me this fact. I know that I am really a WP professional, css freak and html and I earn enough money from my sites ;) because I am a seo.

So Googles Authority Rank tells us nothing about your knowledge, it is  only an indicator of your marketing : no less than.
Part of that approach seems based on SiteAuthority (and SiteTrust? (No one at G will confirm it)).  They've been trying it for sometime, and had some success.

There are 2 problems there though.
The first is when you have same-band sites - similar in scores etc.
The second is when one site has "authority" (which is link/association based), and the other has avoided link building etc. 

I'm not sure how much authorship plays into it - but recent tests show that 2 sites with authorship encounter the same results as before - popular wins :(

I don't envy G on this one at all.
Ah! +Lyndon NA not sure what you meant by the "2 sites with the SAME authorship = more popular wins?"

However, this is where the really fun part of what I did comes in to play ... I deliberately did everything wrong in terms of SEO - apart from creating content. I set up a controlled situation, where I was completely inactive on social media, did zero link-building, no guest-blogging, etc., etc., etc. to see if authorship/content alone could rank. I even recently presented an academic paper on it at the Southern African Marketing Research Association conference in August of this year - but they haven't uploaded the papers (traditional marketing researchers I realised aren't particularly digitally savvy) and Google Drive keeps reformatting it (does not like the copious end-notes I put in). But anyhow, yup, the interesting thing is that ... if you look up "chewy meringues" (I'm a food blogger) it ranks fairly well against some big names with massive followings. And even though I am now too busy with community craft groups and saving our rhino and other such actual day job work to post much at all, the blog still keeps on gaining traction in terms of traffic. Another iconic post is "bar one ganache" or even "mars bar frosting" (should give similar result.) In other words, as an unknown, with no other marketing, etc., I do find that Search helped flatten the playing field. Which I found fascinating. 
What I meant was that if G looks and sees two site s of similar standing (the scores look about equal, the relevance, the trust and both use authorship etc.) ... then G will default to the more popular version being shown.
3 hours later • wanted to say thx +Lyndon NA for your expanded reply to the query I posted to the thread • it helped and I appreciate the effort
You all have done a great job of debating some of the technical issues and what Authorship/AuthorRank may or may not be able to do. So let me take a different tack.

Perhaps I'm over-simplifying, but is sounds to me like a tl;dr on +Tadeusz Szewczyk's rant on Authorship could be "it ain't perfect and it never will be."


What has been ever in the world of search? Was link-based PageRank ever perfect? Of course not. It's always being improved, but it will always be possible to find examples of the "bad guys" winning over the just and righteous. BUT, for the most part, no, for very nearly every part, Google search works pretty damn well. Would you rather have the web without it?

I view Authorship the same way. Will it ever be able to be implemented perfectly, where the Good Guys always win, always get the Girl by the last reel (showing my age), and ride off into the sunset? Of course not. But I think it shows tons of promise and I applaud Google for trying. I really believe that although mistakes will be made, at the end of the day, once Authorship starts becoming a ranking factor it will make an overall better search experience.

But something else emerged in Tad's response in this comment thread. His real beef isn't with perceived technical problems with Authorship (which may or may not actually be problems), but with what he feels is Google's invasion of his privacy. 

If that's the issue, then don't play the game!

People like me and +AJ Kohn and +J.C. Kendall, we want to be known as authorities in our field. We want people to be able to find us, and to trust us when they do because we have been our actual selves on the web. So we willingly play Google's game.

If you don't want to swim in Google's pool because of the lifeguard's rules, then go to some other pool. But don't try to tell the rest of us that we're being foolish to go swimming there.
+Kathryn Kure I can't see your author pic searching for [chewy meringues].

+Mark Traphagen So you willingly embrace Google control mechanisms despite the recent problems you had with Google?

I know that opportunism is the easiest way when dealing with an omnipotent entity like Google. Swimming against the tide is very very hard but giving up all of your control just to get a few sweets in the SERPs?
I'm sorry but it seems to be a bit naive IMHO. We have seen in the past that you can do everything right as Google wants you to and still get penalized. I got a Panda penalty on my blog myself. Did I scrape content, am I a content farm, do I spam? No. With authorship not just one site will fail but all sites at once when Google decides that you as an author have failed to comply with the rules.

So it's not like privacy is a completely separate problem.
Ooohhh - we've stepped over into the moral/philosophical grass for a bit?

+Mark Traphagen 
I don't know about +Tadeusz Szewczyk - but I'm not telling anyone they can't swim there.
I will - always have done and always will - point out the nasty fish, the dirty and the health hazards of that pool though.
If people are happy to swim in it - that's down to them :D
(At least I know I've done the right thing and let them know, where as the pool owner didn't.)

As for the "not perfect" angle - that hits on my personal philosophy.
Personally, I think because people are willing to let things slide, turn a blind eye and say it isn't their issue, so many bad things happen, and peole/companies get away with things that they shouldn't.
But again - I wouldn't dream of telling you that your wrong when it comes down to a personal choice.
If more people stood up and said something was wrong - I think fewer bad things would happen.

Returning back to the authorship field...
... I can understand that desire to be recognised - I myself hold similar.
I'm just far from convinced that G will get it right for sometime - and that leaves me wondering just what issues we will be left facing, and what potential harm may come of it.
I'm yet to see Google do somethign that doesn't seem to yield collateral damage ... and I'm wondering what the response will be if someone such as yourself, +J.C. Kendall or +AJ Kohn end up in that group for any amount of time?
+Lyndon NA My answer? Shit happens. If I am doing my job  correctly, I'm not chasing SERPs with any of what we do. Be it Authorship, or anything else. When risks outweigh benefits has to be decided on a case by case basis. As individual organizations, its up to all of us to make a determination based upon the available information. Right now, for my business, Authorship is a positive, and I suspect it will be even more so down the road. Right now, I see no harm in a bit of faith. 
Couldn't agree more +J.C. Kendall - but that doesn't mean we put blinkers on or stop looking for potholes.
Can I just stop for a moment and say that this has become one of the most useful discussions on Authorship I've seen so far? For that we owe +Tadeusz Szewczyk a debt of gratitude. Even if some of us (myself obviously included) think he went overboard in his criticisms of Authorship, he's helping to air the dirty laundry and deal with the elephant in the room (and I'll stop before my metaphors come crashing down on one another ;-)

I find myself nodding my head (positively at both +Lyndon NA's and +J.C. Kendall's posts since my pushback. Lyndon, I apologize for painting you with a "controller" paint brush. You're right; neither you nor Tad are trying to tell anyone else what to do (although, you are, of course, trying to influence what we do, and that's fine). So I apologize for that mischaracterization.

And yes, Lyndon, there is great value for our community in having people who in the midst of great hopes and enthusiasm are willing to say, "Wait a moment, have you considered the possible downsides to this?" You keep us sober and honest, and you help us do proper risk assessment as +J.C. Kendall spoke about.

And in the end that's what each of us must do, a proper risk assessment. Tad, I don't "willingly embrace Google's control mechanisms," but I realize that they are there, and that there will always be a give and take between me and Google for me to play in their pool. They are the largest pool on earth, and so many of us will decide we are going to swim there. And there are sharks in the pool, and spots where the water is unhealthy. Occassionally one of us gets bitten or sick. But since the vast majority of the time, if we're doing our jobs right, the vast majority of us benefit from being in the pool, we do that risk assessment and decide swimming there is worth risking the occassional bite or swallow of dirty water.

That being said, I still disagree that Authorship is as inherently dangerous as Tad makes it out to be. Could Google use it for "evil" (i.e., deciding to apply penalties to Authors it doesn't like). Sure. Could the US government have plotted the 9/11 attacks. Sure. But I am not going to waste my life fretting about conspiracies that might exist.

From the patents it appears to me that Authorship is meant to be a positive boosting of content creators who seem to carry some authority in a topic. The only negative mentioned anywhere is the possibility of losing AuthorRank authority (for abusing it). But that is not a penalty (i.e., it does not cause any net negative affect on the sites or content connected to the author). It simply puts that author and his/her content back to where they were without Authorship. 

So if I were to lose my AuthorRank authority? I would hate that, of course, but I don't think it would have the impact on my sites that a Panda or Penguin penalty would.

Of course I'm attempting to influence you - that's generally a large part of communication.
But it's the extent and intent of that influence - the only goal I have is to ensure peopel are "aware" - the choices are their own :)

The conversation is a difficult one. 
For starters, we are having a discussion amongst people of insight and thought ... so the number of angles, sub-topics etc. will bewide.
Then we have the different positions/perspectives.
Then we have the general subject which is not only broad, but as yet little more than solid guess work, inferrence and deep thinking (though I do think we are prrety much spot on - G may still surprise us).
We then have the additional topics - such as the the swimming pool :D

It's great :D

Rather than viewing authorship as a boost vased on "authority" - I hope G take a more qualitative path.
They could start to apply authorship as a tracking/monitoring system to identify authors that consistently generate "quality content" - rather than people that just happen to be "popular", good at "social" or "promotion".
Though there are some obvious overlaps, the metrics watched and the values assigned would be different - as would the end result.

Back to the topic of dangers... ignoring the Planet-Google side of things ... my primary concern is screwups, and the consequences.
What does misassociation result in?
If they are getting the "public" side wrong, are they getting the backend/data/metrics wrong as well?
Are there real negatives hidden in Authorship, or is it all positive modifiers (something G seems to prefer).
Will the influence be SPYW driven, or Neutral/Organic based, or a cross?  Will we see Local play a part?

Then we have the nasty question - can it be gamed?
Will it be possible to identify methods of boosting metrics/factors that hold higher influece, with little real effort/work?  Will we see AuthorRank go the way of PageRank?
Yes - it should be harder.
The crippler is - the more "popular" you are, the easier to game.
G will be putting a lot of faith in the upper tiers ... and I don't think they can all be trusted.

Nepotism is rife in certain industries - and "getting in" is hard enough.  With what this may bring to the table, I see many doorways getting smaller, if not closed more often than not.
I also see the potential of Tolling.

We'll also see a market open for "influencers" - you'll find peopel accepting/offering payment for engagement, promotion, reading and reviews.
+Lyndon NA I think all of those things are possible and even likely (the rich will get richer, and personal brands will be for sale). The former follows in the pattern of G's well-known preference for Big Brands. The latter in high PR sites being able to attract lots of offers to post paid links.

It's capitalism at work, to slightly misapply Eric Schmidt's statement about Google's tax activities (

This is why I'm urging anyone who wants to have a prosperous future as a recognized authority in their field to

1) Be creating memorable content in your field NOW
2) Connect it to Authorship NOW
3) Build your social networks and influence NOW

The time for "nobodies" to have a shot at beating out the Big Boys is now. If you can get yourself well-established by pursuing the three activities above now, when Authorship kicks on as a ranking factor n any manner we've been discussing, you have a shot at already being up there with the Big Boys. Anyone trying after that is going to have a much harder uphill struggle. 
+Lyndon NA In terms of Authorship/Author Rank, neither a blog post/entry nor a web page example is a patent and therefore would not be subject to the scrutiny of a (patent) peer review.
+Lyndon NA  re:  "You cannot trust the content.  The thieves can quite easily alter the date, inc. the one in the sitemap.
You cannot rely on crawl TS either, as some pages may not get crawled in time."  What about a service such as Wayback Machine?
+Mark Traphagen As you rightfully say it's all about give and take. The problem with Google is that it gives less and less and takes more and more. That's why I'm growing increasingly cautious when Google gives me something because I expect them to take much more.
In the case of authorship the benefits are very meager if they are any at all we can see. The downsides are potentially many and once you adopt it it can haunt you forever. In future Google will penalize authors not websites that's obvious to me. 
One reason to raise these questions and to stir this debate was my expectation that everybody will step in and list me the many benefits of authorship markup and downplay the risks. I haven't heard much reassuring beyond +AJ Kohn's optimistic convictions. 
It's clear that nobody knows yet how the exact benefits look like and everybody hopes it will work well. Sadly that's not enough in this case.
+Lyndon NA Author Rank is much harder to game than PageRank. That's the whole purpose of it.
Given the large number of false positives when it comes to penalties and selfish updates that downgrade the whole competition just to push Google's own services I'm not confident that Authorship is also better for webmasters.
I think the Blekko system where you create sets of trusted sites is much better for search quality without making the webmasters themselves vulnerable. 
AJ Kohn
I made it clear that Authorship could likely become the version of your passport or license into the index. Now, that's not to say that you can't publish content and have it rank but I think it'll get increasingly more difficult as Google looks to use Authorship as a way to allocate indexing resources.

Because what many don't quite grasp is the staggering amount of content being published each and every day. We're in the middle of a gigantic acceleration of content generation as barriers to production go down and more people are online.

The plain fact is most of these people are producing ... crap. So how do you quickly identify what content to digest first and prioritize? Authorship is not only a way to help tease out expertise (which I believe it will) but a way to better allocate resources for the fast expanding Internet.

You may choose to be anonymous for one reason or another, or perhaps some of your work will be un-Authored at your choosing. But in many ways the question is, why wouldn't you stand up for your own words and work? 

Imagine all of those dismal MFA sites with crappy posts and attached to private networks ... they rank still. Now imagine if Google determined that those with Authorship would get a significant boost. Then only those who are willing to stand behind their work would rank highly and the cookie-cutter pilot fish would recede.

Because I hear talk that the exchange of value is unbalanced in Google's favor but there are many who contribute very little and in fact make it difficult for Google to surface the good content to the right users. I'm sure some might argue that these people are just trying to run a business but it's a shitty business. It's a business built on a ponzi scheme of content just good enough to rank and then getting people to click on an AdSense ad or Amazon link.

Make no mistake, if Authorship were incorporated into the mix in a significant way the impact to Google's AdSense revenue could be very material. But core search would improve and that is what matters most to Google.

I'd also make the analogy that Google is similar to the old phone book. Now you have every right to make your number unlisted but ... why? Did those aggregators - both dead tree and digital - make a mint using your contact information? You bet. Should you be concerned about that? I don't think so.

And that's the final point of it all. Why do we really care? Comparison is the thief of joy and it seems many are just irate that while algorithmic changes meant to benefit users impact them - they seek to exact their ire on Google because, how dare they run a business and make money while damaging mine!

Google has a tremendous amount of power because it continues to deliver the best search results. Yet, would you prefer Microsoft to have that power? Or Yahoo! who consistently has mixed paid results in with organic? While Google has bias and power - and are super savvy business folks - I do think they have better end-goal philosophy than their competitors. 

Blekko? They are on a one way trip to oblivion as far as I can tell. And creating a collection of 'safe' sites is a scary thing from a filter bubble perspective. I don't give much credence to that concept, but it is scary if implemented in that way. And Blekko did remove sites from results based on spam complaints from a minority. Using the preferences of the minority to create results for the majority is untenable in my view. 

Authorship to me is a way to stand up and stand behind what I produce, to protect it and create my personal brand. I will use it to my benefit so that the exchange of goods between Google and I remains equitable.
+Rhianna Rita Starr
The Google Patent referenced Peer Review as the general approach for rating - does that make more sense?

As for the Wayback machine - where do you think they get their data from?
Crawl Dates are a flawed method.
Each and every approach is flawed on it's own.
Even a combined approach is still not going to be 100% - but should be more consistently accurate.
The best approach is to have a "trust" metric - yet even that will see some degree of abuse.

And that is where I see authorship as a saving grace.
It won't jsut bea single page or site that G can slam - it could be your enter content suite, across numerous sites/domains.
If G decides "you" cannot be trusted, your content can simply disappear from the SERPs.
(And yet, that saving grace is one of +Tadeusz Szewczyk s fears - as it could be rigged, and we are puttign a ton of faith in G ... a company known to get things wrong and not fix them fast)

+Tadeusz Szewczyk - I don't see it beign that much harder in some senses.  All it takes is a little network of people and a bit of promotion.
You can see popular garbage, or people pushing junk that gets upvoted - and authorship may well reinforce that.
The only way authorship will counter it is if they use it to spot negative reactions from perceived peers and betters.
+AJ Kohn
"Authorship to me is a way to stand up and stand behind what I produce, to protect it and create my personal brand." I agree.  But I have different  interests. They are really different.  This days I'm unsure if I have websites for all my interests  and all of them have the author ship markup how does this affect my authority for Google.

Google need a new measure for his serps. PageRank was perfect to  attract people to this searchmachine but is not a perfect measure for quality as they believe.

Author Rank as a new trial?
Maybe, this is like as you get a politician:you give your "name". 
+Monika Thon-Soun If AuthorRank follows the AgentRank patents, it will have the ability to rank you differently for the various topics about which you write.
yes   +Mark Traphagen   "if".
There are Google  patents and there is Google the company.  Google would like to have a new measure, the benchmark is my name. So I and everybody has to ask itself: can I trust the Company.
This days they said: oh you are on fb - ok not our company but we don't mind.
And tomorrow...  ?

In my country everybody is less or more sceptic if someone has to much profit or loss. I have to less knowledge about the culture of USA to say we Austrians are diffent at this point,but I believe so.
+AJ Kohn  I have two questions regarding authorship program:

#1- Authorship Verficiation Time: for some it takes few weeks while for others it take many months let's say 5-6 months? Can you be more specific on what factors are involved and affect the verification process?

#2- Same Name:  How Google tackles authors with same first+last name? I claimed my name "Yasir Ikram" but i know there are many guys with same name, how google will treat them when they try to join authorship later?
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