The idea of authorship has the potential to change many things about how we view authors and content on the web. Not only does rel=author impact SEO, but it also impacts how Google scores and ranks pages. Join Adam Audette, RKG's Chief Knowledge Officer, as he explores some challenges relating to the ownership of content when authorship is enabled.


Hi everyone, Adam Audette here at the RKG Blog and another video for you today.

I want to talk about authorship. We get a lot of questions and there's a lot of excitement about authorship. This is a big deal; it's really powerful, you've seen it in the serps, regular listings, you'll see a photo or an image next to a piece of content or result, and that's what authorship is. Rel=author allows an individual or a person, an identity, to be connected with a piece of content. It's incredibly powerful, and it's where kind of Google is going and how they're thinking about the web. There's authorship and there's also Rel=publisher, and those are a little bit different, and I'll talk about that.

Publisher is a connection between a Google+ brand page and that brand, their identity. So you'll see Rel=publisher show up in the knowledge graph. The knowledge graph is the stuff on the right-hand side when you search for a person, a place, a thing, a well-known thing, or entity; you'll see the knowledge graph so up.

Rel=publisher is strictly for brands; it's not for individuals. So authorship is what you want to leverage when you're thinking about content, content strategy, and getting that benefit of having an image in the search results next to your piece of content. That image can be really powerful because it increases the potential CTR, click through rate, of the result. So say you're at number five or number six in the results, you may garner more clicks than you would at position three or four if you have authorship, because it just pops out of the serp much better.

So how do you use it? We get a lot of questions from our e-commerce clients. They say, "Hey, I want to do authorship, it's really interesting, but I don't quite know how to do it and how do we combine that with our stuff?" First of all, you have to understand where you can use it and where you can't use it. An e-commerce site wouldn't use it say on product pages, or on category pages and stuff like that. This is part of an overall content strategy, so authorship is best for stuff like blog content, for resources, for content stuff that's really about that in-depth resources and things that are tied to an author.

You can use it for review content. So a lot of e-commerce sites like to talk about their products and the stuff that they're carrying--what's hot and what's popular, what's new and coming out. When you review that stuff you can tie it to an author with Rel=author and it's very powerful in that way. Another way you can use it is for your authors to be able to connect and partner with other sites and guest posts off on those sites and be able to go off to other blogs or popular sites and write that content in that way.

Now there is a really interesting and complex problem here about ownership; so who owns the content? Let's say that Sally writes for an e-commerce site and she's an author and she writes at other sites, too. Who owns the content that she writes for at that e-commerce site? And what happens if Sally leaves and starts writing for other sites, or even competitors? Who owns that? So companies need to understand that from the beginning and really clearly outline, bringing in legal teams to understand who owns the content. And ideally the business owns the content, because let's say that an author left and they started writing disparaging things about a brand, or they're doing stuff that reflected back poorly on the company they used to write for. What would they do?

The company needs to have the ability to, a) pull authorship down for that person, keeping the content up but removing the authorship on that piece of content, or b) applying another author of their choosing to that content. But these are really complicated things that are going to take a lot of time to evolve through and I think we're all trying to learn this as we go along.

It is a complex topic and we're going to be writing about this on the blog in the near future, so until then, start researching authorship, look into it, and SEO safe.