Why I Believe Debating Authors is Totally Moot (Like Most SEO Debates)
So my last post focused on my Brighton SEO presentation, I Believe Authors are the Future, and I want to give my opinion potential debates that will likely end in a load of hot air, wasted energy, and people taking sides about how important it is. I think we’ve wasted enough time talking about inbound already!
The reason I’m writing this is to counter posts such as Why I don’t believe authors are the future (which I actually rather enjoyed as an alternative point of view) and variants on this theme. I think it’s fair enough to have an opinion about the subject, but here’s why debating online authors is a moot point, and something we should simply forget about:
Online Identity is Serious
Online identity is a serious topic and social services are becoming identity cards. More and more stuff is going to be favoured if it is properly identifiable. This is clearly expressed in Eric Schimdt’s views. My web experienced is greatly enhanced through online identification such as Facebook Connect. Not everyone thinks that way (and those people normally have big voices in the Twitter loving media) but over 1 billion people are on networks, and that number is growing. I don’t really believe people care as much as the media suggest about web privacy. Most people are totally passive about it. For an interesting counter view to online identity, here’s a great podcast with 4chan founder Chris Poole.
There’s Nothing Wrong with Easy
Authorship is so easy to set up. Who cares if it doesn’t have a major effect right away? You’re going to spend minimal development time (particularly on WordPress) setting it up.
It Already Exists
Authorship is a small enhancement to what should already exist on sites – author profiles. A lot of news sites have them without markup simply so readers can build a rapport with who is writing stuff. Adding social elements to these profiles can only build up social rapport. Also, Google patented the system 5 years ago…
It’s getting ludicrously overhyped. I know we like to talk about slight changes in SEO as if the Russians are marching through Berlin, but the reality is the algorithmic changes of this simple markup are a long way off. I would consider 18 months for a noticeable effect – I could be wrong, but it’s taken 6 for Google to even recognise the markup – not to mention it’s changed the goalposts FIVE times! Adoption rates are not high, and as I considered in my second ever post, the rollout won’t be that easy. For starters, currently it assumes that all authors sign up to Google+, which is nonsensical. If this doesn’t change, it will take absolutely ages for it to have any effect – because adoption rates of Google+ aren’t that big compared to other services (20% of Facebook usage at best). It would take ages for Google+ to usurp Facebook. If it ever does.
It Only Effects Authored Pages… Or Does It?
People are inevitably (as Why I don’t believe authors are the future does) going to say that authorship won’t effect homepages, product pages etc. Okay – if you’re a tricycle selling website, it would be ludicrous to have your product pages to be written up by a prize winning journalist so your site can rank. Not to mention the whole scheme makes no sense – is the technology section of the Argos catalogue written by Charles Arthur? Nope. However, it’s not always about ‘who’ has written the content, rather who has endorsed that content. If you sold trikes and your product pages were endorsed by a journalist from askamum, that would probably have an effect.
Google is a Machine
Finally – Google is a machine, created by people. We are not quite at the days of Skynet, or iRobot or anything else. If you couldn’t beat a machine through some sort of loophole, I think we’d be in a weird place. Yes, you will inevitably be able to game author rank, I just don’t happen to think focusing on gaming things is ever a long term strategy.
My basic suggestion is: Set it up as standard and get on with it.
Now then, back to this I think: