The “rel=author” meta tag was created by Google last year, primarily as a schematic way for authors to mark-up their blog posts, articles and static pages with a code that tells Google “Hey, I wrote this page!”.

There has been much speculation since the release of “rel=author” as to the many possible ways that Google could use this information in the future for search. All we really knew until now, was that we should establish authorship within each blog post produced to be rewarded with a neat little picture of our face next to the search result for each article published. We also saw our “Author Stats” proudly displayed within Google Webmaster Tools, showing search impressions and CTR (click-through rate) for each article. It was also reported that articles with authorship established will generally receive a higher CTR than those that do not.

google authorship

Then a couple of weeks ago Matt Cutts, head of webspam at Google released the following video:

The key points to note in this video are: “If Danny Sullivan writes something on a forum, or something like that, then I’d like to know about that. Even if the forum itself doesn’t have much PageRank, or something along those lines…” And… “The philosophy of Google has been moving away from keywords, from strings towards things”.

For me, the future of the “rel=author” tag is now becoming slightly more identifiable thanks to this standard cryptic message from the webspam team at Google.

There is too much information available online, 95% of blogs are abandoned after some time, and most are filled with poor content that was written solely for the purpose of linking with such and such keyword. The number of blogs created only keeps rising and the irony of this is it’s mostly because of Google telling everyone to go and create great content, resulting in the situation demonstrated in the following video happening quite often at Silkstream.

Danny Sullivan is the Editor in Chief at Search Engine Land, he is seen as a major search engine guru in the world of search marketing and optimisation, he also writes lots of material across the internet, spreading his knowledge and authority in his niche. He also has a Google+ profile which demonstrates he has Google Authorship set-up for several high authority websites to which he contributes. Google knows that Danny Sullivan does not write spam. Google knows that Danny Sullivan is an expert in his field. How does Google know this? Using a combination of “author stats” and social signals would be my answer.

So theoretically, if Danny Sullivan were to write a guest article for Silkstream, and we were careful to provide Google Authorship from our website, and Danny added us to his growing “Contributor” list over on Google+, then surely the article Danny wrote for us would send a signal to Google saying “hey, this site must be great because Danny Sullivan just contributed”. Wouldn’t it? Could we build the authority of our own sites by publishing guest articles from high authority contributors?

Now, we’re not saying we expect Danny Sullivan to contribute at Silkstream (although this article is an open invitation), but we can certainly target other authors within the industry that can illustrate good authorship combined with strong social sharing, plenty of likes, shares and tweets, to build the authority of Silkstream using the authorship signal. The best part is, this can be applied to any niche. So get out there now and start identifying the real influencers within your business field. Who knows, an authorship established guest post from just one or two of these influential authors could be all your blog needs to rise in the ranks and beat the competition.

What do you think the rel=author tag could be used for in the future? Share your ideas with us.