SEO News: Rel-Author Tag Search Result Changes
Another week has gone by and Google have implemented yet another change to their search results for us to take a look at. I must admit, attempting to chronicle these many changes is becoming quite an addiction of mine.
So basically, Google has changed the way rel=author tags function in the search results. Just to recap, the rel=author tag, once implemented into the coding of your site and reciprocally linked with your Google + profile, would give you a by line and photo next to your blog listings in the SERPs. The change implemented toward the end of last week concerned what happened when this author name or by line was clicked.
Previously clicking either would have taken you straight through to that author’s Google+ profile. Now however, clicking the author name or image runs a new search for that author, and Google has leaked + profile information through to the main search results, including a sample of the author’s bio and listings of recent blogs by them.
The new function also displays recent status updates from the author’s page. Interestingly, once you click either the author by line or image in the search results Google automatically adds that author to your search filters, meaning that any searches you make after that point will only return results authored by that person. You should be able to see a box in the search bar containing the author’s name – simply click the ‘x’ to remove it and go back to searching normally.
It would be worth mentioning at this point that this new functionality only appears to have been implemented on Google.com, with the .co.uk rel=author tag appearing to do absolutely nothing at present. Clicking an author’s by line or image in google.co.uk at present either does nothing or simply reloads the same page, meaning we might want to stay tuned for the update to be rolled out over here across the pond.
So briefly then, what does this all tell us about SEO? Well, it’s clearer than ever than Google are fusing search and social for the long haul. With a link to the official Google+ business pages in the footer of Google.co.uk and Google.com and these changes happening weekly, it’s obvious that they want businesses to get on board with +.
I suspect that this is because their search algorithm is going to give more and more weight to Google + signals in the future – why wouldn’t Google trust a site’s authority according to a social media platform that It regulates itself? It would be like taking a son or daughter’s recommendation regarding a nice restaurant to go to – you can trust their opinion because you raised them and know they can be relied upon.
I think that authorship and the rel=author tag is so important and is going to become even more so in future. Why would Google go to all this trouble if they weren’t intending on including an author’s authority as a major ranking factor? Sure, usability and functionality has always been important to the search engine in and of itself, but their priority always has been the relevance of results, and it’s that which a reliable and authoritative expert author can help them deliver.
Big hat tip to Search Engine Land for this one.