Why does so much of the SEO community rely on speculation, even when publishing from the most data, research driven sources? There is a great post on SEOmoz by Mike Arnesen, and I truly think he’s much of value to contribute to the Author Rank discusson. As is so very common, though, in the SEO community, he relies too much on second guessing. For example: a penalty for some that don’t use Author Rank? Absolutely not! Why would Google do this?
Most people, even SEOs have no idea what Author Rank is or if they do, there is confusion. I see a lot of people refer to the term in the context of how it effects ranking for people that are logged into Google and Circle the author. This is not Author Rank! The real rank change is when authorship effects signals for universal search, not for people following someone on Google Plus. Having said that, it is very true that having a large following on Google Plus will mean more people see what you post on the social media site, including pieces you authored on Websites and blogs. What we’re all waiting for is the extent to which the authorship signal will boost a webpage in universal search.
How powerful will the signal be–until it’s implemented, we are all speculating. There is no reason to say it will be a hugely powerful signal. Why isn’t it rolled out with a small test signal yet? Enough authors are using rel=author tags in their posts. Enough authors are using rel=author tags in their posts. I have a hunch that it will be a big signal, but also think it is easy to abuse, and Google will have a problem with SERP spam. We’re already seeing people using author tags on pages that are merely Ecommerce re-write descriptions, used in an effort to increase visibility to followers and Circlers.