Google recently gave a name to its latest update that was being called a “webspam update” until someone decided to call it Penguin. The Penguin’s job is primarily rooting out bad quality content that is being created just to gain position in search results regardless of whether a human would ever enjoy the resulting page.
Some regard the Penguin update as Google’s over-optimisation filter, but that simplifies it erroneously because optimisation is not a bad thing in itself. Over-optimisation means several things – keyword stuffing; too many irrelevant links being built too quickly with too much repetition of the same anchor text; dodgy blogs full of content that’s been pulled from RSS feeds just to create pages that can benefit from Adsense affiliate cash…
Google and Matt Cutts have been saying for years that their quality guidelines are simple. Produce a quality website that your customers/readers can enjoy and you will be producing the kind of website Google will want to promote.
What’s interesting about the Penguin update though is that it comes at a time when key new metrics come into play. While Penguin eats links and pecks at poor quality sites, authors are coming to the fore as a key ranking metric. Think about the word association between “author” and “authority” and you wonder why it was never before a key factor in scoring content.
I recently argued that social signals are the new page rank and SEOMoz recently wrote about what it calls Authored Page Rank. Content is no longer ranked only based on the optimisation of keywords or the quality of the backlink profile, it is also ranked based on the author of that content and how influential that author is. Google and Bing both use Facebook and Twitter shares (among other networks) as ranking signals for popularity of links and for the popularity of the author.
Marcus Tober of SearchMetrics recently discovered that 17% of search results now show the author of a piece of content. Tober said on SEOMoz: “I analysed the author integrations in the SERPs for a million keywords in google.com. For nearly 170,554 keywords, I found a minimum of one author integration in the SERPs and a total of 15,274 unique authors. It was surprising to me that 17% of results tested are showing author integrations because this is still a new feature – this was much higher than I expected.”
If you want to know how to integrate the rel=author variable into your content to make authors appear in search results, here’s an explanation.