Authorship markup a useful stride forward in search


Does Traffick support the “authorship markup support” announced by Google today?

Did we call for just that five years ago?

Yes, and yes.

Today, in a post called “Authorship markup and web search,” Google announced an initiative to support a type of markup that “uses existing standards such as HTML5 (rel=”author”) and XFN (rel=”me”) to enable search engines and other web services to identify works by the same author across the web.” Down the road, Google will be “looking closely at ways this markup could help us highlight authors and rank search results.”

We’ve always felt that identifying individual experts and content “stars” would be one piece of the puzzle helping web users to get more of what they want, while weeding out search engine spam. While the online world seems to have moved past the unrealistic (and undesirable, in many ways) dream that structured data could ultimately lead to some sort of perfectly accurate “universal discovery scheme,” forward progress is definitely being made as voluntary, partial schemes are being made available to content producers. Insofar as we can inject less gameable forms of metadata into the process, we’ll be better off than we might otherwise be.

In the past, there have been numerous startup search and social companies that have wanted to hijack or “own” the personal ID standardization space. Even today, companies like Facebook would like to become the de facto standard for sorting out “who’s who”. It’s a certainty that going forward, there will be some messiness in the form of competing schemes for ascertaining identity (think Twitter verified accounts, even). So if the latest announcement seems partial, in that it mainly focuses around how Google will identify the sources of great content, how Google users will find it more often, and how publishers will interact with Google to give their authors due standing in the metadata landscape, that is really par for the course in this arena. Everyone wants to be the next universal standard for veracity online, and no one player will be.

Knowing that Google is providing an opportunity to be recognized in this way is a pretty good cue for publishers and authors that Google is getting set to put the boots to even more second-rate scraped  junk, content farms, etc., and give proper weight to “real” authors (by popular demand). Publishers and authors should study that opportunity closely to maximize their exposure in search results.

You may also like