AuthorRank: Should Affiliates Be Worried?

So, I’m guessing you’ve heard about AuthorRank?

It’s the latest Google brainfart. And it’s doing the rounds on practically every content marketing blog in my reader.

Here’s an explanation of what AuthorRank does, straight from the horse’s mouth:

The identity of individual agents responsible for content can be used to influence search ratings. Assuming that a given agent has a high reputational score, representing an established reputation for authoring valuable content, then additional content authored and signed by that agent will be promoted relative to unsigned content or content from less reputable agents in search results.
– taken from Google’s patent

Skyrocket SEO did a fantastic job of summing up what AuthorRank could mean for content marketers.

Eric Nagel also wrote an interesting post from an affiliate perspective.

‘Changes to Google’ and ‘impact on affiliates’ are two phrases that we’ve grown used to interpreting in a negative light over the last few years.

So forgive me for asking what immediately springs to mind…

What is AuthorRank’s potential to mess with my shit?

As a concept, I actually quite like AuthorRank.

I like the idea of writers being able to lend credibility to their content through reputation alone. Yet affiliates have a somewhat mixed agenda…

Essentially, by using the rel=author tag, I could send a signal to Google that the person who writes this blog is the same dude that cranks out posts related to weight loss, dating, Justin Bieber and whatever other scumbag projects I might or might not be working on at the time.

That signal could be translated in to my gleaming face, and my social profile, sitting next to those links in the SERP.

Now, the dilemma for myself and many other readers, is do I really want the world and its dog to be able to see what I’m working on? Do I want my name attached to niche exploitation where my true expertise is little to none?

It’s a tough one. Our industry is still somewhat obscured by a veil of secrecy.

Affiliates rarely like to talk about their works-in-progress. If somebody comes along with a bigger budget and blows them out of the water, well, you get it. That’s bad business.

Many of us invest in private domain registrations, multiple servers and a crap load of pseudonyms to hide our footprint.

Personally, I feel that if a site requires the absolute top level of secrecy, it’s probably a good indication that I’m engaging in some murky shit that isn’t compatible with my long-term business objectives. Or that it’s porn. I try not to get too paranoid about people spying on my projects.

In reality, as long as you keep executing, you will stay ahead of those who keep chasing tails.

That said, I believe it’s important to lend an identity to every website I launch. It might not be run by ‘Finch’, but it has to have a name attached to build some vital bridges of trust. I’m a big fan of pseudonyms, and so AuthorRank is likely to require a new level of thinking.

Whereas in the past, I could get away with a pseudonym and a fake profile, I can see it becoming necessary to embrace those fake identities on a social level. Perhaps building author reputation will become as important as traditional backlink development.

I can’t imagine a situation where I would want to lend my real name to every affiliate project I work on. There are products I promote, and verticals I work in, that I certainly don’t wish to come back and haunt me over a dining table in the future.

However, if AuthorRank takes off in a big way – as many suspect it will – I would definitely look to exploit my existing assets by placing my name on new projects where I can justify an involvement.

This is one of the rare few Google developments that I see as a great opportunity for content creators. For those of us involved with affiliate sites, however, I see a lot of profile juggling ahead. Could it be time to think of a pseudonym for every niche you work in?

Okay, that’s probably a little extreme. But it will be interesting to see how Google evolves with this change.

Will you be making any preparations or changes for AuthorRank?

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About the author


A 29 year old high school dropout (slash academic failure) who sold his soul to make money from the Internet. This blog follows the successes, fuck-ups and ball gags of my career in affiliate marketing.


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  • What if you “branded” a pseudo that was used in the more sketchy endeavors keeping “Finch” all sparkly clean. Then when needed give “Sketchy” juice from content written by Finch from separate domains. Wouldn’t this transfer authority to Sketchy while keeping Finch invited back to the dinner table?

  • I don’t think this is a totally new concept, in publishing people have used “pen names” for years to mask their true identities.

    This has been one of the biggest downfalls of the social web IMO… the inability to create multiple identities. Who I am to my parents, my school friends, my business friends are very different people. I don’t have the time or patience to “sort” all those connections using complex privacy controls and grouping is ineffective and a waste of time.

    With creating a “pen name” for your sketchier projects will be difficult if you want that identity to be robust since creating that separation in todays social landscape is a pain.

    Maybe hire someone to do it full time?

  • 1.) I’m a huge fan of being open and transparent, it makes life easier and of course, money flows through increased competition and market saturation.

    2.) I also believe that this new iteration of “accuracy via identity”, the point where competitive analysis and socialism diverge, is for the greater good. We as a collective (meaning everyone in the world) need to be held accountable and validated through algorithms to the point where we essentially become a “trusted” source or a “potential fraud”. Of course, I’m very happy to share my newest ventures with anyone that’s interested.

    Both are lies. What is this “web Social Security Number 2.0”?

    If you’re an affiliate, you stay low – nothing to gain from exposure. Do you own a product? Yes? Then you’re not an affiliate, shut it. If you’re a PR chasing shit bag with legit sites – have it cowboy, I hope you aren’t pushing affiliate offers and depend on that income.

    On second thought. I’m all for this.

  • I’m currently linking to fake profiles and it’s not that bad. For example – in a dieting niche, the name would be diet + a common first name like “Diet John” etc. People won’t suspect anything unless you are selling something to them directly.

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