Google's Matt Cutts Says Rel=Author Can Help Search Quality

Jun 6, 2013 • 9:18 am | comments (55) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

matt cutts rel author

Google authorship rich snippets are everywhere these days and they supposedly do help increase traffic to your web site by improving the visibility of your listing in the search results. But can they help you rank higher? Maybe...

In a recent video by Matt Cutts, as I reported at Search Engine Land, Matt implies pretty directly that using the rel=author data can help Google understand the authority and credibility of the individual who posted a piece of content.

Here is a summary of what Matt said, I pulled out the snippets:

I'm pretty excited about the ideas behind authorship. Basically if you can move from an anonymous web to a web where you have some notion of identity. And maybe even reputation of individual author. Then web spam, you kind of get the benefits for free. It's harder for the spammers to hide over here and in some anonymous corner... If Danny Sullivan writes something on a on a forum or something like that I'd like to know about that even if the forum itself doesn't have that much PageRank or something along those lines so... so I do expect us to continue exploring that. We might be able to help improve search quality... and I think will continue to look at it to see how to use rel=author in ways that can improve search experience.

Here is the video:

Do you think Google should use rel=author to improve search quality? Do you see issues with that?

Either way, if you are not on Google+ or using rel=author on your content site, get to it!

Forum discussion at Google+.

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devil's advocate

06/06/2013 02:08 pm

That depends if you are not butt ugly! If you are then that surely wont help your CTR. Sad but true we live in a superficial world. By the way that is the reason why it is illegal for employers to ask for your age and mug shot with your resume in the USA as this forces the hiring staff to concentrate on experience rather than looks. Of course having a foreign name in some cases can also work against you.


06/06/2013 02:46 pm

I hope rel=author isn't reduced to "having a photo on the search results" because it should be way more than that. Authorship's about giving people credit for being good & popular, ahead of people who aren't. It's good that Cutts is actually saying this... and also that it's a way of defeating spam, because Penguin's a really naff way of dealing with spam. I'm sure he knows that.


06/06/2013 04:19 pm

Why not just build up a reputation in your niche anyway, regardless of what Google think of you? Word of mouth goes a long way, and people WILL remember you. Why do Google think they should be the arbiters of everything?


06/06/2013 04:34 pm

i not like that google authorship thing, it not help us, it help only to google and killing any privacy. it even not protect our content from 'copy/paste'. Reason to get it only to get your photo in search results.


06/06/2013 04:38 pm

At first I thought : " omg, now Martha Stewart will be on all cooking queries and Oprah Winfrey on the rest ... " Then I remembered, how recently I searched something about the web and the first result in SERP was by Barry Schwartz .... I skipped it ) I was absolutely sure, that his blog couldn't provide helpful information on my query. So, This is a two-way street )

Barry Schwartz

06/06/2013 04:39 pm

You don't think I am good looking?

Mike Gracen

06/06/2013 04:40 pm

And what's to stop spammers from scraping content, taking credit for it and then becoming the 'authority' in the eyes of Google? Google has already proved they can't stop or discern between original and scraped content...


06/06/2013 04:44 pm

Sorry Barry, for the "good looking" stuff, I'm visiting other websites. You don't tolerate them ) But If I'll see your photo next to such website, I promise to buy subscription there )

Barry Tool

06/06/2013 05:54 pm

Barry is a tool, bought and paid for by Danny Scumllivan and Matt Cutts. This is nothing but Google trying to force everyone to sign to Google+. Hey Barry, why didn't you challenege Matt Cutts when he said that Panda lowered their revenue? Why didn't you mention that every update is increasing Google's clicks on ads and revenue by as much as 30%? That's why everyone is complaining, Google is taking all the clicks


06/06/2013 07:11 pm

All grown up and using a keyboard, huh?

Chris Woodford

06/06/2013 07:14 pm

Absolutely they should extend it - but as a genuine way of indicating the authority and reputation of an author, not as a covert way of promoting Google+. I think what would be really valuable would be to link rel=author to authorship information on Google Books (for those of us who have published authoritative books), Google Scholar (for those of us who are academics), and similar. So if you are (for example) a world-leading scholar with many highly cited publications, that will make your rel=author endorsement on web pages meaningful and valuable (at least for pages within your subject area). How many followers/circles/blah blah you have on this or that is not at all the same thing - and it's important Google doesn't confuse the two.


06/06/2013 07:33 pm

My issue is that I have multiple profiles. So I sign up for Google+ and use it to attribute authorship to myself when I write about SEO... or gardening... or cooking... or movies... or TV shows... see what I'm getting at? People are allowed to blog or be experts or teach on more than one subject, and it would seem to be clumsy to use this in that sort of situation.

Barry Tool

06/06/2013 08:28 pm

still have to have your mom and sister nearby for encouragement or something, but yeah, almost.


06/06/2013 10:19 pm

Talk about being desperate. I think Matt and Google need to stop pushing Google+ so much. Funny how this video comes out after someone said that the author markup hurt their rankings. How can you improve search quality with this markup when very few people use Google+? As for the people that do use Google+, they use it for the wrong reasons. You need everyone to use Google+ similar to how they use Facebook. I recall Matt talking about uphill battles years ago and how good sites don't go through that uphill battle. Does that ring a bell Google? Maybe you should put an end to the uphill battle with Google+. Are your Panda signals telling you anything about Google+?


06/06/2013 10:26 pm

tomorrow matt cutts tell what brand anchor is bad now, how was before exact keywords and will launch new penguine 3 to get rid of sites with such links. At next week Matt Cutts will tell us what google authorship and G+ is bad now and penguin 4 created to remove spammy sites which have G+ and G-A links or profiles. After two weeks Matt Cutts will tell us what him not want ANY privacy anymore and want we register at new G- system using our passport, credit card number and bank account number. Think what will happen on 4th week!


06/06/2013 10:28 pm

tomorrow matt cutts tell what brand anchor is bad now, how was before exact keywords and will launch new penguine 3 to get rid of sites with such links. At next week Matt Cutts will tell us what google authorship and G+ is bad now and penguin 4 created to remove spammy sites which have G+ and G-A links or profiles. After two weeks Matt Cutts will tell us what him not want ANY privacy anymore and want we register at new G- system using our passport, credit card number and bank account number. Think what will happen on 4th week!


06/06/2013 10:35 pm

yes, and world-leading scholars will sell kindle books on sites with rel=high ranked author profile.


06/06/2013 10:37 pm

i am agree with you. I only listen how they revenue increasing every quarter, and not listen anything like revenue go down. Again lie?

Do no Eviiiiiiiil!

06/06/2013 11:40 pm

You must use Google Plus Or Else!!!


06/06/2013 11:42 pm

Won't people just start spoofing rel=author to gain some sort of boost in ranks when building their spam links in forums, blogs and elsewhere? It appears Google is doing everything they can to avoid ranking content for its actual value. The content scraping thieves will continue to win with such a policy and the serps will continue to look like a site search for amazon, wikipedia and the other brands that can do no wrong.


06/06/2013 11:48 pm

Can we use a logo of our company instead of our pictures?


06/07/2013 12:53 am

There were some discussions about that but not really sure when we will see it. The issue here is to not be anonymous. I guess when you have a real picture, it is harder to game the system. But I'd be nice to have an option to show our brand instead of our face in the SERPs.


06/07/2013 05:27 am

BS. Here is a proof he doesn't know what he'e talking about...


06/07/2013 10:09 am

They want webmasters to use Google+, but these webmasters are too busy trying to fix what is not broken to rank again. It's not really a smart time for them to be pushing +. But then again maybe that is their strategy - to kill off small sites and rank only content that Google controls under places like Google+. No matter how you look at these things, Google is culling small businesses and favoring their Internet Association friends.

James Simmons

06/07/2013 12:42 pm

As a SEO specialist I always prefer Google's Matt. He is great. I like his ideas and innovation power. Now he is saying that latest seo means no bulk and back link but authority building. Authority sites have huge important today. Now the day of black hat people have end.

Faizaan Khan

06/07/2013 12:54 pm

Stupid Matt !! Does not Even know how to control Follow and No Follow Links in Algo :P and talks about Authorship ...


06/07/2013 01:31 pm

Come on, people have been stealing intellectual property all the time. Galileo Galilei "borrowed" the idea of telescope. Marconi "borrowed" the idea of radio. Edison "borrowed" ideas from Tesla. Oscar Wilde said: Talent borrows, Genius steals Picasso followed him : "Good artists copy; great artists steal". And so on, so on ... Endless ... And now you want Google, just in couple of years, to create the algo of the intellectual property ownership ??? Be reasonable ... This is impossible. Furthermore, how such pictures can help anyone ? What does it say ? That Google doesn't know how to ?? But Google never denied this problem ... or did it ? Furthermore, what's the point to post pictures, when you're robbed ? Would David Naylor post the picture of the empty parking lot, if his car would be stolen or would he call to the police ? Google is not about the crime, police is. Furthermore, David Naylor pretends to be professional. Then post the solutions to start professional discussion about THE SOLUTIONS, not about the well known fact of crime. Did he try to resolve this problem by himself ? How ? Precise steps please. This post by David Naylor makes him sound like the kid, not like professional. P.S. Quote 1 " David Naylor, ... started working in the SEO industry over 16 years ago" Quote 2 " ...the phrase "search engine optimization" probably came into use in 1997 " ( ) Just curious how he started OVER 16 years, if OVER 16 years ago SEO industry didn't exist )


06/07/2013 03:33 pm

excuses, excuses...Google evangelists are world champions in finding excuses for screwed algo...

Jim Christian

06/07/2013 03:37 pm

Let's ask Al Gore... he'll know how to fix his invention!


06/07/2013 04:05 pm

Algo can be screwed. It's private. But the person, who pretends to be professional and even industry godfarther, can't.


06/07/2013 04:32 pm

Agreed. A brand image should be an option. SEO's "the voice of a person" versus Social Media's "the voice of a brand" concepts seem to be fighting to the death here. Personally, I prefer seeing a logo and thinking of things in term of what a brand is saying, versus an individual person. It's also silly to think that an older, chubbier doctor (for example) may get less clicks through to his site due to his photo than a person with far less talent, who happens to be attractive. Ridiculous.

Graham Ginsberg

06/07/2013 08:40 pm

I don't believe anything the fool says or writes or even even considers

Graham Ginsberg

06/07/2013 08:41 pm

Time to wake up from that fantasy dream

Graham Ginsberg

06/07/2013 08:42 pm

Yeah and buy adsense and worship the google god

Graham Ginsberg

06/07/2013 08:44 pm

Google is trying hard to recover their image in Hollywood. The monster is out of the bag and its not going back


06/08/2013 02:28 am

I've ditched all my Google Plus pages. After all, the US government is tracking EVERYTHING on Google and Google is lying about it saying they didn't know. Of course they did.


06/08/2013 02:29 am

LOL, not when the company he works for is passing all your information to the US government. Can't stand this paid liar. Wish he'd just stop talking.


06/08/2013 05:15 pm

As a Business Administrator, in a home based business, I have spent countless hours seeking help and direction through many applications I have downloaded - including filing reports with the local Police Department Fraud Department. With the hackers / hijackers and downright malicious scoundrels out there who are seeking out vulnerable victims, it has been a huge up hill battle for all involved in Internet Business, doing good works. Do we blame Google, Microsoft, Internet Explorer, Live Outlook, Firefox .... etc., [including social networks] or come to understand that the onus is on each of us to educate ourselves, family & friends of the trickery, concerning the on and offline of fraudulent affairs ? Ignorance can be blissful, but it can also be a killer - with the cyberspace crime that boils down to nothing more then harassment, bullying and stalking by these unethical tormentors out to destroy the reputations of honest and good people. With all the internet clutter and spoofs, phishing, viruses, Trojans, etc., many have folded and reject this wonderful tool of Global Communications. My finally insight to this is that we grow not faint and weary, WE CONTINUE ON WITH THE GOOD FIGHT, AS VICTORY WILL BE OURS !, as evil is conquered and returns from whence 'IT' came - being the pit of hell - no reflection on those who work at 'IT' programming, as know several on a personal basis, in real time.


06/09/2013 04:34 am

You have got a very good point there. I can see this in the markets I am involved in. I know for a fact Google is working on the idea. But they are being a bit slow with the Google+ thing as they roll out new features. I am personally very active on G+ but since I don't want to use my own photo in the SERPs, our AuthorShip setup has not gotten approved. So that's that.

Gregory Lancaster

06/09/2013 09:41 am

I got all my content stolen by someone scraping it, and putting it on blogspot and wordpress blogs (free hosted). This happened three days ago, and now I don't rank for anything, but my content does! On the spammy scraper sites. So I don't believe this is true. I am really beginning to lose faith in what google is capable of.


06/09/2013 03:19 pm

The good news: You will most likely rank again once the next Penguin update/refresh interval hits. The other site uses spam to push its ranking and Penguin will most likely catch the spam. The bad news: Google updates/refreshes Penguin every 3-6 months. Encouragement: You're not alone. Ever since Penguin 2.0, scrapers and spammers go crazy.


06/09/2013 05:28 pm

welcome to the "leveling playing field" times of Google.


06/09/2013 05:33 pm

Google DMCA requests increased more than 500% in last 12 months. That's primarily because of scrapers now outranking original content creators and people started to complain through requesting removal of their content by Google. That's the best indication that algo is working in scraper's favor. There is no sign that Google will do anything about it. In fact, the things are getting worse every day for people creating original content.


06/09/2013 10:33 pm

The reason that it allegedly has increased by 500% is probably that Google gives penalties for sites having received DMCA's. Another reason is that scrapers switch domains once hit by penguin once or twice a year. While original content owner fight for their URL and wait many months for new penguin refresh. It's to assume that if Google pushed out more penguin refreshes it would likely help original content, as scrapers often use black hat tactics to outrank original content.


06/10/2013 02:16 am

OMG! In 6 months, Google will launch an update called the "Author update" where sites with rel="author" will be punished for free. Forget this guy. Concentrate in your site and work hard, but especially work smart.


06/10/2013 04:41 am

Could tell me the from where did you get this information "Update related to Author" and penalization.


06/10/2013 06:37 am

OMG! It's sarcasm!!!!!!!!

Justin Clark

06/10/2013 07:17 am

It is not your fault. you trust on Google but it is robots and robots take too much time to read the website content then a human :D


06/10/2013 10:21 am

If Google punished sites receiving DMCA requests then people would complain less not more. The fact is it is not happening, as scrapers are untouched by large number of DMCA requests. The sh*t that was at bottom of search is now on surface and genuine content producers are outranked by scrapers, that's why they complain more.

Robert Hansen

06/10/2013 02:24 pm

What kind of cute animal do you think they'll use for this predatory author update? I heard about a tool today that tracks Google algorithm changes, maybe this will warn us before the author update attacks, but I don’t remember where I saw it.

Brian Mease

06/10/2013 03:45 pm

I saw that too, just found the link in my Twitter - here it is All kidding aside, I think this is a helpful tool - and best of all it’s free.


06/10/2013 06:28 pm

I think it will be the "Platypus Update 1.0"

Mark Melgie

06/11/2013 06:49 am



06/20/2013 09:22 pm

Thanks for the info. I love your columns. My google properties are a mess and I'm not sure how to clean it up... I have a very active G+ profile under my name, and then my very active youtube channel and company local page are under a different G+ profile (they were all set up pre G+, and then auto-converted). With authorship, how do I link them, or do I need to, in effect, be 2 people? Also, if I'm writing on 3-4 very different topics, is it bad for them all to be attributed to the same author? Hard to build a following if you have to build multiple personas...

Spook SEO

01/29/2014 06:37 am

But how about for the business? rel="publisher" ??

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