You may not have heard about Google Authorship, but you will have seen it in action. It’s Google’s way of awarding better search engine rankings to websites with quality content.

Authorship works by linking authors to the content they produce. When authors claim Authorship of their content, their image and short bio (called a ‘rich snippet’) starts appearing in search engine results.

A quick glance at your recent SERPs would show that links with Authorship markup tend to feature higher in search engine results than those without. In addition, a study on the impact of rich snippets on search traffic showed that they increased click-throughs by as much as 150%

What is Google Author Rank?

Author Rank promises to be Google’s scoring system for websites (think Page Rank, but for content). Although currently a theory, there is intense speculation (fuelled by the Agent Rank patent Google filed in 2005 and the gradual roll-out of Authorship) that it is going to be released soon.

Why you should care about Author Rank and Authorship

As a website owner, you should care about Authorship because it can and will impact your search engine rankings – if it doesn’t already do so.

Author Rank – when it is eventually launched – will rate websites primarily on the quality of their content. Post-launch, it is only a matter of time before it is used as a measuring tool for a website’s credibility.

Authorship and Author Rank show Google’s determination to cull the internet of bland, irrelevant content and deliver a better user experience – quality content – for its users. Thus, websites with quality content will be awarded higher search engine rankings.

In the meantime, you can prepare for Author Rank and claim Authorship of your content by taking the following three key steps:

Audit your content

A content audit will highlight the content on your website that needs improvement. You can then make amendments by either rewriting the content or outsourcing the task.

Make sure you link your content to your Google+ profile (usually, via the author bio) as it will help build up your Authorship markup and contribute towards your SEO.

Write great content

Quality, not quantity, is what matters when it comes to creating great content. AnalyticsSEO can help you with this, by helping you to research keywords that are closely linked to what your customers are searching for. You can also use these keywords for your blog (you have a business blog, right?) to attract traffic to your website.

For example, if you ran a plumbing company, from your keyword research, you would discover keyword phrases such as ‘How to unblock drains’ and then use that as the title of one of your blog posts. Since people who are most in need of a plumber would search using that keyword phrase, your blog post could come up in search engine results, leading to potentially higher traffic and more visitor–customer conversions for your website.

Claim Authorship of your content

Authorship works by linking authors to their content. The more content you claim with Authorship, the more visibility you have in SERPs and, potentially, the more traffic you have to your website.

Analytics SEO’s new feature – Authorship – helps you take your SEO efforts even further, by allowing you to find authors who are ranking for your keywords. You can then, use that information for link-building, content marketing and keyword research.

To claim Authorship of your content, you will first need to set up a Google+ profile and then link the profile to your content (by listing the websites you’ve written for in the Contributor area of Google+). Once you’ve done this, you should also link back to Google plus from those websites.

For your business website, first, you’ll need to set up a Google+ page. Then, you must link from the Google+ page to your business website. You must also have reciprocal links from your business website to your G+ page.

There are two ways of doing this:

You can test to see if your code is working by using the snippet code. It takes a few days for results to start showing up in search engine results. Mine took about four days. Also, Google has made it clear that the image will only show up if it believes it will add value to the SERPs.

Google Author Rank and Authorship present great opportunities for publishers – businesses – with great content. By implementing these tips, you can get ahead of the game and your competitors, and be rewarded with higher search engine rankings when both tools are fully rolled out.

Over to you: do you think Google’s focus on delivering quality content for its users is a necessary evil (in terms of creating ‘more’ work for you) or a welcome development?

Abidemi Sanusi is the founder of Ready Writer, a content writing and training agency.