Folks who have tied their G+ profiles to their sites via AuthorRank are enjoying higher rankings in search and more traffic. But, there is one huge loophole in the process that is sure to be the next big target for content scrapers. Discover what that loophole is and how you can protect yourself now, and what we hope Google will do to fix this issue before it becomes a real problem.
There are several methods for connecting AuthorRank properly. In fact, I’ve found 14 connections so far. And, most of them are not one-way connections either. They go to and from your G+ profile to your other online presences.
But, there is one big loophole in the process that Google needs to address asap. Here’s how it works.
Let’s say that Missy Blogger has a super site with super content. That makes her a prime target for scraper sites. These are the scammy-spammy folks who rip off other people’s content and post it on their site as their own. Google went after these folks with the Panda and Penguin algorithm updates, but that wasn’t enough. AuthorRank was supposed to help with that process, but here’s how the scraper uses AuthorRank to his advantage.
Mister Scraper can create his own content with a few of the keywords that Missy Blogger is ranked high for. Then, he uses the rel=”author” tag to point the authorship of that post to Missy Blogger’s G+ profile.
That’s it. That’s all it takes for it to appear that Missy Blogger wrote the content on Mister Scraper’s site.
Here’s what we hope Google will do about it. Missy Blogger needs to make the loopback connection from her G+ profile to every piece of content that she posts anywhere. (That’s actually a lot easier to do than it sounds.)
Once she makes the loopback from G+ to content she did write, Google credits her with it and shows her happy face next to that search result.
For any content that only has a one-way connection to her G+ profile, Google treats as suspicious and does not put her happy face next to the search result until their bots can investigate further.
Once Google understands that the one-way connection is a spammy-scammy site, it lowers its ranking without affecting the ranking of Missy Blogger.
The Problem with the Fix
It is entirely possible, and quite easy, to make that loopback connection right now. And I suggest that you do! But, it’s only easy to do where you are the primary author on your own site. For sites with lots of guest bloggers, it’s not so easy. In fact, they have to either jump through a bunch of hoops, or set up a bunch of author pages for their guest bloggers. (And that may be one of the reasons so many popular sites are suddenly limiting opportunities for guest bloggers now.)
If the site does jump through all of those hoops and the guest blogger doesn’t provide the loopback, Google may penalize the hosting site and consider it like Mister Scraper’s site. That’s a huge problem! They could get penalized for allowing legitimate guest posts.
What to Do
Make sure that you create all of the proper loopbacks to everything you post online right now. We don’t know when Google will announce they are addressing this or how they plan to fix it. But, we do know that creating the proper loopbacks will only benefit you no matter what.
Since its introduction in 2011, Google has already made significant changes to the way authorship (AuthorRank) markup is done. I’m keeping up with these changes. Unfortunately, old content has a way of making the rounds on the Web for years. I keep the SEO and AuthorRank Video Course up to date with the way Google wants you to set things up. If you want to have a qualified set of eyes on your setup, contact me directly and we’ll set up a time to chat.