Google is always making changes to the way it recognizes authority. From the number of links you have coming in, to the number of links from your posts that go out to bone fide resources, to the keywords contained in your content, Google bots are always combing your site looking for clues that you deserve a certain amount of authority.
One of the more recent additions to the effort to assign authority is the use of Google+ authorship. The idea is help attribute content to original authors, and to allow Google to see how much is written by certain authors on certain subjects. The more you write on a subject, especially as it relates to specific topical keywords, the higher your authority on that subject.
Of course, one expects that Google will take into account the authority of the site you are writing for as well. An author that writes for a high authority mainstream news site is likely to have a little more “juice” than someone writing for a blog that has just been penalized by one of Google’s algorithms. And, in between, are all those blogs you write for that have a Page Rank of between two and five.
Let Google Know that You are an Author
The easiest way to do this is with the help of the Google+ profile. You are allowed, in your profile, to share links to pertinent Web sites. My Google+ profile features links to other social media profiles, as well as to Web sites that I contribute to. If you have an author biography page on a specific blog, or if you have a content page that lists your posts, you can link to it from your Google+ profile. In addition to helping you establish authorship, these links can also help others find you online (and see evidence of your expertise).
Of course, the real benefit is having that interchange between your author/content page and your Google+ profile. When you set it up right, your authorship is apparent on the search engine results pages, complete with an image. (This means that you are going to have to include a real profile picture on your Google+ profile.) An image is nice, because it encourages familiarity. Searchers are more likely to click on something from someone who seems “real” and familiar. We just recently set this up on Create Hype, and you can see how it makes a search result look more “clickable”…
Additionally, the more blogs you have set up with proper Google authorship, the higher your authority as an author when you publish new content. The implication is that your expertise and recognizability as known author on the subject will lead to higher rankings for your content. There is also an assumption that people in your Google+ circles, or people connected to you secondarily, will see results tailored to them, including more of you because you are a known quantity.
In order to truly take advantage of Google authorship, though, you will need to have your author bio page or content page link back to your Google+ profile. (For a great tutorial on how to accomplish this, check out Rick DeJarnette’s how-to on Search Engine Land.) You’re not going to be verified as an author unless there is a link back to the Google+ profile. So, all of your links to sites that you contribute to won’t matter very much in terms of online search until you have that reciprocal link.
You will have to use a bit of markup in order to point your author bio/content page to Google+. We used the Yoast’s WordPress SEO plugin to get this done without altering a bunch of code. Once that is done, though, it’s possible to have little snippets show up, as well as your bio. And an image will show up in the search engine results pages, helping you become more familiar to searchers as well as Google.