I think my slight frown, wide gesturing, and passionate opinions against Google’s Authorship surprised the low-key Danny Sullivan and Duane Forrester in the hallway after the SEO in 2013 panel discussion at SMX West on Wednesday. Danny replied, “Well, whether you like it or not, it’s here to stay, so get used to it,” while Duane, slightly ducking from the healed boot I was removing, suggested that I talk with Matt Cutts about it.
After the crowd of Google-lovers dispersed from telling Matt how much they loved him, I moved in – fin above the water.
Honestly, I was nervous.
I just watched most everyone agree (except for Rae from Pushfire who played a lovely, Devil’s Advocate) what a fine, fine school Google Authorship will be. If you aren’t familiar with Google Authorship, it’s supposed to help authors start to gain recognition, while helping Google to cut down on spammers. With Google’s Authorship, search engine page rankings will be determined by the author’s readership and track record.
“Matt,” I said, and he turned and smiled. I was sweating. He really has such a sweat demeanor. This would be like confronting Kermit the Frog about what Miss Piggy was doing.
“Can I share with you what bothers me about Google Authorship without making you mad or defensive?”
“Sure,” he said and then we were interrupted by another of his fans. I had a moment to keep sweating. This was my first time meeting Matt Cutts in person and now instead of chatting about all the cool things I like, I felt like Tierra from the Bachelor. He finished with the fan, turned back, and then intently listened.
“Hey, I want you to know that I appreciate that Google always has the user in mind, but I feel like Google Authorship is less about the user and more about Google promoting Google. Half of my writers are not on Google Plus. Many are females who have issue with putting private information and their pictures in the hands of the Internet. Most aren’t even on Twitter. So, now, I’ve got to promote Google by having my writers sign up for accounts. That’s about Google gaining more G+ accounts, not about a better experience for the user.
If you own a content creation company, every SEO, content, and design firm, as well as clients, would love to work directly with the talent you’ve discovered and helped to cultivate.
My writers are ghost writers, which is common in the publishing industry. They write tips and suggestions for my clients’ blogs as the clients. Some write for my blog using only their first names.
My small business paid for the content and now owns it. The writers happily took the money and understood that their work would now belong to my company. Besides that, I edit it, and often put my own insights into certain sections of their work. So, who should get credit for the content? All the rights were sold to my company.”
And then, I felt a wave of relief.
He nodded and said, “that’s a good point. I’ll have to bring that back to the engineers.”
I don’t know what the final verdict will be with Google’s Authorship, but at least I felt like I was heard and that some reasonable compromise might come of it. Thank you, Matt. I loved your reaction!
I do have my own G+ Profile, but even I’m still leery of having every single article I write tied to my name and a profile. It feels a bit like Big Brother watching and I guess there’s part of me that’s still a little old fashion… though I’m slowly evolving. ~Jean
UPDATE 2015: Google’s Authorship is no more. We believe that we were a voice during this era towards that result. Authorship was scrapped by the end of 2013. This post from Forbes explains what happened. We were one of the few in the industry bold enough to ask Google to consider another perspective (Read What Would History Say) and we’re glad they did. Thanks for listening, Google.