12 Must-Have Tips for Content Writers Using Rel=Author

Nov 19th, 2013

Google’s head of web spam, Matt Cutts, recently outlined the future of search, as Google moves from a largely anonymous online world into one with more identity. To achieve this, Matt talks about the rel=“author” tag. What is that, I hear you cry?

Rel=”author” is a snippet of code which links the social profile of a content writer to their content, thus advertising the identity of the writer within the SERP.

What’s the benefit?

You get your profile picture, the number of Google circles you’re involved in and a link to more of your work next to every piece of content you’ve written (which is good enough to rank) in Google’s SERPs.

Using the tag is a great way of indicating to Google that you’re serious about online content and that you’d like Google to track your work. They’ll do this by monitoring the public reaction to your content, in the form of social media shares, comments and links. The idea behind this is that Google wants to reward people, as well as sites, for fantastic content.

Now let’s be realistic here. This is not a guarantee that your content will rank well in Google. Google introduced this as another way to bring brilliant content to the forefront of the web. Placing the snippet in your code won’t be enough for you to become a literary superstar. How then?

Create content like the pros

After scouring the internet for advice from journalists on how to write copy that works, I’ve come up with a check list to give each piece of content you write a better chance of being well received by your audience…

  1. Know your audience and write in their language. The first is really simple but almost always overlooked. No matter how niche you believe your product to be, the market for that product will still consist of a plethora of different segments. Some of those segments will understand words like ‘prescient, homogeneity and ubiquitous’ but some wont. If you’re confident they won’t, don’t use them!
  2. Another pretty obvious one – create a headline/ title that grabs attention.
  3. Make sure to back up your content with data from solid research. You cannot write something in an afternoon and expect to be an industry leading knowledge-base. Gather as much information as possible, filter out the ‘fat’ and condense whatever’s left into easily readable copy.
  4. Quotes will give your writing a ‘real’ feel. It’s always easier for a reader to relate to a story if the story includes some human element. Similarly, you will never be seen as an industry leading resource unless you keep up with your industry’s latest developments.
  5. Read… a lot! The more knowledge you have, the better your ability to write interesting, factual and up to date stories. Try to expand your reading and interaction in general beyond what is usual. Read-worthy content often comes from the unlikeliest place.
  6. Get some sun once in a while!  It’s difficult to find inspiration and interesting angles when we consistently sit behind a desk. Nuf said.
  7. Only one chance. The media industry loves to throw around words like ‘Lede’ and ‘Nut Graf’ and as silly as they sound, they often prove quite useful. A ‘lede’ is really just the first few paragraphs of your copy. This should include the most interesting and the most important information to grab your readers by the eyes and keep them firmly on your content.
  8. So, what are you trying to say? ‘Nut Graf’ refers to the thesis of your content. What is it that you want to say? It should be succinct and if you can’t describe it in 10 words or less, your copy is not good enough.
  9. Write, and then write some more! If you’re serious about content, the more you write the more chance you have to show your face across the SERPS and be seen as an authoritative source, both by your readers and by Google.
  10. Find a niche – the best content is the material that provides a keen insight and deep expertise, not generic advice. Backlinks are earned by people who provide valuable content to those who are interested in learning and sharing within their community and there’s no reason you can’t continue learning while still sharing content.
  11. Make boring topics interesting – find the questions no one has answered or answer frequently answered questions in ways no one else has.
  12. Engage – share and comment on content in exactly the same way you’d like people to for your own content.


I know what you’re thinking. The points above are pretty generic pointers, meaning I’ve failed to follow my own advice, but these are principles which need to be considered within your market environment.

And before you think you can take over the content world without Google constantly tracking your every word, think again. In his new book ‘A New Digital Age, Eric Schmidt (executive chairman of Google) Eric writes…

“Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.”

So there you have it. Is this not the ex –Google CEO directing us to use the tag, or else? Write all the content you want. It can be the best thing that’s ever been written, but unless you tell Google who you are, you’re not going to rank for it

Want to be noticed? Include the tag.

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