Google kills links in bios to drive authors to Google+

  • 1
  • July 10, 2013
Stephen Kenwright

Stephen Kenwright

Strategy Director

Back in 2011, Google CEO Larry Page sent a memo to all his employees that their bonuses depend on the success of Google’s social efforts. That memo quickly became public and suddenly people realised that Google was serious when it came to social media – despite the well-documented failure of each of its networks up until that point.

Internet Marketers have conceded that you can’t chase the algorithm for some time and when Google+ launched it became equally fruitless to write off their social networking endeavours. With so many smart people’s pay packets reliant on it, “create a Google+ page” was strapped onto the end of SEO site audits the world over and navel-gazing pitches to clients were conducted using the line: “It’s not important for rankings right now…but someday it will be…”

Google+ is now the only way to get credit for authorship.

It began with the highly public execution of Google Reader – an apparently popular tool, especially among the internet’s authors, who were reliant on it to deliver a depth of information that Facebook and Twitter don’t deliver. It was all part of the plan to drive the internet savvy to Google+ and though there’s no word from Mountain View how that’s going to be achieved right now – especially with the swiftly developed alternatives from the likes of Digg (check out Dr. Pete’s in-depth analysis of each replacement RSS reader on; but the sheer quantity of PhDs on the Google payroll would suggest that there’s a strategy in place.

Google (much more quietly) took another step towards its monopoly on publishing at a similar time, spotted earlier this week by Marie Haynes in a Webmaster Central video released in February. In the video, Googler John Mueller states that if you’re guest blogging, you should probably add the rel=”nofollow” attribute to any self-serving links.

Google’s official position on guest blogging for links, as explained by Matt Cutts.

Search Engine Land summarised Mueller’s advice yesterday:

“It is best you nofollow links in stories you write, especially when those stories are guest blog posts for the purpose of link building.

“In general, that is Google’s advice. If you link to something with the intent that it should help your Google rankings – then nofollow the link. If you write something without that intent and the link is really natural, then there is no reason to nofollow the link.”

As Haynes put in her blog post, resources that are included in guest blog posts shouldn’t really be an issue and this means that guest blogging as a method of link building won’t cause you any problems – as long as that link deserves to be there. Likewise, author bio links (or any links) with the rel=”nofollow” attribute applied to them won’t get you penalised, so you’re going to have to rely on the fact that you’re well enough known in your field (or your article is extremely relevant to what you do) in order to get click-throughs to your site.

According to Google, now, you don’t deserve a link just for writing a post…at least not a link that Google will use to determine rankings. As Google inevitably begins discounting author bio links it will start to become clear that the only way to increase the position of your site in the SERPs using your status as an expert author is to ensure that you have Google+ authorship implemented, and if you want to increase your authority in any subject area Google+ is the only thing that will count in the algorithm.