SEO Social

What Would the Death of Google+ Mean for Authorship & AuthorRank?

Following Vic Gundotra’s exit from Google, rumors of the death of Google+ have been promulgated throughout the tech blogosphere. The possibility of the fledgling social network shuttering its doors is a cause for concern among SEOs and content marketers who have been enjoying the benefits of the platform’s impact on organic search rankings, as well as its authorship attribution features.

While Google has flatly denied any chance that Google+ will be discontinued, dissected and redistributed among other product teams, there is still a sense of unease surrounding the product.

After all, change is a constant within the industry.

Regardless of whether it’s a real possibility or not, what impact would the death of Google+ have on Google Authorship and AuthorRank?

Google Authorship Would Survive

A majority of the shutdown rumors point to the scrapping of Google+’s social features, rendering it a “platform” only and no longer a social network. If this were to happen, it’s likely to assume that Google would maintain a mechanism for identity verification – a hallmark of Google+. Were the Google profile page as it exists today to remain intact, so too would your “Contributor to” section. As long as you were previously employing the rel=”author” tag, your Google Authorship verification and author rich snippets would persist.

As long as you were previously employing the rel=”author” tag, your Google Authorship verification and author rich snippets would persist.

“AuthorRank” Would Become Less Duplicitous

One common complaint about Google+ as it relates to authorship attribution is that Google was forcing content creators to use a social network that they previously had no use for in order to gain an edge in the rankings. Without Google+, AuthorRank/Agent Rank could move forward unencumbered by criticisms of monopoly and favoritism. Google’s original goal of having “information tied to verified online profiles … (rank) higher than content without such verification” can be met outside of the context of how well it performs or how active its author is on Google+.

The Effect of the Death of Google+ on +1s

The +1 button was first released to SERPs in March of 2011, with its web counterpart tagging along the following June – months before Google+ was released to the general public. A world without Google+ where +1s still exist is possible, but the absence of Google+ would greatly diminish the overall quantity of +1s, since a majority of +1s are generated within the network and not on page.

A world without Google+ where +1s still exist is possible, but the absence of Google+ would greatly diminish the overall quantity of +1s.

Considering that the +1 button is now ubiquitous alongside Twitter and Facebook’s share buttons, it’s highly unlikely that Google would allow the authority of the +1 to devalue in any way (further conceding social dominance to Facebook and discarding a significant ranking factor). This is just one of many reasons why it’s unlikely that Google+ will be going away anytime soon.

What about you? Are you worried that Google+ is going away? Let me know in the comments below!

Banner image via TechCrunch.