The Rise of the Subject Matter Expert: How Google+ Influences Google’s Search Rankings

By Matt Polsky 

In the past year, major updates to Google’s search quality algorithm have discouraged Search Engine Optimization (SEO) professionals from cutting corners, forcing less reputable companies out of business.

The new landscape set forth by Google requires businesses and content curators to produce genuine, relevant subject matter that people want to read and share. Even more important is the fact that Google has started weighing the influence of an individual more than that of a brand or a website.

This tool, referred to as “AuthorRank,” gives authors who link created content to their Google+ account an individual ranking, giving authors the power to affect the overall positioning of a website – most easily noticed by the mugshot appearing next to the link in Google’s index.

What does this all mean? It means the demise of the anonymous content writer and the rise of the subject matter expert.

Google has indicated that a link no longer denotes valuable content, or a “vote” for a website, and the company would rather rely on social sharing metrics that are difficult to imitate, ensuring that content is written and shared by tangible sources.

In this climate, anyone attempting to increase their organic rankings will need to build relationships with bloggers and news media, sharing their unique expertise while implementing the rel=author tag to receive the full benefit.

With this off-site approach, don’t forget links. Links still matter, but only strong, natural editorial links will work.

If outreach isn’t working, you can acquire these by making news, offering exclusive resources, providing statistical arrangements, or, a personal favorite, signing up for the news sourcing network Help a Reporter Out (HARO) to be interviewed.

If you’re a business and have little to write about, highlight the uses or users of your product, on and off your site. Chevrolet accomplished this with their 2011 World Series “Then and Now” commercial.

Another option is to build content channels for your users. Veterans United Home Loans successfully accomplished this by providing high-quality resources and articles, while connecting industry experts to their audience – all for the end user, not a search engine.

To me, it is all common sense. If you want to increase rankings, provide value to the end user, avoid duplicating or spinning content, as well as unnatural linking practices and actions that could be seen as “gaming” the system.

Matt Polsky specializes in creative, scalable and adaptive organic marketing strategies for Veterans United Home Loans, the nation’s leading dedicated provider of VA Home Loans. In his spare time, Matt guest lectures on SEO, conversion optimization and link building. Connect with Matt on his personal website, on Twitter @mattpolsky or Google+.