Prolific Writer? Maybe Google Authorship Isn’t for You After All

Since finding a way to talk to an actual human about my Google Authorship and G+ profile isn’t an option, this is where I vent.

I possess an extensive vocabulary. There are hundreds — nay thousands — of words that I could use to describe what is happening with my G+ profile right now. But none of them do the job quite as well as the following:

Bullshit

As in: This. Is. Complete. Bullshit.

I’ve been excited about the idea of Google Plus for awhile, mainly because of the Google Authorship feature. As a prolific freelance writer (dare I say the most prolific in the personal finance space?), Google Authorship seems perfect for someone like me. After all, I can list the places I write in one, easily searchable location. And I can link back to the profile from where I write (places like U.S. News & World Report and Huffington Post) to show that I have some authority.

And if Google Authorship is really the wave of the future for Google and search and establishing authority, I’ve got it made in the shade.

Except that now Google thinks that maybe Google Plus isn’t for me.

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Yes, my Google Plus account was suspended a couple of weeks ago. I submitted for review, and the suspension was lifted. However, because plebes like me can’t talk to a human at Google I still have no real idea of what the problem was. I share stuff I’ve written. I share stuff that others have written. I use the +1 button on other people’s stuff. Sometimes (but not very often) I make comments.

Now, though, I’m once again being warned about spam, and I have no idea what the problem is. As far as I can tell, none of my stuff is overly promotional. I don’t repeat comments. I’m not pushing commercial content. I don’t aggressively add people. In fact, I rarely initiate an addition to my G+ circles. I share publicly, and with my “Blogging” circle, but I thought we were supposed to share publicly.

Anyway, supposedly Google Plus is tailor-made for people like me: Prolific writers who have worked to build somewhat authoritative voices in their subject areas. But maybe Google doesn’t want me using the Google Authorship.

And I have no idea why.

There are those who are just abandoning Google products, since they don’t seem to be keeping up with the “Don’t Be Evil” motto. I mean, I get that you don’t want spam. However, as far as I can tell, I’m not spamming. There’s been discontent about the SERPs and how the “big guys” are pushing out high-quality small guys, as well as how low-quality small sites churn and burn to get rankings. Between the promoted posts and churn and burn, many smaller high quality sites are lost in the shuffle.

Google Authorship looked like a step to fix some of that. With authority determined not by links, but by who is writing the posts.

There are concerns that Google will yank a service that many find valuable (Google Reader, anyone?), and worries others that Google may start actively doing evil in the name of the almighty dollar. But none of that really concerns me right now.

What concerns me is the fact that my Google Plus profile and my Google Authorship are in jeopardy, even though I’m pretty sure I’ve done nothing wrong. This is just what I need: Another reason to hate social media.

It’s even more concerning that I can’t talk to anyone about what I need to do to placate the Google gods. Death by algorithm is a very real concern for many blog owners and small businesspeople. I thought I didn’t have to worry about it, because I don’t worry much about the SERPs.

But, apparently, I do have to worry about it.


7 Responses to Prolific Writer? Maybe Google Authorship Isn’t for You After All

  1. Far be it from me to engage in conspiracy theories, but I have one for this whole Google authorship thing.

    Since Google has so many ways of evaluating the quality of a website and of a page, doe sit really need to also evaluate the quality of the author? I suspect there is something more going on here.

    I think this is an advance guard to reduce the impact of guest-post link-building. Here is how it works.

    Google sees your guest post. Google sees the link back to your website. Google sees your authorship. Google knows that your website and your authorship are related. Google therefore knows that the link to your site is not from a blogger/webmaster impressed with your content, but rather a self-promotion link. Google can then discount the value of that link in its algorithm.

    Therefore, it stands to reason that you do no favors for yourself by including your Google Plus profile when guest blogging. If my theory is correct.

    • Interesting point. Most of my G+ links come from sites I staff write for, but I can see how that could be an issue if you were guest posting a lot.

  2. I wonder if one of the posts you wrote ended up on a site which Google found to be accepting or paying for links?

    This is the danger I see with authorship. Your association with sites is more powerful due to the authorship link, but you don’t have any actual control over the site, or even the post if something “goes wrong.”

    I would hope that authorship allows writers to actually *lend credibility* to sites, and that if somebody as prolific and professional as you is writing for a site it ought to be *more* trusted.

    • That’s another interesting point. There’s all sorts of frustration with the disavow right now. How if someone crappy links to you, it’s somehow YOUR responsibility to disavow and make it better. This might be sort of the same thing. Also, I’ve had a couple people tell me it might be a troll. Reminds me of the folks who have competitors click on their AdSense to get them banned, or someone I know who had PR stripped because trolls kept linking to them from spammy sites. It’s frustrating that it’s so easy for these types to ruin you with Google — and you have no recourse.

  3. Miranda,

    I read your blog quite often and so I’d like to offer some insight, for whatever it’s worth. You could have been banned for a myriad of reasons, but I think the two most relevant are the ones you mentioned, plus a name ban.

    Spam/Negative content: Sometimes you do have negative SEO working against you, but more than likely they’re seeing articles that are too similar or are being linked from some unsavory paid search locations. It might help to do a link audit on all your work (I know you’d probably rather watch grass grow, but still).

    Name ban: Something about your name made it seem like you’re made up. Google might have thought you legitimately don’t exist and that you’re a fake identity made up to solicit content. I have no idea how to convince them otherwise. Rewrite your bios? Make an effort to overhaul your profiles? I have no idea.

    Good luck, Miranda.

  4. I’ve really not noticed this but I’m intrigued with the angle of David and Greg. It is definite that Google is using authorship to monitor us in some way. One has to watch out!

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