Google Authorship: a signal of trust to defend the link graph? via @billsebald

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And we continue our guess game (with lack of actual official statements, what else can we do?)

Google reps say "Google Authorship may influence rankings" one day in the future (they said the same about +1 button). They also seem to be working hard tweaking the verification methods and trying to guess the authors.. But how actually may it work?

Bill Sebald has a good guess that Authorship may be just another way to defend their link graph (which is largely gamed by many people who get link building)

We’ve been expecting it as a ranking signal.  But what if rel=author went the way of the +1 as a ranking factor, and is now more of a validator of editorial, non-spammy links?  After all, when’s the last time you saw spam or unnatural backlinks come from an author-verified page?

I could see Google ultimately determining that’s as far as it should go for now, with their current infrastructure.  Since they’re probably wrestling with how game-able Authorship really is, I could see them defaulting on it being a signal of trust which doesn’t push rankings, instead defends the link graph.  Until (or unless) spammers were to figure it out and start adopting it of course.  Maybe Google is thinking most spammers are too lazy, and using this now as a pluggable cog.

 

This is not the first time I've come across this theory and no one really knows. But to me, that's the most believable guess as no one actually believes Google will soon be able to move away from being "link-dependent".