Fast Company

Google's Author Markup Support Makes It Easier To Find A Writer's Works

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Google just revealed it's supporting authorship markup HTML tags. This may seem like a small tweak, but it's seriously good stuff if you're a writer wanting to find your work online--and it could even help protect an article's IP. And that's all good for readers too.

Google's simply going to start crawling the trillions of pages on the web to look for existing HTML5 "standards" like the tag rel="author" with the simple and express purpose of enabling "search engines and other web services to identify works by the same author across the web." It's the start of an experiment for Google that's designed to make it easier for Google's customers to locate "content from great authors in our search results."

As well as enabling searches for articles written by authors (like me!) instead of turning up search results that're merely about an author, it will enable quick links to author pages inside bigger publications. Google illustrates the idea by noting "if an author at The New York Times has written dozens of articles," then the new power will enable Times developers to "connect these titles with a New York Times author page" without any work on their end, and the page can contain descriptions, identities, bios, photos, and "other links" so it's actually rich data. Plus, with the amount of article scraping and wholesale IP-abusing republishing that goes on with online content, the markup could provide a way to track which articles have magically appeared--sans credit--where they shouldn't.

The scheme is already enabled on the Times, the Washington Post, CNET, Entertainment Weekly, and other sites Google's been testing it with, and authorship markup is now added to "everything hosted by YouTube and Blogger"--both these Google properties will automatically add the markups when you submit content in the future.

This not only benefits writers and readers; it also benefits Google. Google could find its author-search engine replacing internal search engines or author pages inside more publications, for one, and that'll give Google access to more user-habit data, as well as enabling more targeted advertising. Plus, the entire system could also let it better "rank search results," which means polishing of its algorithms.

Chat about this news with Kit Eaton on Twitter and Fast Company too.

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