Google Explains How Author Pages May Help

In a Google Webmaster Central hangout, Google’s John Mueller answered whether it was worth spending time creating author pages.

Mueller downplayed the importance of author pages for ranking. He said that you can’t say author pages really matter.

Then he explained where it can matter.

Author Pages on News Sites and YMYL

Some people believe that author pages and “expert authors” are important for ranking.

But that’s not anything that Google has said.

I’ve had numerous companies come to me for help after an update. Many had tried adding author pages but that didn’t solve their problems because author pages are not a ranking factor.

Mueller’s answer confirms that it’s not something you really must do.

Related: How to Use Structured Data to Support E-A-T

Are Author Pages Necessary?

This is the the question asked of John Mueller:

“Question about E-A-T and YMYL.

We’re working with news websites. What tips can you give us about indication of content authors?

Is it really necessary to make pages for each author, provide big info with photo, bio links to social networks?

…Does this really matter that there are lots of work to do elsewhere.”

John Mueller Comments on Content Author Pages

John’s answer begins by noting that E-A-T and YMYL are terms from the Quality Raters Guidelines (QRG).

“So, E-A-T is Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness. And YMYL is You Money or Your Life content.

These are terms from the Google Raters Guidelines that we put out.”

The QRG is a guide for third party raters to use. The intent of the guide is to help the raters use a consistent standard for rating search results. That’s important because otherwise the raters would use their own subjective opinions.

Google has recommended the use of the QRG to publishers as a way for them to judge their own sites for quality.

Google never said that the QRG reflected Google’s ranking algorithms. The QRG is just a standard for rating websites.

Mueller next downplays the importance of author pages as an absolute necessity:

“I think like with all kinds of content it’s not the case that you can say this really matters and you absolutely must do it.”

Mueller next explains that if you want to build trust with your readers, then using an author page is a good way to do that.

The context of his statement is not about ranking. The context is about building trust with readers.

Mueller’s explanation:

“I do think with a lot of news websites, especially if you’re providing information that you want people to trust, then this certainly makes sense.”

Mueller downplays the use of author pages as an SEO factor:

“So it’s not something that where I’d say it’s the same as removing a no-index meta tag on a page because that’s like really and on-and-off switch.”

Mueller then remarks on improving content and prioritizing content improvement and adding author bios.

“But if you’re improving the content of your site, that works well for users, that works well for Google.

So it seems like something that could be done.

How to prioritize that versus other things on the website that’s really hard to do. That’s where you almost need to kind of use your experience and figure out what works well on your side.”

Related: Google’s E-A-T: Busting 10 of the Biggest Misconceptions

Are Author Bios Important?

It’s clear that author bios are not ranking factors. The idea that author bios are important comes from the QRG encouragement that the quality raters look for them.

But the reason the QRG says that is to give the raters a common standard for verifying the quality of a site. It’s not because an author bio is a part of Google’s algorithm.

Author bios can be important within the context of building trust with users.

If the author is an expert then it makes sense to make a statement about their expertise. As John Mueller stated, it’s a way to build trust with users.

Can it help your rankings? Only in an indirect way.

Site visitors who trust your site are more likely to recommend your web page, to trust it and to return to it if the author bio builds credibility for the content.

It’s time for publishers and the SEO community to view author bios outside of the context of ranking. It’s more realistic to consider author bios from the context of what it might mean for users.

Watch the Google Office Hours Hangout here: