The idea of tying content published online to a verified author and applying a trust factor to that author’s expertise as a way of identifying trusted – commonly referred to as Authorship and AuthorRank – has long been discussed as a potential algorithm game changer within the search engine optimization industry. Until now though, this has been purely speculation and has never been confirmed in any way from Google.

Now, in an excerpt released last week from the upcoming book The New Digital Age by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, online publishers and authors are getting their first confirmation that Authorship and AuthorRank will indeed play a role in how content is ranked. Schmidt states that:

Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.

This is a crucial shift from providing search engine optimization purely at the website level, to a hybrid approach that creates trust, authority and expertise tied directly to both the website and the content creators to improve rankings through that author’s online presence. The Search & Social Group has previously written about what authors should expect and focus on to take advantage of Authorship and AuthorRank which has become all the more relevant with this revelation.

Establishing this Authorship link between published content and the author has become a relatively simple endeavor with a two-step setup. Authors will first need to create a Google+ account and follow through with one of several options Google has provided for authors to complete the verification.

The newest option is through email verification, which can be completed if the author has an email address that matches the website their content is published on. A blogpost was published last month detailing how to claim authorship via email. If email is not possible, the rel=author tag can be manually added to a website (Google has a walkthrough here) and plugins can be used to expedite the process if you have WordPress installed.

This announcement helps to confirm the importance and need for Google+ as an online network, as it will serve as the centerpiece connecting an author to all their online content and will continue to gain relevance as a search engine algorithm element.