In order to produce the most authoritative content, companies will have to lean on their internal subject-matter experts. From an SEO perspective, establishing Google Authorship and building AuthorRank is a powerful way to increase traffic to and shares of your content. However, some employers may be reluctant to amplify the personal brands of their employees.

Here are three common fears about investing in building the AuthorRank of employees, and why they’re mostly unwarranted.

Don't Be Afraid to Build Up Your Employees1) “What happens if the employee leaves the company? Will they take their AuthorRank with them?”

AuthorRank isn’t really a tangible metric or commodity – it’s just one of many Google ranking factors. However, AuthorRank can equally benefit the author and the platform where the content is published.

Even if an employee leaves your company, their content will stay on your company blog. If Google Authorship is properly set up, that content will be forever tied — through the SERPs — to the author’s personal Google+ profile. Therefore, a company can benefit from the content regardless of whether or not the author is still employed there — and the employee can reference that content for the rest of their career. As a former employee increases their brand reputation, the resources they published on your site will become more valuable.

An interesting question that arises from this is whether or not it is ethical for an employer to remove the rel=”author” tag (which helps establish authorship) on articles written by former employees.

2) “I don’t want to invest so much in an employee just so they can be poached by a competitor or go into business for themselves.”

It’s important not to manage employees out of a position of fear. You wouldn’t consider not training a new employee or not equipping them with the (proprietary) tools they need to succeed for fear that they would be poached, would you? Investing in their AuthorRank can create many opportunities for lead generation and brand authority – and it’s unlikely that an employee would want to leave a company that’s so invested in building his or her own personal brand. Promoting authorship is one way to create a “stickiness” factor with employees – increasing their affinity to the brand by tying the success of their content to the success of the business. Furthermore, it’s likely that an employer who invests in their employee’s personal brands would be able to attract top talent. This is the essence of creating an attractive employer brand.

3) “I’m afraid we might create a prima donna or “rockstar” that will turn insubordinate or become a cultural problem.”

Many companies have benefited from having a highly-visible “rockstar” or company evangelist among their ranks. HubSpot has Dan Zarrella. Rackspace has Robert Scoble. ESPN has Bill Simmons. Even prior to social media and blogging, Apple had Guy Kawasaki.

A digital evangelist can champion your thought-leadership efforts, speak at industry events and be the face of your company via social media channels. If you set expectations as their personal brand grows, you can avoid any HR headaches that might come with a suddenly valuable employee (who knows it).

All in all, the benefits of investing in the AuthorRank of all of your employees far outweigh the risks. If AuthorRank or Google Authorship is new to you, check out this excellent and comprehensive guide to Google Authorship Resources from Jeremy Rivera over at Raven Tools.

To get your employees started in content creation, check out our free guide: The 5 Ws of Content Creation.


Steven Shattuck

Steven Shattuck

Senior Marketing Associate / Community Manager at digitalrelevance
Steven Shattuck is Senior Marketing Associate / Community Manager at digitalrelevance, responsible for the overall corporate online presence (website, blog, social media) with an emphasis on lead generation, digital PR and content creation.
Steven Shattuck
Steven Shattuck

Content, Leadership | 3 Comments

3 thoughts on “3 Unwarranted Fears About Building Your Employee’s AuthorRank

  1. Interesting information on authorship and employee’s. Had not placed much thought into building authorship for employee’s. But truthfully, if an employee left would it really be a problem keeping the account created for that particular employee? Why not just keep the account since it can still bring value to the company the employee worked for during that time.

    Although if helping the employee after leaving your company after a significant amount of time is of concern, the option to delete the account is always available. Yes, this may reduce in coming traffic to the business at hand of course, but how great of an impact would it cause? You could very easily forward all correspondence for that employee to a catch all account as well.

    Secondly, if the employee was that helpful to the business, why not do whatever it takes to keep them around. Third, it seems that if the employee is that good at what they do, then it would seem they would have no problem maintaining their reputation even after leaving. Is this not what your company created or at least helped create during this time period of employment?

    It seems that this is a company policy concern that either needs to be put into place or guidelines of which should be worked out before hand. Nice post…

  2. Thanks for a useful post!

    What do you think about suggesting AuthorRank to an employer as opposed to an employer suggesting it? Should you wait for an employer to reach out to you, or if you think you have what it takes can you just forward an article such as this along with a request for a meeting on the subject?

    Just curious :)

    • Since AuthorRank is more or less intangible, it might be difficult for a job candidate to leverage their AuthorRank in a hiring situation. They could, however, point to published articles as writing examples and maybe even SERPs that they appear in for keyword phrases.

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