How Google Recognizes Authors Without Authorship

Google’s John Mueller described how Google is able to recognize an author and all of that author’s content and mentions across the web, without supporting authorship markup anymore. In short, John said Google can do this when all of the author’s articles link back to a central bio page or central location.

This came up in a Google SEO hangout at the 28:41 mark where someone asked John “What contact information is it better to indicate on the authors page, social network accounts, email addresses, or both? If we can choose only one option what is more preferable?”

John said “our systems try to recognize who that is, what that entity is. And we do that based on a number of different factors and that does include things like links to profile pages for example. Or visible information that that we can find on these pages themselves.”

John then said his recommendation here would be to “link to a common or kind of like a central place where you say like everything comes together for this author which could be something like a social network profile page for example.” John then added that you can “use that across the different author pages that you have when you’re writing so that when our systems look at an article and they see an author page associated with that, they can recognize this is the same author as the person who wrote something else and we can kind of group this by entity and we do that based on maybe this common social networking profile that is there.” Google here is building an entity understanding of the author based on the links from the authors articles.

John said this process is called reconciliation, he said “we call that reconciliation when it comes to structured data, kind of recognizing which of these entities belong together.” Although, Google does not use structured data here anymore, as he explained with Google no longer using authorship.

John said:

I don’t know long ago we used to have the rel author annotation and all of the the older SEOs will probably face palm now, but it’s something essentially where we try to use structured data to explicitly apply this. But it is something that like the the rel author annotations are no longer used at Google for quite a while now but we do try to understand who the entity is behind an author page. And for many authors it’s it’s pretty clear there’s one name and it’s very obvious this one name is associated with this one person. For other people it can be a little bit more complicated. Like me for example John Mueller if you search for me you’ll find Wikipedia pages, barbecue restaurants, bands, all kinds of people who are called John Mueller. And if on my site I don’t kind of specify who I actually am, then it could happen that our systems look at my pages and go oh this is that guy that runs at barbecue restaurant and then suddenly I am associated with a barbecue restaurant, which I don’t know might might be a move up, I don’t know. But kind of these these subtle things I think make it a lot easier for us to recognize who is actually behind something.

Glenn Gabe’s tweets sum it up super well:

Here is the embed of the video where this question and answer begins:

Forum discussion at Twitter.