Google announced yesterday that it has started to index content based not only on the website that published it, but also on the author who originated it. Using the rel=”author” attribute, Google will be able to match writers and their work.

Reactions so far have been mixed. Using the HTML5 attribute, (and having an author page somewhere on a domain) will allow Google to match writers with what they’ve written, and in theory, allow people to find other work by that particular person, and show their work independently of other search results.

Tracking Authors & Improved Results

On an official Google blog, Google says that because great content comes from great authors, they’re looking into ways that they could use this markup to determine credibility, and help them improve search results.

If a lot of people start using this attribute, it could have an appreciable effect on a variety of online facets. If individual authors are trackable, and the data exists, you could find your website authority (or credibility) being tied to some currently unknown criteria.

One issue that people have raised is that a credible author could take that credibility with them if they changed jobs or publications.

Implementation & Use

The impact of this will, to a large extent, depend on how well it’s taken up by the online communities. Of course, to encourage this, Google has “helped” certain companies add this markup to their sites.

These lucky sites include The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNET, Entertainment Weekly & The New Yorker among others. In addition, YouTube and Blogger, (both Google products) will be automatically using it for everything published on them.

We’ll be watching with interest to see what the effects are.

To find out more about authorship attributes and Google, visit Google’s Webmaster Help on Authorship.