At the same time as it was sending ripples through the SEO world discussing over optimization penalties, updates to Panda, and the impact of Penguin, Google was also ruffling feathers and changing its game with Author Rank. Here's how Google explains this new update.

"Assuming that a given agent has a high reputational score, representing an established reputation for authoring valuable content, then additional content authored and signed by that agent will be promoted relative to unsigned content or content from less reputable agents in search results."

So basically, if content on a page is tied to an author that has a strong Author Rank with Google, that page's search ranking should be higher than it would otherwise.

There are a few things to unpack for those who want to understand what they can do to SEO their site or have more informed with their SEO inbound marketers. Most importantly from the perspective of the paranoids, Google will be factoring various aspects of Google+ and pages getting +1 clicks in assigning quality scores to authors.

So if a person puts something, writing, photos, or video for example, and uses Google's Authorship tools to link his Google+ identity to that content, when such content gets +1 votes his Author Rank will improve. This isn't the only way to get ranking, but it does create a kind of closed loop, where those who are active on Google's social media site and get attention there will also see their content ranking higher on the search giant's SERPs.

So only one thing matters for your SEO in terms of author rank is the author score of your content's author in the subject or topic where you want to rank. Content authors, in turn, will have to pay attention to the author scores of those linking to their content and other actions that suggest positive attention to the content from experts in the field like speed of link sharing within the sector and comments on the content.

Author ranks won't replace traditional search ranking metrics, namely the things Penguin and Panda care about. But it will supplement them. The idea is that by giving users the ability to upvote and downvote not just content but authors and weighing that feedback, Google will be able to produce higher-quality search results that help people actually find the information they want.

For small businesses and companies concerned with SEO, this means it's time to start thinking about developing authorship. There hasn't been a big announcement about Author Rank yet, so it's probably not in full scale implementation. But that doesn't mean you can't look for an inbound marketing firm that's focusing on developing its authorship, or even think about taking steps on Google+ to develop your own content quality reputation within your industry. While Author Rank might shake things up a lot, if you're prepared, you'll be fine. And if they never roll it out, your efforts will only help you.