Authorship is a feature to content publication and Google search. Rumored to become an integral part of a future search algorithm, Authorship credits written content to its original writer and gives that person a byline and photo in search engine results pages.

The timeline of Authorship (below) explores how Google may be leading up to AuthorRank – a system that ranks content in search results in part because of the accredited author.

Studies suggest internet users are drawn to images, and people are also more likely to click on results with author images. Businesses that engage in corporate blogging can use Authorship to give their content writers the chance to broaden their personal brands, but also to outperform competitors. When a website publishes an article, a web user who searches for it on Google will see a variety of links. The person will often click on the web link with the image (the Author’s photo) over a link with no visual aid. If a brand uses Authorship, but it’s main competitor does not, the forward-thinking company will likely gain the lion’s share of clicks, even if the piece sits below its competitor’s article.

A company can’t have Authorship, only its employees can. To establish this authority, professionals must link their Google+ profiles with the websites they contribute to, and the website must also create an Authors section to connect Google+ members with the associated content.

Google has a vested interest in developing Authorship and the potential AuthorRank algorithm because it will bring more people to its social network and help drive social commerce for the company.