I got this in a email today Looks very interesting Google Authorship May Soon be Automatic Don?t hold your breath, but Google seems to be connecting the pieces of the authorship puzzle ? one social network at a time. I stumbled upon an interesting Search Engine Roundtable article today that indicated this may be the case based upon an example in the SERPs. The guy that made the discovery first alerted others by way of a Webmaster World forum post. The member, sunnyujjawal, started the thread to alert fellow forum members that Pinterest URLs were displaying author thumbnails in search results via Google+, and they were not showing up because the author used Google Authorship markup. This promises a range of implications for webmasters. The Initial Findings Here?s the original post that sparked all the interest: ?Till now we have heard G+ authorship for personal sites only with email or authorship verification but today I found a Pinterest search result with verified Google Plus authorship photo. ?But I didn?t find any verified URL in this G+ profile even then it?s author pic is in search results.? Below is the screenshot of what he?s talking about: Image 1: The comments on the thread were chock-full of people who really did their homework. Users researched where Nil Gajjar showed up, where he didn?t, and where his content lived on the Web. One member noted this could be proof of the benefits of having a unique, recognizable name that stays consistent across many different online social networks. Users discovered that Gajjar is active in more than 20 different social networks and he uses the same name across them all. Although he didn?t set up Google authorship, he links to all his networks in each social profile he sets up ? Pinterest in particular ? in order to create a very clear roadmap. If you?re a big believer in context clues, you?re in good company. Looks like Big G is, too ? and G was certain enough of Gajjar?s identity and trustworthiness to display his picture beside his content without him ever going through the process of setting up authorship. This doesn?t mean that you should not set up Google authorship, however. At this stage of the game, it would be incredibly beneficial for you to do so. This is especially true given Google?s new emphasis on Author Rank to determine websites? placement in the SERPs. Rather, this is proof that Google is shifting focus to your reputation in the online community to determine where to place your content. If you play it right, you can occupy top spots and dominate your niche without spending hours in front of Market Samurai digging for keywords to get there. Let?s look at some further proof of this shift that surfaced in related news recently. Google?s Authorship Patent Update Interestingly, the U.S. Patent Office just released an updated version of Google?s Authorship patent on Oct. 18. Google calls this patent Authentication of a Contributor of Online Content No. 20120265755, and it?s worth a read if you have lots of time to kill and a very patient disposition. If you don?t, that?s OK. On Google+, Brian Ussery of SEO Consultants explains what changed within the patent?s wording: Image 2: So, what does this language boil down to? In a nutshell, Google is ranking content based in part on reputation scores derived from reviews and ?status levels? of the authors who publish it. This is even more of a reason to be well known (and well liked) in your niche. The New Face of Search But wait, there?s more! If the updated patent isn?t proof enough for you that Google Authorship is the ranking factor of the future, then consider Andre Weyher. He?s an ex-Google employee that worked alongside Matt Cutts fighting webspam for the better part of two years. Weyher recently opened up about Google?s inner workings in an exclusive interview with JamesNorquay.com. In the piece, Weyher discussed Google?s new turn toward individual authors and the new era of ranking: ?Offsite link building has dramatically changed since the recent updates. Anything that you can do automatically or at scale puts your website at risk. So keep the following in mind; Link building has changed from an almost purely technical process into something that resembles a relationship management campaign. Building a network with owners of sites that are related to yours, for example.? This explains why Google may be attempting to place authors next to content without said authors ever completing the process of setting up authorship. The search giant is trying to move away from displaying search results based on query relevance alone. Those days have long since passed. Now, it?s all about how much others trust your content and how well known you are in your niche. Do people share what you like? Do they rate it well? Do they link to it often? If you can answer yes to all these questions, then you?re definitely doing something right. Getting to know your peers is the key to success in the SERPs. Some other things to help you succeed: ? Reach out to ? and link to ? the big names in your niche often. ? Comment on other blogs and forums in your industry and work to get your name out there. ? Adopt a rigorous guest posting routine to get your content in front of as many eyes as possible. ? Set up Google authorship immediately. ? Set up social network profiles using the same name and unify your online presence. If you maintain a strong, unified online identity, Google may just start finding and ranking your content without any additional help on your part. This is very exciting because search is radically changing. Want my opinion? I think it?s finally headed in the right direction.