In an X thread on January 8, 2024, Google Liason Danny Sullivan announced that Google doesn’t check credentials, or bylines, on content.
This thread was in response to an article published by a news publication that stated,
“We’re not sure if readers even bother to check out our credentials — but we know Google does.” Sullivan did not out the publication but posted a screenshot of the claim.
This assumes that author bylines can help boost a website’s rankings in Google Search — an assumption many other websites have taken to heart and content strategies.
“Author bylines aren't something you do for Google, and they don't help you rank better. They're something you do for your readers -- and publications doing them may exhibit the type of other characteristics our ranking systems find align with useful content.”
Here, we can see that bylines alone are not a ranking factor, but publications that use them tend to exhibit other characteristics of useful content that satisfy Google. It’s safe to say that bylines will not rank your website independently. However, bylines accompanying helpful content, a trustworthy site, and other factors are a recipe for success.
So, how should SEOs treat bylines?
We should treat bylines as a reader benefit, helping searchers understand context and authorship to determine the content’s trustworthiness. However, it’s important to note that quality content can rank without a byline.
“This is excellent advice from @shelbyblackley and aligns with anyone thinking about success with Google. Focus on having outstanding content. That's the foundation of success.”
It’s also important to fact-check advice from Google itself, as information can be wildly interpreted and easily misconstrued. In response, Google is working on updating its documentation to help clarify ranking factors.