Google: the future passport across the Internet?

Just Google Authorship improved blog traffic significantly
Google Authorship alone improved blog traffic significantly

I’ve been applying a bit of Search Engine Optimisation to this blog over the last couple of weeks (successfully I should add – visits are already up over 30%) and one of the most recommended techniques is to assign authorship to articles.

What this does, is tells Google that the web site owner has trusted this particular person to add an article to the site. You might think that for this blog, the site owner and author is the same – but Google doesn’t mind this because it just wants to know there’s a human at the end of the keyboard, not another spammy robot knocking out (or copying) content. It’s the age old sign of trust of putting someone’s name at the bottom of a document adds credibility.

The way Google trusts that the person is a real human is by linking the ‘byline’ to their Google+ account. This is clever for so many reasons:

  1. Improves Google+’s own PageRank of more incoming links (theoretically, and probably practically within Google’s control but it is now proven through this method)
  2. Gets more people using Google+ (all those authors, who don’t want readers to land on an empty Google+ profile page)
  3. It has moved Google along the journey of becoming the user authentication on the Internet.

It’s the last point that is the most valuable. The Internet needs a single sign on, centralised user authentication system to prove who we are, so that businesses can trust who the buyer says they are.

A friend of mine sells furniture online. It costs him a small fortune to deliver it to customers, and with the distance selling regulations, he often gets customers who tell him after a week of delivery that they don’t want the item any longer. He reckons he can tell who is ‘trying it on’ to check whether he’ll offer a refund without bothering to collect the item again. He estimates that these “customers” go from site to site trying to take liberties from companies.

Wouldn’t it be a better system all round if a user bought an item from a website, and that site could look in a central place for delivery and payment information, and whether this user was trustworthy or not, before dispatching the item.

Another player in the market who might try to create this central authentication system is Apple. Combining Apple ID with fingerprint recognition and perhaps phone based GPS information could be a secure system.

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