2014 is shaping up to be the year of significant adoption and impact of Google Authorship.
Beyond just being a social network, Google+ serves as a platform for authors to verify their contributions to a specific publishing domain. Rel=author markup allows publishers to post an author's Google+ profile code to confirm who wrote the piece. The two sides match up and voilà! The result is bidirectional verification that an article was authored by a specific person.
Trust Placed in Authors
Now, Google knows with assurance who produced the content, not just where it is published, and that leads to something transformational in the search world.
Since Google's inception, it has ranked and displayed content based on trust signals of the publishing domain (overarching trust signals for domain trust has been link volume and quality). Historically, an article has been trusted and therefore ranked because of where it had been published.
Today, we find ourselves with a mechanism to authenticate author signatures. Google can choose to trust an article based on who wrote it, not just where it is published.
Once a large enough pool of verified authors and associated content exists, new ways of determining the relative trust and influence of an author emerge. Authors who publish frequently on trusted domains and garner significant engagement on those posts establish author-based trust signals.
Welcome to the unfolding world of Author Rank!