Every now and then Google changes the game so much that search engine marketers have to figure out how to play by the new rules. But this time, they’ve changed the rules so much that it’s taken us a lot longer to figure out the new game plan. But I think I’ve got it figured out.

Going forward, you have to work on your author reputation. It’s called AuthorRank.

That’s not to say that old considerations such as PageRank and link portfolios are dead and gone. Rather, the new paradigm is the old paradigm plus. And it’s all wrapped up in Google’s newfangled social search platform Google+.

If you haven’t joined Google+, now is the time to do it. In the future, AuthorRank will determine whether your content ranks for keyword phrases you’re associated with. It’s more than just a reputation management tool. It’s a search engine marketing management tool. Let me explain.

When someone Google’s your name, if you have a Google+ account, there’s no doubt that you’ll come up. Even if there are a half dozen other people with the same name, the likelihood that your profile is shown, particularly if someone has crossed your path before, is higher. In some cases, it will be much higher. But what if you are a foot doctor and someone Google’s “foot pain” or “bunions?” What then?

Well, the new emphasis on author reputation, or AuthorRank, will mean that foot doctors that routinely publish quality content related to those topics – either on their own properties or elsewhere – are more likely to rank for those terms.

This is Google’s way of fighting spam. I’ll have to say that I think it will be very effective. But if you aren’t playing by the new rules, you’ll be shut out of the new game.