Shortly after Google+ was launched, we started to see images of authors appearing in the SERPs next to a website. Before this was officially recognized by Google, it was being called authorship. This authorship, or author authority, sent a signal that the person’s image you were seeing was a trusted source of information on this topic. Google Authorship became easy to obtain by linking your article back to your personal Google+ profile and linking your Google+ profile back to your blog in the “contributor to” section.
This naturally led to an attempt to abuse this system by trying to unnaturally inflate a websites PageRank by piggybacking on an author’s authority. Search Engine Roundtable spoke more in-depth about this yesterday and posted sections of the thread where this was discussed.
Let’s say this was possible, how would you prevent this from happening to you? One method you could try (and this is my favorite) is to set up Google Alerts for many different variations of your name or your company’s name. This will send you an alert whenever anything (you choose to be alerted to) is publicly posted. Another step you could take is to frequently search for your name in Google and click the author link labeled by your name link under a URL in the search results. If you find a recent article that was posted, credited to you that you didn’t write, you can take the necessary steps to either disavow that page or bring it to Google’s attention.
It looks as though Google may have begun to restrict authorship to provide better quality results although, it’s not quite clear what is required to have ones full authorship appear in the results.