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The Whats, Whys and Hows of Google Authorship
Posted on February 9th 2014
You’ve set up a Google+ account! Now you’re on your way to legitimacy in Google’s eyes. But you’re not there yet. That’s where Google Authorship comes in. A few years ago, Google created Authorship as part of its goal of showcasing their products in search results. Ever see some random person’s face in your search results? That’s Authorship. Like most Google products, it doesn’t take much to set up Authorship, so let’s walk through it. But first…
What is Google Authorship?
Let’s go back to open house at elementary school for a minute. Remember how excited you were to show your mom or dad your macaroni artwork hanging on the bulletin board? Filled with pride, you’d grab their hand and lead them closer for a better look, pointing up at your carb-loaded masterpiece, turning in anticipation of witnessing their reaction. Well, Google Authorship is sort of like that for grown-ups. And instead of your parents, it’s your peers and potential clients. Demian Farnworth of Copyblogger put it this way: “In essence, Google is saying … we want to make sure that you are a real human being … we want to stamp out anonymity and spam … we want to regard you as someone who is willing to put your name on the line for the content you create and share.”
Why Google Authorship?
The big reason you want to be verified by Authorship is to build credibility with both users and Google’s search engine itself. And this makes both you and your website more reliable from Google’s point-of-view. In fact, Jayson DeMers of Huffington Post says in his complete guide to Google Authorship that, “It’s widely believed that Google Authorship is the first step toward verifying author identity, which will be used to calculate Author Rank, which I believe is the future of Google’s algorithm.” So, let’s say you’re a florist who publishes blogs fairly regularly on various topics about buying flowers. If someone’s husband searches for “best flowers for anniversary,” then Google will position you higher in the results based upon your positive rank and credibility. In other words, Google Authority helps users find those in-the-know and helps those in-the-know (and who go about setting up Authority properly but we’ll get to that in a minute) attract new fans and hopefully, new customers.
Remember how we said it’s important to have a good Google+ profile photo? Here’s one more important reason. Google Authorship helps your website get better click-through rates. Let’s go back to this hypothetical florist and the husband-in-need searching for “best flowers for anniversary.” When the husband presses SEARCH and sees the results, his eye is going to go to the result with a picture, specifically your picture, beside it. It’s widely accepted and proven that Internet users engage more with posts and pages with captivating images (more on this later). Once they click on your link, they can then be exposed to more of what you and your website have to say. But like we said above, you’ve got to tag things correctly to get the full benefit of Google Authorship.
What’s great to keep in mind about all this Author Ranking within Google Authorship is that you’re not cornered into being an authority on one topic. Back to the florist analogy, you don’t have to be the go-to for just “flowers.” You could also be an expert in “gifts for women” or “orchids.” Author Rank breaks things down into categories when determining who the authorities are. So, don’t feel limited. However, that doesn’t mean you should try to grab up all the topics you can think of. Try to focus on only two or three topics as an author.
Avoid The Copycats
If you’re the original author of your blog and you properly use Authorship markup (tagging), then your blog post is pushed to the top of a user’s search results. This will further convince users of your authority and other authors are no longer able to capitalize on your hard work.
How to Set Up Google Authorship
The first thing you need to do is determine who all on your staff will be submitting blog posts for your website. Whoever they may be, they all need to set up individual Google+ accounts with their individual Gmail accounts to participate in Authorship. According to Google, here’s how to link content you write to your Google+ page:
- Make sure your profile photo is a recognizable headshot.
- Create a byline that has your name in it, like “By John Smith.” It should appear on all of your blog posts.
- Your byline name should be the same as the name on your Google+ profile.
- Check that you have an email address (like email@example.com) on the same domain as your blog posts.
If you don’t have an email with your specific domain, here’s what you do:
1. Make a link to your Google+ profile from your website, like this:
2. Replace [profile_url] with the Google+ profile URL:
3. Your link needs to include the parameter ?rel=author. If not, Google can’t associate your blog posts with your own Google+ page.
- Add a corresponding link back from your profile to the website(s) you updated.
- Edit the Contributor To section.
- In the dialog box, click Add custom link, and then enter the URL.
- Click the drop-down list to edit who all can see the link.
- Click Save.
But is that it? To just get started – yes – but there’s more to it than that if you really want to stand out. That’s where we our advice comes in! Here a few ways to further optimize your blog so you can bump up your authority level.
It’s Who You Know As Well As What You Know
You’ll notice that each authorship result will show your Google+ circles. If you were the above-mentioned hypothetical husband looking for flowers, what author would you trust more: the person with 3 circles or the person with 20,000 circles? If you guessed the 20,000 circles, then pat yourself on the back! So, this is yet another vital reason to be involved on Google+ with other users. Take some extra time connecting with others and in return, expand your brand’s reach and increase your chances of receiving more credibility as an author by Google. It’s a win-win-win!
Looks Are Important
As mentioned above, your Google+ profile picture or headshot is very important in attracting users to click on your blog post, thus increasing your credibility to Google. Because of this, you should really invest your time, energy (and maybe your money) into getting a professional, friendly, and inviting headshot. Don’t believe me? Just ask Cyrus Shepard of The Moz Blog, who increased traffic to his content by 35% just by updating his profile picture.
Keep in mind; this is for a personal Google+ profile for your writers, so this should not be the company logo. When we say headshot, we mean it. Save the company logo for the company page. As Ann Smarty of Internet Marketing Ninjas puts it when discussing Google+ profile pictures, “Social media connects human beings. Your logo may scare off some of the potential followers and thus screw your profile building efforts.” In other words, people trust faces more than logos, so keep that in the back of your mind as you create and edit your personal Google+ profile page.
Recently, Search marketing expert AJ Kohn confirmed that Google has said that in addition to all these benefits mentioned above, there’s another very exciting benefit to Google Authorship. When a user comes back to the search results once they’ve read an Authorship-tagged result for a given amount of time, Google adds three more links to similar articles or blogs from that author below the link they clicked on in the first place. That means more attention on your work, which could mean more traffic to your blog, which could ultimately mean more business for you and your company.
Like many of Google’s products, Authorship will evolve to better fit the growing needs of users finding the most reliable content. If fact, it wouldn’t shock this writer to find that Google will eventually verify websites and businesses with the same authority it gives individuals based upon their Google+ profile.
To recap, Google Authorship is a way to bring the most relevant and reliable content to a user’s search results and in turn making credibility the competition factor among writers instead of using cheap SEO tricks. It’s important, as with most of content marketing, to always keep the user in mind when setting up any public profile, especially with Google+. Google Authorship in 2014 is becoming a must for all website owners when developing their content strategies. Using this philosophy and following the guidelines mentioned in this article, you’ll be well on your way to gathering authority on your industry and getting more traffic.