A lot of people have heard about Google+. They might not use it, but they’ve at least heard of it. We’ve talked about the value of Google+ before. This particular social network isn’t just building a pretty hefty user base, it’s becoming a hybrid of social and search resources. The biggest reason companies should invest in a Google+ presence is the benefits for search engine optimization (SEO).
The same goes for Google Authorship, which is a term even fewer people have heard. Google puts a lot of weight on pages – and authors – that are using Google+. But what, exactly, is Google Authorship and why do people need it? What’s Google’s master plan for this social-SEO network?
The Alchemy of Google Authorship
If you’ve seen a picture next to a search result, you’ve seen the most obvious indicator of Google Authorship: a headshot of the blog post’s author. Otherwise, no one quite knows how it works. Sometimes, for some content, your picture will show up. Other times, you won’t see it at all.
There’s no doubt that Google Authorship is beneficial when it comes to SEO. If you’ve started planning content marketing strategies around a blog and hope to generate traffic, Google Authorship is a necessity. Even the aesthetic add-on of having a photo has been proven to draw more attention to blog posts in search results, because people’s eyes are naturally drawn to content accompanied by author photos.
These pictures add a human element to search results, which shows Google Authorship is in line with the search giant’s real objective: building authority across the Internet for thought leaders who are producing high-quality content. Google Authorship helps index top content creators by weighing their areas of expertise and their social activity in search results.
Setting Up Google Authorship for Your Blog
If you and your competitor write a blog post about a similar topic, but your competitor has Google Authorship enabled, it’s almost inevitable that the competitor’s post will show up above yours in search results.
Setting up Google Authorship isn’t hard. All you need is to ensure that your blog (whether on WordPress, Drupal, or something else) has bylines and user profiles for each author, then follow these steps:
1. Create a Headshot for Your Google+ Profile.
After setting up a Google+ page, find a good-quality headshot to use. Remember this will be the headshot that shows up in search results, so make sure that it’s professional and visually appealing.
2. Verify Your Domain Email.
If your email address is the same as your blog’s domain, the process is straightforward: just visit https://plus.google.com/authorship and type in your company email address.
Verify the address via your email and Google Authorship should automatically be enabled. To check if this has worked, use the Structured Data testing tool by copying and pasting a blog post’s URL and checking if your headshot shows up.
3. If Google Authorship Isn’t Working or You Don’t Have A Domain Email…
If your email is different from your blog or your company blog is on a separate domain from the corporate website, then you’ll have to follow a few other steps. First, in your Google+ profile, check the “About” section and you’ll find the “Contributor To” section. Add your blog domain’s URL to this section.
4. Find a Plugin.
At March, we use WordPress. When we couldn’t verify emails through domain addresses, we used the WordPress plugin Social Author Bios to connect Google+ profiles to WordPress authors.
5. Or Use Rel=Author Code…
The alternative to a plugin-in is to manually input Google+’s author code into the HTML of the blog itself. Preferably, this code would be input into each blog author’s profile or “About” page, with their Google ID as part of the code. If that’s not possible, the code can also be applied to individual blog posts.
To use the code, type: <a href=”[profile_url]?rel=author”>Connect with me on Google+</a> or something similar, where [profile_url] is the number beside your Google+ profile.
Don’t forget to use the structured data testing tool to see whether the rel=author code is working properly. Even if you don’t see a headshot in search results for a week or two, this tool will let you know right away if Google Authorship has been enabled.
The Changing Tide
Just like Google’s constant changes have influenced what sources show up in search results with Penguin, Panda and Hummingbird algorithm updates, Google’s Authorship algorithms are going through a number of upheavals. In December, Google deployed new algorithms that cut Authorship in search results by 20 to 40 percent in an effort to cut down on spam and emphasize authors of consistent, high-quality content.
In Google’s world, nothing is ever perfect. But as long as you’ve taken steps to set up Google Authorship and create high-quality content, Google will rank your business higher than those that don’t.
Want to learn more?
In The Evolution of PR, Content Marketing and Blogging, we cover:
- The ongoing changes in the world of PR
- The principles of content marketing for tech companies
- Important blogging strategies
- How to use press releases for more than just brand-building