As is much discussed at SMX events and on SearchEngineLand, Google is moving toward acknowledging ownership of content in alignment with the Google Panda update. Google Authorship allows the search engine to match up content with its author via his or her Google+ profile, which then appears in search results, like this:
The person icon to the left indicates that it is an authorship result, and then Barry’s name is clickable, which takes users to his Google+ profile.
Google Authorship is fairly easy to set up; you must have a Google+ profile first, and then your byline on content must match your name on Google+. Ideally, Google wants you to have an email address with the same domain as where your content is published, but you can also use the rel=author tag to specify authors in the content and then edit your Google+ profile to mention that you are a contributor to the website.
Tying Your Content To Your Google+ Profile
In essence, Google Authorship is tying your content to your Google+ profile, making authorship a crucial thing to consider by SEOs, content marketers and social media marketers alike.
Because authorship is a fairly new concept, our sister site Search Engine Land and Conductor report that only about 9% of all top tech blogs are implementing Google Authorship (using ‘rel=author’ to link to Google+ profiles) into their bylines.
Blogs and websites need to make authorship more of a priority, as it has many benefits for SEO and content creators alike. Search results that display the author’s photo (like Barry’s example above) are more eye-catching to users and establish better credibility. Because of this, they are much more likely to be clicked on.
Building A Central Social Hub For Your Content
Additionally, linking to the author’s Google+ profile gives the author a central place to share more information about themselves, their company and where else they can be found online.
What’s more, Matt McGee wrote an article last month about another “hidden” benefit of Google Authorship, which proves that Google is giving preference to these types of search results: “Google has confirmed that there’s a hidden benefit to having authorship status: If a user returns to the search results after reading an author-tagged search result for a certain period of time, Google will add three additional links to similar articles from the same author below the originally clicked link.”
Because the user had interest in the first article, Google is assuming that they may have interest in reading more material by the same author. This can only increase an author’s visibility and credibility as their results are given more preference after one of their articles has already been read.
Furthermore, Mike Arnesen of SEOmoz mentions the increased importance of putting a face to content by Google in his article about AuthorRank, which he believes is going to be another signal Google will use to rank content. Mike speculates that several categories could make a difference in a person’s AuthorRank, including what sites they are published on, how many Google+ circles they are in, their Google+ engagement level (e.g., if they have their entire profile filled out and update their status regularly), and even how many comments or +1s their pieces of content receive.
Social Media And Content Authorship Results
The level of information that is currently displayed via authorship results is enlightening, as well. When looking at an authorship result, users can click “more by Author Name” to view a list of articles Google has attributed to this person:
Note: I used a cleared-cookie, non-signed in browser for these screenshots, so my personal browsing history didn’t affect the results.
When the link is clicked, it takes users to a search result page of articles, with a bio box off to the left:
On this page, there are a few things of interest. First, the blue box with my name next to the search box at the top of the window. This appeared after I clicked “More by Kelsey Jones.”
It’s also interesting to note that further down the page, Google also displays some of my Google+ status updates, as well as parts of my profile, such as the about section. I went through the six pages of results that were generated, and all results were, indeed, written by me, so this is a good sign that at least I (and the websites I am a contributor to) are using the rel=author tag correctly.
Google+ Authorship Hurdles
While my search results seemed correct, this doesn’t mean that implementing Google Authorship in a bigger capacity won’t come without errors and speed bumps. Of course, there will be some hiccups in the road; AJ Kohn just posted an in-depth article about Authorship Bounce and how some pieces of content that appear in search results aren’t attributed to the correct authors (which may be due to not using the rel=author tag or using it incorrectly).
No matter the issues that may come with this new development, getting ahead of the curve and setting up Google Authorship now as an individual (and for all online content producers in your company, if applicable) is going to be crucial, especially if AuthorRank become the next biggest update to affect website traffic and how content is found online via search.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.