June 2, 2013

Rachel Strella

Google+ Authorship: What It Is, How It Works, and Why You Need It!

It seems like a no-brainer that using a social media medium owned by Google would googlebolster your search engine results. But for those of you who think Google+ is beneficial for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), you’re only partially correct.  Simply having a Google+ profile and sharing content will only take you so far. To boost SEO, you’ll want to do things like write strong content, connect with influencers and claim “Authorship.” My clients, prospects, and community have been asking questions about Google+ Authorship, so I thought I would take the time to break it down.

What Is It?
Google launched Authorship as a way for content creators to claim their content, thus giving credit to the original author. This shifts online influence from ‘what’ is published to ‘who’ publishes it, which helps people who generate valuable content.

John Webster, Internet marketing specialist, says Google also intended for Authorship to suppress spam. “They want to make sure you are who you say you are,” he explains.

Why Do I Need It?
Webster says the value of Google+ Authorship lies in the fact that, for the first time, content creators are given center stage. This happens in a number of ways. First, content with Authorship receives a higher click-through-rate (CTR) in the search results, similar to the way an Ebay listing can be viewed as a feature listing.  An author can also get credit for guest posts on other websites.

There’s a lot to be said for the visual appeal, as well.  “The author’s profile picture will stand out,” says Webster. “Eye tracking studies show that results with Authorship mark-up attract more attention.”

Other advantages include minimizing plagiarism, having a direct link to the author’s Google+ profile, and the inclusion of links to other webpage content written by the author.

Despite the advantages of Google+ Authorship, I find some business owners have not yet adopted it for the simple reason that they don’t know about it.  Business owners have an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage if they are willing to learn the mechanics of Authorship, which is the other hurdle to adoption…

How Does It Work?
By now, most businesses have made their website the core of their marketing efforts. Businesses with self-hosted sites own their content and work diligently to drive traffic to it. Many strive to have their websites outrank their competitors and become the ultimate authority in their industry.  While social media plays a key role in driving website traffic, businesses do not own the content they post on these sites.  Google+ has managed to outshine other media in a way that’s both different and advantageous. As it relates to search, Google treats a Google+ profile and its pages just like a self-hosted website, which means its granted PageRank (authority). Put simply, Google+ has the same power as your self-hosted website.

It’s well known that website backlinks (links from other websites to your site) are an essential element to driving search traffic to a website.  And, the more influential or authoritative the site where the backlink is listed, the more power it has to drive search. The same is true of Google+. In other words, the more influential the Google+ user who is sharing your work, the more it attracts people to your Google+ profile or website.

Essentially, you’re creating an authoritative back link to your webpage that increases its own search authority! Just like website can have a PageRank, authors can begin to build up their AuthorRank. (Source: Windmill Networking)

How Do I Get It?
There are two steps to claiming Authorship – one via your Google+ profile and the other via your website. It’s simple to complete step one, which entails adding your website link to your Google+ profile.  Step two can be rather easy, depending on your website Content Management System (CMS).  If you have a WordPress CMS, you can simply use a plug in. However, if you’re website is not WordPress, the process can be a little more challenging. Regardless of your website CMS, this blog offers step-by-step instructions for how to claim Google+ authorship on your website.

Google+ can be a fickle medium – I find it’s similar to Twitter in the way that it’s a love/hate relationship for businesses. Those who have it and use it regularly tend to love it.  For everyone else, I’ve come to believe that they have not yet found the strategic value of the channel and ultimately either avoid it or forget about it.  Despite this, I recommend using Google+ - and claiming Authorship - for ANY business that lists SEO among their top marketing goals.

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6 comments on “Google+ Authorship: What It Is, How It Works, and Why You Need It!”

    1. Thanks, Sean! Nice to know I have a regular reader! I appreciate the feedback!

      Have a great week!

  1. Rachel,
    It's one thing to understand these principles, but you do such a great job of explaining it too. Thank you.

    1. Thank you, Adam! Google+ is a mystery to so many people - I am glad I can break down one of its key functions!

  2. This is a wonderful resource for bloggers - you really demystify Google+ authorship. Thanks!

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