If you’re blogging and haven’t taken advantage of Google Authorship, then you’ll want to check out this post to see how you can improve your SEO with this nifty feature on your side.
In late 2012 Google launched a new authorship program for online content – chances are that you’ve interacted with this program at some point in time. In fact, you may have been influenced to click on a search result because of it, even if you were completely unaware of its existence.
Or maybe you’ve seen something like this…
The tell-tale feature of Google Authorship is that the search result is accompanied by a head shot or brand image. Content that’s tied to a Google+ account displays in this fashion in Google search results.
What’s the point?
The intent behind Google’s Authorship program is to determine that a legitimate source is behind the content appearing in search results. Google infers that content tied to an author profile is more likely to be of higher quality.
Why should you care?
There are two compelling reasons you should use this tag when publishing your content online:
Since the authorship program is rather new, it hasn’t been adopted by the majority of the online community – yet. At a basic level, the photo increases the physical size of the search result, making it a fast, easy way to differentiate your content from competitors. Studies also show that most people like to see a face or identity tied to a result. It personalizes, enhances and legitimizes your search result, likely increasing your content’s click-throughs.
Which results catch your eye?
2. Google loves Google
Want to be in Google’s good graces? Use the products they offer. Google Places, YouTube, Google+, Google Authorship, Blogger and more…Google loves Google products. While I doubt Google would explicitly admit these things influence their algorithm, it’s reasonable to assume that Google incorporates their tools into their search results.
Bottom line: Anyone who publishes information online should implement Google Authorship.
How to get started
There are two ways to establish Google Authorship, and both involve creating a personal Google+ profile. Your first step is to determine whether your business content requires a brand identity or a personal identity. That is a business decision only you can make – though it’s clear that the most results skew personal identity. A personal identity will show a headshot, while a brand identity typically features a logo. Unsure which type of Google authorship is right for your business? Consider which identity would appeal to your target audience. You could even have both. For example, a company identity for B2B oriented content, and a personal one for B2C.
Personal Google+ identity
If the email address in your Google+ profile shares the domain of the site that you’re writing for (for example, if you have email@example.com and you’re writing content for volusion.com), all you’ll need is an author byline somewhere in the articles that you write. Simply follow your article or blog title with “by [your name]”, with the name exactly matching the name listed in your Google+ profile.
If, on the other hand, you’re contributing work to another website, there are two ways to claim authorship:
1. In the “Links” section of your Google+ profile, you can add the site under “Contributor to.” This, along with an author byline in the articles that you write, will be sufficient to claim authorship.
2. In the HTML editor of the content management system you’re using, add the following tag around your name: by <a href=”https://plus.google.com/[your page ID]” rel=”author”>Your Name</a>
Company or brand Google Authorship
In order for your company to be credited as a publisher in Google’s search results, you’ll have to create a Google+ page for your business, which also requires a personal Google+ account like the one described above.
From your personal profile, go to Pages > Create New Page in order to start the process, and then follow the steps outlined below.
1. Pick a category
There are five choices that Google+ provides you for categorizing your business:
Local Business or Place: Best suited for brick-and-mortar establishments and businesses that otherwise cater to a specific area. Restaurants, grocery stores, hotels and repair shops are excellent examples.
When creating a page in this category, Google+ will ask you for a business name and a phone number, which it will attempt to use to match your business with a Google Places profile. If you don’t have a Google Places profile yet, Google+ will prompt you for an address so that it can place your business on their map.
Product or Brand: Best suited for manufacturers or businesses that produce products under a single or limited number of brand names. When creating a page in this category, Google+ will allow you to choose a category from a drop-down menu.
Company, Institution or Organization: Best suited for for-profit and non-profit corporations, clubs and other institutions. As with the Product or Brand category, you’ll be able to select a category from a drop-down menu before continuing.
Arts, Entertainment or Sports: Best suited for entertainers and artists, such as sports teams, musicians, magicians, sculptors, painters, actors and authors.
And finally, there’s an Other category for any business or organization that isn’t covered by the categories above.
2. Add info
In addition to the business categories in each of these five options, you’ll be asked to choose a name, list an external website and select what age group your content is appropriate for.
3. Get started
Once you have selected your category and added your company’s basic information, you’ll be taken to the “Get started” screen, where you can add a company logo, enter a 10-word description of your business and add your contact information. As a best practice, ensure that your company description contains your most core keywords. For example, if you sell modular furniture with a modern aesthetic, you might describe your company as a “purveyor of innovative modular furniture for the modern home.”
This screen also gives you the option of changing your cover, which is the banner-like image that will appear at the top of your profile and provide a background for your company logo and name. Google provides a number of default images, but we recommend uploading one of your own that is consistent with your branding.
After you click “Finish,” your new page will be published and you’ll have the ability to edit your “About” information, add posts, photos and videos. From your “Circles” tab, you may add Google+ members to your Following, Customers, VIP and Team members’ circles, or create a new circle of your own. Again, we recommend you populate these fields with your SEO strategy in mind. Target relevant industry leaders, provide photos and videos that are valuable to your target market and use keyword-rich descriptions when possible.
4. Add your publisher markup to your website
The best way to implement your publisher status is by having the following code inserted into the head area of your site’s HTML: <link href=http://plus.google.com/[your page ID] rel=”publisher” /> You can add this tag to your ecommerce store’s template, your blog or both. This will ensure that all of the indexed content, regardless of what page it appears on, will be covered by the publisher tag.
-Alison Garrison & Jason Ferguson