How to Improve SEO with Google Authorship

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. 

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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.

Look familiar?

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Or maybe you’ve seen something like this…

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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:

1. Traffic

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?

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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 yourname@volusion.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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Arts, Entertainment or Sports:  Best suited for entertainers and artists, such as sports teams, musicians, magicians, sculptors, painters, actors and authors.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

Happy selling!
-Alison Garrison & Jason Ferguson

About 

Alison Garrison is Volusion’s SEO Group Manager, overseeing a team of passionate SEO and social media experts. Armed with a Liberal Arts degree from Kenyon College and an MBA from SMU, Alison has optimized more sites than she can count. When she isn’t obsessing over search marketing, you can find her with Hilly Bean, Olive & Lamar (her dog and two cats), reading SciFi or exploring the beautiful city of Austin with her husband.

19 Responses to “How to Improve SEO with Google Authorship”

  1. Kris

    Allison, I’ve gotten confused. The link you give in #4 just shows up as a long line of info on my blog pages. I use WordPress, is this an issue or do I need to do something different??

    Reply
    • Alison Garrison

      Hi, Kris. Sorry to hear that! Would you mind sending me a link to your blog? I’d like to take a peek and see if I can find out what’s going on.

      Also, just to clarify, are you wanting to add the Publisher tag (good for company or brand identities) or the Author tag (for individuals)?

      Reply
      • Kris

        Alison, I think I figured it out but can you check out the blog?
        http://westsidedive.com/category/blog/
        I think I added the Publisher Tag. I would like to have the Author tag also? where my picture shows up along the blog post in Google searches.

        Reply
        • Alison Garrison

          Hello, Kris. I took a look into your HTML code, and it looks like you haven’t yet placed the publisher or the author tag in the header area of the blog HTML, per Step 2 under “Personal Google+ identity” and Step 4 under “Company of Brand Authorship.” If you add your desired tag in the header, you should be able to establish the rich markup you are looking for. Thanks for reaching out! 😀

          Reply
  2. TomDotz

    This is a great post, useful, and I could actually follow the instructions. Except. As usual, there is one stupid little problem. It’s the one thing that is so obvious “no one” need to know.
    How the hell do I find my “unique code”? When I’m in my G+ page or accont, it doesn’t show. All the urls that do show don’t work when I copy and paste into a different browser. If I’m not in G+ I can’t get to G+
    Frustrated!
    Thanks for your help.
    Tom

    Reply
  3. Danny

    Can a google plus brand page really be considered the author, I have the publisher snippet installed in the template, i have verified my email address and have a link back to my website from the plus brand page but when testing in google structured data it states “page does not contain authorship markup. But I personally don’t want to be considered the author and have my pic everywhere i want my brand name to be considered the author and have my logo appear in search results.

    Reply
    • Alison Garrison

      Hi Danny,

      For brands, you can use a rel publisher tag instead of a rel author tag (see Step 4 under Company or Brand Google Authorship). The search results aren’t always as pretty as the Author tag, but it’s still better than not having any tag at all. Normally, they put publisher information on the right below the PPC results whenever you do a branded search. I’ve found at least one example, however, of Google treating a rel publisher tag like a rel author one. Hope that helps!

      Reply
  4. Pete

    Nathan or Gracelyn, I’d like to go over this on more detail..any way I can call and discuss?

    Reply
  5. Preston

    I inserted the into the head of our http://www.directmaterial.com website, this is all we need to get the images to show up?

    Reply
  6. Pete

    Can u just put that link on your webstore and blog as you wish?
    I’m still not sure how it works. I added the link to http://www.upyourtee.com on the bottom of the page after making a biz page as you suggested..not sure what this will do really but i tried.

    Reply
    • Gracelyn Tan

      Hi Pete,

      That’s great! It’s always good to have easy-to-access links to your store’s social media profiles on your homepage (which I see you’ve done with Facebook and Twitter). However, in this context, the reason why we wanted to add the Google+ link is so that you can take authorship over articles you’ve written. Now that you have your Google+ page setup, if you launch a blog, add your blog URL to your Google+ page (as seen in the post above) and your blog posts will be more likely to show up in search results with an image. Hope that helps!

      Reply
      • Pete

        Hi Gracelyn,
        when u say blog, do u mean a blog w/ an outside url like blogger?

        Reply
        • Nathan Joynt

          Hi Pete, Volusion does integrate with Blogger. I would suggest you add the blogger instance as a subdomain to your your domain so that your domain earns all trust and authority signals including incoming links and social signals. Currently it appears your blog is really a subdomain to blogger – or more exact blogspot.com. This means that root domain is earning all of your trust and authority signals. Here is an example of a Volusion merchant doing it as I would advise through Blogger – http://blog.kammok.com/

          Regards,
          Nathan

          Reply
          • Pete

            i muddle through with this stuff… that being said. I have no idea what he did differently than I did…

  7. Craig Schuster

    Another good way to stay in googles good grace would be to have volusion get the “identifier exists” field active on the product pages and into the google feed so on July 17th 2013 those of us with unique products don’t get dumped from google shopping.. tick toc tick toc tick toc…..

    Reply
    • Gracelyn Tan

      Hi Craig,

      Our product team is aware of the change, and they’ll be working to address the update in a timely manner. We’ll get any updates to you as we receive them. Thanks!

      Reply

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