Update (30/08/14): On 29th August 2014, Google announced the end of Google Authorship, which makes the content in the article below out of date. I’ll be blogging about this topic on Tuesday 2nd September, so watch this space.
This week I was talking to a new client when he explained that there were three reasons he’d picked me from all the copywriters he’d heard about. The first was that I was on page one of Google, the second was that my meta description in the search results focused on the customer and their pain points and, in his view, the third and most important reason was that I’d set up Google Authorship. He said that those three things told him at a glance that I practise what I preach.
I must admit to feeling a warm glow. Like most small business owners, I’m always learning, so it’s nice to hear when I’m doing things right.
Our conversation turned in more detail to Google Authorship. I’ve been thinking about a Google Authorship post for a while now because it’s something I’m asked about quite a lot, especially via my Facebook page.
So what is Google Authorship and why does it matter?
What is Google Authorship?
At its most basic, Google Authorship is a way for Google to display in search results who the author of content on a specific page is. In other words, it establishes a link between an author and what they have written.
When you have set up your Google Authorship, content you have written appears as a ‘rich snippet’ with your photo, full name byline, and Google+ circles.
Why does Google Authorship matter?
High quality content
Because Google Authorship is tied in to your Google+ profile, it shows Google that you’re a real person. It also signposts that you are someone who produces high quality content rather than spammy, poor quality blog posts that serve little purpose beyond link building.
Google Authorship grabs attention
The next time you do a search in Google, stop and think about where your eyes go. If you’re like me, I imagine you’ll look at the top of the page, especially the first organic result. However, I bet your eye will be drawn to those listings that have a Google Authorship photo against them. As humans, we love images and we’re especially hard-wired to seek out human faces.
Having Google Authorship means that even if you’re lower down page one in position seven or eight, for example, you have an opportunity to grab attention away from an image-free listing in position two.
Higher visibility means higher clicks
It follows then that if your listing has higher visibility, then it is likely to attract more click throughs. A study by Catalyst in 2012 found that having Google Authorship improved click through rates by 150%.
My advice would be to make sure that you’ve filled out your meta data for every page. A strong, relevant call to action that accurately reflects the content people will find on any given page will help maximise the attention you’re getting through Google Authorship.
Building trust and authority
Google Authorship is an excellent way of building trust and authority in your field. As I mentioned in my recent article about Google Hummingbird, it’s a way of creating a footprint that Google can follow to track your authenticity.
It also says to people that your content is credible. After all, would anyone want to publicly attach their name and image to poor quality, spammy content?
Because people can click on your byline to read the public content on your Google+ page and find more articles you have written, you can show the breadth and depth of your knowledge. If you use the same profile picture on your different social media platforms, it also helps you to become recognisable at a glance. As one client said to me recently, “Blimey, Emma, you’re everywhere!”
I think we all need to be as active as possible on Google+ by posting high quality content, interacting with Circles and Communities, and writing informative guest blogs for credible websites. This is great for brand awareness. Also, when people are faced with reading two different articles on the same topic by authors who both have Google Authorship, the chances are they’ll opt for the author who is in the most Google+ Circles. Why? Because it shows you’re an influencer, that people want to connect with you and value what you have to say.
So, how do you get Google Authorship?
- Your first step is to ensure that you have a Google+ profile and that you’ve added a good quality head shot as your profile picture because this is the image that will appear in searches.
- Make sure that a byline containing your full name appears on every page of your content, especially your blog posts. In WordPress, you do this by setting your full name to display publicly through your user profile. You also need to ensure that the link to your Google+ account is in your contact information. Other content management systems may differ.
- It’s important that the name in your byline matches your Google+ profile.
- If you have an email address on the same domain as your website, you can use this page where the Google Authorship process is explained in more detail to verify your Google Authorship. Submitting the form on this page will add your email address to the work section of your Google+ profile. It will also add a public link showing that you’re a Contributor to your website.
- If you don’t have an email address on the same domain as your website, you can set up your Google Authorship using a separate method, which is outlined in this article.
A competitive advantage
I read recently that only 3.5% of Fortune 100 Companies are actively using Google Authorship. Even doing a search on Google Authorship articles, I discovered that many of the writers blogging about it ironically hadn’t set up their own Google Authorship. What this tells us is that, for the time being at least, even the smallest of companies have a chance to stand out from the big players in search rankings.
Ultimately, Google Authorship is free, easy to set up and can help you stand out in search engine listings. It also gives you ownership of the writing you work long and hard to create, and that can only be a good thing.
Have you set up Google Authorship yet? If not, make it the one thing you do today then pop over to my Facebook page and let me know how it went.