Lately we’ve been seeing more and more author images next to their articles on the SERPS. This is not just a hunch anymore, as this study by Searchmetrics shows that in 17% of SERPs there’s at least 1 author-integrated query. Taking into account that this study has included the results from over a million (!) keywords, this is pretty remarkable.
The purpose of this post series on Authorship for SEO (this is post 1) is not just to show you how to technically implement this on your blog/site (which is merely a starting point). My point is (and I’ll get to it soon enough) that with authorship, everybody wins.
The advantages for bloggers are pretty straightforward, mostly increasing CTR (this point will be explained in detail), but that’s not really a surprise.
The more interesting part here is that you can leverage authorship on other blogs as an SEO, to boost your own sites (this point will be elaborated on the next post, and this statement is backed by the experience I’ve had so far, testing several hypothesis, and one specific example of a successful collaboration).
If this topic sounds familiar to you, chances are that you attended the last TLV SEO Conference on April 24. There is no doubt that the best and most insightful presentation I’ve seen/read so far on the topic was the one by Tal Prihar, from Xrumer.co.il. In addition to the implementation of Google authorship, Tal went the extra mile and opened the doors to what’s beyond seeing your pretty picture on the SERPs. This presentation came just in time, as I was only getting started with researching the subject, and his insights really shed a light on mine/
While a great part of this post series will contain key elements from Tal’s presentation (but in English), my aim is to use this information as a basis of my own conclusions, and share with you my experience and subsequent insights on how you can help bloggers help you as an SEO.
for those of you who just want to know
How to Get Your Picture in the SERPs (in 3 simple steps)
This section is for you, let’s get it out of the way right now, and get to the advantages and reasoning later (it’s the same pic again, I know :))
- (You have no choice but to)
Open a Google Plus account
If you don’t know how to do that or want some tips on how to optimize your existing page, take a look at these two spectacular and comprehensive guides: Google Plus & SEO for Individuals and Google + for Brands/Businesses. Once you’ve read these, you’ll definitely experience a knowledge spike
Edit your G+ profile
Edit the “Contributor to” section, so that it links to your site (this adds the tag rel=contributor-to to the code)
Connect your site to G+ by adding a badge
This code has a rel=publisher tag embedded within, meaning that each and every post you publish will be authored by the same person, and get an automatic rel=author tag. In other words, the picture and circles of the same author will appear on the search results every time.
You can also do this if you have an email from your domain, like this (see 1).
If you have different authors in one blog, it would be better if either you added the rel=author tag linked to the current author’s G+ profile to every post like this:
Posted by <a href="https://plus.google.com/101087704476241338388?rel=author"> Orit Mutznik</a>
For those of you with my favorite CMS, WordPress, you don’t have to do this every time, you can simply install this great plugin, which will add an additional ‘G+ profile url’ field to each user profile, in which you link to the url at G+, add a small bio and image (optional) and Google does the rest (the rel=me tag is added to the code of the author’s profile page on the site).
So you’re all set!
(Just don’t forget to check if this is properly implemented, by using Google’s Rich Snippet Tool and getting a preview of how your post would look like on the SERPs)
But if you’re thinking, this probably goes way beyond the pretty pictures, you’re right, these tags have a great value and power for both bloggers, SEOs and not to mention Google, which as you can imagine, always wins.
Advantages of Authorship for Bloggers/Writers/Admins
- The rel=author tag constitutes a digital signature, meaning that you don’t have to worry about duplicate content outranking you.
- Your reputation as a writer follows you around across domains – your picture will appear on the SERPs even if you guest-posted on a different blog, wrote in a forum etc.
- Ranking content easily.
- Google have launched a new set of Google Webmaster Tools metrics for you to follow up on the CTR of your authored post (this feature has been temporarily removed from GWT on April 17 in order to fix existing bugs, but there’s no doubt that this will be back. Google’s response: “We’ve currently disabled the experimental Author stats feature in Webmaster Tools Labs as we work to fix a bug in the way stats are attributed.”)
- Substantially better CTR – the following study shows a 484% increase in CTR for authored posts. Even if the numbers are not exact, since the GWT mechanism is buggy, the numbers are definitely impressive.
- You can connect your G+ account to your AdWords account, enhancing your PPC campaigns capabilities. Here’s a great guide on how to connect G+ and AdWords
Option 6 is not always available for all industries/brands, so from my personal experience, there’s another way in which your Google + page and PPC ads can successfully collaborate – this is If you manage to make your Google Plus page appear on the 1st results page for your brand’s name searches.
This will not only increase the visibility of your ads, but also increase your target audience’s trust if they are considering to use your services, and add a big chunk of real estate on the right sidebar of the SERPs.
however, from my experience, if you manage to make your Google Plus Page Appear on the 1st results page for your brand search, this not only gives you more real estate on the homepage on brand searches, but it has also proven truly effective as a way to further enhance the effectiveness of your PPC campaigns, as well as raising trust in the eyes of the user and therefore conversion.
This is especially relevant for brands, and the recipe is pretty simple (if you do it properly, the G+ page result will appear on the SERPs whether you’re connected to G+ or not):
How Do I make my Google Plus Page Appear on the Search Results? (for Brands)
The image below is just an example, don’t think that only YouTube can do it. The following “recipe” is based on successfully implementing this on 2 of the brands that I promote:
- Open a Google + page for your brand, and link to it from your brand by generating the G+ badge. (Make sure your page is verified, as seen above)
- Make sure to update your Google Plus page at least 1-2 a day.
- Ideally, include your special offer + call to action in the 1st 156 characters of the post – that’s what will show on the SERPs if you succeed (diversification of posts is recommended, of course).
- This takes time, so don’t give up! If Google acknowledge that you are the official brand, and post quality content frequently on G+, you’ll get there (on the other hand, Google does not make any guarantees, but from my experience, it does works, and the effort is really worth it).
Important update: The New Google Places on Google Plus
On May 30th, 2012, Google have upgraded their local platform, and merged/moved Google Places into Google Plus, this means that you gain more real estate on your homepage, once the map showing your address is added to the SERPs and to your Google+ page, in addition to reviews about your store (Zagat), also on G+ (creating a 30 point scoring system for the businesses you frequent, that you can rate via your G+ account , of course). This is the official announcement from Google about the new Places, they have also announced this on the Google blog. Here’s the complete guide to the new Google Plus Local as well as it’s implementation, and here’s how it looks like (thank you Roe from RevolutionWeb SEO for providing your insights on this very important issue):
When you look for a business on G+
Your New G+ Local Page
Zagat -The New Google + Local Reviews System
Google Authorship Markup – Disadvantages
- Must have a G+ profile
- Hard to earn, easy to loose – reputation is gained in time with a lot of hard work, but any manipulation could make all this hard work go to waste.
- Not widely used (yet)
- Problematic for authors in many niches. Since reputation is niche dependent, an active author in a few niche might need to work hard on building reputation.
- Quality writers with no technical knowledge can’t profit from this.
What’s in it for Google?
- Motivating writers to join G+ and issue high quality content to gain reputation.
- Balancing the weight of links by adding another quality measure.
- Devaluating low quality content blogs, blog networks, satellites, article sites etc.
- “Scaring” high quality writers so that they don’t misuse their reputation for link schemes – Scores are relatively difficult to increase
- This is niche dependent, practically impossible to fake.
In the following post I will refer to the most important concepts regarding this phenomenon: Author Rank/Agent Rank, and how you can use “authored blogs” to enhance your SEO efforts (combined with my experience on the matter).