What is Google Authorship?
The tides are shifting yet again. Individuals and business solutions that rely on search marketing strategies need to keep an eye out on Google’s newest web metric that will revolutionize the way web content and search engine results are ranked and presented. As one of the leading search engine websites on the global market scene, Google has been changing and improving its search algorithms to crawl within the intricate Web and sift through large amounts of websites and content to bring back relevant and useful information for end users.
Google Authorship is basically a tool that enables writers to connect their web content with their Google+ profile. This then allows Google to give due credit to web content writers by displaying a thumbnail of the writer’s picture along with some author information right next to the search results.
Using Authorship can possibly provide writers with the right leverage to potentially increase web content rankings and enable them to be displayed on the top list of results. Also, a search engine result that is accompanied by a picture of the author can increase click-through-rates (CTR) because it establishes the credibility and expertise of the writer on the subject matter in a glance.
What is Agent Rank?
Google already patented Agent Rank (a.k.a. Author Rank) as a new metric for evaluating Web content shortly before releasing its social media network Google+ and Google Authorship.
With Google not releasing too much official data on this topic with SEO, much speculation has been going on as to how the search engine giant will use these new methods to improve the ranking and display of search results. Google+ might be a potential avenue where Author Rank can be utilized to rank web content authors based on their activity within the social media, and more importantly, the authors’ existence in other people’s circles. Interaction between author and audience can also be analyzed using Author Rank to determine web content rankings.
Ultimately, it’s theorized that web content writers with a high Author Rank are tagged as the most trusted sources of information, and content from such authors will be shown on the top list of the search results. Additionally, Google Authorship opens up a whole new world of possibilities for web content writers with high a Author Rank, as companies may potentially pay more for an Writer who has a Google+ profile with a high authorship rank, as their articles and web content will rank higher up in the list of search results.
Implementing Google Authorship
Having your picture displayed in search results begins with creating a Google+ profile – filling out your information and uploading a high quality recognizable headshot photo of yourself for your profile picture. As theorized above, constant use of your Google+ profile will work favorably for you. Be sure to post and engage frequently, and try to have many people add you in their circles. This authenticates validity in your account and also can be used as a measure to prevent black-hat techniques. The next step involves a verification of the author and web content, and this can be done in two different ways.
Email Verification Authorship Method
The first option simply involves linking your web content with your Google+ profile using a verified email address that has the same domain as your content. For instance, if you are a contributor to sample.com, your email address should be something along the lines of firstname.lastname@example.org. The next important element to note is that each page of the articles and posts that you have authored should have a clear byline that indicates your name – exactly the same name that you’re using on your Google+ profile. The final step is to submit your email address to Google through the Authorship Page, which you only have to do once no matter how many articles and posts you’ve contributed on that specific domain.
Linking Content Authorship Method
The second option involves establishing a link between your web content and your Google+ profile through the use of some basic HTML code. This option is preferred if you are guest blogging on a domain other than yours. The first step is to create a link to your Google+ profile from your webpage. This is an example from Google’s instructions for setting up authorship on web content:
So an example of how I personally verify authorship looks like this:
By: <a href=”https://plus.google.com/u/0/106719006664619882351?rel=author”>Jourdan Rombough</a>
Which ends up looking like this at the bottom of every article I write:
By: Jourdan Rombough
It’s important to include ?rel=author after the link to your profile because this will tell enable Google to connect your articles and web content to your Google+ profile, otherwise the authorship will not work. The next step is to link back the websites that you contributed to, in your Google+ profile by simply editing the Contributor to section of your profile and adding the websites’ URL as a custom link. After these steps have been completed, you can paste the URL of your article in Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to see if it was correctly implemented and can be verified by Google.
Maximizing Authorship Benefits
Establishing the authorship of your web content is simply the first step towards achieving a potential high Author Rank and boosting your search result rankings. Using Google Authorship to boost your website’s visibility on search engines and end-users entails the observation of some best practices to ensure that your results will make it to the top spot. Here are some interesting statements made by Matt Cutts pointing to this theory:
Understanding the huge role that Google+ plays in boosting Author Rank is the key to effectively using it to your advantage. Now that Google+ stands just behind Facebook in terms of its user base, it’s important to use the social media network as leverage for your page and author rankings. More than just adding credibility, using a real profile picture of yourself instead of an avatar or a company logo is preferred, as your audience recognizes you as a real person that they can interact with. It also can be theorized that Google’s face recognition algorithm may be used to authenticate the use of a legitimate profile picture, and demote the use of spammy pictures from appearing in their search results.
Adding people to your circles and appearing in other people’s circles can also give your Author Rank a lift. It is also important to note that the quality and consistency of the interaction between author and audience, as seen in comments and posts, is also a good practice that should be observed, as this can also be a key indicator to Author Rank metrics. Posting regularly on your Google+ profile also helps to establish your authority on your chosen field and helps your audience view you as an expert on your subject matter. Publishing good, informative content and having a substantial amount of quality inbound links to your content can also boost your Author Rank, along with the authority and credibility of your publishing website.
The quest towards presenting end-users with more relevant and quality information is what keeps pushing Google to innovate algorithms and metrics to improve search results. Some may speculate on how Google may be using this method to muscle its way into social media, incentivizing the use of Google+ for a better search visibility. Regardless, the idea of Digital Signatures for web-based content has been around for a while and is not exclusive to Google. One example of creating and validating digital signatures is the World Wide Web Consortium’s XML-Signature Syntax and Processing methodology. Ultimately, these pioneering methods are what will assist with collaborating our access to high-quality, globally organized data that we so conveniently have at our very fingertips.