Google announced they would begin supporting Authorship June 7th, 2011. Since then, we've seen Authorship positively explode - both in the SERPs and in the SEO world.
For any new technology, there seems to be a breaking point of adoption. We're certainly no longer in the early phase of adoption with Google Authorship. Quickly, we'll be reaching the point where anyone adopting will be late to the game, and lose out on early benefits.
So, whenever anyone asks me about Google Authorship, my response is pretty minimal: Yes, you should. Let's jump into my typical explanation.
Usually enough to convince anyone, I start with the many benefits of implementing Google Authorship.
In fact, I wrote an entire guide about the benefits of Google Authorship.
1. It forces you to be (at least somewhat) active on Google+. Everyone scoffs at the social media network that is Google Plus. However, I would say that with the amount of money, time, energy, thought, and just resources Google’s dumping into Google Plus, it’s smarter to just get on board. Especially if traffic from Google concerns you.
2. Authorship allows you to claim ownership of your identity, image, content, and potentially even website with Google. Truly nothing to sneeze at here. If you’re producing quality content on the web you surely know about the serious problem of scrapers - those sites out there who simply scrape content from other websites to try and achieve cheap rankings.
Google Authorship will go a long way to preventing content theft.
3. Google will display your Google+ picture as a rich snippet next to your content in the SERPs. This will essentially make your content more visible in the SERPs. Research has shown that including a rich snippet in the SERPs improves visibility. So, if you’re interested in seeing increased traffic from Google, enabling Authorship should provide an immediate boost.
4. Increased click through rates (CTR). I already mentioned that having a rich snippet in the SERPs next to your content will increase your visibility. Well, few people generally realize how much the SERPs have become an arm race these days - Dr. Pete found that only 15% of 10,000 search results returned 10 links with no added extras. 15%! That means 85% of searches either returned local results, knowledge graph, news, paid shopping, related searches graph, etc. etc.
So, if you have any interest in not only appearing in the results, but actually receiving traffic as well, you need to be securing rich snippets. Google Authorship is a great way to do just that.
5. Building Authority with Google. Google has patented the concept of an idea titled 'Agent Rank', although many refer to it simply as Author Rank. Author Rank would allow Google, through Authorship, to rank content higher based upon who authored said content - if the Author was determined to be an authority within that content niche.
There’s been plenty of posts of late detailing the fact that Author Rank might be on the horizon. Even +Mark Traphagen, Authorship expert, wrote a post speculating that Author Rank might already be out, although perhaps in limited fashion. So building authority now is simply a must.
6. Quicker indexing. There’s been a few blog posts about the fact that having Authorship increases the speed your content is indexed. This Youmoz post by Jeff Sauer in particular is compelling.
So, for benefits we have:
1. Google Plus integration
2. Claim ownership of your identity, picture, content, and even website
3. Your headshot as a rich snippet in the SERPs on Authorship articles
4. Increased CTR
5. Authority building for future ranking purposes
6. Quicker indexing
Pretty compelling, no? Well, if that’s not enough let’s look at another reason why you should be claiming Authorship.
Enabling Authorship Is Incredibly Easy
Google is full of smart people, who are more or less tech savvy. Despite this, they understand that in order to get technological buy-in from users, they need to make that technology ridiculously easy to use.
This is because the general public isn't technologically savvy. As anyone who is fairly tech savvy knows, for every single tech savvy person, there’s a large group who require the support of that person.
Whether it’s family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, whoever - if you’re tech savvy you'll be called on to help those who aren't on a daily basis.
So, if Google wants buy in from the public at large, they need to make it incredibly easy to use - to the point where people who aren't tech savvy can implement it themselves - or Google needs to assign Authorship themselves (more on that later).
So, to make Authorship easy to use Google has made very clear directions about implementing Authorship:
1. Create a Google plus account
2. Use a recognizable headshot
3. Fill out some personal information and add a little bit of content to your page
4. Go to this page: https://plus.google.com/authorship
5. Enter your email address and sign up for Authorship.
If you don't have an email for the domain you're an author on, there’s an additional step:
6. Add ‘contributor to’ in the about page of Google+.
To do this, edit your Google plus profile and in the links section add the correct URL (either to the article or to your author page) under the ‘contributor to’ section.
And that’s it, if you’re looking to gain Authorship for a single site.
If you'll be contributing to a variety of websites, you'll need to make sure you link appropriately to your Google plus account (just to be safe), with ?rel=author added to the end. For me this would look accordingly: [a href="https://plus.google.com/117100074694344364377?rel=author"]Cory Collins[/a]. (Just replace the "[" and "]" brackets with "<" and ">")
Have that in the post, usually in the ‘about author’ section, and you’re all set!
So, to review, what you need to gain authorship to a single site:
1. A Google+ account with a headshot
2. An @domain email where you’ll be contributing OR
3. A link in your ‘contributor to’ section, in your Google+ profile
For multiple sites you’ll need to do step 1 & 3 along with:
4. A link to your Google+ account on the authored page, with ?rel=author added to the end
So, what have we learned so far? Google Authorship comes with a wealth of very real benefits and is extremely easy to use. If you’re still not convinced, let’s look at the final reason you really should be setting up Google Authorship: to keep Google from getting it wrong.
If You Don’t Sign Up For Authorship, Google Might Get it Wrong
Remember when I mentioned that Google’s two options to assure Authorship is widely adopted are to either make it ridiculously simple to adopt (with great benefits) or to assign Authorship themselves? Well guess what - they decided to do both.
That’s right, there’s numerous, numerous examples of Google assigning authorship themselves. And some pretty horrendous examples of Google getting it wrong.
Here’s a few I was able to find simply by following the publishing path of my colleague, Dustin Verburg:
That first picture, of Barrie Moran’s home site, is actually Dustin Verburg. As you can see, it’s attributed to him: “by Dustin Verburg”. How did this happen? Simple - he used authorship in a post, and at this time Barrie had yet to use authorship on his own blog. Barrie has since fixed the issue, but nevertheless the point remains. If you don’t want Google incorrectly assuming someone else owns your site, you should be using Authorship yourself.
Once again Dustin has Authorship on the homepage of The Saloon of Literature - which makes no sense, as he’s not the creator or even the only author contributing to the site. The problem? Once again, only he used Authorship, leading to Google granting him sole credit. (Once again this issue has since been fixed).
And let’s not forget the famous example of Google giving Authorship of a NYT article to Truman Capote, despite him being 28 years dead.
Nevertheless, if ownership of your content - or even website - is important to you, I wouldn't chance it to Google attributing Authorship to you correctly. Because they certainly will try - and have definitely gotten it wrong in the past.
Should you use Google Authorship? YES! Yes, you should. Why?
1. Because there are benefits:
● Google+ familiarity and usage
● Claim ownership of your identity, picture, content, and even website
● Your headshot as a rich snippet in the SERPs on Authorship articles
● Increased CTR
● Authority building
● Quicker indexing
2. Enabling Authorship is incredibly easy
● At most it’s a three step process, with none of the steps being overwhelming.
3. If you don't Google might incorrectly assign Authorship of your content to someone else.
So quit waiting and go setup Authorship today. You'll be glad you did.
Cory Collins works at Page One Power as a Content Specialist, among other things. When not at work he loves enjoying home brewed beer and hanging with his fiancee Kelly and dog Zelda (yes, named after the video game).
Published by Touch Point Digital Marketing Agency
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