Because virtually all consumers do some amount of online research before making a purchase or visiting a store, and because the search engine of choice is Google most of the time, it’s simply crucial for marketers to understand ways to optimize Google performance.
First, a bit of context: Search engine optimization, or SEO, is key to being found online. The more competitive your industry, the more important it is to implement SEO best practices. To begin with, you must know your audience, what they want, and how they are likely to describe it when they look for it. Then you must compose the right type of content to fulfill what they’re looking for, and use the appropriate keywords to tell search engines what your page is about. Then you need to optimize your web pages with title tags, logical URLs, meta descriptions, headlines, subheadings.
SEO and Google Authorship
A great deal has been written about SEO in the past decade or so, but many SEO tactics that used to work have become outdated. Black-hat techniques (like buying lots of scuzzy links) become less effective all the time, and are becoming actually dangerous to your rankings. What hasn’t changed is Google’s continuous focus on providing the best results possible to the searcher.
For example, up until recently, the way search engines measured a website’s content quality was based largely on the web page or domain’s authority. That’s because Google wants to serve searchers the most authoritative content (so that they’re satisfied and continue to use Google).
Page Rank has been joined by Author Rank as factors for search results. Google instituted Authorship because users trust and seek out information on the web that’s been written by real people. And in most cases, people find more value in content that someone’s put their name on, rather than anonymous content.
How Does Google Authorship Work?
How does Google know what authority a web page’s author has? It’s all about claiming the content you produce. Here’s what you need to know.
Google implements its Google authorship practice through “verified online profiles,” which are Google+ profiles. Whether your website content is created in-house or you hire outside authors, it’s wise to have all your writers create Google+ profiles, and note in their profiles which websites their bylined content shows up on.
By making sure your authors claim all the content they produce, you boost each writer’s individual authority, and so possibly the ranking of the pages their byline appears on. Plus, if the author’s Google+ profile includes a picture, this may show up in search results as well. Clicking on the “More by…” link allows readers to see other posts the author has claimed, wherever those posts are published.
Many SEO experts assume that Google decides an author’s authority in their niche based on the specific content the author claims and how their content performs on social media sites. Garnering “likes,” “shares” and “re-tweets” indicates to Google that the content is worthwhile.
Google authorship doesn’t negate the necessity of using keywords; instead, it adds greater value to the page and helps it rank higher than just using optimized keywords alone.
How to Claim Google Authorship
If your authors don’t have Google+ profiles, ask them to follow this process: Visit https://plus.google.com/authorship, follow the directions and click the appropriate links to set up a Google+ profile.
- Double check that your Google+ email address is the same one you use in your Google authorship applications. You may need to change a few settings in Google+ if this isn’t automatically the case.
- It’s best if your email address uses the same domain as the site on which your content is published.
- Once your profile is set up and you are signed in to Google+, look under “Links” to find the “Contributor To” section.
- Add website URLs you have contributed to and label them properly.
The next step is to set up the websites you write content for:
- Copy the URL of your Google+ profile page. It should begin “https://plus.google.com/” followed by a series of numbers after the forward slash.
- Navigate to each website you publish content on. Visit your profile on the site and look for social media fields. Paste the Google+ URL into the Google+ social media field.
Implementing Google authorship sooner rather than later is a great way to get a jump on your competition. Start achieving higher page rankings with the minimal effort required to claim authorship on the content you publish.
Want to see this visually? Check out this great Google Authorship infographic from Internet Marketing Inc.
Want to learn more about SEO? Check out Act-On Software’s “SEO 101: The Basics and Beyond.”