Whether you run a trade publication website or a digital newspaper or magazine, you need the services of writers who put together concise, organized content, and who understand the basics of search engine optimization.
At the same time, you want to protect your site’s content from spammers and content scrapers and build your reputation as a leader in your industry. Google has rolled out some new features this year that address these issues, under the heading of Google Authorship. If your writers are not participating in Google Authorship, you could be missing out on the reputation for expertise and quality that you deserve. Here’s what you should know about Google Authorship and Author Rank.
What the Google Authorship Program Does
Your web content can travel the world in a very short amount of time, and wherever there are eyes looking at your content, you want people to know that you (or your writers) are responsible. This is a critical aspect of long term audience development. Google+ is now integrated with Google’s Authorship program. When you connect your WordPress or Typepad accounts with Google+, content you publish will be associated with your Google+ profile. Once this association is established, Google can more readily bring that content to the surface when it is relevant.
You have undoubtedly noticed that Google front page search results often have an author photo next to a result, and that happens because of Google Authorship. These author photos are a big advantage. Humans naturally tend to look at pictures of faces before looking at associated text, and we tend to give content with an author photo more credibility (deserved or not). Some writers have tested different photos and found that a clear head shot can significantly improve click-through rates on search results. Others have even studied subtle details in photos that capture people’s interest.
In summary, Google Authorship associates a face with search results, and this builds credibility and makes people more likely to click.
What Is Author Rank?
Author Rank is still a new concept. In 2011, Google started supporting markup enabling websites to publicly link within their sites from content to author pages. The rel=”author” markup enabled search engines to start identifying works by the same writer across the web. Author Rank was a way to close Google PageRank loopholes through which spammers could game search engine rankings. Author Rank is designed to reward verified authors with higher visibility while penalizing anonymous players.
Google’s Eric Schmidt wrote in his book The New Digital Age, ”Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.”
Establishing Google Authorship
Establishing Google Authorship begins with creating a Google+ profile if you don’t have one. Google walks you through the process of establishing authorship on this page. Simply follow the directions to get started. Bylines will need to match the name on the Google+ profile. Demian Farnworth has a terrific article about why you should care about cultivating your Google Authorship presence, along with tips on exactly how to do so.
Using Google Authorship to Your Organization’s Advantage
When you use Google Authorship and when your writers work on building Author Rank, you’re playing the long SEO game of building your authority organically. The more authority your organization and your writers build, the more legitimate and authoritative your content will become on the web. This is critical for audience and revenue development for any digital publisher -and perhaps even more so for trade publication websites. A site that produces high quality content on a subject will ultimately outrank the scraper who buys backlinks to game the search engines, and this benefits your site and your readers.
Author Rank is an emerging concept, and establishing your writers’ presence in the Google Authorship program now is one of the smartest moves you can make toward long term SEO goals. Ultimately, Google Authorship should help your high quality, fresh content bubble to the top of the search engine results, helping you address traffic development, audience engagement, and development of revenue streams.
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Photo Credits: Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net, Jeroen van Oostrom/freedigitalphotos.net