If you don’t know by now, Google Authorship is about to change the way bloggers blog. It might look like a subtle change, but implementing it early will give you a distinct advantage over the late adopters.
Welcome to Google Authorship
Honestly, Google’s authorship verification program has the best intentions (even if it is forcing you to use their non-social social network). In the effort to reduce spam and duplicated content, Google rewards verified content creators by inserting additional images and links into search engine results for their work. These enhanced results receive a higher click-through rate compared to more traditional results because of three factors: Visibility, Placement, and Trustworthiness.
It’s not hard to explain. Search results with pictures of me are more eye-catching (and breathtaking) than results without my pretty mug. Verification photos make link meta descriptions slightly larger, and the photo breaks up the monotony of text on a white background.
Google is also highly transparent about authorship data. Once you’re verified, you can use Google Webmaster Tools to see amazing statistics like impressions, clicks, CTRs, and average positions of all your posts.
Fun Fact: 17 percent of Google queries include at least one instance of author verification within the first 100 search results. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but it is. Google indexed over 50 billion pages in 2012. And when you consider Google’s ever so subtle favoritism toward Google+, you should take every advantage you can.
In addition to favorable SERP placement, Google will sometimes add bonus back links into your author-tagged results. Here’s the SERP result for the article page for Bryden McGrath.
If you click on his author-tagged result and wait a “certain period of time” (Google hasn’t said how long), then click the back button to the results page, Google will insert three additional links to content from the author.
More referral traffic opportunities! If you want to dig deep into this, AJ Kohn outlines how the whole process works. He hypothesizes this added authorship markup represents a measure of author satisfaction based on the reader’s time on site.
Even to users who don’t have a clue what Google Authorship is, author-tagged results look exclusive. While you don’t have to stand in front of a panel of reality TV hosts to be verified, Google Authorship for the moment is still an exclusive group.
In fact, only 9 percent of tech blogs implement Google authorship properly. That percentage is far less in fields like online news and journalism.
Why is this so important?
Besides a higher click-through rate, Google Authorship should have content creators worrying about a new algorithm called AuthorRank. Imagine if you were given a value not only based on the quality of your content, but on the size of your audience and your participation level in Google+.
Google may have a system in place that will combine a series of metrics to calculate how authoritative you are about a subject. Here’s a breakdown of what contributes to AuthorRank:
How do you verify your Authorship status?
There are two ways to become verified (I recommend doing both):
1. Verify Your Domain Email Address
Create a Google+ account and visit plus.google.com/authorship. Sign up with your email and click the verification link. You should see a check mark by your email address in the About section of your Google+ profile.
2. Verify Your Content
If your blog has multiple contributors, I highly recommend this unnecessarily complicated process.
Step 1: rel=”author”
Start by inserting the rel=”author” tag into each of the links from the blog post to the author page.
Step 2: rel=”me”
From the author page, use the rel=”me” tag in the link to the author’s Google+ profile.
Step 3: Link from Google+
Finally, authors will need a link to the domain of the blog in the contributor section of their Google+ profile.
Step 4: Check Your Work
Check to see if it worked using the rich snippets tool. It should look like the above image.
If it doesn’t, add the author’s Google+ profile ID number into the tool and verify that authorship.
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