Hacking Authorship for SEO: Advantages and Gaining Insight

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Hacking Authorship for SEO: Advantages and Gaining Insight

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Perhaps too many step-by-step articles have been written on how to setup your Google+ Authorship—enabling content creators to build Authorship accounts, but then leaving them clueless when it comes to developing them for SEO purposes.

Although early adopters of the platform have gained a significant advantage—through both exposure and experimentation—it’s not too late to stake your claim of Authorship real estate. And it’s not hard to see why when a study by Conductor shows only 9% of technology blogs have fully implemented the rel=”author” attribute on their site.

To briefly recap, Authorship markup is a key component in Google’s effort to recognize and reward authors through verified online profiles. At this point, everyone agrees that authorship and Google+ are important for SEO but remain hazy on how it works exactly.

In this article we’ll look at the advantages of Authorship, how implementing the necessary markup can increase a site’s PageRank and define what it means to have a “strong” Google+ profile.

Advantages to Authorship

Let’s break down why the combination of Authorship markup and the use of Google+ benefit both authors and websites from an SEO standpoint. Let’s start by taking a quick look at what concrete advantages authorship markup brings to the table:

  • Higher page views: Increase the chances of returning viewers to your site if the content is relevant enough. After being on a site’s page for at least 2 minutes, a viewer will be served additional links beneath the rich snippet after returning to the SERP.
  • Higher visibility: Stand out in search as your picture shows up parallel to your articles. Start building trust and get recognized for your authority as you comment and guest post around the web. As a writer you will also be credited as the original author when other blogs cite and link back to you.
  • Higher click through rates (CTR): Although the rich snippet will allow higher visibility it will not have a direct impact on your ranking. In some cases CTR can increase as high as 150% (as tested by search marketing firm Catalyst).
  • Establish your authority: Though not implemented yet, AuthorRank will be the next logical step to follow the Penguin and Panda updates.

It’s not enough to merely claim Authorship. Aside from the technical aspects of implementing rel=”author” properly, linking your existing content to a Google+ profile is the easy part. From this point on, a commitment to actively participate on Google+ is a must to succeed in gaining PageRank where most have failed.

Great example of this working is a custom watch company Modify Watches.  Since implementing Authorship search has grow a staggering 14% over the past 3 months.  You can see this in your own site by going back in your history and checking when you implemented vs past.

Hacking Authorship

Here’s where the bulk of your efforts will pay off in the long run. With a few caveats, Google+ profiles and pages have PageRank and can be optimized just like any other site. You read that right: your Google+ profile is on equal footing with web pages when it comes to passing search authority to others.

Early on, PageRank seemed to be visible on PR toolbars but suddenly disappeared leading many to believe Google was no longer assigning PageRank to Google+ profiles. In reality, the PageRank was only masked. Recently, a Google+ user Joshua Berg discovered a way by editing the URL of your Google+ profile and using a PR checker tool to view it.

That is to say, if you invest time in optimizing your Google+ profile and consistently use it, you’re on your way to gaining a higher PageRank. Here are a few key areas to optimize on your Google+ profile as covered by Neil Patel:

  • Google+ profile: Keywords that appear in the introduction, employment, education and places sections will matter in Google+ search ranking.
  • Google+ circles: The number of high quality people in your circles doesn’t matter as much as how many of them link back to you.
  • Google+ posts: Highlight the title of your posts with asterisks as it can be optimized. Here as well, using the right keywords will matter for Google+ search ranking.
  • Compelling content: In a way, Google+ can be used just like a blog to create content that compels your viewers to +1 your post and share.

So now you’ve successfully implemented Authorship markup, optimized your Google+ profile and are hopefully using it on a regular basis. The culmination of those efforts combined will increase your PageRank and, by using Berg’s hack, you can track the success of your efforts.

Rank higher in search with high PR profiles: Google+ posts are indexed by Google in the same manner web pages are. The necessity of having a high PR for your Google+ profile lies in one important difference. Oftentimes, Google will only rank one profile higher for a given search term as explained by Google+ user Mark Traphagen.

Links from high PR profiles to web pages are more valuable: Only the “featured link” of a post is followed by Google. Hence the importance to have a Google+ +1 button on your web pages as you gain AuthorRank whenever a high PR profile posts about you or links directly to you.

Although PageRank was the main focus of this post, I’d like to highlight the importance of keeping the people behind the profiles in mind on Google+. Unfortunately, many lose sight of the bigger picture while focusing on only building PageRank and forget about the person behind each web profile. What Google has shown time and time again with every update, it’s been that authenticity and transparency get rewarded

Ultimately, inbound marketers should heed the advice of Portent’s CEO, Ian Lurie, when he describes SEO as being the result of doing a lot of little things right and, might I add, with consistency.


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Jack Allen

Technology enthusiast working at NVI, a web agency in Montreal. Particularly interested in internet marketing, with a deep passion for ... [Read full bio]

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