What Your Business Needs to Know About Google Authorship for SEO

[Updated November 5, 2013]

Signs have begun to emerge that Google’s ranking algorithm, the formula it uses to determine where a website or page should appear in search engine results, is using authorship signals as a factor. (Originally, many referred to this as AuthorRank, anticipating that Google would eventually assign specific search value to authorship the way page authority is assigned PageRank.)

Authorship is Google’s way of identifying individual creators of content and tying that content to each author. The more quality content an author produces and the more relationships that author has online, the higher the individual’s authority.

In turn, the content produced by highly rated authors is going to be ranked higher in Google’s search results than similar content by authors that have lower authority, in the same way that pages with more inbound links are given more weight.

Although authorship clearly has benefits to individual writers, it has implications for publishers, too. If your business’s marketing strategy includes content marketing, such as a blog, it benefits the company blog if the individual contributors have strong authority.

Let’s say you have been outranking your competitor’s blog by a combination of link-building, commenting and other promotional tactics. But your competitor takes steps to increase the AuthorRank of the contributors to its blog. By doing nothing else, your competitor may now begin to outrank you.

How can businesses maintain or increase their SEO in an authorship world?

First, don’t take your foot off the gas with your regular SEO efforts. Those factors still apply.

But now is the time to start building up the authorship factor for the authors of your business’s content, whether it’s on a company blog or the company website.

Ways Authors Can Increase Authority

Claim authorship of content

The first step is to have a Google Profile—which is now the same thing as a Google+ Profile.

Same domain

Ensure that either your work or personal email address is from the domain where you’re claiming content.

Link up

Add a link from this profile to the company blog under the “Contributor to” section.

Follow the rules

On the blog (or other content), there are a few specific criteria: each post must have a byline, and you should have an identifiable photo. The easiest way to accomplish this is with a contributor page where you can create the necessary author tag.  Insert the tag <rel=”author” link=”your-googlplus-url” /> (replacing the link URL with the URL to that person’s Google+ Profile).

Create shareable content

Volume of content isn’t sufficient to improve an author’s authority. Quality is much more important, and Google seems to define quality by shareability: likes, shares, +1’s. Although shares across the web will help, it’s a safe assumption that shares within Google+ will be weighted more.

Grow Google+ followers

Quality content is one part of the puzzle. Quality following is the other. The greater an author’s network, the greater the author’s influence, especially if the author interacts with high authority profiles. Think of it like Google’s version of Klout.

Check your stats

See your progress in Webmaster Tools under Labs-Author Stats where you can see information about pages for which you are the verified author.

Have you noticed that Google’s own social network, Google+, plays a big part in authority? It’s no surprise. The impact of Google+ on overall search rankings on Google continues to grow, as we first noted last January.

It’s rapidly moving from optional to mandatory as a part of a social media marketing strategy—as Google no doubt intended all along.

Learn More

Most businesses are too busy growing to be experts at social media marketing and SEO, too. That’s why we’re here. Instantly expand your marketing expertise with a consultation from Innate. We’ll cut through the buzzwords and tell you what to do next — and why. Contact us today.
[Photo credit: Angie Garrett, Flickr Creative Commons]

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