Last time I reviewed some of the features of Google Plus and a few of the ways that it’s different from Facebook.   So you may be asking, “aside from all of the really cool features offered on the platform why would anyone want to be a part of Google Plus?”

It’s simple, if you write content and want to improve your SEO and your online reputation, Google Plus and Google Authorship should be part of your SEO strategy. Let’s get straight to it.

What is Google Authorship?

  • An initiative by Google to attribute content to original authors
  • It connects content to the Google+ profile of the author
  • It may personalize your content

Google Authorship Rich Snippet

Why is Google Authorship Beneficial?

  • Higher click through rates – statistically people click through at a higher rate on links with rich snippets
  • Establish authority – a result with a head-shot separates you from the pack and reinforces that it’s a credible piece of content
  • Keep your identity – a picture’s worth a thousand words – if you have a common name like ‘Beth Browning,’ you’ll be able to put the name with a face
  • Beat plagiarism – the original author gets credit – wave goodbye to copy artists and article spinners
  • Build Trust – it’s all about relationships and people and this is one more way to build trust in an on-line world
  • Verify guest posts and comments – your profile follows along as you comment on blogs and publish posts on other blogs (guest posting is still a viable strategy if done correctly)
  •  Elevate the value and role of writers – as businesses start to recognize the benefits, good writers won’t have to defend why they charge $100 or more for a blog post
  •  Increase Name Awareness and Personal Authority – creating quality content and active social engagement will can help build your reputation as an authority and maybe even a thought leader

One thing I want to note is that just because you verify Google Authorship there is no guarantee that your profile image will display next to your search results. In October 2013 Matt Cutts promised that Google was tightening Authorship and there would be a 15% reduction in the display of rich snippets (the profile image) in search results. Since then there has indeed been a reduction and it also looks like different “classes” of authorship have emerged.

The point of this post isn’t to discuss Google Authorship Kidnapping as coined by Mark Traphagen, but I do want to point out a few factors that are important to Google when it comes to determining whether or not to display the Authorship profile. Google’s John Mueller explained them at the most recent PUBCON.

  • “Is the author someone Google recognizes as “worthy?”
  • “Is the content high quality?”
  • Is the site known for publishing high quality content?”

So how does Google determine whether or not an author is “worthy”? I could be wrong, but I think they’re still trying to figure that out as well. I can’t imagine how complex it must be to sort through. It’s widely believed that a concept called “Author Rank” will come into play at some point in time.

What is Author Rank?

Author Rank: a score that measures the quality/authority of an author

A few of the contributing factors may be:

  • Average PageRank of an author’s content
  • The quality of the sites the author publishes content on
  • Google+ activity
  • +1s and Google+ shares the author’s content gets
  • Circle associations like the number of circles and the quality of reciprocal connections
  • Engagement on Google+ – is the author active on Google+
  • Social Signals – how active and engaged is the author within social

I think were a ways away from Author Rank being fully implemented, but Google has confirmed that they are using a form author rank for in-depth posts, which means it’s only a matter of time. I hope I haven’t scared you away from pursuing Google Authorship, the benefits still stand; it’s just important to understand that it’s not enough to go through the motions.

Alrighty then, now that we’ve reviewed what it is, lets talk about:

Getting Started with Google Authorship

  • Create a Google+ personal profile (you can’t verify Google Authorship without one)
  • Use a good profile image with a clear image of your face
  • The published content you appear on must be listed in your Google+ profile under “Contributes to”
  • Your published content needs to reference you as the author and link back to Google+ profile
  • Use one of the three methods to verify your Google Authorship. You’ll find them here.
Pictures are sometimes worth more than a thousand words, so here’s a quick snapshot to illustrate how the dots connect.
Google Profile Contributes to and Bio examples

Increase Awareness and Recognition

One last thing before we move onto Google Plus and SEO. I saved this Google Plus benefit until now because it dovetails nicely with the discussion about verifying Google Authorship. Participation in Google Plus can be very beneficial in building your personal brand reputation and awareness.

What’s the first thing you do when you’re thinking about doing business with someone new? If you’re anything like me, you go straight to Google to do a little research.

When you’re active on Google Plus you get a nice little perk in search results if someone who has circled you searches for you. In addition to the results for your name, Google displays a nice “business card” complete with a link to Google contacts or your G+ profile depending on how the searcher and you are connected on G+. Contact information is also displayed, again dependent on how you and the searcher are connected. Last but not least it displays a recent post.

Google Search Results for Beth Browning

Nice, right?!

So far we’ve talked about some of the features of Google Plus and benefits of Google Authorship, next up we’ll explore Google Plus and SEO.

I invite you to join me on Google + here.

Update: Unfortunately I accidentally deleted my primary Google Plus account – I’m trying to recover it, but it’s not looking good. In the meantime feel free to circle me here and if my other account is restored I’ll sort things out then and make sure we’re still connected.

Until next time.

Cheers!

p.s.

Here’s a bonus Info graphic about Google Authorship!

Facts Behind Google Author Rank & Authorship [Infographic]

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