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Google Authorship and SEO

  |  April 2, 2014   |  Comments

Google Authorship is a way for content authors to connect their Google profiles to their online content to establish original ownership, and the benefits for the author can be immense.

Google Authorship could be one of the most significant SEO factors to help improve rankings since the Hummingbird update back in September 2013. Do you know what it is and have you started taking advantage of it?

What Is it?

Google Authorship is a way for content authors to connect their Google profiles to their online content to establish original ownership. For Google's official explanation and directions on how to implement it, see here.

To casual Web searchers the end result is an enhanced "rich snippet" which shows the author's profile picture as well as the number of Google + circles that include the author. For the searcher, this provides a quick tool to assess the author's relative authority. To the author, the benefits can be so much more.

What Can It Do?

For the author Google Authorship accomplishes the following:

  1. It provides an enhanced eye-catching rich snippet on the search engine results page (SERP). A rich snippet with a strong image/profile picture and established circle of Google friends lends a strong level of credibility to that result.
  2. That credibility and more appealing result is likely to receive more click-throughs compared to the standard text-only search results. Higher click-through rates can also have a positive influence on that results ability to rank even more highly. 

Here's an example result for a Google search on "marketing journalists":


Both of the authors who have leveraged Google Authorship in their Google + profiles stand a greater chance of drawing clicks to their content. It also seems reasonable to conclude that many Internet users may perceive Lora Kolodny as more of an authority source, given she is included in nearly 10 times the number of Google + circles as Mr. Quigley. It may or may not be true that she is or is not more of an authority, but it's easy to see how the perception can be created and leveraged.

How Can You Build Your Authorship Ranking?

1. Be on Google +

a. Needless to say that if you want to increase your popularity, you need a Google+ profile. Then build your circles, start interacting with them, sharing content worth reading, talk to the readers, read other authors content, comment on it, and be part of circles in your industry or field. Use other social media channels to promote it.

2. Connect your website to Google+

a. To get your photo in the SERPS when you write a piece of content, you need to connect your website to your Google+ profile. This is a fairly simple process. You or your webmaster needs to add the rel="author" tag to your site.

3. Contribute to conversations in your specialist area in your preferred places like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Quora.

a. Instead of just writing pieces of content, try to interact with readers and other authors using social media. It is important to have a solid profile across multiple social media sites. Get known for your expertise.
b. Even though Google has said that Facebook and Twitter pages are treated like any other page in their index, many SEO professionals have seen improvements in rankings due to high popularity of either professional or website in the major social media sites. See video from Matt Cutts.

4. Be a guest blogger on authority sites in your industry.

a. A respectable author is not tied to one specific website. It crucial to have your voice spread out throughout the Internet. Use your connections to distribute your content to the most important sites in your industry. Don't be lazy, write unique, interesting, and worth sharing content. That's the only way to get to the top.

5. Connect with the right people

a. The same way a website gets better rankings by getting links from the top websites, an author will get better authorship by interacting with highly respectable people in the industry. Find out who the authority people from your industry are and try to connect with them. Visit their pages/profiles, join the conversation, and go to their events.


Ultimately, Google's desire to identify high-quality sources of original expert content is a good thing for content authors. It's one more way for content owners to communicate directly with the engine to claim ownership of their intellectual work. It's also another direct line of communication with the engine to establish yourself, and the organizations you represent, as an authority in your particular field of expertise. It's also another fairly simple way for content owners to potentially make a positive impact on the rankings for the content that is most critical to them. At the moment, you won't be lost without Google Authorship, but it's not impossible to imagine that that day may come.

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Crispin Sheridan

Crispin Sheridan is the Senior Director, Global Search at SAP. As part of the digital team, he established and leads the search and testing practices at SAP. Crispin is responsible for paid, natural, and mobile search and all online testing. Search and testing at SAP are fully centralized and globally funded and run under a hybrid in-house and agency model.

Crispin has proven that search learnings and keyword insights work hand in hand with social media marketing and together can effectively drive B2B lead generation. Furthermore, the development of the SAP.com Test Lab has contributed significant success to SAP's digital marketing efforts.

A frequent guest speaker at conferences, including SES New York, San Francisco, Toronto, London, Delhi, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, Crispin was appointed to the SES Advisory Board in December 2009. He has also been a guest speaker at the e-Metrics Summit and ad:Tech, and is a member of Google's B2B Technology Council. You can follow him on Twitter at @crispinsheridan and read his monthly SEO column on ClickZ.

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