Who wants higher online visibility, increased authority, greater influence, more clicks and higher conversion rates? A seemingly redundant and rather superficial question. Maybe not, these metrics, the highly desired holy grail of marketers, are all given a significant boost through Google authorship; remarkably, many have not yet taken advantage of this content strategy.
The reasons may result from a lack of understanding about its operation, misinformation or technical issues. However, there is not a lot of work involved in setting up Google authorship, particularly with websites using platforms that have plugins to do the job.
Understanding how Google authorship provides a clear advantage and utilizing its potential should be a priority of every marketer. A look back at why it developed and what it means to ‘search’ today will provide a better perspective and offer an insight into its workings.
How and why authorship began
Back in 2005 Google introduced an Agent Rank system that was designed to rank expert content higher in search results than that of less credible authors. In order to discover and manage these trustworthy authors, an identity platform was developed and became known as Google+. Authors then had the ability to verify their identity and establish their authority, while Google achieved better search quality. Accordingly Google Authorship got underway.
What exactly is it?
At first glance it appears to be just an author’s photo and a number of circle memberships displayed in the search result pages. There is in fact a lot more than that to it, as it does add value to the search results through displaying “rich snippets” of information, displaying a photo taken from the author’s Google+ account, full name and the number of Google+ circles joined. By linking with an author’s Google+ profile, the search engine is able to detect high quality articles and can clearly distinguish them from inferior anonymous content. Essentially, Google wants content from human beings, willing to put their name on the line for the content that they create and share.
What’s the value?
The benefits of Google Authorship for content creators simply cannot be overlooked. It provides a boost to all the eagerly sought metrics: visibility, influence, authority, clicks and conversions. A marketer’s dream comes true.
An authorship photo definitely attracts attention in a results page and does get noticed. Research has proven this with eye-tracking studies. Higher visibility such as that translates into more clicks.
Authorship creates more trust and the content is seen to have more authority: another important factor contributing to generating more clicks.
It certainly has advantages for the “little man.” Authorship snippets lower down on a result page attract more attention than the results above without the additional features. Therefore, more clicks regardless of placement mean a major competitive advantage for the small business and the less high profile individuals.
The larger companies have not yet embraced authorship to any great extent and there is a window of opportunity waiting to be taken up before they inevitably wake up.
The future of search
Expert opinion points to a greater emphasis being placed on Google+ as a result of recent changes in Google’s Hummingbird algorithm. The focus now will move to “conversational search” and away from keywords giving Google+ more influence in the social media world.
Identity will in future play a major part in search results and those that choose to remain anonymous may find that they become increasingly irrelevant in Google’s eyes.