The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance. – Eric Schmidt.
The Era of Authorship
This is the era of Google Authorship. Two things have a direct influence on this:
- Publishing rich, high-quality content is the mainstay of any SEO directive.
- Brand and authority are becoming much more relevant to Google’s search algorithms.
In order to make things simpler for its ranking algorithms and for high-quality content publishers, Google introduced the authorship platform. This function enables you, as a content producer (or simply, blogger), to claim authorship of your content, which is recognized and acknowledged by Google.
First let’s take a look at how to set up Google Authorship, and then we can dive into the finer details of what it means, why it works, and its likely future in the world of search engine optimization.
How to Set Up
Google Authorship is relatively easy to set up. There are two ways to do it. In both the cases, you’re going to need:
- A Google+ profile
- The website URL to which you are associating the authorship
1. “Rel=author” Method
Probably the easiest method is simply to add a link to your Google+ profile on your website/blog. Although this is pretty simple, it’s not as reliable as the email verification method. However, this method will usually be your only option for guest blogging on external publishers with which you don’t have an email address corresponding to the publisher’s domain.
Here’s how to set this up:
1. Add the following link to your website/blog (preferably the sidebar if it’s a website, or the author meta if it’s a blogpost): <a href=”https://plus.google.com/[profile_id]?rel=author“>Google</a>
In the link, replace [profile_id] with the number you find in your Google+ profile id. For instance, the link for my profile would be: <a href=”https://plus.google.com/111405518810673118036?rel=author”>Google</a>
Note that there’s a “?rel=author” right after the profile id. This is how Google identifies your website with the correct authorship detail.
2. Now, head over to your Google+ profile and edit your profile. Under Contributor to, add the URL of your website/blog. This only needs to be the homepage of the publisher’s website; no need to link to your individual author page.
3. Test whether Google has linked your profile to your website/blog from Google’s Rich Snippet Testing Tool.
2. Email Verification Method
This method yields a more reliable verification, but isn’t usually available if you’re blogging on external publishers (ie, guest blogging). However, I recommend you follow these steps for your business and/or personal blog.
1. First, add your email ID to the Authorship page.
2. Make sure you add an email ID whose domain is the same as the website/blog you want to add authorship to. For instance, if you want to add authorship to your website which is http://example.com, you should use an email ID that goes something like firstname.lastname@example.org. If you don’t have an email ID of this sort, refer to the previous method.
3. You’ll be asked to verify the email ID, so head over to your email client and complete the verification.
4. Once you’ve verified the email, add the URL of the website to your Contributor to section and you’re almost done.
5. Most importantly, you’ll want to make sure that each of your blog posts contains a byline that includes your name (e.g., “By Jayson DeMers”), and that the name is exactly the same as the one that appears on your Google+ profile.
What About Authorship for Guest Blogging?
If you’re guest blogging on external publishers, ensure the following:
1. Make sure your byline contains a link to your Google+ profile with the”?rel=author” appended to the profile ID URL. (Check the first method.)
2. Add the website URL (the website to which you are contributing) under the Contributor to section in your Google+ profile.
You Are A Publisher: The Philosophy Behind Authorship
Once you’re set, test the rich snippets and make sure there aren’t any red flags. All set? Congrats! Google now publicly acknowledges your identity as an author.
But why should I add authorship information to my website? Why should I comply with all these demands that Google makes in order to get the headshot along with the search results? This is where a large chunk of Internet discussions is focused today.
Google Authorship is intended to highlight two things:
- Rich, high-quality content is the backbone of search engine optimization; and
- Google’s algorithms have been designed to take brand and authority into account.
The easy way for Google to judge your authority is through Authorship. Contribute to a lot of websites related to a particular niche and make sure your Google+ profile link is in the byline everywhere you post. Sooner or later, Google recognizes this pattern, analyzes the content, and notes that you are possibly an authority in the niche where you have been publishing.
Anonymity Is Irrelevant: That Means…
According to Eric Schmidt (Executive Chairman of Google), anonymity is irrelevant in the Digital Age. There was a time when faceless pseudonyms owned large websites and pushed content en masse. Things have changed a lot since then. Authority and brand are becoming key factors in SERPs because they are the greatest “influencers” in an age rich with social media, networking, and information overload.
Authorship is a tool to move toward a more “branded” web. It’s a way to establish yourself and your content so that Google knows both much better. Although there are people who advocate anonymous web, Google has been encouraging folks to use their real identities to link up with their web properties.
Authorship: Does it really fast-track your ranking?
From a specifically technical SEO point of view, Google authorship means that your content is assigned a new metric with weight in the ranking algorithm. This metric is like a “Page Rank” for authors, and it’s called Author Rank. The more credible or authoritative the author in that particular niche, the higher the page is likely to rank in search engine results pages.
Many SEOs have suddenly taken up Authorship as if it were a magic technique that will help them to top their SEO efforts like an icing on the cake. But authorship is really a way for Google to associate (tag) your name with the content you publish. While it will help with rankings, it won’t happen quickly. It’s going to take time to build up your trust, credibility, and authority as an author in Google’s eyes. Furthermore, Authorship is about much more than just rankings; it has been proven to provide more traffic because author images draw the searcher’s eye in SERPs, resulting in more click-throughs to pages that have authorship markup.
Looking forward, it’s a safe bet that Google will soon figure out how to associate your Google+ profile activity with your authorship, and this might influence the ranking of your content.
So in general, authorship plays a role in rankings and therefore it’s a mandatory SEO tactic. But it’s a set-and-forget objective: there’s nothing deep to have to spend your time on continuously, other than adding new publishers to your Google+ profile’s “contributor to” section as you publish on them.