Editor’s Note: Authorship is no longer supported in web search.
Google Authorship is one of the most important features of the new era of content marketing. It’s an authority or trust badge that signals to search engines and readers alike that your content is trustworthy, reputable, and high-quality.
But how do you gain those trust signals that Google Authorship provides? How do you improve your authorship reputation, rise in the ranks, and gain more readers?
Thankfully, it’s possible. I know, because I’ve been able to do so myself. In this article, I’ll explain exactly how it’s done.
By following these step-by-step instructions, you will be able to
- Enhance your content marketing. Fundamental to content marketing is content authorship. And the name of the game in authorship is Google Authorship. If you really want to improve your content marketing, it’s necessary to improve your Google Authorship.
- Improve clickthroughs on your content. Google SERPs display your author profile next to content for which you write. Having your image in the search results improves the click-through rate (CTR) on your articles. In the screenshot below, you’ll see that I rank number one for the query “what type of content gets shared the most on twitter.” Out of the hundreds of millions of results, only my picture appears (at least for all the pages I checked). This means that CTRs on my Quicksprout article will be many times higher than any other result on this page — all because my authorship is in play.
- Increase your SEO. Studies on Google+ have concluded that Google Authorship has an immediate impact upon SEO. Not only will you be able to enhance personal reputation and branding, but you’ll also make valuable contributions to the SEO of your sites.
Google itself explains some of these benefits in their discussion on Google Authorship:
Before you start.
This article assumes two things:
- You’re already on Google+, and
- You have signed up for Google Authorship. If not, please do so.
Additionally, you can check out the video on adding Google+ Authorship for more information.
Now it’s time to dramatically improve your Google Authorship.
1. Write often.
The only way to expand your Google Authorship is to expand your writing. The more you write, the more trust and authority you gain.
It’s that simple.
Here is some advice on writing often. Make sure that you write high-quality content. Don’t let quantity outweigh quality. You need to write a lot of good stuff, not a lot of crap.
I encourage aggressive content marketing — publishing awesome content as often as possible. I understand that it takes a lot of time and effort, but I’m convinced that it pays off, because I have the data to prove it.
The more content you write on the web, the more you’re going to rank in the SERPs, and get your authorship profile featured.
2. Write for a variety of sites.
Not only should you be increasing your output, but you should also be adding to the variety of sites for which you write.
I contribute content to several different sites. In addition, I’ve launched a few different companies. Because I’ve written content on these sites, I gain authorship and recognition on that website, even if I don’t own or operate the site.
Here’s an example of my Search Engine Journal author profile in the SERP:
But isn’t guest blogging dangerous?
As you’re probably aware, Google’s Matt Cutts recently announced the decline of spammy guest blogging. Operative word: spammy.
I still encourage you to seek high quality sites where you can produce high quality content as a guest author. Here are my recommendations for guest blogging best practices:
- Choose sites within your niche. As an author, you should have a single area or two of expertise that you’re writing about. Stick with blogs that are firmly within your field.
- Choose high quality sites. Avoid posting on sites that have signs of spam, indiscriminate posting of off-topic articles, unedited content, paid link content, or material that is ad heavy.
- Don’t post self-promoting links. The motive behind the guest posting crackdown was to eliminate spammy attempts to add backlinks in order to manipulate the search engine. The links that you add in your article are an important SEO signal of whether your content is spammy or not. Only add links when it adds to your discussion and benefits the reader.
Guest posting is still a legitimate way of improving your authorship reputation and presence, but only if you’re playing by the rules.
3. Verify all sites for which you write.
Whenever you write for a site, you need to add it to your Google+ profile.
Go to your Google+ profile.
Click on your “about” tab.
Click “edit” under any of your information boxes.
In the popup, navigate to “links.”
Add the URL for any site on which you have published content in your name:
To add new sites, simply click “Add custom link.”
Make sure that you have these set as “public.”
Anytime you write for a new site, you should go to your Google+ profile and add it.
4. Become consistently active on Google+.
For many of us, it takes discipline to become active on Google+. For several years, we spent all our social media energy on Facebook and Twitter. Google+ joined the game a little bit late, and it’s been harder, perhaps, to get on board with it.
Because of the impact that Google+ has upon search and reputation, it’s important that you become active.
Here are some of the things that you should be doing.
- Share content.
- Add people to your circles.
- Join groups.
- Join hangouts.
Feature your most flattering picture.
Your profile photo will become your authorship photo, so use one that represents who you are. You don’t have to be good looking. You just have to use a decent photo, since it will be used in public search results.
Here’s my Google+ profile:
And here’s my authorship photo. Apart from the shaped frame crop, it’s the same.
After careful testing, Cyrus Shepard of Moz, discovered that an improved Google+ pic increased his traffic by 35%. That’s a pretty significant uptick for a seemingly small improvement. He tested quite a few photos before settling on the perfect one.
His conclusion was that that quality of the photo does matter. (I would argue that the photogenic quality of the photo subject is not as relevant.)
You don’t have to be good looking. You just have to, as Cyrus Shepard put it, “put your best face forward.”
5. Grow your circles.
The more people who have you in their circles, the more people will trust you.
When you have a large following, people trust you more. The number of people who have you in their circles is public information. In other words, when you see search results, you also see how popular or trustworthy the author is.
Check out this screenshot:
Based on this SERP alone, I know that Barry, Cyrus, and Mark have significant followings.
Therefore, I am more likely to click on their articles. The following of Brian Jensen is not displayed, the following of Sean Patrick is comparatively low, as is the following of Hendrik-Jan Francke. My attention is drawn to the three authors who have large Google+ followings, because of the number of people listed as being in their circles.
Your goal, then, is to grow your circles as large as possible. This improves how trustworthy people consider your content to be.
Add lots of people to your circles.
The more people you add to your circles, the more likely they are to add you back.
- Unlike Twitter, there are no follow limits. You can add as many people as you want.
- Unlike LinkedIn, you don’t have to know the people whom you add to your circles. For example, even if you don’t know Barack Obama personally, you can add him to your circles.
Add famous people to your circles.
When you have a famous person in your network, Google+ reports this to people who visit your profile. Here’s what it looks like.
This acquaintance of mine, let’s call her Marj, has in her circles, Larry Page, co-founder of Google. Maybe she doesn’t know him personally. It doesn’t matter.
When I look at her profile and see Larry Page, I transfer this name trust to Marj herself. My trust for Marj improves because of the recognized name that she has in her network.
It makes sense, then, to follow recognized people, not only for what you can learn from them, but because of the transfer trust that they give to you. Be aware of the influencers in your niche, and add them to your circles.
Include your Google+ profile link on email signatures and websites.
Improving your Google Authorship is marketing. You’ve got to get your name out there. Do this by adding your Google+ link on email signatures, in website “abouts,” in other social profiles, and anywhere else that it is appropriate.
6. Monitor your Google Author Stats.
One of the lab rollouts in Google Webmaster Tools is called Author Stats. Keep up with your stats so you can know how to improve your authorship.
To find your author stats, go to Webmaster Tools.
Click on Labs.
Click on Author Stats.
In Author Stats, you can look at the data for the impressions and clicks on the content that you’ve created. You can find out your most popular posts, and discover how your content is being visited over time.
Like any data research, this information helps you know what you should to do improve or enhance your authorship.
- If you see that certain sites give you the most CTRs or impression, keep contributing there.
- If you see that certain topics have high rates of readership, keep writing on those topics.
- If you see your impressions trending downward, see if writing more will help pick them back up.
Becoming a Better Google Author
The key to successful authorship on the web is to improve your Google Authorship. Since its creation, Google Authorship has only been growing in influence and importance. And as you can see, it’s becoming imperative to keep your SEO efforts up to par.
Now is the time to improve your own authorship.
How are you enhancing your Google Authorship?