“You must have control of the authorship of your own destiny. The pen that writes your life story must be held in your own hand.” – Irene C. Kassorla
Google Authorship is a method of linking you personally to the content you publish online. Google say they do this simply “to help users discover great content”.
Sounds like a platitude, doesn’t it? It turns out that tracking authorship is extremely important to Google – which means it should be important to you and your business.
In fact, if you don’t set up Google Authorship for your content, you’re likely missing out on a significant boost to your Search Engine Ranking. Why? Because Google is using your authority online as one of it’s major ranking signals.
Google Authorship determines who you are
Google wants ultimately to run a Google authorship check to find out who you are, what you’ve published and – most importantly – who and how many people follow, share and interact with your content.
Technically, you set up Google Authorship through your Google+ profile, and link that to your content using a rel=”author” tag attribute. (WordPress users can simply install a Google Authorship plugin that does this tech stuff for you). When you do so, your Google+ Profile picture and other details will appear alongside the content you create in Google Search results.
Google Authorship is the SEO X-Factor
The importance of Google Authorship in SEO was highlighted in a recent video by Google’s Matt Cutts:
In answer to the question “Will Google be evaluating the use of rel=”author” moving forward…” Matt Cutts replied:
My brief answer is ‘yes’. I’m pretty excited about the ideas behind rel=’author’. Basically, if you can move from an anonymous web to a web where you have some notion of identity and maybe even reputation of individual authors…
There it is in black and white. The “reputation of individual authors” equates to their authority.
Cutts implies that there is a lot more they might explore using Google Authorship analytics:
I think we probably will take another look at what else do we need to do to turn the crank and iterate and improve how we handle rel=’author’. Are there other ways that we can use that signal?
Google’s research here is to use the relationship of authors and consumers for establishing online reputation and authority. Astoundingly, this may even be at the expense of the ranking power of keywords. Cutts says (with my emphasis):
“The philosophy of Google has been moving away from keywords, ‘from strings towards things,’ so we’ve had this Knowledge Graph where we start to learn about the real world entities and the real world relationships between those entities. In the same way, if you know who the real world people are who are actually writing content, that could be really useful as well, and might be able to help you improve search quality. So it’s definitely something that I’m personally interested in, and I think several people in the Search Quality group continue to work on, and I think we’ll continue to look at it, as far as seeing how to use rel=’author’ in ways that can improve the search experience.”
If Google ultimately decide on the central role of Google Authorship as a primary ranking factor, then this is a fundamental change in the way we need to present out content.
Reputation is certainly not new to SEO. Social signals have been known to affect search engine ranking for some years now. The difference here is that Google wants to know who you are in the “real world” and use that to determine your authority online.
And where does it stop? Should brick-and-mortar businesses present their real world entity online as Google Authorship for Business? I definitely believe so. Businesses owners should not only set up Google Authorship, but a Google+ Business Page for their business as well.