What is Google Authorship and can it help me?

A previous post I wrote a few months ago discussed the emergence of blended search results and how the landscape of search results pages, in particular Google’s, is expanding beyond just text-based listings.

What Has Google Authorship To Do with Google +?

Now since Google + has emerged into the public consciousness, it’s no coincidence that SEO practitioners are trying to work out how much value it has for rankings. Google + is essentially another social media profile, but there is more to it. If you run a few searches on brands, popular bloggers or important news items, we see more and more rich snippets.

A rich snippet pulling from my Google + profile image

These are modifications to the usual description that provide users with more information than simple text. It can include videos, star ratings and your Google + profile image. This opportunity to visually draw the eye is particularly useful to gain an advantage over those weighty sites that rank higher than you in search results. It’s kind of like nicer, earthier packaging of a product or, more to the point, more trustworthy packaging.

A Higher Click-Through Rate for Your Blog Posts

So this becomes particularly helpful for building trust with an audience for blogs. Search on any topic, and you can bet that dozens of people have already blogged about it. How you choose which result to click on, can depend on a compelling title, a URL with a relevant and friendly structure, an engaging description, the ranking position, the company brand, or the influence of the blogger. A blog author image is one of these factors. The author tag is a great tool for building your personal brand and memorability much like a book jacket photo.

Measuring this is also important. If you are tracking your blog, which you should be, you can track the success of your individual posts by tracking visits and the source of the visits. After setting up Google authorship, you may see an increase in visits to your posts. What a visitor does after that is down to you, but for a short set up process, the potential for an increase in traffic to your posts could be worth it.

Does This Help My Organic Search Rankings?

On a Draw

Here’s the thing: We’re not sure. However, as a keen poker player I know pot odds and the probability that there is high SEO value for low investment, is odds on. Based on Google’s mission to provide trustworthy results built on quality site content, credible authors and a social element; this seems to be a drawing hand.

There are several reasons why I think this, including the signals a Google+ profile can build:

  • Your content can receive +1’s
  • You can be a contributor to high authority sites
  • You can create circles
  • You can be in other people’s circles
  • You can receive links from other sites and high authority profiles

This looks a lot like how search engines rank content anyway. The significance of attributing an author signal to content has been in the works for a few years now. It turns out that Google filed a patent for something called ‘AuthorRank‘. In a nutshell, this search signal builds much more context around a piece of content, unlike generic spam. Now that the vehicle exists to make the connection between author and content (Google +), they are ready to roll.

This area of Internet marketing is growing quickly, so expect more on this topic from Union Street Media in the future and please leave your comments or questions.