The online world has been abuzz for quite some time now, with chatter surrounding authorship. From 2011, faces started appearing next to search engine results, which gave rise to the beginning of the frenzy surrounding authorship and the potential for author rank. We have written a few posts on the subject, but we haven't really covered it in much detail since our post, Google+ Adding up to Great Things for SEO. Google has recently given us enough reason to chat a little more around the subject, since releasing their rel=author FAQs towards the end of last month.
There still hasn't been any formal announcement about authorship contributing to your overall ranking, but it's very clear that it plays a major role in your influence online by allowing your well-researched, rich and informative content to come to the fore.
To Re-cap, What Is Authorship?
Authorship is a way to attach a digital signature to your work online. If you're a writer or an expert in a particular field, Google Authorship will allow you to gain more prominence online by highlighting you as the provider of your content. The digital signature is your Google + profile and the process of setting it up is simple. If you contribute to many different blogs or sites, you can link each author page from those sites to your Google + profile.
If you're a business, you want to set up the rel=publisher tag for your site and content, but as an individual, you'll want to set up rel=author. As Google mentioned, rel=author is only applicable to content that is written by one author, but you can have numerous authors on one site, provided that each individual author profile links to that individual's Google + profile. You can also create a publisher profile for the same site using your company information, allowing both the company and the individual writers to gain popularity for their respective pieces of content.
Although it is fairly simple, there was a need to highlight a few of the more advanced frequently asked questions.
Google's Latest Authorship Insight
On the 21st August 2013, Google highlighted a few commonly asked questions regarding authorship, so as to quell the misconceptions and put an end to recurring mistakes.
- Authorship cannot be applied to any and all pieces of content. Product descriptions and property listings aren't representative of the opinion of a writer but are pre-defined and thus not eligible for authorship markup
- One article written in multiple languages must still link to one Google + account. Essentially the original writer should be credited with the work, even though there could have been multiple translators involved in the conversion to other languages
- Only one author can be credited for each piece of content, regardless of how many people were involved in writing it. Often there are teams of people putting together white papers or researched documentation, but one person still needs to be selected as the author, or no one at all
- It's not advisable to use a company mascot as your author as Google would prefer to link all content to a credible source. A mascot could be a front for numerous authors, thus limiting the effect of marking up pages for a single author
The ideal criteria for pages that you want to add authorship to include:
- Well-researched and informative content that is 100% original and written by the person in question
- The URL is home to one single piece of content and not numerous articles
- The name of the author matches the name on the linked Google + profile
- There is a definite byline on the content that matches that of the Google + profile
Building Your Author Rank
While authorship is not a direct ranking signal, it's rumored that it will eventually contribute to your rank and there will be ways in which to boost your ranking signals using authorship. Mark Traphagen is certainly the "go-to" guy when it comes to Authorship and Author Rank and he certainly offers an opinion I would trust on the subject. As it currently stands, authorship is already manipulating search results in the following way:
- It disrupts the click through rate on your search results because the image attracts attention
- If a user clicks on your author result and then back to the search results afterwards, their results will be fed with more relevant results featuring your author profile - he calls it the "bounce back" result
- You also have the ability to search further into the content offered by each author simply by clicking on their byline in the authorship results
Have you set up authorship yet? Let us know if you've experienced any problems or changes since implementation.