Google Authorship: Why You Should Use it

You may have heard that search engine optimization is fading as a tool of choice for Google to rank and position websites. That is true, but in its place, a new tool, Google Authorship, used together with Google+, can help drive traffic to your blog – or at least, that was supposed to be the plan!  Last year, Google developed the Authorship Project, which was supposed to be the new guidance for ranking websites. It’s hit a few snags along the way. This post will take you through the basics of what you need to know about Google Authorship and where it stands today.

What Is Google Authorship?

Google Authorship is a way that Google identifies and verifies you as the author (or contributing author) of a particular blog, website or of a piece of content. Rather than thinking of Authorship as a tool for your blog, think of it as a tool for your content. You can verify your authorship for any blog or website you own or write for (with permission of the owner). For example, when I was invited to write for WebHostingSecretRevealed, I was given permission (and required to) verify my authorship with them. Once linked, when your articles shows up in search engine results, your Google+ profile photo is posted alongside it, putting a friendly face right next to your content.

Google Authorship Contributor links

The list of link – URLSs and where you contribute – on your Google+ profile.

How To Set Up Google Authorship

First off, you will need a Google+ profile.

Google+ is a must for bloggers now, as it can have a positive impact on search engine positioning.  As an example from my own blog, I regularly get first page Google results for the term “gluten free,” which directly links back to my Google+ shares. I recommend you set a profile up right away. In addition, I’d make sure my profile photo is user-friendly – you want something that will entice people to click on you.Please use a photo of yourself, rather than a logo or other type of image.

Once done, the next step is to add your Google profile to your page or article.

On your own blog or site, simply add a link to your Google+ profile page. If you are a contributing author on other websites, you should add this link to your on-page bio. Once that’s done, go into your Google+ profile and go to your “About” page. On the right at the bottom, you’ll see “Links.” Click “Edit” at the bottom, then under “Contributor to,” click “Add custom link.” Add the blog or site name under “Label,” then add the URL and whether you are a current or past contributor.  Save and you’re done!

What Are The Benefits of Google Authorship?

Once you verify and log into your Google+ page, your Google+ account with show up all the sites you write for under “Contributor to.” In addition, you now have “author stats.” Go to Google Webmaster Tools and in the left hand column, select “Labs”, then “Author stats.”

Tip: For a comprehensive tutorial on these tools, check out How to Use Google Webmaster Tools.

Here you are going to see a list of pages for which you are the verified, including impressions and clicks. “Impressions” indicate when a page has been viewed, “Clicks” show when ad on your site has been clicked, and “Click Through Rate” (CTR) is the average number of clicks to impressions. You can check your stats from when you set up authorship through to today. This is primarily going to be useful information when you run ads, but it also shows you success on any guest posts you do. Not only will this help you run ad campaigns, but you can gage your value at other sites that you write for, in terms of profit they have made from your article, as a way to gage your worth to them, or to monitor revenue sharing.

Google Labs Author Stats

A look at author stats on Webmaster tools.

As mentioned, one of the nice things about authorship is that if your article gets picked up by the search engines, your photo comes alongside it – and this will likely increase your chances of getting clicked on. Google has research that shows authorship does improve impressions, and some sites have experienced both improved click through rates and higher page views as a result of using Authorship, according to CopyBlogger.

The Down Side of Google Authorship

Now that you know how to set up and use authorship, you may be wondering if there are any downsides.

There are a few problems.

Some users have experienced Authorship pulling up the wrong image. Google has been working on this issue, but Mark Traphagen of The Moz Blog claims that part of the problem is that at times “Google will take what appears to be an ‘educated guess’ at the author of a piece.”  Traphagen covers the problem in depth, as well as what Google is doing to rectify it.

Some have complained that Authorship has contributed to a drop in traffic. Chuck Price of Search Engine Watch discusses the issue at “Can Google Authorship Really Cause a Huge Traffic Drop? This in-depth case studies follows a client convinced that Google Authorship was mainly responsible for their search engine woes. The author comes to a final conclusion that authorship may have contributed, but what really hurt the client was most likely a Panda update. Worth a read for seeing the in’s and out’s of how Google handles a site when it’s dropping rankings.

What Can We Expect For The Future Of Google Authorship?

google-authorship

Last year, when Search Engine Journal interviewed Sagar Kamdar, Google’s former Director of Product Management on Search, about Google Authorship, he said it would not help improve ranking. Kamdar clarified, “We use over 200 signals to determine search ranking, and although authorship is not currently one of those signals, we hope to experiment with using information about authorship as a signal in ranking in the future.” Unfortunately, shortly after that interview, Kamdar left Google. In addition, the developer of the Authorship Project, Othar Hansson, also left the company and has yet to be replaced. Has Google abandoned the program? At the online marketing firm, Blind Five Year Old, owner A.J. Kohn discusses that this void does not bode well for the future of authorship in his article, “Authorship is Dead, Long Live Authorship.” Part of Google’s struggles with authorship, Kohn says, is that not many have adapted it: “Google is unable to use Authorship as a ranking signal if important authors aren’t participating.” Kohn’s article explains that while Authorship is not exactly dead, it’s just not going to have the critical role initially expected. Read the article for a more in-depth discussion on this subject.

You might be wondering, then, if adding Google Authorship is worth the effort. Because I believe that Google+ is a critical step in the future of ranking, I think that employing Google Authorship is a simple step to add and beneficial to all bloggers. It may give you a better chance of driving visitors and I’d say it’s a must if you run advertising. In the overpopulated blogosphere, any high quality and trustworthy tool that helps boost your blog ahead of the competition is worth adding to your list of tools that drive traffic, such as guest blogging, content curation, and other killer strategies like hosting a radio show.

P/S: If you like this post, you should also read my Top 7 Mistakes in Google+ Engagement.