“There are three difficulties in authorship: to write anything worth publishing — to find honest men to publish it — and to get sensible men to read it.” – Charles Caleb Cotton
A little old school, I know, but you get the idea. If you write content on the web, you want to make sure it gets found. Google is trying to help out all the authors out there with a new ranking factor that measures the credibility of authors and content creators across one or more websites. Let’s start with a little background, then learn how you can implement this awesome tool for yourself.
Google author tagging is a ranking factor that measures the credibility of authors and content creators across one or more websites.
Google and other search engines have always measured the authority of websites, but for the first time they are digging deeper into content and looking for specific authors that have a reputation for creating interesting, entertaining, newsworthy or otherwise relevant content.
In their constant effort to improve search results and maintain market share, Google has made sweeping changes in the past year. First, the Panda update which crushed rankings for sites that were publishing spammy content. Next came the launch of their own social network, Google+. Soon after, “Search Plus Your World” which rocked the SEO industry. Now author tagging. How is it all related?
What is author tagging?
In Google’s world, searchers are customers. SEO’s are not customers, they are vendors. Google does not care if you think your content is great if their customers don’t agree. Google uses a number of metrics to measure how searchers feel about your content including external links, time on site, bounce rate and more recently, social shares. You can read all about Google’s ranking factors here. Ranking websites for a given search query is at the heart of Google’s business model but things are changing. With the launch of Google+, the search giant can now measure social endorsements and shares which impact the results a searcher sees.
Author tagging creates a second dimension of measurement. Now, Google is attempting to rank content creators across multiple websites. Their motivation is two-fold. First, they want to promote the use of Google+ which is required to implement author tagging. Second, they recognize the importance of published writers and want to emphasize this content above ghost-written content.
How do I implement author tagging?
To get started, you’ll need to create a Google+ profile. They recommend a “good, recognizable headshot as your profile photo.” Next, you will need to verify authorship of your content in one of two ways.
- If you are writing for a website and you have an email address with that domain, you can verify authorship via email. (Example: I am writing this post on engage.tmgcustommedia.com and my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Easy!) You can do that on the Google+ authorship page.
- You may write for more than one website or, if you are a freelancer, may not have an email address for each publication you contribute to. In that case, you will want to a link from your bio page on each site to your Google+ profile. You can grab the code to do it here (Use option 2).
- No bio page or email address? Head over to your Google+ profile and let them know which sites you contribute to. (Everyone should do this anyway.)
As usual, Google doesn’t guarantee anything but many writers are seeing positive results in their web traffic. Here is how a properly optimized author tag will appear in search results.
Notice the profile picture (same as the Google+ profile photo) and the author attribution, which links to David Pogue’s Google+ profile. There is also a link to read more articles by the author on multiple websites.
So, is this a good or bad change?
Say what you will about the flurry of changes at Google but this is a great update. It encourages guest blog posts since an author can gain credibility no matter where they write and good websites can build authority from the ground up and by seeking out credible content creators. To read more about author tagging, check out Google’s Webmaster Tools guide to author information.
[Image: TheDigitel Myrtle Beach]