A study released this week by Conductor.com found that postings from Google Plus personal accounts have seen a 10% increase in page 1 organic search placement in Google for the time period of January 2012 to May 2013. The analysis was performed by conducting personal brand searches (i.e. name searches) for 500 of the world’s top tech writers. Conductor found that 9 out of 10 tech writers in the analysis have a Google Plus account and 74% of those with Google Plus accounts had taken the step of setting up Google Authorship.
So They Have Google Plus Accounts. What’s the Big Deal?
One of the commonly cited benefits of being on Google Plus is the ability to impact organic search results (though I would argue there are many other benefits just as important). Public status updates on Google Plus are indexed by Google and can be displayed as part of organic search results through the Search Plus Your World (SPYW) feature. This means that it is possible to get your content to rank organically for ultra-competitive search terms, at least as it relates to your social connections within Google Plus. And, since your Google Plus profile photo is displayed as part of the search engine listing, it increases the attractiveness of the listing and the likelihood that someone will click on that result. Few, if any, other social networks can provide that kind of benefit.
What is Google Authorship?
Google Authorship takes the impact of a personal Google Plus account one step further. By setting up Google Authorship you connect your Google Plus account to the content that you create and distribute online. Once you setup Authorship, Google can associate the content you publish across the Web with your Google Plus profile, thus establishing authority and credibility. Now, when your content shows in organic search listing, Google will include a link as part of the listing (in addition to your profile photo) that allows searchers to see the other content you’ve created. The benefit to bloggers and anyone building a personal brand is obvious: you can achieve greater exposure for your content and reach by setting up Google Authorship.
What Does All This Mean?
On the surface, it might be tempting to jump right in, create a Google Plus account, setup Google Authorship and begin plugging away. And I would definitely recommend joining Google Plus (new to Google Plus? Circle me and I’ll be glad to show you around!), I would advise caution when it comes to pushing ahead with Google Authorship. Instead, I’d ask the following questions to help me determine if Authorship makes sense in your specific situation:
- Are you building a personal brand/reputation? Google Authorship is for individuals. If you are trying to build up authority for yourself or bloggers/content creators within your organization, then Google Authorship is for you. (Side note: if you want to see what’s happening with regards to building authority for companies and organizations, check out this recent blog post from Ross Hudgens of Siege Media.)
- Are you truly a content creator? Writing one or two blog posts is probably not strong enough to get the benefit from Google Authorship. You need to make certain that you can regularly generate meaningful content to share, with extra emphasis on creating “meaningful” content.
- Can you maintain your focus on a specific set of topics? To be effective, especially early on, it would be wise to select a few specific topics (3-4 at most) that you would like to build authority on. If there are 40 other authors covering a specific topic, look for a new angle or move on to a different topic. The goal is to find your niche.
If you answered “yes” to the questions above, Google Authorship may be perfect for your situation. To learn more about getting started, I would direct you to the Google Authorship and Author Rank community in Google Plus created by AJ Kohn and Mark Traphagen in Google Plus. This is an excellent resource for learning more about the fine points of this evolving topic.
The Future of Being Found Online?
Are Google Plus and Google Authorship the silver bullets for helping you and your content to be discovered on Google? No, but they are really big pieces of the puzzle. Creating relevant and engaging content is still critical to being found online. But Google Plus and Google Authorship are changing how that content is presented within the search engines, and I believe that’s a good move.
About the Author
Jon Parks is a digital marketing strategist and owner of Dijital Farm, a digital marketing consulting agency based in Raleigh, N.C. As a consultant, speaker and instructor, Jon helps businesses make sense of social media, the basics of Google, e-mail marketing and more. You can follow Jon Parks on Twitter (@jonparks), add him to your circles on Google Plus and connect with him on LinkedIn.