Google Authorship for Brands

google authorship

Head of Google’s Webspam team, Matt Cutts recently confirmed the adoption of an authorship score for search engine value. Even before this announcement, authorship was an enigmatic buzzword in the digital marketing world. What is authorship and how does it affect you as a brand marketer? Google Authorship helps you build credibility and authority around your brand and is an emerging trust signal among users. Authorship may be just as important as the quality of your content and if you haven’t jumped on-board, it’s time.

Google Authorship helps legitimize Web content by ranking authoritative authors with a verifiable track record of informative, in-depth and relevant published content. Authorship puts the power in the hands of the people by humanizing a formerly automated crawling system. It reduces duplicate content and spam while forcing quality control and yielding better search results.

Google Authorship has clearly brought a new level of complexity to search engine relevance. By adopting authorship and moving more toward brand journalism, you can capitalize on this emerging trust signal. Here’s how.

Four Facts about Authorship

First, the facts.

1. Measurement.

Google’s algorithm for author clout, known as Author Rank, is measured by:

  • Average article velocity: This relates to social events (Tweets, +1s, shares, Likes) per day, per hour, or even per minute. While both Google and Bing measure this movement for the purposes of identifying news, consider the concept that search engines can track your average performance in this area over time.
  • Average social activity of articles per month.
  • Authority of the publishing sites.
  • Author-to-author comparisons (the social activity of an article compared to other authors on a site).
  • Your Google+ profile engagement and followers.

2. Display.

According to an infographic published by Forbes, Google Authorship can improve click-through rates by up to 150 percent. Rich snippets that display the author’s photo and number of Google + circles are viewed as more credible than content traditional output. The display follows the well-documented Google Golden Triangle pattern for search results. Web users fixate on the upper left side of results and they scan down the results in a predictable fashion. Eye focus drops off significantly as eyes move down the page.

3. Relevance.

Google Authorship will become a relevant factor in the categorization and evaluation of content. Experts in the SEO field are hedging their bets that the authority of the writer will go hand in hand with the quality of the content to yield more favorable search results. Search Engine Land predicts the marriage of these two measurements as the next logical step in Google’s “master plan” for quality SERPs.

4. Voice.

Google Authorship allows brands to protect content by attributing thought leader-driven content directly to the brand. By showcasing the thought leadership in direct relation to the brand, any media and content associated with the brand will become more legitimate and trusted by consumers.

How to Get Started With Google Authorship as a Brand

Today’s digital marketing practitioners and SEO experts recognize the value of a strong Google Authorship score, but what about brands? Not so much. In a study published on Search Engine Watch, the digital agency Blue Glass revealed that a measly 3.5% of Fortune 100 companies actively use Google+ Authorship.

Brands will benefit greatly by integrating authorship into their content marketing strategy. Here’s how to get started:

1. Create a Profile.

Set up your Google + business page if you haven’t yet. Visit the Google Partners help page and follow the steps.

2. Link Assets.

Link your website to your Google+ page. The Google+ help page offers detailed instructions.

3. Engage.

Connect with influencers in your vertical and actively +1 and share good content. Essentially be active, helpful and engaged on Google+ until you get the custom URL for your page. Continue to actively engage as part of your on-going strategy.

4. Strategize.

Delegate an internal staff member to manage your Google Authorship strategy. Leverage your existing content manager, online marketing manager, editor-in-chief or create a new position. Have this person tie in the content strategy for both on-page and off-page content using Google+ authors.

5. Connect with Credible Authors. 

Find industry-relevant authors with a high authority in their vertical. As an example, in anticipation of the increasing importance of Google Authorship, iAcquire is in the process of beta-launching an authorship-powered platform called ClearVoice. Brands will be able to sign up and gain access to thousands of Google+ certified authors in their given industry. The platform is built on a proprietary technology called Voice Rank that will grade writers on their reach. Brands can review the system to find accredited Google authors to write on your company’s behalf.

Another option is to ramp up your internal employee writing programs and offer incentives. While working at a previous employer (in-house), I created a “Thought Leadership in Writing” initiative where employees would author articles and our marketing team would place them with academic journals, blogs, newspapers and magazines. Create an in-house reward system for writers and help them create content from authenticated authors.

Want more tips on content marketing? Check out the iAcquire blog.