There is no question about it: SEO is becoming about more than keywords. Social media is one of the new keys to search engine visibility. One of the emerging social media forces is Google Plus. Utilizing Plus to your greatest advantage is about more than simply adding a plus one button to your website. Google Plus offers an interesting service that is sure to figure more into SEO: Google Authorship.
What Is It?
Authorship is a relatively straight-forward service. By tweaking some settings and adding some mark up to your page you can connect your content with your Google Plus profile. Google says that the purpose of this is to verify your content; however there is more to it. The effects of authorship can be seen in search results for your content. Next to the results for your content you will see a byline and a small picture.
Why Should You Use It?
It is hard not to notice the byline and head shots that have started appearing in Google. Chances are the sheer visibility of these results is making you click on them. Linking your content with Google Authorship will give you that same benefit of visibility. Furthermore, these orderly search results give your content an air of official authority. They make you look like you are connected and knowledgeable, as opposed to just being a random person on the Internet. Choosing a quality head shot can make a big difference in your click-through rate.
Why Is it Important?
There is genuine value in this service. Previously, it was possible for anyone to slap a byline on content and claim it as their own, whether they were stealing your content or stealing your name. Authorship makes it clear that the content is actually yours. It also is possible that Authorship can affect your ranking in search, if it has not started to already. Given Google’s insistence with Plus, it would not be at all surprising if Authorship was part of a larger initiative to make Plus necessary for SEO success. Matt Cutts of Google recently talked about the future of Authorship. It seems that a big part of Google’s vision is to make the Internet’s great content more visible and clear, partially by bringing more attention to the content creators themselves. In the process, Cutts says this will make it ‘harder for the spammers to hide over here in some anonymous corner.’
Authorship speaks to the core of SEO: Making verified quality content. While it is certainly seeing increased usage by many, others are unaware of Authorship’s existence or are simply ignoring it. Authorship could be a big component of the long rumored Author Rank, a new system by Google to rank content on its authority. Adopting Authorship can be a move that will pay off greatly in the long-term. Don’t miss out on Authorship as a solid opportunity to build awareness of your online presence.