Content is central to online marketing activity. This is not news. All modern online marketers know that content is the way ahead for effective consumer engagement and for your site’s visibility in search results. Plus, it is shareable across multiple channels from social to email.
Think about it – consumers want the most relevant answer to their search query. They want it quickly and they want the answer to be one they can trust. This is even important to Google in their espoused drive to deliver the most effective and relevant results to users of their search engine (and so, take over the universe).
For brands producing content that provides these trustworthy answers is a necessity. Writing a strong post is only half of it though, reinforcing your authority is as important. So how do you do this? Google Authorship.
What is Google Authorship?
Simply put, it is when an article or blog in a search result features a photo and byline – rich snippets of information that lists the author’s full name, Google+ head shot and their number of Google+ circles.
More than that though, Authorship is Google’s way of verifying the authority of those creating content by connecting it with the author’s Google+ profile. A verified profile not only looks nice but it tells Google you are human and therefore, that your content is credible.
Why Google Authorship is valuable for all
Authorship can’t be connected to a brand specifically, but companies of all size should make sure the authors of their blogs have verified Google Authorship accounts.
Doing so has many positive effects such as helping the article stand out among the results, asserting your brand’s authority, and providing your article with higher click-through-rates.
Everyone benefits from authorised profiles and the rich-snippets that accompany them. Writers get credit for their work, Google gets to provide searchers with high quality results from real people and brands are able to assert their authority as experts in the field, which in turn, hopefully benefits them in conversion and ROI.
Results in organic search
As an agency that specialises in organic search, one of our goals as a team is to increase our client’s ranking in the search results. The thought process being that the higher the ranking the more likely our clients are to get clicks, and clicks equal conversion.
What is very interesting about Google Authorship, is that it changes things a bit. According to an eye tracking study from LookTracker, more time and attention is given to results that have Authorship snippets. Search Engine Journal covered this study in an in-depth article by LookTracker analyst Matthew Campion, which drew attention to the fact that “”authorship snippets still performed better than many of their organic counterparts.”
One of the study’s scenarios looked at the query “tablet reviews”, which offered searchers a variety of visual results. Take a look at these two identical screenshots. The first is the results without tracking and the one on the right has the eye tracking heat map applied (red indicates an intense gaze position):
What is so interesting in this side-by-side comparison is that even though one of the results with Authorship was buried deep on page, it got attention usually reserved for the top spots – performing better than many of the organic results higher up on the page.
The article noted, and it is important to mention, that searchers may have not been paying much attention to the product ads as much because of the nature of the search. They were looking for information and research and weren’t in that purchase mindset. Still, the conclusions from this study went as follows:
Top organic results continued to get significant viewership, even without authorship – but importantly, lower-ranked results that implemented authorship were able to draw a disproportionate amount of attention in comparison to surrounding results without it. Matthew Campion, Lead Analyst LookTracker
So yes, top spots are still important but what we can learn from the above study is that Authorship gives visibility to those with lower rankings. But that’s not all…
A study on rich snippets by a search marketing firm in the USA found that clicks could improve up to 150% with Google authorship. Similarly, Cyrus Shepard of Moz, conducted an experiment that resulted in increased CTRs for posts where he had optimised his Google+ picture with a more professional head shot.
Having clients rank in the top spots of SERPs is only one priority for agencies. The other is getting these rankings to convert into traffic and clicks, which from a Client Services perspective, is a favourite client KPI to measure. Lucky for us, Google Authorship helps with this too, drawing attention to the picture and byline which re-enforces the authority
More to come
These are just the ways Google Authorship currently affects results in the SERPs but the importance of having a verified profile is very likely in grow in importance. Early last year Google Executive Chairman, Eric Schmidt, released a book titled The New Digital Age. He wrote:
Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results.
Get set up with Google Authorship
The strong benefits of getting Authorship has already been explained but don’t worry, you don’t need a double first in applied physics to get set up. Our quick and easy-peasy guide will help you get your content within the Google Authorship space.