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In a Time When Authors Rule the Web

About a year and a half ago I warned bloggers and content creators to take author markup and authority and Google+ seriously.

Google was making under the hood noise about attaching authority to content published by individuals based on a variety of factors.

I advised bloggers to follow Google’s instruction to link their blog posts and about us pages to their Google+ profile in order that Google might start enhancing search results with goodies like profile pictures as below.

Here’s a tutorial on how to get author markup added using one of my favorite plugins.

And in this tutorial Brian Gardner explains how to add author markeup in the Genesis framework (the theme used on this site.)

By asking authors to add the attribute rel=”author” to their content Google was creating a way to beat spammers and duplicate content to a degree by attaching the real author to the original content.

author authority

Google adds images and social data taken from Google+ to search results with author markup

Now I ask you – when doing a search, which result are you drawn to – the first one or the one with a friendly looking, smiley guy next to it?

This fact alone makes taking the time to add the required elements a no-brainer.

More recently Google has admitted that they are testing author authority in a much bigger way and actually choosing content to index based on this ranking.

Author authority is, like most things Google, a bit of a mystery, but you can bet that content that is found, shared and +1’d in Google+ is helping an author’s authority. This dollop  of search fairy dust is why you cannot ignore Google+ or rel=author attributes.

If that weren’t enough Google is also allowing you to tell them where you contribute content. Think about that one for a bit. Now that brilliant post you submitted to Mashable, Huff Post or Social Media Examiner is going add to your author authority in some meaningful way perhaps.

contribue

Edit your Google+ profile with sites you contribute to

By creating an authority ranking of sorts Google is creating another way to beat link spam and assign authority and importance to all manner of things left about the web such as comments, Quora answers, and Retweets.

So now we have an entirely new networking landscape. Instead of simply networking for links, we’ll have to get good at identifying and networking for author authority.

But perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself – first things first, it’s time to go to work on your own author authority.

  1. Get your content linked to your Google+ profile
  2. Optimize your Google+ profile with links to your articles
  3. Get to work creating and sharing great content
  4. Build your Google+ engagement and following
  5. Hmm, I wonder if a Wikipedia page would help?
  6. Make a list of potential sites/publications to submit guest posts

You can also start the process of signing up for Google Authorship here.

Plenty of authors and SEO types are covering this top these days and you would do yourself a favor to start your research with these two pieces from Copyblogger. Brian Clark on why you need to get on Google+ and 64 Google+ Content Strategies.

Google Search Plus Is Shaking Things Up a Bit

This week Google realigned it’s search results to officially add a feature that many had witnessed leaking into search results

The new functionality is potentially as important as the switch to Universal Search a few years ago. (I say potentially because Google seems to have a knack for live testing.)

The feature is something called Google Search Plus Your World – doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue but most are simply calling it Search Plus.

The idea is that Google is going to give you the option to search with results focused primarily on those in your social circles. Currently, this has heavy focus on Google+ as Facebook and Twitter don’t seem interested in helping Google paint a bigger picture at the moment.

The functionality is switched on and off with a little selector that shows up in the right hand corner of your browser window when you are logged into your Google account. (Oddly, the feature shows up in Chrome and Safari, but not in Firefox for me at the moment.)

The results are sort of fascinating at the moment as it’s fun to see some of this data organized in this manner. Time will tell whether or not this is a killer feature, but there are some things to like and certainly some things to note.

The rel=author attribute is more important than ever. I wrote about adding rel=author a while back but it seems it’s in full swing now. I am seeing search results for generic, but important search terms produce my homepage with my photo next to the results making it stand out even more. (For the time being it appears you can use the attribute on any page you author and eventually create this result – NB: for the time being, we’ll see how sorts out.) See the images below.

Page one results for search term - small business marketing

Page one results for search term - Pinterest for business

Notice my image to the left of the results from my site and the “more from John Jantsch” link embedded in the results. This came about through Google’s author highlighting that ties the rel=author attribute on all my pages to my Google+ profile and it’s hard not to think that highlighting makes that result stand out on the page. (Note: these searches were conducted while signed out of my Google account.)

Google is going to force you to like Google+ – okay that may be a bit strong but right now there is very strong evidence that playing in Google+ will benefit you when it comes to showing in Search Plus. It’s do in part to the vast amount of content that Google has total access to there and I’m sure it will settle down some or Google will damage its search integrity, but for now the connection is pretty blatant. See the image below.

Page one results for search term marketing - with Search Plus on

Go read up on the rel=author attribute and go listen to my interview with Google+ maestro Chris Brogan and you’ll be off and running in the Search Plus game.

Author Highlighting Is a Google Must for Bloggers

Today’s post may seem like an under the hood, techie kind of tip, and it is that, but it also outlines something content producers and bloggers need to be aware of.

In an effort to place more emphasis on the original authors of content and perhaps further eliminate duplicate content, Google has begun placing great emphasis on an anchor text attribute – rel=”author”

An anchor text attribute is just more information contained in the HMTL code of a link. In this case the use of the author attribute in conjunction with content, such as a blog post, signals search spiders that this is the original author.

So a link to my about us page with attribute would look like this:
a href="http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/about/" rel="author"John Jantsch

The reward for using this attribute has started showing up in search results with the image of the author placed to the right of the results in a growing number of instances. The Google author program kicked off formally a while back with a limited number of well-know bloggers and journalists and is slowly rolling out to others. (Here’s the official Google announcement)

The images Google is showing next to the selected articles are drawn from Google Plus profiles and link back to the author’s profile page. Some people have noted, incorrectly that this is a further extension of active Google+ users into the search results. The author program was actually in place prior to Google Plus and drew originally on the old Google personal profiles. In fact, some of the higher profile authors chosen have very limited Google+ activity.

author highlighting with rel author

Going forward a Google+ account and profile will be part of the deal for those that want to have their images included on original content, but use of the rel=”author” attribute in a very specific fashion is what will ultimately get your content chosen.

The video below, featuring Google spokesperson Matt Cutts, outlines the path Google hopes you’ll take to include the rel=author attribute.

Basically here are the steps:

  • You need to have a link on every page of content that points to the author’s about me page, on the same domain, using the author attribute in the link.
  • The author’s about me page should also point to their Google+ profile.
  • To close the loop, the author’s Google+ profile should point to the author’s about me page.

How to get the author attribute in your links

  1. Go back and put a byline on all pages with articles and add the link to your about me page
  2. Read more about various ways to implement from Google help
  3. On WordPress blogs – you have plug in options, but my advice is start with this post on author highlight from Yoast

Google Plus Starting to Impact Search

The link between Google Plus and the impact it will have on search results is one that many people are watching closely. Google Plus is taking hold and Google’s search product is a big benefactor as millions of motivated folks are +1ing, sharing and commenting on great content they create and find.

The content creation and curation going inside of Google Plus is one of the best reasons to participate, it’s also given Google an army of content consumers to help them hand select content.

The results of some of this work are staring to show up in search. Google Plus users that are logged into their Google account while conducting searches will start to see search results from people they are connected with in Google Plus. Search while logged out and you won’t see the shared by connections link and the search results will be altered somewhat.

google plus in search

Google Plus connections are highlighted and search results altered

This isn’t really news as Google has been trying to bring social search to life for some time and shows what they think are more relevant results when you are logged in.

The difference here though is that while social search results have been around, they’ve been limited to the perhaps few dozen people you were connected with through GMail or GTalk. With Google Plus people are connecting with thousands of people already and this is changing the search experience in more noticeable ways.

So, as a content consumer, your results may differ – for good or bad – I for one don’t like the altered search results, but some may prefer them.

But, the real question is – as a content producer does a high level of participation in Google Plus give your content a better chance of ranking well in Google? For now I think the short answer is sort of. If you have lots of connections in Google Plus and share and +1 lots of content, including your own, then some of that content will start to rise higher for searches done by your connections.

As spammers send bots into Google Plus to create large connection networks this will certainly be something Google will have to evolve.

Having said that here are three recommendations I stand by:
Get into Google Plus and build a following – it’s a better tool for business networking, content discovery and content sharing than any other network currently.

Add the +1 button to your content – the +1 button is integrated into Google Plus, but it’s also a part of the overall content discovery piece in Google search and needs to go along side your Like and InShare buttons on y0ur own blog and  web pages. – I wrote a How To Add +1 Tutorial here.

Example of author highlighting in Google search

Add the rel=”author” attribute to your content – Google is attempting to find another, better way to attribute original content to the original author. They have introduced a highlighting feature that will showcase Google Profile of original authors like in the image above. You need to add the rel=author attribute to your content links, point that attribute to an About Us kind of page on the same domain and have a link on that page pointing to your Google Profile page and a link on your Google Profile page should point back to your About Us page. Yoast does a great job explaining this with this tutorial for WordPress folks here