Scoring influence has never been so important, as brands, consumers, search engines, and social networks figure out ways to rise above the content clutter. It all started when everyone voted content king.
It goes like this: Content creators need to pay attention to emergent authorship, as Google, LinkedIn, and other media companies continue to focus on actual content creators versus an entity (business or website). Great content creators (that includes public relations professionals) and marketers recognize that original, engaging, and informative content by real authors may be the future of SERPs.
The "Who" and the #WTF Behind Search Results
Right when authors seemed to be getting Google+ profile images in order - Boom! - Google throws an online marketing curveball and says bye-bye to author images. But even in light of Google’s recent removal of author images from search engine results, it seems the search engines still support and reward quality content from validated writers. Headshot or not - search engines and social networks will continue rewarding high-quality content written by real people, and brands or publications with actual subject matter experts will reign king on SERPS.
Why? Google Authorship seems to be one way to control the exploding number of featured content creators. Search Engine Watch reports that Matt Cutts, Google’s anti-spam director and search guru, claims that by eliminating lower-quality authors, higher-quality ones got higher search results.
Why the Push Toward Authorship?
- Authorship forces quality control.
- As Google tweaks the search algorithm, Authorship rewards subject matter experts who have the expertise to the answer long-tail, complex questions now searched for by search engine users.
- Authorship puts a human element into a search algorithm by tying social validation to rankings.
How Existing Google+ Profiles Benefit
It is important to take note that new Google+ profiles won't be immediately helped by Google Authorship. Existing profiles carry more weight with Google, as Jeff Sauer of Jeffalytics learned.
Sauer created new websites and added his established Google Authorship to his blogs. Even with a new blog, his established name helped his posts get high rankings, leading him to conclude that Google is looking at content creators more so than blogs to weigh expertise. Frequent writing and verifying authorship with Google, he found, also boosted his rankings.
Tools to Get You in the Authorship Groove
The demand for fresh and relevant content is higher than ever in the advent of Google's latest updates. But apart from Google rankings, how can content creators improve their overall authorship?
A few companies have developed authorship ranking tools that analyze content creators beyond what Google does. One company, Virante, looks at Google Authorship scores with a tool called Authorrank.org, the diversity of sites on which a writer appears, volume, link value, and a few other items.
ClearVoice, which hit the market this month, takes this a step further and developed a scoring tool based on authorship power that weighs how often an author posts, the quality of posts, the relevancy of the domains that carry the posts, and each article's social visibility. This tool indexed the top 80,000 sites on the Web, more than 90,000 content creators, and more than 21 million posts to come up with a way of measuring the publication power of a particular online author. There are three huge benefits of this tool:
- If you’re a frequent content contributor, you can claim your profile and tout your score (similar to Klout).
- If you are having issues with authorship markup, you can troubleshoot your issues against the platform.
- If you are looking for authors that specialize in a particular topic, you are able to perform a smart search based on topical relevance and a list (from highest to lowest) of ranking authors appears.
The People Behind the Stories Amplify Content
"Authoritative writers often boast a strong follower base in social media, and have fans that follow and engage with their work. When they share content, it resonates with more people and in more relevant circles, and readers are more likely to share their content in social channels as well," says Jay Swansson, co-founder of ClearVoice. "Because their works are trusted, a higher likelihood exists that third parties will link to it as an authoritative source, and when their works are digitally signed search engines takes note — both of those attributes benefit the content from a search perspective."
Google and WordPress: Perfect Together
Content creators who use WordPress to publish their work are in luck because WordPress and Google have a mutual compatibility. Few content creators have the inclination to learn complex coding, and WordPress' openness to incorporating plug-ins for various Google services (share buttons for Plus and YouTube, as well as Google Analytics) make it easier for content creators to extend their reach. Several plug-ins that insert Google Authorship data into WordPress headers and footers are now available, at no charge, sparing the time and effort to code every page on a website.
So, today, I’ll leave you with this checklist for making sure that you’re following the right steps for authorship:
- Are you a verified writer? Test your content on Google’s rich snippet testing tool and see how it should display in search engines. Make sure there’s proper rel=author markup.
- Make the connection more directly. If you were linking from your Google+ profile to a bio on your site, try linking to the specific posts instead. Forget rel=me and go with rel=author.
- Markup your Twitter profile. Include tags like: meta[@name='twitter:creator'], tag @href on your profile URL, and/or @rel is "author."
- Is your authorship actually marked up? Verify it against ClearVoice.com, which indexes long-form content that is properly marked-up on Google+ and Twitter.
- Are you on WordPress? Download Google Authorship and social metadata plug-ins to usher you along.
- Continue writing and optimizing. Make sure the content you produce from here on out is Twitter and Google optimized.
Content and SEO converge once again with authorship, and it’s the modern-day marketing version of a who’s who list. The difference? Authorship and rank are powered by a score of quality and authenticity brands can’t ignore and search engines will reward.
Have something to add to this authorship story on how to rank? Share it in the comments.
Image credit: https://www.facebook.com/DeepCereal.
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