In June 2011, Google introduced author information in the SERPs. Since doing so, much has been written about the importance of ensuring search marketers have taken steps to set up authorship in Google+.
Intuitively, it makes sense that greater attention is drawn to search results with pictures on them and several studies confirm higher click-through rates (CTRs) for search results with authorship images.
In addition to CTRs being higher for search results with vs. without authorship markup, many have theorized that Google will start using an author's influence in determining how to rank content created by them for relevant queries. This makes it even more critical that publishers set up authorship, linking their online content to their Google+ account.
Google+ Presence in Search Results Increased by 10%
A data analysis of the search results for queries containing 500 of the world's top tech writers' names using Conductor's Searchlight enterprise SEO platform (disclosure: I work for Conductor) – shows that Google is surfacing Google+ accounts for personal brand searches with increased frequency. From January 2012 to May 2013 the percentage of writers that have Google+ results appear on page increased from 33 percent to 43 percent.
Almost 90% of Tech Writers Now Have a Google+ Account
The data shows that in the last 12-18 months, Google has given increasing weight to Google+ in the SERPs (from June 2012-May 2013 for our data set Google+ visibility in the search results grew by the greatest percentage of all social networks ). Given this growth, and given the attention the techosphere has given to Google+, we were curious to see how pervasive it has become amongst what one would think is a group of early adopters.
First, we looked to see what percentage of writers had a Google+ account, and found that nearly nine out of 10 writers have an account (although it doesn't say anything about the extent to which they use it).
3 out of 4 Authors with Google+ Accounts Have Established Authorship
Given that simply signing up for a Google+ account doesn't say a lot about the extent to which authors recognize the growing influence of the network, next we looked to see: Of the authors who have a Google+ account, what percentage actually went through the process of establishing authorship?
Establishing authorship requires the author to take specific action, in one of two ways, to tie their Google+ content to their content. This can be done either by inputting a verified email address from the same domain as their content into Google+ or by embedding their Google+ account URL into the content with rel=author html markup and adding the content's domain to their "contributor" list in Google+.
The analysis showed almost 75 percent of authors with a Google+ account had linked their content to their profile and their authorship appeared in the SERPs. This high percentage of authors who have gone through one of the two steps to establish authorship suggests the importance to natural search visibility they (or their publishers) now assign Google authorship.
Claim Your Authorship and Share Content on Google+
The data shows Google is placing increasing weight on Google+ in the search results, at least as it pertains to personal brand searches. Further analysis shows a majority of the world's top tech writers have Google + accounts and have, by now, taken a step further by establishing authorship in the SERPs.
This analysis suggests establishing authorship has moved past the early adopter stage and those marketers who have not yet established authorship and who are not regularly sharing content on Google+ would be wise to do so.