AuthorRank, Google Authorship and Google+ Demystified

On September 19th, I spoke to the Indy Social Media breakfast group about AuthorRank, Google Authorship, Google+ and the SEO/content marketing implications of all three. In case you missed it, you can watch a replay here:

 

Full Transcript:

Okay, so for those of you who got up early hoping to learn the
secrets of AuthorRank, this great mystical topic that only a few
can take advantage of, I have some bad news. There is no such
thing as AuthorRank. AuthorRank does not exist, okay? No matter
what you have read or maybe heard someone else speak or write
about on their blog, no AuthorRank.

AuthorRank is a concept, it’s a future concept. It is a
hypothetical ranking factor. It’s not something that is
currently in use or in effect right now, but it is something
that a lot of marketers and a lot of SEOs, myself included,
believe will some day come into effect.

So one of the things that I want to do today is help you prepare
for AuthorRank. That’s all you can do at this point. You can
only prepare, you cannot build your AuthorRank or establish
AuthorRank or anything like that. So if you’ve ever read
anything like that, that’s all BS basically.

So AuthorRank, being sort of a hot topic these days, is often
confused with another term, and that is Google Authorship.
Google Authorship is something that exists today. It is
something that you can establish and something that you can take
advantage of the benefits today as soon as you leave here after
you do a few things that I’m going to go over.

So understanding the difference between AuthorRank and Google
Authorship and the differences in what you can do there is what
we’re going to talk about today. And you’ll see that Google+,
being the third term in the title of the presentation, is very
ingrained in both of these things, so we’re going to talk a
little bit about Google+ as well. Since this is a social media
group, that’s probably a good thing.

So, let’s talk about AuthorRank first. The best way to really
understand AuthorRank and what AuthorRank could be and probably
will be, you really have to understand what SEO looks like right
now, what the landscape of SEO is. If you’re trying to rank a
page or a blog post, and this is probably something that
everyone in this room has tried to do at least once, there are
basically four things that you need to worry about, four basic
categories of SEO. And this is a bit of a generalization, so if
there are any SEOs in the room, I hope you’ll forgive that. But
any report that comes out from a SEOmoz or a Searchmetrics or
any other major SEO company, these are the four things that they
track. So you have links, social, on-page technical, and on-page
content. If you want to rank a page or a blog post, you need to
successfully complete these four things.

So, links. You need to build links to your website. You want
authoritative websites with high page ranks pointing to your
site using a keyword that you’re trying to rank for, right?
Companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on SEO
companies to build links for them, so you need links.

Social media, I probably don’t need to explain social media to
this group. You all know how important social media is. You want
people sharing your content on Twitter and talking about you on
Facebook and liking you and sharing your stuff. So you need to
do that to be successful in SEO.

On-page technical is the third thing. Some people call this
architecture, right? This is the back end of your website. You
have an optimized site that has a clean architecture, you know,
nice URL structure. You’ve hired an SEO company to take care of
all those technical things, all your metadata is in place, all
of that nerdy back end stuff.

And then finally, on-page content, so the actual content of your
website, the written words on the page, things like keyword
density and h1 tags and things like that. But maybe more
importantly is how good your content is, right? We hear
marketers and SEOs all the time saying, well, if you want to be
successful in SEO, make good content. We hear that all the time.
Just make good content and you’ll be fine. Make content that
people would pay you for or that solves problems and all these
other sort of platitudes we hear all the time.

Now, the thing about this fourth one, your on-page content, is
it’s a little different from the first three, right? The first
three are very quantifiable. They fit into Google’s algorithm
really well because they’re numeric and they can be very easily
measured. You either have links or you don’t have links, and the
links you have are either good or bad or somewhere in between.
Right? You either have people on social media talking about you
or not. They are either saying good things or bad. You either
have it or you don’t. And then on-page technical, your website
is optimized or it’s not. You hire a company to do it and
basically the job is done.

But on-page content is a little different. It doesn’t fit into
Google’s algorithm very well because it’s sort of subjective.
Google doesn’t really have a great mechanism for saying this
blog post is way more useful than this one written about the
same topic. So this is a bit of a problem for Google. When you
think about their algorithm, it’s sort of incomplete. How does
Google know if content is truly good or truly useful, and maybe
the better question is how does Google know whether this content
is written by someone who knows what they’re talking about? Is
this person truly an expert on the topic that the blog post or
the web page has to do with?

So that problem, this is the central issue of AuthorRank, and
it’s actually a problem that Google has been thinking about
since at least 2005, so years before really content marketing
took off and has been widely adopted by marketers.

So that is why Google put a team together as early as 2005 and
they created something called Agent Rank, and they put a patent
together. Now, I know it’s 8:00 a.m., sorry to have to read some
patent language to you, but whatever. So this is what the patent
says, and it’s pretty interesting language. It begins by saying
that Agent Rank is the identity of individual agents responsible
for content can be used to influence search ratings. So
basically what that is saying is Google not only is going to
look at the content when deciding to rank it, but they’re also
going to take into account who the author of that content is.
That’s something that is not in effect right now, but it’s
something that they’re driving towards.

So the patent goes on to say, assuming that a given agent has a
high reputational score – I hope you guys had some coffee, sorry
– representing an established reputation for authoring valuable
content, then additional content authored and signed by that
agent or author will be promoted relative to unsigned content or
content from less reputable agents or authors.

So they’re saying that content that is transparent and non-
anonymous will rank higher than content that is anonymous, which
is pretty cool, actually. So that’s some kind of heavy language.
One of the engineers on the team sums it up this way, he says,
we know that great content comes from great authors, and we’re
looking at ways that we can highlight those authors in the
search results.

So Google really cares about rewarding authors for being
experts, for being prolific content creators, and they want to
rank those folks, they want to reward those folks for that good
work, which is a step in the right direction.

So the engineer, and the language in the patent, you know, what
does an ideal author look like to Google when they’re thinking
about Agent Rank? Well, some words pop out at me in that patent
language. A high reputational score. I perceive that as maybe
someone who has a lot of followers, someone who has a lot of
readers or subscribers to their blog, someone with an
established reputation, so they are transparent about their
identity. They have told Google who they are and they don’t
remain anonymous. And then they’re producing valuable content,
so they’re producing content regularly that is perceived as
helpful because it’s getting a lot of traffic and shares. So
that’s kind of the ideal author, and that’s probably what all
marketers, all content marketers, would want to strive for
anyway, you know, aside from this whole AuthorRank discussion.

So to sum up Agent Rank, which is the same thing as AuthorRank
basically, AuthorRank is what marketers call Agent Rank. For
whatever reason, they came up with a new term, which is a little
weird. But basically, we’re saying expert content written by non-
anonymous authors will rank higher than content that remains
anonymous. That is AuthorRank, that’s Agent Rank, that’s what
we’re here to talk about today.

So that’s really great. That’s exciting to me, especially
someone who creates a lot of content, and hopefully that makes
you feel a little bit better about what Google is trying to do.

So it’s not real, it’s not in effect yet, and there are a lot of
things we don’t know about how this is going to manifest. We
don’t know how significant of a ranking factor it will be. Will
this really jump a person up several pages, or will it maybe
only bump them up a few spots on one page? We don’t know. We
don’t know how strong of a ranking factor it will be. We don’t
know how the grading system will sort of manifest. Will an
author actually get a grade from one to ten, like page rank?
Will they get a grade from zero to a hundred, like domain
authority? You know, is it like a Klout score kind of? We don’t
know. We don’t know how that’s going to work.

And maybe most importantly is we don’t know if this will ever go
live. Google will not tell us when it’s going to go live, and
when it is live, and it may never go live, by the way. I mean,
they may say today or tomorrow, we’re not going to do this,
sorry about you. I don’t think they will, and I’m going to lay
out the case for why I don’t think they will, but we just don’t
know. So, that’s AuthorRank.

But Google wants this. They have said through speeches and
interviews and sending signals out in some of their blog posts
and just all the things they’ve done to sort of make this go
into effect, it’s pretty clear to me that this is going to
happen and Google wants it.

This is Eric Schmidt, he’s the Executive Chairman at Google. He
said something really interesting about this. He says that
within search results, information tied to verified online
profiles will rank higher than content without such
verification. So he’s saying this is going to happen, guys, and
that’s going to result in most users naturally clicking on the
top verified results. So Eric, the Chairman, he cares about
those top results being the best results for someone. And the
last thing he says, which is really the kicker in my mind, is
that the true cost of remaining anonymous might be irrelevance.
That’s pretty powerful, right?

Think about all the searches you’ve ever done on Google. One of
my favorite examples of what he’s talking about is I work on
fundraising software, and if you do a search for ‘what’s the
best fundraising software’, if you type that into Google, you
don’t get a blog post written by an expert on fundraising
software who is making an impartial decision on what’s the best
and why. You get eight different fundraising software companies
all saying we’re the best and this is why, which is okay for
someone maybe who’s doing research. You know, you can read all
those things, they’re well written. But when you look at those
pages, there’s an ‘about us’ page or maybe there’s a ‘services’
page, and it’s not clear who wrote that, you know? It’s
definitely someone at that company, but it’s not who wrote that.
So Schmidt here would rather that the first result is someone
who is an expert who is giving an impartial suggestion on what
the best fundraising software is.

So Google here is really trying to improve user experience for
people who are using their search engine, which is good.

So we’ve talked a lot about being anonymous and being non-
anonymous and identity, well, how do you identify yourself to
Google as a content creator? There is a mechanism for that that
exists, and that’s Google Authorship. Google Authorship exists
today, it is something that everyone in this room, if you blog
or if you write for your website, you can establish this as soon
as you get back to your office today, and I would recommend that
you do so, because it’s awesome.

Basically what you do is you tell Google that you write for a
given blog, and you do that on your Google+ page. So you go into
your Google+ profile, and there’s a little section here called
‘the contributor to’ section, and here you can list all the
blogs that you write for and you can even tell if you’re a
current or a past contributor. So that’s one half of identifying
yourself to Google.

Once you have done that, you have to send a signal back from the
blog or website that you write for to your Google+ profile so
you’re making a connection between your blog and your Google+
profile, and you do that through what’s called the ‘Rel=Author’
tag. That’s just a URL string that sits on the back end of your
site that points to your Google+ profile. Once you make that
connection, Google knows that you are the verified author of
this content and you have Google Authorship, and you’re done.

Now, the front end, the Google+ part, that’s really easy because
all of you have access to your Google+ profiles, I hope. The
second half is a little bit harder depending on what CMS or
website management program you have. There are a lot of
different ways to make that second half of the connection. If
you’re on WordPress, it’s very easy. There’s a plugin called the
Yoast SEO plugin that just adds a field to your user profile
where you put in your Google+ URL, and that makes the
connection. Compendium, they do a really great job of this. They
get all of this stuff that I’m talking about and make it easier
for their folks. If you’re on Tumblr or maybe Blogspot or
Blogger, whatever they call it, or maybe something else that
doesn’t have a CMS that runs plugins, somewhere on the blog post
or on the page, you need to send a signal to your Google+
profile.

So here, they do this in the sidebar. You can also do this in
your author bio, maybe below your blog post. You just have to
hyperlink your name to your Google+ profile and that completes
the connection.

Now, I’ve listed a website here that has some really nice
instructions. I’m not going to dive deep into the instructions
because it would take up the rest of the morning and more, but
it’s not too difficult depending on what you use. So definitely
go ahead and do that.

So once you’ve made the connection, you can test whether you
have Authorship set up. You can mosey on over to the structured
data testing tool and all you have to do is paste in a URL of a
blog post and it’ll tell you if Authorship is working or not. If
Authorship is working, you get a lot of benefits, a lot of cool
things happen for you that can drive traffic, drive more shares
of your content, and just increase the overall visibility.

Google Authorship is believed to be a prerequisite for
establishing AuthorRank, because if you look back at that patent
language that says the identity of individual agents, well,
Google Authorship establishes that identity piece, right? So now
you’ve got half of the equation. And then AuthorRank, sometime
in the future they’re going to use that identity to influence
search ratings.

So once you have Google Authorship established, you’re pretty
much future proofed at a minimum for AuthorRank, so you’ll be in
good shape. So please do that today. There are lots of benefits,
lots of really awesome things for people who create content who
have Authorship.

The first and foremost is the appearance of author rich
snippets. Now, rich snippets is what you see when maybe you
share a link on Facebook, you know, there’s that thumbnail in
the meta description, that’s a rich snippet.

An author rich snippet appears actually right there in the
search results, so you get a picture of the author, and they
just pull that right from your Google+ profile. There’s also a
link to other posts that person has written for which Authorship
has been established, and then there’s also a link to that
person’s Google+ profile. So you get those cool links, but you
also get a little bit more visibility in the search engine
results page. If you compare that to some of the other results
who don’t have a picture or some kind of rich snippets, you
know, that picture really pops out, and some people have been
saying, well, my traffic increases because people’s eyes are
kind of drawn to that. So that’s a great thing to get right
away.

If you’re kind of ho-hum on that, well, consider that any time
you look at a web page, they place those snippets, that picture
of you, right in the area where people are more prone to look.
So if you’re the only result on the page with a picture, people
are going to see that, and you might get more clicks than would
maybe people who are ranked above you. So there’s the sort of
weird paradigm shift that maybe having the first result isn’t as
important as having those rich snippets, because they pop out at
the user, which is great.

There’s a really cool article here, I recommend you guys read
this, this is a guy who did a study on how setting all of this
up impacted his click-through rates. He was able to see a pretty
drastic increase from doing this.

So your picture matters. Choose that picture wisely. This is an
SEO name, Cyrus Shepard, he writes a lot for SEOmoz, he did a
study where he A/B tested different variations of his face to
see which one would get the most clicks. He landed on one of
these, I think he chose one of these yellow ones, and he saw
that his traffic increased 35% based on choosing the best
picture of himself. So don’t choose a weird picture of yourself
that maybe you’re at a party or it’s not a great picture. Pick a
good picture, for sure. And you can read that study there on
that link at your leisure.

Now, you run your test, you think you have Authorship set up,
everything’s feeling good, but that does not mean that your
picture is going to show up in the search engine results. Even
if you get a positive test result, not all users are going to
see that. So this is a little bit of a sticking point. A lot of
things can affect how fast your face appears in those search
results. A lot of things depend on this.

These things are my opinion, this isn’t something that Google
has said. These are the things, you know, people are going to
have to spend a lot of time studying this before there’s any
definitive proof, but it’s my belief that how you set up
Authorship matters, whether you have a nice author page, or
maybe you’re just putting a link to your blog post in your
Google+ profile. How often your website gets crawled, so if you
have Authorship set up and you post a new blog post this
morning, it may take time for Google to index and crawl that
page before your picture is going to show up in the search
engine results.

How often you publish can also make a difference. If you only
write a blog post once a month, you may not see those snippets
appear as fast as someone who maybe publishes once a day. Your
Google+ profile matters, how many followers you have, how often
you use Google+ can also factor into it. And then people’s
individual search settings. If you use Google and Chrome, you
can turn off the social settings, you can set geographic
locations, there’s a lot of different things you can do that can
impact what those search engine results look like.

But if you get a positive test in that testing tool, you can
feel good about that. Don’t worry about it too much. Eventually
those snippets will appear for you.

Now, what’s really cool is you don’t have to do this for just
web pages or blog posts, you can do this for files, you can do
this for Word documents, PDFs, PowerPoints, Excel files. So if
you’re doing any kind of hardcore content marketing and you get
those files ranked on a Google search result, you can get
snippets to appear there as well, which is pretty cool. All you
have to do is somewhere in that document have a link to your
Google+ profile that is hyperlinked to your name. So that’s
pretty nice, I think, that you can do that for files.

So, aside from the rich snippets, you get access to analytics
that you normally wouldn’t have access to, and those are
Authorship stats. Authorship stats reside in your Google
Webmaster Tools account, so for any blog, any website that you
have Authorship set up for, you can see the click-through rate
on that blog post and you can see how often they appear in
search results, so appearance numbers. And you get that for
every single blog post that you’ve ever written that you have
Authorship established for across all websites that you write
for.

So people who say that their CTR increases after putting in
Authorship, they don’t know what their CTR was before
Authorship, right? You don’t get it until you establish it, so
that’s kind of BS, too. I don’t like to rely on a lot of those
studies, but you can see trends, right? You can see if something
is changing, if it’s going up or down. You can certainly test
your photo once you have it established and seeing if a photo
makes it go up or down.

And one of my favorite uses of this is this tells me what blogs
I should write for. I’m not going to write for a blog that isn’t
getting a lot of impressions or clicks. Consistently in my 12
Stars Media posts, they’re always in the top results, so I’m
going to keep writing there. I probably won’t write for a blog
that maybe is at the bottom of impressions and clicks. So really
awesome analytics that you get there.

Now, there are some people who should not set up Authorship.
Specifically, e-commerce Authorship is bad, because when you’re
an e-commerce company, you’re probably selling a product and if
you get that product ranked on Google, you get a different kind
of rich snippet. You get maybe a photo of the product or maybe a
video of the product, sometimes you get these review stars. You
don’t want to replace those things with a picture of whatever
dork wrote the product description. You want people to see the
product, right? And you can read this study later, but this is
an e-commerce company whose traffic dropped 90% after setting up
Authorship because they replaced all their beautiful product
rich snippets with some guy who wrote the description of the
tennis racquet.

So don’t do that. Only do that if you’re a blogger, which most
of you in the room are. If you’re sharing opinions about
marketing, this is ideal. If you’re in e-commerce or maybe if
you’re a restaurant or something that sells a product, you want
people to see the product, not some guy’s face. So just a little
word of warning there.

Now, Authorship was established last March, March of 2012, so
it’s been around a little while. AuthorRank has been a hot topic
since last September, so it’s about a year old. Authorship
adoption has really taken off in the past few months because
people are talking about this. This is a study from Conductor.
They did this last May, a few months ago, and they say that 87%
of the top 500 tech writers use Google+ and 74% of them have
Authorship. Now, I would suspect that that number is going to be
100% by the end of the year. So we’re kind of in the later stage
of adoption here. Last year was sort of the early stage of
adoption, so if you don’t do this today or this week, you might
be left a little bit behind. So please do this. There are a lot
of benefits.

Brands can take advantage of this too. Some people like to say
brand rank, but I don’t really like that. But you can establish
Publishership, so you have Authorship for a person, you have
Publishership for a company. So I write for Bloomerang, all of
my posts on Bloomerang have Bloomerang listed as the publisher.
I’m the author, Bloomerang is the publisher. So you do this very
similar to how you set up Authorship. You go to your actual
brand company page, you verify the URL to the website or to the
blog, and then from the website you send a signal back in the
form of a tag called ‘Rel= Publisher’, which is very similar to
‘Rel= Author’. There are some instructions at the end of these
slides on how to do that.

So this really eliminates the need to publish a blog post as a
company. I see that on blogs a lot, you know, this blog post was
written by Bloomerang. Well, did the logo sit down at a computer
and write it? Like, you don’t need to do that anymore. You can
set the brand as the publisher and then list the actual author
as the author, and you can get nice little rich snippets for
doing so. So for your pages, like your ‘about us’ page, you can
get your company logo or whatever you want to show up there on
the search results rather than someone’s face, which is cool
because you get added visibility for having that picture.

So an ideal blog post, this is the back end, the coding of a
blog post that I wrote, you can see that I have rel=author to my
personal profile, and I have rel=publisher to the Bloomerang
page. So that’s an ideal setup. That’s what you want to strive
for. There are some instructions in the slides on how to do
that. It’s not too terrible.

So Authorship has a lot of benefits, you know, you prepare
yourself for AuthorRank and you’re feeling good about this. But
you can see how ingrained Google+ is to all of these processes.
So this is sort of Google’s way of keeping Google+ relevant,
because you have to use Google+ to take advantage of all of
these things. So if you’ve been a little cold on Google+, it’s
really sort of time to pay attention to Google+ because there
are a lot of added benefits for doing so.

It’s probably not a good idea to think of Google+ as a search
engine. I like to think of it as an identity engine. Google+ is
the mechanism for which Google assigns all identity for content
creators and assigns authority to those content creators. So
there is verification that happens on Google+. You can further
verify your profile beyond just setting up Authorship. You can
verify your YouTube account and all of your other Google
accounts.

You can verify your brand page. This is something that’s really
powerful. You get a nice little checkmark similar to the
checkmark you see on Twitter for maybe reporters or celebrities,
you can get that for your brand page, and something really
incredible happens when you do that. You have to have 1,000 fans
and then you can apply for verification, and you can do so at
this little link right here. Once you have 1,000 fans and you
get that verification on your company page, something crazy
happens. Something happens in the algorithm where Google gives
you a little bit more weight. This is the Slingshot SEO Google+
page. You can see it took us a few months to get to 1,000 fans,
but when we had 1,000 fans and we got the page verification, the
followership increased exponentially. Something crazy happened,
because people see that badge, they see that you’re verified and
think, oh, this is a legit company, they must be sharing really
great stuff. We didn’t do anything different. We shared one post
a day at 9:00 a.m., and we didn’t do anything different, and it
just skyrocketed. I’m getting excited, because the Bloomerang
page is about 850, so I’m getting close to that 1,000 mark.

But this is a good goal for you guys to strive for. Try to get
to 1,000 and then get that verification, because I don’t have to
tell you what those new followers did to referral traffic and
new shares and +1s.

Okay, so what if you get all those fans? Well, the more fans you
have on Google+, the more people are going to +1 your stuff -
that’s the same as liking your page. Google+ is consistently
named the number one ranking factor for Google. This is the
Searchmetrics report; the SEOmoz report also lists it I think as
number two. So Google+ is really important, guys. You want +1s,
you want people sharing your site, because there’s a strong
correlation between rankings and how many +1s you have on your
content. So if you don’t have a +1 button on your blog,
definitely add one today.

This is a study from SEOmoz that came out a couple of months
ago. They said after page Authority, a URL’s number of Google
+1s is more highly correlated with search rankings than any
other factor. In fact, the correlation of Google +1s beat out
other well-known metrics, including links, Facebook shares, and
keyword usage. So they’re saying it’s a correlation that doesn’t
necessarily mean causation, but it’s definitely something to
look at and consider. So you want a robust personal profile, you
want a robust brand page, you want +1s, because your rankings
are going to improve, hopefully.

This is a study – this first one is the actual study where this
came from. The second one, definitely read it, it actually came
out yesterday, he debunks this a little bit, so there are
opposing opinions out there. It’s important not to take one
study as gospel. You know, definitely look at all these
different things and decide for yourself. But I would definitely
recommend that you put Google+ at the forefront of maybe your
social media usage, for sure.

Now, when you share a Google+ link, it’s a little bit different
than on Facebook. When you share a Facebook link, you get one
link to that webpage that you’re sharing. But on Google+, you
get three links. You get a link to your personal page, so that
can maybe help with AuthorRank. The second link you get is a
link to the actual posts, and Google+ posts actually show up on
Google search results now, too. And the third of course is the
link to the actual page, and link equity follows through to
that. It’s a follow link, so that increases your +1s. Everyone
who shares it after that +1s also increase, and then if they
actually hit the +1 button, it increases. So if you do those
things, you can suddenly get a lot of +1s pretty fast.

So when you think about the Agent Rank patent, you know, going
back to those three terms, a high reputational score, so Google+
following is how I infer that. Established reputation, you have
Authorship and valuable content, you’re publishing a lot, you’re
publishing good content. That’s kind of the secret recipe for
AuthorRank, right? Authorship, Google Authorship, frequent
publishing and Google+ usage. If you guys master these three
things, you’re going to be in good shape.

So, to sort of sum all this up, these are some takeaways. Create
an author page and an author bio. So if you have
Bloomerang/blog/author/Steven, if you don’t have that for all
your blog posts, definitely create that. Obviously, establish
Google Authorship. I’ve been saying that ad nauseam. Add a
Google+ badge to your website. That may increase the amount of
people who follow you, because they can follow you right from
your blog. Obviously, have a complete Google+ profile. Verify
your name so when you get to 1,000 followers, you can verify
your name and get that nice checkmark. And publish frequently,
and focus on one area of expertise. When you think about all
those quotes from the Google guys, they keep saying ‘expert
content’. Well, an expert doesn’t write about ten different
things, right? I write about Google Authorship and this stuff a
lot. I don’t necessarily consider myself an expert, but it would
be weird for me to write about this and then maybe write about
graphic design or CRO or video or all these other things. So,
you know, maybe choose an area of focus that you really know
about and that’ll help you out a lot.

And then use Google+ prolifically, share your stuff on there.
Don’t go out and spam Google+ just to get a lot of +1s. Be
thoughtful about it, be responsible about it. And then
definitely put that +1 button on your blog posts.

Things to avoid. Don’t publish a blog post by the company name.
Somebody wrote that, just give it to them, who wrote it.
Somebody wrote that software update or press release or all
these other things that tend to get published by the brand name.
Just give it to the person who wrote it. It’s no big deal.

By guest author, if you accept guest posts to your site, give
them a user name and an author page, don’t publish under guest
author. If someone is taking the time to write a 1,000 word post
for you, for your website, give them a little more than ‘this is
by guest author.’ That doesn’t make anyone feel really great
about it.

Don’t attribute someone else’s post to you. So, similar to the
guest author thing, sometimes I see, you know, if someone put a
guest post on Bloomerang it would be under my name, but then
there would be a little byline at the end saying, ‘this post was
written by’ whoever. Don’t do that, because no one’s going to be
able to take advantage of Authorship.

And then the last two things, ghost written blog posts and
outsourced blog posts, I don’t have any evidence to suggest that
those things are going to harm you, but be careful. Google is
talking about transparency and anonymity and not being
anonymous, so be careful if you do those things. Google wants
content from the actual source that you’re listing there. So
watch out for those things.

These are some awesome articles that I referenced before. These
are sort of the first two articles that really got the
AuthorRank discussion happening last September. So check those
out. There are also some really great instructions on setting up
Authorship, doing the rel=author, doing the rel=publisher,
different website CMSs, all those things, you can check them out
there. So do that. There’s some great information, way more than
I can cover in 40 minutes on this topic. So do a little reading
if this interests you in the slightest.

So, I’ll leave it at that. I think we have 15 minutes for
questions.

Woman: So I have, for my blog, I set up a new Gmail address for that,
and they gave me a Google+ profile connected to that Gmail
address. I don’t want to use that one, I’d rather use my
personal one because I’ve had it longer, I’ve got people in
circles there. Do I delete the other one? What’s your
suggestion?

Steven: Yeah, I’m glad you asked that, this came up at Mixwest, too.
I’ll answer it with an example. When I started at Bloomerang,
our whole company is on Google Apps, so we use Gmail for our
company email, and maybe some of you also do that. They also had
a duplicate Google+ account, so we had Authorship spread out all
over, some were using their personal, some were using the
company. Ideally, you only want one, so use your personal
profile. Use the one with the most followers. If you have a
second Google+ profile, you can close it without deleting your
Gmail address. So only one Google +account for one Authorship.
So yeah, just one.

So, the question is, what happens when an employee leaves? I
purposely left this out of the presentation because it’s a huge
issue. A lot of employers don’t want to do this for their
employees, but it’s my opinion that they should.

I’ll give you an example. I used to work at Slingshot SEO. I
wrote probably 100 blog posts that are still on their website. I
think I still have Authorship – I hope I do. It would be really
stupid for them to take it away, and here’s why. They still get
the rich snippets, so people who are searching for those things,
there is still higher visibility for that content. So they are
still getting traffic even though I don’t work there, and they
are benefiting from my AuthorRank. AuthorRank doesn’t leave, it
stays with the content. So it stays with the content regardless
of where that person works. So as long as they don’t delete the
content on their blog and leave that author bio, it doesn’t
really matter, it’s still driving traffic. It’s still
piggybacking on my authority as an author. So it would be dumb
for a company to get rid of Authorship, even if someone moves
away. They should be happy if they left and they’re still
blogging and still active on social media, they’re still going
to drive traffic to that content ultimately. So that’s my
opinion on that.

Woman: When you talk about adding, you know, multiple blogs that you
contribute to to your Google+ profile, how closely tied do the
topics need to be? Because you mentioned, you know, if you’re
talking about different things, it’s going to hurt you. So if
I’m talking – I’ve got my [indiscernible 38:18] blog, I also
have a lot about Indianapolis, so they’re kind of both brands,
but how does Google make sense of that?

Steven: Those are different topics, for sure, but you as an author are
central to all those things. So if you’re transparent about who
you are, who your identify is, I think you’ll be fine. I think
the danger is for marketers who maybe go out and write a blog
post about something that they’re not really an expert in, that
can come back to haunt you a little bit. Aside from AuthorRank
and all this other stuff, you shouldn’t be doing that, you know?
If you’re not an expert in something, you know, don’t write
about it. That’s the real danger. If you’re writing about a lot
of different topics that truly interest you and that you’re
definitely an expert on or have some reason to write about, I
think you’ll be fine. I don’t know how AuthorRank and rankings
will factor into all that stuff, no one knows. Only the people
at Google know. But I think you’ll be fine, honestly.

Woman: So you said that ghost bloggers might be harmed by this.

Steven: Yeah.

Woman: How would Google know if you have Authorship set up in a
client’s name?

Steven: They’re not going to know. Technology exists out there that can
match an author to their content. I think there’s a Stanford
professor who’s created this crazy algorithm that matched 100
different writing samples to 100 different authors. If Google
wanted that technology, they could probably get it and implement
it. But I think we’re years away from that. So for ghost
blogging, what I would say is make sure the voice is consistent
for all the things that are being written, because if the voice
changes from one blog post to another, somebody’s going to call
you out. The danger is someone calling you out, not Google
calling you out, but someone saying, hey, this is bullshit, this
person didn’t write this. This is way different from another
one. That’s the danger. Don’t worry about Google so much, but be
careful. That’s why I said be careful on that slide. I have no
idea how Google is going to deal with that issue. We’re probably
years away from that, honestly.

Woman: So historically back on the ghost blogging thing but a little
bit about authenticity in general, I’m [indiscernible 40:26] for
my friend and editing a blog for an IT company. My passion is
not IT, my passion is marketing, so it doesn’t really make sense
I don’t think to put my name on all those posts that I’m
writing. Would it make sense instead to put maybe for my team,
like ghost write for people on my team and [indiscernible 40:53]
for them?

Steven: My sense is don’t do that. That makes me feel a little queasy.
I don’t know why exactly, and there’s no evidence to suggest
that that’s going to harm you, but you wrote that stuff. You
wrote it, you are the author, and you work there, you have some
expertise, so I would keep it under your name, for sure. And I
would encourage the other people in your company to also write.

Woman: [indiscernible 41:17]

Steven: And that’s really hard, I know that’s really hard. And you can
make connections between your personal interests and IT, you
know? I mean, and you’ve done that, right? What does some video
game have to do with IT, and you can write those blog posts for
days, and that’s good content. So I would challenge everyone to
find those connections in their personal lives if they’re
struggling to write about a topic that maybe is not their area
of expertise. But I would definitely keep it under your name,
honestly.

So she’s wondering if changing career trajectory later on is
going to harm you. I don’t think so. I mean, I can’t predict the
future, but they’re still writing samples, you know? You can
still point to them and say, hey, I’m a good writer, I was
writing about a different topic, but you should hire me because
I can write about this topic or whatever. So I wouldn’t worry
too much, honestly.

I think that he was saying that he wrote some blogs about
something that he did a lot of research on and became an expert
and should he put his name on it, and I would say yes, again,
the same as Kayla, you know, you wrote it, you did the research,
you did the work, you are the author. No one else is the author,
right? I say try to be an expert, but don’t be too scared by
that. I mean, if you put the work in, if the writing makes sense
and is good, you should take credit for it. You know, Google
wants authors connected to their content. They don’t want
different authors connected to someone else’s content. So
anything you write you should claim Authorship for, and feel
good about it, too.

So, changing Authorship, so he’s wondering if you have Authorship
established on one piece of content and then later attributing
it to another. Some weird things can happen technically. There
have been people who have the wrong picture show up on the
[search 42:56]. So it says one author’s name, but somebody
else’s author’s picture on there. So don’t worry too much about
Google, worry about the user. How is that going to look to the
user? Someone who has maybe read that piece of content before
under one author, and now suddenly it’s under another one,
they’re going to think that’s a little weird, right? So don’t
worry as much about what’s going to happen on Google, but think
of the user and the reader. So I would say don’t change
Authorship ever. It’s okay if that person is no longer with the
company, you can still list them as the author. 99% of the
readers aren’t going to know that person doesn’t work at the
company anymore unless they do a lot of crazy research, which
would be creepy and weird. So I think you’ll be fine. Definitely
I would not change Authorship under any circumstances, honestly.

So, wise to go back and add Authorship? Definitely. You can go
and add Authorship for a blog post that is ten years old. You
can go do that right now. If there is something that doesn’t
have authorship, Google Authorship, established but was listed
under a company name, go back and change it to the actual
author. You’ll be fine, you’re not going to be penalized or
anything. And you get all those benefits that I’ve gone through.
So if you have posts under a company name, I would change those.
That’s probably the only exception to what I told Tom. But if
you’ve written for blogs, you know, email them today and say,
hey, do you offer Google Authorship? They might say yes. If they
say no, you know, it’s not the end of the world. They may say,
hey, what’s that, and you can tell them, and maybe they’ll do it
and you can get all these great things for all that hard work
you’ve done. I’ve done that. I’ve gone back to a blog post that
I’ve written for that didn’t have this, you know, three or four
years ago, but in the last year they have. They just didn’t add
it because I didn’t ask them or they didn’t think about it. So
yeah, definitely do that for sure.

So she asks, if you are the company doing the ghost writing.

You can, you can certainly set up Authorship for the person you’re
ghost writing for. I would just be careful.

Woman: You’d put the name [indiscernible 44:52] on there?

Steven: Yeah.

Woman: [indiscernible 44:54]?

Steven: I think so, yeah. I think you can do that in that case. You can
set up Authorship, for sure. The ghost writing piece is more for
the reader. Make sure if someone is getting multiple posts ghost
written for them, they all have kind of the same voice and the
same style if you’re going to set up Authorship.

Okay, thanks, guys.

Steven Shattuck

Steven Shattuck

VP of Marketing at Bloomerang
Steven Shattuck is VP of Marketing at Bloomerang, which helps nonprofit organizations to reach, engage and retain the advocates they depend on to achieve their vision for a better world.
Steven Shattuck
Steven Shattuck

2 comments

  1. Steven, just came across this post while searching for Authorship posts. You did a great job in explaining everything in laymen terms, especially the concept of AgentRank and how important it will be in the future, as Google tries to figure out the authorities in a particular space.

    Authorship is still very early in adoption, but I think as more people realize how important it is, it will become more mainstream (plus, even if the less influential ppl adopt it, it still is effective to Google as long as the “power” bloggers/writers use it).

  2. […] for yourself on Google+. That can only make you look more favorable in the eyes of Google—so when AuthorRank comes in to play down the road (hypothetically), you’ll be sitting at the top lookin’ good, […]

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