If you’ve abstained from setting up a profile on Google+, you’re en route to a world of social hurt. Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt writes in his upcoming book, “The Digital Age”:
“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. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.”
The “verified online profiles” Schmidt is referring to are Google+ profiles. This is both a big deal and a game changer and not to be ignored by any serious marketer. The implications of Google+ and authorship in SEO is vast and warrants immediate action.
Confused on how to navigate the Google+ landscape? The following is a quick guide I whipped together to assist you in setting up, then familiarizing yourself, with your Google+ profile.
Step 1 — Set Up a Google+Profile
Begin here: https://plus.google.com.
According to research done by Web Strategist and SEO Consultant Cyrus Shepard on the impact of profile pictures on click-through rate (CTR), the route to a perfect picture is not formulaic. However, Shepard was able to improve his CTR by 35% through rigorously testing a series of images against one another.
Ann Smarty, founder of MyBlogGuest.com, conducted a study similar to Shepard’s, but with a novel approach. Instead of testing a series of images against one another to square away a perfect image, Smarty used heat map testing in her quest. In summary, Smarty found that “you look where they look,” meaning that the eyes of people who come across your Google+ profile in the search engine results pages will naturally look to where your eyes are looking in your profile picture.
A good example of this would be the profile picture of Rich Brook’s, founder and president of Web Design and Internet Marketing firm Flyte New Media.
Step 2 — Link to Your Content
One of the features of Google+ is the ability to link to other profiles, public pages, and websites you contribute to outside of the content you post to your Google+ profile. Navigate to the Links section of your Google+ profile and click Edit:
Step 3 — Link Your Content to Google
For information on how to make author information visible in the search engine results pages, click here for Google’s explanation.
When linking content to your Google+ profile, you have three options:
Guest blogger tip: When guest blogging, remember to always provide the host of the blog with an HTML snippet that contains a link to your Google+ profile and rel=”author” in that link. Without this markup, you will not be credited for the blog post (and it won’t show up on your Google+ profile). In addition to this, make sure you link to the guest blog post itself by adding it to your “Contributor to” links.
Once you’ve linked up everything you set out to, you can verify that everything is in working order by using the Structured Data Testing Tool.
The Benefits of Authorship