Don’t Think You’re an Author? Well, You Are Now!

Bureaucracy illustrationMost of us don’t think of ourselves as authors.  Authors are people who write books and get published.  They’re people like Tom Clancy, James Dobson, or J. K. Rowling.  Well, no longer.  According to Google, you and I and every other website owner  are now authors…and it’s very important that you realize this now.

Why Would Google Care if I’m an Author?
Google has a problem.  They want to rank high quality content at the top of the rankings for every search.  Unfortunately, there’s a lot of garbage out there.  Between innocent people who don’t know what they’re talking about to “evil” spammers, there’s just a lot of low quality content sift out.  To make things worse, enough people have figured out how to get a page to rank well with tricks and dirty schemes that they’ve been able to make a lot of poor content appear good to Google.  So, Google needed to figure out a way to know who to trust.

Enter Google+
Google launched their social networking platform, Google+ in the Summer of 2011.  A lot of people rolled their eyes and laughed.  This was Google’s 5th or 6th attempt at getting into the social game. (Does anyone remember Google Buzz or Orkut?  I didn’t think so.)  Additionally, Facebook and Twitter were already dominating and Google+ seemed to wanting to get the same audience.  The question was legitimately asked, why would people leave a social network where they already have friends to go to one in which none of their friends are?

all-that-is-changing-with-authorshipPerhaps it truly was Google’s dream to sink Facebook and Twitter, but it definitely was their goal to get their hands on social data for use in their search engine and advertising services.  After a little over a year and a half, Google+ boasts over 340 million users.  It’s an impressive number, enough to make them the second largest social network.  However, many people have said that Google+ is a ghost town.  They basically forced all people who had an account with any of Google’s products (Google, Gmail, Youtube, etc.) into a Google+ account, even if they had no intent of using it.  But all that has started to change because of authorship.

The Solution – Authorship

“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.” – Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google

Did you get that?  Google is going to rank the web pages from verified authors higher than other pages.  This isn’t a theory.  This isn’t speculation.  They are going to do this and I’ve seen tests that indicate they are already doing it.  Authorship is a key way Google is going to verify content is written by a real person and determine the trust they can place in that person.

Right now authorship is still relatively new.  That’s good news for you.  If you become a verified author and start establishing yourself within your niche, you will probably be ahead of most of your competition.  Of course, this also means that if you don’t establish yourself as an author, eventually you will start loosing out to your competition.

So, how do you become a Google verified author?
Here are six simple steps to becoming a Google verified author:

  • Create a Google+ account.
  • On your blog and your website’s pages, add a link to your Google+ profile page and, in the link code, use the attribute, “rel=author”.

author-example

  • In your Google+ profile, add your website to your “Contributor to” section.  You can find the “Contributor to” by going to your profile, clicking the “About” tab, scrolling down to the “Links” section, and clicking “Edit”.
  • Add a faceshot picture as your profile photo.  If you use a picture of your face, your image will likely show up in search results next to your listings.
  • Start sharing some of your posts/pages to your profile.

Note: If you contribute to websites/blogs other than your own (like guest blogging) you should add those websites to your Contributed To section and have a link to your Google+ profile on those posts as well.

It’s also a good idea to set your organization up as a publisher.  You can do this much the same way as setting up your personal authorship.

  • Create a Google+ page for your organization.
  • Add a link to your organization’s Google+ page on all the pages of your website and use the rel=”publisher” attribute in the link (this is often done by adding a G+ Icon).
  • In your Google+ page, add a link to your organization’s website.
  • Start sharing some of your posts/pages to your profile.

Quality and Authority Are Key
/approveNow that you have setup your authorship, it’s time to start producing some content.  Keep in mind that in Google’s eyes the whole point of all this is to determine what pages are good, quality, authoritative pages so they can rank them higher.  They determine this by looking at who has you in their Google+ circles, how many +1 shares your pages are getting, if other people on Google+ are sharing your content, etc.  They want other people, especially people in your niche, to tell them whether your pages are authoritative and high quality content and therefore worthy of higher rankings.  So, it’s not enough to just setup your authorship, you have to produce original high quality content, share that content, and get others to add you to their circles and +1 or share your content.

Authorship isn’t the end all be all of ranking well in Google+, nothing is.  Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and inbound links are still critical and there are a couple hundred other signals Google looks at.  That said, authorship can affect your rankings and I believe it’s going to become one of the most important signals Google looks at, right along side SEO and inbound links.

So, it’s time to get out your quill and ink well.  Your about to become an author.  Take a few minutes today and set yourself up as an author and set your organization up as a publisher.  Then start connecting with people on Google+ and start thinking about how you can start producing some great, original content.  You can do it.  Charles Dickens aint got nothin’ on you.

Share your thoughts:

  • Do you have any questions about authorship?
  • Will Google giving priority to verified authors get you to start using Google+
  • If you do start using Google+ will you actually try to connect and interact with people or just use it to share your content?

Kurt Steinbrueck is the Director of Marketing Services with OurChurch.Com. He also serves on the leadership of Family of Christ Lutheran Church in Tampa, FL. You can find him on Google+ as .

9 Responses to “Don’t Think You’re an Author? Well, You Are Now!”

  1. PaulSteinbrueck Mar 13, 2013 at 8:18 am

    Great post, Kurt! Authorship is huge and you've done a nice job explaining what it is and how to get verified. My questions are… once a person has followed the steps to get verified, how long does it take for Google to do its part? And how can a person know if/when they are verified?

  2. Thanks Paul. Great questions. There is no specific amount of time that it will take for someone to become a verified author. It depends on several factors, such as whether you had an active Google+ account previously, how many people are sharing your content or clicking the +1, how many people you have or can get to put you in your circles, and then that random how-long-does-google-want-to-sit-on-this time. You could be the verified author within a day or two or it could take weeks or months. Keep in mind, the point of this for Google is to determine who they can trust. Just setting up the authorship markup doesn't tell them that. That only lets them know what you are claiming. It's where you get published and how others react to your posts that tells them whether they can trust you. That's why it's important to do that second part I mention in the post, putting out quality content and connecting with people in Google+

    In regards to how you'll know, there are a few ways you may find out. Google may actually receive a notification at the email address you have setup with your Google+ account welcoming you to Google Authorship. A second way is if people start seeing your picture next to the listings of your pages where you claim to be the author. The tricky part of this is that Google doesn't usually display your picture to you in the search results. So, you have to check with other people. Also, Google doesn't always display your image even to other people. So, seeing your image is a sure sign you are a verified author, but not having your image displayed is not a sure indicator that you haven't become a verified author. Thirdly, if you have Google Webmaster Tools setup for your website and under the same Google account as your Google+, you can check the "Author Stats" in Google Webmaster Tools. It's located in the "Labs" section.

  3. Great post, but could you fix the typo in the headline, please!

  4. Kurt,
    Thanks for explaining this. I've heard about authorship for a while now, but didn't really know how to go about it.

    My question: I have a G+ personal account and was previously in a different business online. Now I would like to write and have only these articles linked to the G+ account. How do I do that?

    Thanks!

    • Hi Laurie,

      I want to make sure I understand what you're asking. Am I correct that you are saying that you have a personal Google+ account which has several articles linked to it which are related to one topic, but you now are writing on a different topic and are asking how you can make it so the old topic's articles are no longer linking to your Google+ account? The idea being that you want to focus the topical content connected with your Google+ account to just the one topic you are writing about now. Is that correct?

      Thanks.

      Kurt

  5. Hi Kurt,

    Yes, that is basically what I mean.

    I now also have another question. Where you say "On your blog and your website’s pages, add a link to your Google+ profile page and, in the link code, use the attribute, “rel=author”. – does that mean you have to put that code on every blog post and every page of your site?

    Thanks.