Everyone wants to rank at the top of Google these days, but doing so requires more than just a few carefully placed keywords. As any search engine optimization (SEO) professional will attest, it's Google's goal to deliver the highest quality search results on the web. Algorithm updates like Panda and Penguin have been designed to look beyond the best optimized pages to return only the most valuable content for any given search query.
This is why link building has become the gold standard of SEO techniques. Theoretically, the more people that link to a website, the higher that site's PageRank will rise in Google. Now obviously, the process is a bit more complicated than that, but the basic idea is that by placing more SEO value on the webpages people like the best, Google is then able to more effectively deliver the content that is most useful in its search results.
Now, as Google continues to make SEO tweaks in the name of quality, the focus is no longer just on what is being created, but who is creating it as well. Enter Google AuthorRank.
Authorship, Google+ and what it means for SEO
While the details of how AuthorRank works for SEO are still a little fuzzy, the basic idea is that Google will attribute greater value in search to content that's created by authors with strong online reputations. In an excellent article for SEOmoz, Mike Armesan explains that AuthorRank would not be "a replacement for PageRank, but would be used to inform PageRank, therefore enabling Google to rank high-quality content more appropriately."
So how will Google measure and apply author reputations to online content for SEO? With Google+. For a while now, Google+ users have had the ability to link their accounts with the blog content they author. In doing so, posts that appeared in Google search results would include the author's Google+ headshot, name, and links to his or her profile page and additional articles.
Bloggers liked this because the images made their content stand out in search results, thus encouraging more people to click on their links. Now with Google AuthorRank, those same Google+ profiles will have an even more direct effect on SEO.
Getting set up for Google Authorship
The first step for B2B marketers is to link their company blogs with their authors' Google+ profiles. Google provides instructions on how to get started, and the process is pretty straightforward:
#1. Set up a Google+ account (if you don't already have one), and upload a profile photo. This is the image that will be associated with your content in Google search, so make sure it is clear, professional and easily recognizable.
#2. Ensure that each blog post includes a byline for the author of the content. While most blogging platforms generate this automatically, some B2B companies choose to exclude personal bylines from their content. For Google Authorship, good SEO dictates that it's best to include author names with all blog content going forward.
#3. Make sure that author bylines are listed on the blog exactly the same as they appear on Google+ (for example, "By John Smith"). If the names do not match, then Google will not be able to conclude that the associated Google+ user is in fact the author of the content.
#4. In Google+, associate each profile with an email address that matches the domain of the site where the blog lives. For example, a blog on "xyz.com" would require an email address like "firstname.lastname@example.org". Those without a corresponding email address can use the following workaround.
Once these steps are completed, Google will soon begin to associate all blog posts with their corresponding Google+ author profiles. Companies who take advantage will be one step closer to higher page ranks and better SEO.
Are you ready to add Google Authorship to your inbound marketing strategy? What kind of impact do you expect it to have on SEO? Sound off in the comments and let us know!