What is Google Authorship? Why is it important for search and branding?
Google Authorship is a digital authentication process that allows Google to link published web content to the specific author who created the content. It essentially enables Google to determine who authored something, not just where something is published. Contributors to your site can authenticate content on their Google+ profile. Brands can tie content to influential writers. This connectivity adds credibility to your content and enhances amplification of your messaging.
How have Google’s trust signals evolved in the past five years, and what can businesses do to capitalize on the evolution?
Universal search has changed much of the search engine results page (SERP) landscape. As an example, local search snippets can take up a lot of real estate. The trust signals in local include things like location, reviews and ratings. We’ve been waiting for Google to include social in its trust signals, but this is happening only in limited cases right now. Authorship is probably the only major new trust signal getting face time in SERPs. Businesses should consider their content producers wisely, giving more credit to those with high-quality published works.
Everyone says “content is king” but beyond that, what specifically can brands do to leverage quality content that passes Google Authorship?
I think it’s really about working with authors who have a strong track record of producing high-quality content. It’s not about gaming Google Authorship. I view Google Authorship as a reward mechanism for trusted content producers. Brands should be looking to do the same thing Google seeks to do—serve up the right content, at the right place and time. So, just do the basics right, and work with strong content producers.
If a brand is looking for high-clout authors, how do they find them?
Brands can leverage tools like Muck Rack to find influential authors who write for prominent publications. iAcquire is actually crawling the top 250,000 digital publishers, and creating a database of authors who contribute to all of these publishers. We’re rolling out a ranking system for these authors called VoiceRank in early June.
What sort of content passes authorship besides blogs?
Authorship markup can potentially be placed in the code of any page. It’s definitely not just for blog posts: eBooks, whitepapers and similar content types are all valid outlets for authorship. Gray areas exist for sure; for example, there are plenty of instances where authorship markup is placed on a category or product page of a commercial website. While Google does allow rich snippets and authorship to take effect in some instances, it may be viewed as a form of authorship spam in the future. I see it as just a question of time before Google begins actively filtering this out.
Tell us about VoiceGraph and its interplay with ClearVoice, the new writer platform iAcquire recently beta-launched.
As I touched on previously, we’re developing a scoring system for authors based on the reach of their digital footprint. The database behind that is VoiceGraph—a large-scale index of content and content producers. ClearVoice is iAcquire’s content development platform, which helps us create high-quality content at scale for our customers. VoiceRank is integrated into the system to make it easier for us to find and rank the quality and reach of the authors we work with.
Can non-content creators have Google Authorship?
They can have a Google+ account, but in order to attain author snippets in search, they need to have published works that incorporate their unique Google authorship code.
Should authorship be used if there is more than one author in a piece of content?
Yes, and dual authorship can be used, but Google will generally only attribute the piece to one author.
What’s next for Google Authorship in 2014? How do you envision it evolving the search game this year?
We’ve seen clear signals that high-quality content produced by authoritative writers is performing well in search snippets and rankings. We believe this shift will continue. We might see less authorship snippets in search, but more important writers showing up. Those “important” writers might carry authorship clout with them, amplifying the rankings of the content they produce.
More about the interviewee Joe Griffin
Over his career Joe has overseen digital strategy and marketing plans for more than 100 top brands, and has developed processes that have touched thousands of businesses. Joe’s role as co-CEO at iAcquire includes setting and collaborating on the company vision, growth plan, offerings, and technology.