If you are an early adopter or digital marketer then you have likely hunted down your invite, registered and created a few circles worth of connections on the shiny new social network known as Google+. Google’s latest attempt at social networking has been the talk of most towns since it was first announced less than a month ago. What do I think? In short, I think Google+ is great and can only get better. For the long version I would refer to Jason Falls’ spot on and poignant post from last week.

Now while the hubbub has been all about what Google has been doing in the social networking space, very little attention has been given to some very cool big picture things that they have been up to. Things that could greatly impact all of your content across the web.

Google Authorship Markup

In a blog post on June 7th, Google announced that they were starting something new. They were going to start supporting and recognizing code within web pages that would help them connect authors to the content that they produce. By placing some specified HTML into your web pages and linking properly Google will be able to identify content written by specific authors both on your site and if that same author wrote content elsewhere online. Once identified, Google can start to include author information in search results (see example image below) that links directly back to the author’s Google profile. Additionally, anything linked to that author will show up in the “+1’s” section of their Google profile.

Authorship Markup in Search Results

Examples of Author Profiles Displayed in Search Results (Click to Enlarge)

Louis Gray's Google Profile +1's Section

Louis Gray's Google Profile +1's Section (Click to Enlarge)

What does this all mean and why should I care?

Although Google hasn’t explained in detail what this means overall, I see a number of important things happening that brands an content marketers need to keep an eye on.

SEO & Author Ranking

Google+ was not the first place that we became familiar with the +1 button. We started seeing the +1 button next to search results. Of course, back then, it didn’t seem to mean much, but we knew they had something up their sleeve. If Google starts to display author information along side search results it will also be able to attribute any corresponding clicks on the +1 as a social endorsement that can be factored into both a page rank and author rank score. Authors that garner a lot of +1’s within search results and when someone clicks a +1 button embedded on the web page itself will likely find their content at the top of search results for specific topics they write about. Google even mentions that they will automatically start to include the authorship markup within Youtube which ultimately means video content can be factored into an author’s rank. It’s also likely that any properly attributed content that is shared socially within Google+ and is actively engaged by audiences there will feed back into this.

In the long run, this can expand in a number of different ways. Anything that is publicly accessible for Google to crawl and index can be a potential data point for them to factor into your author rank. Google can start verifying social and content channels that you link to on your Google Profile so that it can identify which tweets, photos, slide presentations and other public content it should attribute to you.

It could provide unprecedented insight into who is influencing customers on the web by combining Google+ engagement, authorship data, Adwords & Google analytics information to form a more comprehensive picture of your online presence.  Services like My mPACT (client) that work to rank influential authors & content creators could possibly tap into future authorship data provided by Google.

How to Take Advantage Now

Although Google hasn’t completely spelled out how everything will fit together just yet, I have a few suggestions of things that you should think about doing as soon as possible.

Set Up Your Google Profile

If you are an author that represents a brand or someone that produces content for many products or services then you need to make sure you have a complete and accurate Google Profile. Head on over here to get started. Pay most attention to filling out the “ABOUT” section of your profile. Take a look at my profile for some ideas. It could use some pruning, but you get the idea. Keep in mind that your profile is where Google is directing those who click on your author information in their search results so include any relevant information for those who want to learn about you and any products, services, or other content channels that you represent. Also add a link to any author pages you have on any of the sites you contribute content to.

The previously mentioned profiles are only for individual people, not businesses or organizations. Google recently mentioned that in as little as 2 weeks they should start opening up the ability for businesses to have a Google Profile. For more information on getting a Google Profile for your business that check out this post.

Add the Author Mark Up

Now that you have your profile you will want to make sure that any blog or web site that you author content has the new authorship mark up set up properly. This is a bit technical so you will probably need help from a web developer to help you get the code into place. Google provided pretty extensive instructions on how to properly add the authorship mark up here. If you don’t have access to all of the blogs/sites where you author content then you might want to talk to the manager/owner of the site. The good things is, by adding the code to most good content management systems (like WordPress for instance) any content that you previously published will get properly attributed when you add the code.

Consider Having an Author About Page on Your Site

Google’s instructions provide specific details, but if the online publication you write for doesn’t have author pages for you and the other authors who contribute then they may want to add them. Not only is it a good way to allow your readers to connect with authors, but it’s also an important element for Google to identify which content you produce. Within Google’s instructions they say:

To identify the author of an article, Google checks for a connection between the content page (such as an article), an author page, and a Google Profile.

  • content page can be any piece of content with an author: a news article, blog post, short story
  • An author page is a page about a specific author, on the same domain as the content page.
  • Google Profile is Google’s version of an author page.

In confirming authorship, Google looks for two things:

  • Links from the content page to the author page (if the path of links continues to a Google Profile, we can also show Profile information in search results)
  • A path of links back from your Google Profile to your content.

 Add the +1 Button to Your Content

Now let me preface this by saying that, as of the time of this post, Google’s +1 button implementation needs some work. Its code is inflexible and not without the need for improvement, but it’s easy to plop into your site. Just as you would add the Facebook LIKE button, you should consider adding the +1 button to all posts and strategically to some stand alone content pages. An example of a stand alone page might be a landing page with a white paper or a slide deck presentation. Place a +1 button on the page so visitors can provide a little social endorsement of the content. There is a good chance it will help boost the rank of that page in search results, especially if the rest of that page has targeted keyword rich content. Get instructions and code to add the +1 button to your site here.

The Wrap Up

I anticipate that over the next year we will see a ton of great offerings for brands and customers from Google. I’ve had some conversations with smart folks who have been connecting the dots in some very interesting places. I hope to share some of those discussions down the road, but for now… add me on Google + , share this post and say hello.

On a final note, if you find a colleague or friend who is getting distracted by the new car smell of a new social media tool. Tell him/her to take a stop getting caught up looking at the “finger” or they might miss the “heavenly glory” of something more useful to their bottom line (see video below).

 

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About Adam Helweh

Adam Helweh

Adam is CEO of Secret Sushi Creative Inc, a strategic design, digital and social media marketing agency. He specializes in the convergence of design and technology to provide businesses with more intelligent and interactive ways to connect with customers and grow. His clients have included Edelman, Broadcom, Stanford Federal Credit Union, the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, Bunchball and others. He's also the co-host of the "SoLoMo Show", a weekly digital marketing podcast, and he has shared the stage with professionals from companies including Facebook, Virgin Airlines, Paypal, Dell and 24 Hour Fitness.

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Comments & Reactions

Comments Policy

Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://trafficcoleman.com/blog/official-black-seo-guy/ Black Seo Guy

    Adam..I think this new thing Google is doing will be big and lots of people are excited. I just want to see all the advantages it will have over the other big guys such as facebook.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  • http://womeninbusinessradio.com Michele Price

    Adam…thanks for laying it all out, it feels like you did a brain download, you know getting it out of our brains and onto paper.  Love the Bruce Lee clip, it gave me an idea for another blog post.

    • http://www.secretsushi.com/ Adam Helweh

      Would love to see how Bruce inspired you. Thanks for the comment.

  • Dave

    Can Google just create markup for their search engine, therefore bypassing W3C standards? Or am I missing something? Could Bing do the same thing? What I don’t want to see is a repeat of the browser wars from the late 90s between Netscape and Microsoft.  Each browser could produce a special effect exclusive to that browser by using the company’s own markup. It wouldn’t work on other browers. Then W3C stepped in and standardized the markup. Interesting to see how this plays out with the search engines. 

  • http://www.contentrules.com Val Swisher

    Excellent and informative, Adam. Thanks very much for putting the pieces together.

  • Blissconnection

    Thanks for breaking it down, Adam. I did apply for the business profile from Google. Looks like we wil be getting ability to have one soon. And thanks for the reminder for sprucing up my google profile, too.  I need to share this with Jerry Bates who is my webmaster for my WordPress blog. Thanks for sharing.

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  • JVMFan

    FYI Marketing peeps: there is a site that must have made a mistake. I downloaded a list of about 400,000 media contacts right off the site. It used to be 1799.00 but something must have gone haywire because I just got this for 79 bucks. AWESOME and hurry. Bought through paypal and got this price. The list is still up at http://mohrpublicity.com

  • http://www.online-business-virtual-assistant.com/ Virtual Business Assistant

    Awesome post Adam. Loved reading it. Thanks for the insightful share..

  • http://www.profittempestreview.com Bas | Profit Tempest

    Grreat post! I also added the google + button to my site as soon as I heard about it, love the bruce lee video too hehe

  • Jerry Bates

    Great post, Adam!  I agree that Google +1 is a really exciting development; nobody is 100% sure what to make of it, but I love hearing how everyone is “connecting the dots” in ways that are (to me at least) very exciting and promising.

    I’m still curious to discover in what ways Google failed experiment (Wave) will show up in this incarnation.  Facebook’s days are surely numbered.

  • http://twitter.com/brandonchicago Brandon Andersen

    Thanks for this great post Adam!  This really delves into the idea of social authority, which Brian Solis wrote about a while back, and I also wrote a blog post about how it could potentially affect SEO (http://ow.ly/5N38U).  The idea is that PageRank will slowly give way to social authority.  Making it easier for individual authors to claim their own work on other websites is a great step in that direction.

    Thanks for including the link to the markup and for the Bruce Lee video.  :)

    • http://www.secretsushi.com/ Adam Helweh

      Glad you enjoyed the video and the post. As you likely know, social authority is already creeping into search results. Currently it is more about social endorsement versus social authority.
      Thanks for the comment.

  • http://twitter.com/Collectual Collective Intellect

    I really enjoyed reading this post and have thought more than a few times about it. From a social media analytics perspective, I believe google+ may add to a much richer understanding of consumers. Well, it may provide a much richer view of those consumers that are sharing, commenting and blogging online. How google+ impacts author influence and reach remains to be seen. But I think it’s great that content creators will now have some mechanism in place to ensure appropriate author ownership.

    • http://www.secretsushi.com/ Adam Helweh

      Google has all the right tools in all the right places to make this not only a reality, but an essential tool for online marketers. Big advantage for them and it means we won’t see it fizzle out due to the lack of mainstream use or interoperability with existing standard tools.

  • http://www.MusselwhiteMarketing.com Musselwhite Marketing

    I concur, great post! Needful things to know for those in the business or with an online business.  Lots going here with tremendous potential for brands and online businesses.  I look forward to upcoming developments and functionality! 

  • http://morewebsitetrafficguide.com/ Spatch Merlin

    Social media have been a powerful tool in helping online businesses succeed. With the addition of Google+ lots of advancements are expected. Great post.

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  • http://cyberlinkmedia.com/ Vasko Tashevski

    Enjoyable read!

    Any author and content creator must carefully watch out how this develops and integrate their websites more closely with the Google products.

  • http://timewarnerinternetconnection.jimdo.com/ Dawson_Rita

    Adding +1 button to your content can have play a very good role indeed. It is similar to the Facebook like button, but I think it has more authority compared to Facebook Like button. Isn’t it?

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