Quality content drives traffic. This simple proposition is clearly understood by businesses and brands that continue to invest in content marketing. Content marketers are writing for an audience of real people seeking valuable information. Nevertheless, in order to help people find great content, publishers must structure that content so that search engines easily understand it, easily crawl it, and index it correctly. So while strong content marketing strategies are driven by the needs of the audience, the changing needs of the engines should be considered as well.
This post covers Google AuthorRank and how content marketers can take advantage of this component to Google’s algorithm. AuthorRank is Google’s attempt to quantify and score the quality and prestige of individual authors. Established businesses can lean on their reputation as a trusted resource, and their Domain Authority is hard earned. However, the advent of AuthorRank is recognition that individuals along with organizations are reputable sources of valuable information.
While the strength of this signal is not yet clear, the signal has been created to help people find the most relevant information for each search they perform. Preparing your site for authorship is an investment in the future. So, how is it tactically implemented? How should businesses design their sites for the future?
Here’s the question as it is usually posed by Skyword’s brand clients:
“It is our goal to become an authority in our industry. With that in mind, should authors receive bylines? Should we set up authorship for all writers? How is authorship implemented?”
Yes, you will see positive benefits from including bylines and establishing authorship for all your writers. AuthorRank stays with the authors/writers as they prove their influence, expertise, and abilities.
Brands should help this process by implementing author pages for all of their writer contributors. There are three major benefits to investing in writers and offering them all profile pages.
1) Have a clean implementation
Author pages are the cleanest and most efficient means for establishing authorship for a large pool of content creators. Recruiting and training a large pool of writers takes time and effort. Your writers will be sticking around, so having the ability to link a byline to an author page saves time versus hunting for the correct Google+ profile URL each time. Author pages also provide value to site visitors looking for similar content from trusted writers, thus increasing time spent on your site.
Each article byline should link to the author page on the site. Then that author page should include a link to the author’s Google+ profile page. Correct implementation is achieved by including the rel=”author” attribute when linking to the author’s Google+ profile. This attribute defines the Google+ user profile as the author of the content on the page. Here’s an example:
Alternatively, rel=”author” can also be implemented as a link parameter.
The link parameter alternative would be useful in the case when authors have the ability to update their own author pages with links to their social profiles. For an example of how authors successfully manage their own profiles check out IBM’s Midsize Insider.
In order to establish individual authorship, your authors must each maintain a Google+ profile and include a reciprocal link to his or her author page on your site. This reciprocal link is included in the “Contributor to” section of the writer’s Google+ profile.
2) Benefit from each writer’s social graph
Authors spread their own content via social media, and you can benefit from that initial traffic and social sharing. High-quality authors and content creators are invested in their content, so they share it online. Our research shows that evergreen content enjoys a 3x lift in search views when receiving social shares versus when not.
While I cannot speak to the strength of the relationship between social signals and ranking, it has been observed that heavy social sharing can lead to faster indexation by Google. After being indexed, valuable and high-quality content can be found and can generate links that cement rankings.
3) Design for the future
Businesses that invest in content and structure it well for SEO will continue to win, especially as signals like authorship grow in importance. After all, Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information, and Skyword seeks to complement that with its own mission of “helping to deliver the information that people seek.”
Thanks to AJ Kohn for providing the best description of the concept and potential implications of Google AuthorRank.
To read more about bridging the gap between content marketing and SEO check out Jonathon Coleman’s fantastic presentation.