Google is changing the Rules Again: Verified Authorship vs. Backlinks
Since businesses realized the Internet was not a fad and would play an important role in one’s marketing strategy, beating the search engines to get page-one placement became a lucrative business. At first, black hat was very popular; using tricks to beat the algorithm, rather than competing on quality. But then Google came on the scene and everything’s been changing ever since. Well, Google is changing the rules again: verified authorship versus backlinks.
I will share in this article not only how you can achieve verified author status for your content, but I will provide the code and link necessary to do so. Moreover, a tip on maximizing the reach and impact of your website. So let’s get started.
The Search for the Perfect Search Engine
In order for you to understand the importance of this change, you need to know how this came about and why. Google’s been shooting for the highest-quality search results possible for some time now. They want the days of keyword stuffing (optimizing a website for certain popular keywords, at the expense of quality content) to be over with. Not to forget sites that would optimize for the hottest trend (like Justin Bieber, for example) to get on page one, with the site having nothing to do with the keywords at all! Nothing is more frustrating than to have everything BUT the information you seek appear when you search.
Over the last few years, Google’s algorithms (most recently, Penguin) have been penalizing keyword stuffing, duplicate content (posting someone else’s article that is posted on another website, on your site), low-quality articles and bad backlinks. However, the one thing that eluded them was how to verify the authenticity of a document by who wrote it—not the domain it sat on. If this could be achieved, it would minimize plagiarism and quality could be ranked by past performance.
According to Matt Cutts, Google’s Head of the Webspam team, Google already has an internal test algorithm that does not use backlinks. It does not work very well, because it’s missing a key component—the “who.” Google+ just provided that part.
Verified Quality Content Winning the Day
So imagine the day when a website that has plenty of consistent verified content, appearing on page one over a site that has plenty of unverified content and a boatload of backlinks. The field has now become a bit more leveled!
Now, there are still other things to consider:
- Are your articles well written and not salesy
- Is the layout professional and tasteful
- And is your website well done?
The user experience must be good, making someone WANT to read your content; because at the end of the day, if all your content is verified but no one wants to read it, Google will also weigh the engagement or lack thereof. However, that’s a topic for another article, so I digress.
It all starts with Google+
On April 24, 2014, Google+ leader, Vic Gundotra, left Google. This left Google+ up in the air and many speculated it would wither on the vine. On the contrary, Gundotra created the perfect authorship platform that now will allow Google to achieve its goal: authorship verification. And make no mistake about it, if you have a website promoting your brand and/or you blog, you are an author.
When you join Google+, if you click on your avatar/photo in the upper right-hand corner and then click “View Profile,” it will take you to your profile page. Now if you look at the address bar, you will see a 21-digit number—that’s your ID. For example, my ID is 108627678446705438603 (see image below).
Step 1: Insert the “rel=author” code into your website’s header
If you don’t know HTML code, didn’t build your website or used a graphical program that does most of the coding for you (like Dreamweaver), you may not understand what I mean by “markup language.” But there is the “rel=author” markup language that allows a publisher to distinguish the content of an author. You want to use this on your website, in the header of every page and in your blog; specifically with your Google+ account profile URL, which includes your ID number.
For example, I inserted this on my website with the following snippet of code. You will notice my Google+ profile URL is in the code.
For more information on how to do this, click here.
Step 2: Posting to Google+
When you created your Google+ account, you should have added your website address to your profile. So the connection is made, but you also want to make sure when you write a new article that you post it on Google+. Google now connects the dots and verifies you as the author of the article.
Then I would recommend posting it to as many social-media networks and groups that you belong to as well; this way you increase engagement. The two will determine your author rank, which in turn, eventually, will decide where you land on a search.
A website that has verified-author content will be given a “trust” rank as well. The more verified content, the higher the trust rank. The more verified content from multiple authors, the rank goes even higher.
If your website offers a specialty, where you can get guest bloggers in your genre who are also verified authors with Google+, it will boost your ranking dramatically. However, you will want to make sure you add them to one of your “circles” in Google+, in order for the relationship to be established.
If you have several people in your company who can contribute to your blog, have each of them create a Google+ account, add them to your circles and then ensure that each blog they write includes their “rel=author” code.
There you have it! I know to non-techy types, this may sound intimidating and scary; but it really isn’t. After all, you’re already doing most of it—creating the content and posting it—and if you have a Gmail email address or a YouTube account, you already have Google+. You just need to activate it. However, by simply adding one simple step, ensuring you have your “ref=author” code embedded, the reach and impact of your articles will increase.
While this is not the primary way yet, it’s coming. So you will want to make sure you start implementing this now, so that when it’s finally phased in, you are ready and not playing catchup. “Author…” I like the sound of that!
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