This year we saw an increased battle of the social networks, fighting for attention and engagement. That’s not going to stop in 2013.
However, one of the players, while not known for their social platform, are heavily vested in terms of dollars, research, data, people and time – and with a corporate mandate to make it the “go-to” social network. We are talking about Google. (Note: Facebook is the one to beat, but many think it will never happen.)
Before we continue, let’s make this clear: “Google is a search engine – first and foremost. Facebook is a social network, and is not a search engine (yet)”. This is important, because users behave differently in the two environments. The outcomes are not typically the same either. Business owners wanting more quality leads can attest to that. Looking at your friends BBQ pictures from last weekend, is much different than actively searching for items for a BBQ you want to purchase, for example.
To combat this idea of Google “just” being a search engine, they have introduced the Google Authorship Program, where authors can be linked to their Google+ Profile.
Furthermore, social signals are being used as ranking factors now, and the Author Rank (AR) algorithm is now live and well. In fact, if you are focusing only on Page Rank, you were off from the beginning. Focus on AR instead for 2013, and you’ll see a faster and bigger impact for clicks and branding opportunities.
The AR ranking factors are shown below:
As with the over 200+ factors that go into the Google Algorithm, Author Rank has its set of variables:
- Google+ Engagement Levels
- Average PR
- Authority of publishing sites
- +1s /shares per post
- # of circlers (friends that find your content compelling)
- Posting frequency
- Outside authority indicators
- Comments per post
- Relative authority on Non-Google social networks (“the others”)
The basics of search is changing to include powerful indicators from the Google+ social network. While some may feel this is self-serving (to Google), it’s expected. How can we drive more “stickiness” to our own Google Search Products, using Google+ and social interaction? (asked Google Execs).
While the above points are somewhat technical in nature, you really do not need to worry too much about them. Just consider implementing the Authorship (rel=author/rel=me) features for right now (below).
“We hope to use [author] information and any information as a ranking signal at Google. So in this case, we want to get information on credibility of authors from all kinds of sources and eventually use that in ranking.” – Google
You have probably seen the profile pictures in search results by now (screenshot below). Once a search query has been entered, a picture is shown next to the Google search engine results. This is in essence the picture from your Google+ profile. The entire listing in results can be optimized too. Think of this as the expanded, new & improved “snippet” display. Click-through rates will be improved if you do this right. It’s an opportunity for you to “advertise” your business using factors YOU control, most of the time.
So, you should follow 4 simple steps to get yours displayed too (it’s fairly quick, and goes live within days):
- Create a Google+ account (free) and visit authorship page
- Insert code rel=”author” to reference your link/content/posts to your Google+ profile
- Check the “contributor” portion of your Google+ profile. Add the URLs (domains) to the ones you write for
- Verify it working with the rich snippets tool
This is an important way for your business to get more visibility. And, you’ll see your profile listed next to the search engine results in Google.