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Being an SEO, I’m a huge fan of finding ways to assist Google in retrieving the information they need to display higher quality search results. I particularly enjoy making sure Google gets the information they need to display Rich Snippets; additional information that they pull from websites to help improve the quality and effectiveness of a particular search result.
My personal favorite of late has been Author Rich Snippets.
What are Author Rich Snippets and Why Do I Need Them?
What is an Author Rich Snippet, you ask? An Author Rich Snippet consists of a specific author’s picture, name, and a “More by” link that’s added to a standard search result.
Aside from the obvious ego boost that accompanies your own Author Rich Snippet showing up in search, Author Rich Snippets offer the following additional benefits. An Author Rich Snippet:
- breaks up standard wall-of-text search results.
- calls significant attention to your result.
- leads to more qualified traffic by giving searchers a better idea of what to expect when they click on your results.
- establishes Author Authority for the author and builds search trust for the site.
- allows readers to get to know you and trust your contributions to the web.
Now, Author Rich Snippets aren’t for everyone. However, they are for most people, so if you’re serious about doing well in organic search, ask yourself the following questions.
Do you want to attract more search traffic to your site?
By setting up Author Rich Snippets, you’ll increase your CTR (some sites report a 20-30% increase in CTR) from search results. Users who have read your posts in the past will get to know you and be much more likely to click on your next blog that they encounter in the search results.
Do you want to set yourself apart from your competitors?
Unless you’re doing business in the online services space, the chances are that most of your competitors aren’t down with Author Rich Snippets yet. By becoming an early adopter, you can really set your site apart in non-branded search. Which search result do you think your target audience/customers will be inclined to click on?
Need to improve your site’s search trust or recover from Google Panda?
Modern search algorithms (notably Google’s) focus on what can be referred to as website “search trust”. Essentially, search engines have learned that spammy sites, sites that use boilerplate content, and sites that use low-quality or hastily produced content give their searchers a poor experience. As a result, Google’s Panda update identified criteria that indicated low-quality sites, applied them to machine learning, and released “Panda” on the web to determine the quality and trust of websites. Those that failed the test got hit pretty hard in the search results and their respective webmasters were left scrambling to pick up the SEO pieces. It’s been well over a year now since Panda hit, but if your site is still battling to establish itself as high-quality, Author Rich Snippets are a great way to speed the process along. Why? Author Rich Snippets connect website content with real people; this equates to quality content (in the eyes of Google, at least).
Want to build a reputation for yourself?
If you’re looking to build up an online reputation as an authority or thought-leader in your industry, you need to be using Author Rich Snippets. Not only will they allow your face to be seen all over the SERPs, searchers can also easily click your “More by” link to access more of your articles and posts. Soon enough, people will scan SERPs just for your picture so they can find reliable information that they trust. #winning
Author Rich Snippets for Companies
Faceless company blog posts are going out of style, fast. Google is well on its way to leaving anonymous corporate content in the dust and focusing on company spokespeople who have the experience and talent to produce truly great content for Google searchers. At present, you can’t apply the theory of Google Author Rich Snippets to Google+ pages (business/brand pages). A brand or company isn’t a person, so it would kind of defeat the whole purpose of promoting authors.
If you want to get your company on Author Rich Snippets, you have the following options:
- Set the author of every company blog post as a single company spokesperson (CEO or other key persona). However, I don’t recommend this option because it’s not authentically representing the true author.
- Highlight employees as the authors of their own posts. This is really the way to go. If employees are already active on Google+, their circles will be leveraged to benefit the company as a whole.
How to Set Up Author Rich Snippets on Your Site
If you haven’t been sold on ARS (moar acronyms!) yet, you can stop reading now. If you’re so excited about getting your face in Google’s search results that you can’t contain yourself, then this is your section. There’s a simple way and a somewhat more complex (IMO) way to go about this. I’ll begin with…
The Simple Way To Set Up Author Rich Snippets
There are a few things you need in order to step up Author Rich Snippets:
- A public Google+ profile.
Make sure to upload a decent looking profile picture. Google will use this when it pulls in your Author Rich Snippet. If you already have a presence online, I recommend using the same photo you use elsewhere (Twitter, Facebook, Quora, etc).
- Access to your blog
That, or a webmaster/IT guy who doesn’t hate your guts. You’ll need to tweak your blog posts or blog post template a bit.
- Go to your Google+ profile and copy the URL
- Insert a link in your blog post and use the copied URL as the destination (make sure to remove anything like /posts that’s at the end).
- Make sure the anchor text is your full name (it should match the name used on your Google+ profile).
The Somewhat More Complicated Way to Set Up Author Rich Snippets
Now this probably isn’t that much more complicated. In fact, it may even be simpler. However, I prefer the previous method as this one places more trust in Google figuring out things on their own rather than being hand-fed the information. Another reason I don’t typically recommend this method is that it requires you to have an email address at each domain you write for. In a lot of cases, notably guest blogging, this isn’t feasible.
How to do it:
- Make sure you have a Google+ profile (same as in option #1)
- Make sure each blog post your write has “by firstname lastname” (the name must match that used on your Google+ profile).
- Go to https://plus.google.com/authorship and “apply” for authorship with Google.
- Google will send a verification email to the email address at the domain you write for; verify.
Now, Let the Magic Happen
After completing one (or both) of these options, you might be inclined to repeatedly Google the titles of your recent posts until your fingers bleed or hold your breath until your Author Rich Snippet appears. I don’t recommend it. It can take a day or two for Google to make the association and re-crawl your blog post. I won’t guarantee this will work, but go ahead and re-pimp your posts on Twitter and Google+; you know Google is going to be crawling those links and therefore end up on your posts.
So that’s how you configure Author Rich Snippets to appear in Google SERPs. I highly recommend it. Give it a shot and I’d love it if you came back here to give me a report on how it works out in the comments. Happy optimizing.
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