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Google Authorship: Love It, Hate It, Just Don’t Ignore It

For years the go to advice on SEO, at least in terms of Google’s public response to SEOs is concerned, has been to create content that people love. You know, stuff that site visitors actually want to read and look at.

Authorship, established using the rel=author tag linked back to a Google+ profile, is another big leap forward in rewarding those who are willing to invest in the regular production of quality content.

Authorship in action

When doing a search for “Google Penguin update”, approximately 80% of the first page results are shown to have author attribution.

Although these findings could be classified as atypical considering that most of the content is written by people in the search industry, who are obviously a couple steps ahead of the curve, it’s still nonetheless difficult to deny the growing popularity of the author tag. Just this week it was reported that 1 out of every 5 searches reveals author attribution in the top 100 search results.

Why does authorship matter?

Regardless of all the talk about why authorship may or may not change SEO, speaking from strictly a user’s perspective, authorship allows me (the person doing the search) to:

A) see the authors G+ photo
B) get the author’s name
C) see how popular / credible / influential they are on G+
D) read more by them if I so choose

I now have more information when it comes to deciding which links to click on and which to pass up. I’m no longer loyal to just sources, but also authors that I know and trust.

Power to the content producers

As someone who has written for multiple outlets and likes to make occasional guest contributions, authorship is potentially a big deal in the making.

So long as I have a G+ account and I’m willing to link back to it, I now have a sort of virtual passport that follows me everywhere I go. The implications for personal branding, let alone blogger outreach and link building, are large and conceivably game changing.

While some might say it’s little more than a subtle change in how results are displayed, or a ploy to increase G+ adoption (although that likely is part of it), at its core it appears as if authorship – at minimum – represents a shift in power towards content producers. How big the shift is and what it means for the future of search is still unknown, but given that G+ is being worked into everything Google does, even to the point where SERPs are being influenced, there’s little reason to not jump on the authorship bandwagon.

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