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3 Unique Use Cases for Authorship Markup

Posted on 3.07.2013

Web professionals immediately embraced Google authorship markup when it was unveiled in 2011.

In case you’re still (somehow) unfamiliar with authorship markup, know that it is a specific microdata set that utilizes the rel=author tag to enhance the listings for tagged Web pages when they appear in Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs). To the casual Web consumer, the markup results in small author icons/images that appear next to certain Web pages on Google Search and link to the author’s Google+ page. You can learn more about how to implement a rel=author tag in “The Difference Between rel=author & rel=publisher.” 

All of the Benefits
It makes sense that Internet professionals would want to take advantage of these tags as much as possible, because markup doesn’t really require any additional work once it’s been implemented, but it can provide an incredible boost when it comes to driving search traffic. This is largely because Google uses authorship markup to separate quality content from its inferior competitors, as users will know that Google has verified the writer on the Web page in question. 

“The SEO benefits for correctly establishing Google authorship are significant,” said Jody Resnick, CEO of Trighton Interactive. “Google uses this intelligence to link author credibility to search engine rankings.”

Searchers will also be able to identify marked up pages easily, since those little author pictures are eye-catching.

“Say you are ranking number six for a keyword, and you are the only one using rel=author on the results page,” said Ken Hamilton, owner of Hamilton Marketing Group, LLC. “Your ranking will stand out above the others and result in a higher click-through rate. So, from that perspective, you have out-ranked your competition with a lower search result.”

Although authorship markup has many advantages for information publishers on the Internet, it isn’t exclusively beneficial to them. In fact, all three types of Web workers (including merchants and service providers) would be smart to utilize the rel=author tag whenever possible. Here are a few thoughts on how your digital enterprise could make that happen.

Information Publishers
For the most part, authorship markup was created primarily for information publishers to help their content stand out in the SERPs. That includes having Google lend immediate credibility to tagged pages, and the author pictures helping a marked-up listing distinguish itself from the others, as mentioned earlier. However, there is another, less obvious benefit; author markup can also help correct Panda duplicate content issues, because now authors can claim themselves as the original content creator, meaning Google is probably going to be more likely to index that version over copycats.

Service Providers
There are numerous websites out there that provide services to business owners, and whenever possible, these Web professionals should make an effort to include authorship markup functionality into the service. As a forward-thinking example, businesses with Yelp and/or Foursquare profiles should be able to include their Google+ account in those forums. When you have access to something like user-generated content, it has to be utilized properly to be worthwhile, and appending rel=author tags to Yelp comments could be a great way to get that content noticed on Google. And, again, it can help protect the original content from being copied and republished under a different identity elsewhere on the Web.

Reviews also provide a great opportunity for merchants to introduce user-generated content with authorship markup right onto their websites, which will provide many of the same benefits on Google Search. They will just have to find comment or review systems to implement into their sites that allow users to connect their accounts to their Google+ profiles. However, merchants also have the added benefit of being able to add a rel=author tag to their product pages if their content management system allows it, and doing so would provide help those specific products stand out from their competitors’ considerably on the Google SERPs.

Google’s authorship markup program presents myriad opportunities for Web professionals of all shapes and sizes to help their content (and products) get found more easily on Google Search. So, just because you’re not a blogger doesn’t mean you should overlook this wonderful chance to boost your Web presence and increase click-through rates.

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