If you’ve spent the last two years skeptical of dedicating another 30 hours of your social effort to Google+, it’s probably time to reconsider that decision. And the reason is simple: Google has productized the relationship between your company’s bloggers’ content and their G+ profiles – it’s called Authorship.
It’s the next version of what content creators have referred to as ‘rel=author’ for the last year or so. The good news is you used to have to specifically engineer your click-through links to make it all work, but now it’s just one lovely Google+ form to fill out. According to the hardcore SEO experts, there isn’t yet a straight line to higher search placement, but how far behind can that be?
The Power of Google Authorship
So let’s look at why you should care. If you have the business need to have an aggressive content strategy (driving leads, educating early-stage customers, increasing social followers, etc.), then maximizing your effort should be second nature. I know it's not easy to dedicate the new time and effort required to focus on an all-new social network, but let me give you a basic construct for understanding whether it's worth your effort.
At the highest level, you should analyze the traffic coming to your blog, your resources page on the site, or whatever centralized location you use for your content. (Side note: If you don't have a centralized location, get one!). If a high percentage of traffic is coming from search engines, this effort is a no-brainer – go do it NOW. And this is the case for most early-stage brands and/or content creators who are still building their reputation and following. It’s one of the golden tricks of today's content creation elite – and how they've gotten to the point where their audience is aggregated on their Twitter feed or in their email newsletter list. (Think super-bloggers like Seth Godin and Chris Brogan.)
And don't forget, because this a Google tool – and most humans use Google as their primary search engine – the value really can't be understated. Imagine your prospect is just beginning to research a new topic like digital marketing or Web analytics. If we map the process someone's likely to take, it almost always begins with two things: an open-ended question to their peers (sometimes via social, but more likely not) and a Google search. Potential customers may ask colleagues who the thought leaders are in the space – or what vendors “get it.”
The key is to remember your well-defined and executed content strategy EXISTS for this very moment of prospect discovery. They've asked the question, and now it's time to draw them into a deeper conversation that will educate them as to how you can help solve their problem – and hope your previous efforts have successfully influenced the decision-makers in the space.
Putting (Employee) Names with Faces
Embracing Google Authorship particularly makes sense when you're trying to build (or expand) a strong brand based on people. It's incredibly powerful to have a name and face associated with great content – especially when product and market knowledge are difference-making attributes.
[caption id="attachment_5650" align="aligncenter" width="543" caption="Linking a content creator with his or her Google+ profile will result in a profile pic appearing in search results – and may boost your search ranking."]
A good example is how the best real estate agents survived (and flourished) through the housing bubble. When it comes time to make most people's single largest investment in a wildly fluctuating market, you want an absolute expert – someone who can help you make the best decision taking into account all factors. And there are few better ways to demonstrate this deep knowledge and effort than to have a well-oiled content machine that builds trust for the consumer.
So at the end of the day, I believe most people should go ahead and take the Google Authorship plunge. Given my role as a content creator inside Silverpop, I certainly have. And as Google continues to refine the search algorithms to provide more meaningful results, I can't help but think an author's quantifiable, machine-learned reputation (clicks on search links, time on page, Google+ shares, number of overall visits, etc.) will eventually factor into search order, which will only drive more traffic and enhance more brand and author reputations.
1) Blog: “Google+: A Content Marketer’s Dream Come True?”
2) Infograpic: “The Social Network Landscape”
3) Blog: “Social Media Trends in 2013: What You Need to Know”