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Does Google authorship matter for SEO?

James A. Martin | Jan. 8, 2014
The better your Google Authorship, the more likely you are to see your headshot and a 'rich snippet' attached to the Web content you produce. But this has little impact on SEO and no effect at all on Google Author Rank. Here's an inside look at the pros and cons of Google authorship for SEO.

"But most experts have more important things to do, like being experts in their fields," she continues. "So in order for Google Authorship to succeed in its mission, genuine experts have to participate. And guess who doesnt care about Google+ and Google Authorship?"

Instead, Google Authorship tends to showcase people who aren't true subject matter experts - but are expert at building their own online profiles.

With Google Authorship, There Are No Guarantees
Of course, there's no harm in being active on Google+ and linking your content to your profile. For some people, Thurow says, being active on Google+ and establishing Google Authorship might make sense. Examples include entertainment industry professionals and those whose clients are big Google+ users.

If you're truly an expert in your field and you publish good, useful, original content, your articles will most likely rank well on their own, Thurow adds - without Google+ and Google Authorship.

On the other hand, just because you have a Google+ profile and link it to your content, Enge says, that doesn't mean you're guaranteed better rankings - or even that your Google+ profile photo will accompany your search results. That's because many people are using Google Authorship to promote spammy or useless content in search results.

Matt Cutts, who heads Google's Webspam team, recently announced that Google is working to keep authors who publish low-quality content from receiving the "rich snippet" treatment in search results. Cutts estimated this would affect about 15 percent of Google+ profiles authenticated with Google Authorship.

When in Doubt, Stick to SEO Basics
SEO tactics such as using Google Authorship come and go. The best long-term strategy, Thurow says, is staying focused on the four SEO basic building blocks:

  • Keywords and labels for content, navigation, and documentation should be easy for both humans and search engines to understand.
  • Site architecture, design and accessibility should make sense to people and computers.
  • Your site should receive validation from objective third parties, such as links and social shares from other sites.
  • Take into account searcher behavior when developing your site and its content. Know the most common searcher behaviors and create content and a labeling system that allows searchers to easily complete their goals.

These building blocks haven't changed since the early days of the Web, Thurow says. She recommends that marketers and online publishers always "look at the big picture" instead of getting distracted by such things as thumbnail profile pictures in search result snippets.


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