What is Authorship?

In June last year, Google announced that it would be supporting authorship markup by introducing the rel=”author” tag.  Thanks to this tag, web authors can attribute their content to their Google Plus profile, giving them greater ownership of their work while boosting their search visibility and reputation. Whilst still in its infancy, authorship’s importance is set to increase as Google pumps more and more dollars into all things social. Here below we discuss how authorship works, how to use it, and its pros and cons.

Google Authorship Logo

How Authorship Works

Whilst the process of Google authorship markup keeps evolving, there are two things you will always need to take part: a Google Plus profile and a reference to you as the author in your published content which links back to this profile. Google allows three methods to verify this link: the three-link method, two-link method and email verification method; which are all helpfully explained as infographics on this post on Search Engine Land.

Google requires that for authorship markup, your Google Plus profile has a clear head shot photo. This will appear in search results, taking search visibility to a whole new level.  Occupation and employment information are not required for authorship markup, but seeing as they can often contribute extra credibility to an author (in terms of building your reputation as an authority on the topics you write on) we reckon it’s worth providing these details.

…..Google allows three methods to verify this link: the three-link method, two-link method and email verification method…

Authorship pros

Authorship markup is widely perceived as a way for Google to improve the quality of links. SeoMoz comments that by being able to verify the author of a web page as a human with data they have access to, Google can put more trust in the link, and in turn, change the weighting of links according to an author’s AuthorRank. Authors with a higher AuthorRank suggest better-quality links.

Authorship will also level out the linkbuilding playing field, with genuine writers and bloggers rightfully being rewarded for their time spent generating valuable content. The days of paid linkbuilding and link spam look like they are well and truly behind us.

Authorship cons

Some argue that authorship markup is being ludicrously overhyped and that behind the fanfare, it has not delivered the promised linkbuilding revolution. Bauer Media’s James Carson, for example, believes that the authorship process is flawed by assuming that all authors sign up to Google Plus, which he calls ‘nonsensical’. Because adoption rates of Google Plus are low, it could take up to 18 months for any noticeable effect (it’s taken six months for Google to take notice of the mark up in the first place).

How Your Company Should Incorporate Authorship

It may still be early days, but with all the evidence considered, we believe your company and clients should endeavour to use authorship markup. Alongside this, you should try to become trust-worthy in the eyes of Google which means an active Google Plus profile.  Authorship markup keeps getting easier, with Google announcing last month that it will be making it more straightforward to link your Google Plus profile to your website. It makes sense that search is becoming more social, and therefore it makes sense that you own – and author – your content.