Tech Talk: Google Authorship Alters Publisher-Author Dynamics
When Google first released Google+, many expected the social media platform to make big waves. Initially an invite-only service, Google+ appeared on the scene as an alternative to Facebook, linking individuals' Gmail accounts with a social networking page chockfull of friends, photos, and a stylish interface. Whereas Google+ failed to shift Facebook's user base, its purpose remained somewhat noble: build a social network around its pervasive suite of products.
With the creation of Google Authorship, Google has made a play to ingrain Google+ within publisher and author search engine optimization strategies. In the past year, you've probably noticed small profile pictures of authors pop up in Google search results. These detailed results are called "Rich Snippets," as they provide as much "rich" information in the search engine results pages (SERPs) as possible, including those author pics and links to Google+ profiles. Google Authorship aims to link authors to their content across the web, leading to higher results for an author's articles on SERPs thanks to content ratings by Google. Publishers can encourage their writers to use Google Authorship to build their own personal brand, and by default boosting publisher content.
In order to take advantage of Authorship, authors must sign up and provide evidence of their affiliation with their publishing website. This is accomplished via obtaining an email address featuring the site's domain name, or alternately by hyperlinking the content to a Google+ profile. From then on, including an HTML link (rel="author") to a Google+ profile at the top of every post will gradually build the author's profile and provide a better form of publicity for that author on the web.
Google Authorship includes a ranking function, allowing authors to develop their online reputations and gain further credibility, which puts more power in the hands of authors to promote content they've penned. Google does this by monitoring the click-throughs to articles, then correlating that into a level of quality and effectively "ranking" the author. Furthermore, Google has published a series of guidelines to help authors understand how to cultivate their own reputation; this includes several restrictions on "advertorials" and "native ads," as well as excessive links found in footnotes.
Authorship has implications for publishers, who could place the Google tag rel="publisher" on any of their homepages or indexed pages, resulting in photos added to rich snippets about the publisher's page. This tag allows publishers to build their brand, but not much else -- using these tags, only a branded search yields results: for example, using the tag rel="PublishingExecutive" would show a Google+ Business profile photo for PubExec on SERPs.
Will Google Authorship dramatically change the way online publishing works? Not necessarily. But it does grant authors the ability to build a more direct relationship with readers, in so doing, further shifting the publisher-author dynamic.
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