So you got your Google+ Profile with Authorship markup all set up. Your Google+ profile picture shows up in the search results and you are expecting great things to happen to your website’s search engine rankings.
Now everyone can see what you are all about.
You sure you really want to do that?
Google has been pushing for more usage of the rel=”author” markup to help establish credibility and verify the true sources of content on the web. Many SEO’s and inbound marketers including myself have been quick to get on board and encourage our clients to do the same, and with good reason. While verifying authorship does not directly affect search engine rankings yet, having your photo and other rich snippets in the search results does improve your visibility – and author rank is (or will soon be) one of the “social signals” that are factored into search rankings.
With Authorship markup linking to your personal Google+ profile, there is a potential problem for some:
It is personal.
Most people know better than to post off color remarks, personal details, drunken ramblings and other inappropriate things to their official company Facebook or Twitter profiles. But Authorship is not linked to your Google+ Business Page, it is linked to your own personal profile. In addition to your picture showing up next to your stuff in the search results, there are also the links that say how many circles you are in, a link to everything else you have written (if it is also tagged with rel=”author”), and a link to your G+ profile. If a potential customer clicks on that link, will they like what they see? Will they see how helpful you are to your existing customers, how knowledgeable you are within your industry and what a great person you are in general? Or will they see that you are sick of your immigrant neighbors, whine about a lot of dumb things, treat your employees poorly, and do little more than post links to your own website?
Some people are getting around this by inventing personas, which are made-up profiles for people who do not really exist and are used as a pseudonym on your company blog and Google+. While there is not anything inherently “wrong” with this, it sort of defeats the purpose of Authorship, which is to establish authority and credibility. Google has been trying to steer the web away from the anonymous spam and scam filled “wild west” it once was, to a more “real” way of communicating, interacting and doing business. Some may believe that Google wants this so they have more accurate data to track your every move, and that may be true. But it does indeed promote a more authentic way of doing things.
As marketers, It is about time we all started behaving like respectable grownups online – or at least behave in a way which we don’t mind if anybody can see it.
Internet marketing (including SEO, not just social) is evolving into something more like Public Relations. If you choose to join the Google Authorship party, make sure you are prepared to be real. Clean up your act and put your best foot forward. For the best results with Google+ and authorship, get involved: interact with people, share and comment on other people’s stuff, get involved in a community or two. You don’t need to be on it all the time doing great things, but if your only reason for using Authorship markup is to get your photo in the search results, think about what people will see when they check out who that author is.
When someone clicks on that link to your G+ profile in the search results, will they like what they see?