If you have a business, you know the importance of branding yourself and your business. Today, much of this is accomplished through social media and various online marketing tactics such as SEO. However, search engine optimization has changed quite a bit over the last few years, and many businesses are still trying to rank their websites using outdated methods.
Google is in the process of making a fundamental shift in how it ranks websites. This is important to understand not only for SEO reasons, but for all of your online and social media strategies. The crux of this change has to do with Google Authorship, which is emerging as the preeminent factor that the search engine giant uses to determine the authority of a website or other content.
Let's take a look at how your business can benefit from Google Authorship, and how you can use it to brand yourself as a trusted authority and expert in your industry.
Create a Google Authorship Identity
Google Authorship works through Google+, which is Google’s own social network. Without a Google+ profile, including a photo, nothing you create online can be considered for Google Authorship. When you set up this profile, you can connect many of your online identities, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and any blogs or websites you own.
Even though you want to promote your business, your Google Authorship identity is that of an individual. This is critical to understanding how this whole system works. Google wants to identify actual people—or authors—whose content is worth showcasing. In order to succeed in this model, you need to create a unified online identity.
In the past, SEO was done piecemeal. You would do everything you could to rank a specific website using tactics like getting links from other sites (known as backlinks) and submitting your site to search engine directories. These strategies are still relevant, but they are increasingly taking a back seat to Google Authorship. The key difference is that Google is shifting its focus from websites to authors. In other words, it’s not looking so much at a particular site, but at an author’s overall activity on the Internet.
Get the Most Out of Google+
Here are some things to keep in mind if you want to become a beneficiary rather than a casualty of the emerging Google Authorship paradigm.
1. Fill out your Google+ profile completely. Also make sure you use a recent and high quality photo. Add any websites and social media networks on which you’re active.
2. Be active on Google+. Since this is Google’s own network, it represents one of the best platforms for you to talk about yourself and your business. The more active you are here, the better it is for your website and other online properties as well.
3. Make your content engaging and interactive. The more your content is shared on Google+, the wider your reach. You can use images, links and hashtags in your posts. You can also target posts on Google+ to make sure they are directed toward the most suitable audience.
4. Add Google+ to your WordPress blogs. If you have any WordPress blogs, make sure you fill in your Google+ information under contact info on your WordPress dashboard. This helps Google find your blog’s content.
5. Exercise caution. Since Google Authorship is all about identifying you as an authority, you have to be careful about what you are including under this rubric. For example, if you have a Facebook account that has posts or photos that would not reflect well on your business, don’t connect this account. It would be better to set up a new Facebook page for your business. The same goes for any other sites you are connecting to Google+.
Build Trust, Become an Authority
When you are recognized as a Google author, everything you publish becomes easier for people to find. Your picture will appear next to the listings, which makes you stand out to searchers. It shows that Google considers you an authority, which makes it more likely that people will click on your content.
Most importantly, Google Authorship makes you appear more trustworthy to the public. Trust is of the utmost importance when you want people to purchase your products or services, or even to sign up for your mailing list.
The Internet is full of fly-by-night businesses and scams. Most of these are sites whose owners keep a very low profile, for obvious reasons. When your content is verified by Google, you are immediately perceived as a real person with credibility. That’s why it’s so important to do everything you can to establish yourself as a trusted Google author.
Yan Revzin is the co-founder of Fortune Cookie Advertising, a non-traditional and experiential marketing company selling advertising space within fortune cookies at Chinese restaurants throughout the United States. Follow him @fortunecookiead. He is also a member of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs.
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