It’s no secret these days that SEO and blogging go hand-in-hand. We’ve always known that regular updates and fresh content are good for SEO, and blogging is a more natural way to achieve this than frequently adding or changing pages on a site. Blogging also presents an opportunity to go after long-tail keywords without it feeling forced or spammy. Blogging is also a great opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise to your audience or potential customers, helping to convert some of the visitors from your blogging-fueled SEO into leads.
And that’s where Google’s Authorship program comes in. You’ve seen it before – the little headshot that shows up next to some of the results in the SERP (search engine results page), along with the author name.
Eye-tracking maps have demonstrated that these headshots attract the eyes of users, and when implemented appropriately, Authorship listings can significantly increase click-through rate (CTR).
So how can you make your search results listings look extra legit with your name and headshot next to them? Actually, Authorship has always been pretty easy to set up, but Google has just made it even easier as part of a recently announced suite of new features that allow for enhanced integration between your blog and your Google+ profile, including improved Author attribution and an embed code for Google+ posts.
Google+ Sign-In Now Integrated with Authorship
If you’re blogging on WordPress (and according to WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg, there’s about a 1-in-5 chance you are), you can now connect your WordPress.com account with your Google account to automatically associate your articles with your Google+ profile. Google has already begun this integration with WordPress and Typepad and will be rolling out to other sites as well in the coming months.
It is worth noting that this is specifically for use with WordPress.com accounts, not WordPress.org sites, although there are many plugins available to make the process very simple on WordPress.org as well. However, as WordPress.com is a simpler, less flexible platform, less likely to be used by the code-savvy, it is great news that Google has made Authorship more easily accessible for this platform. And that’s not the only new feature for blogs.
Blogging and social media have a lot in common. Both provide an opportunity to showcase the personality of an individual or brand, both require high-quality content, and both provide the greatest value when engagement is high. You’re aiming for a conversation, not a monologue.
From a business perspective, the purpose of social media is to get people to your website. It doesn’t work the other way around. You don’t want people to leave your site to visit your social media profiles – unless those profiles are designed to ultimately drive the user back to your site.
Embedded posts give you the best of both words, allowing you to embed any public Google+ post (not just your own) within your blog post. So if you have a hot topic on your Google+ feed, you can actually build a blog post around that topic and embed the Google+ post directly into your blog. The embedded posts support video, links, and images, and are fully interactive, meaning that your readers can +1 or comment on the post or follow you on Google+, building your social media presence, without ever leaving your blog.
Embedding a Google+ post on your blog is easy to do.
Now, Twitter has allowed you to embed tweets since 2010, and Facebook introduced an embed code this summer. So why should you care about Google+?
Google+: A Platform for Discovery
For one thing, let’s not forget that the Authorship program is a two-way street. Author attribution in the search results may improve your CTR, but it does not only link to your website; it also includes a link to your Google+ profile page. If the purpose of Authorship is to promote expert content, nothing is going to deflate your perceived expertise faster than an empty or poorly maintained Google+ page.
Furthermore, unlike Facebook, Google+ is not focused on keeping up with your friends. Since its inception, Google+ has been a platform for discovery, where people can search content by key terms and follow anyone whose content they find interesting, whether or not there is a mutual relationship. In that respect, Google+ is more similar in its use to Twitter; however, with greater flexibility in terms of content, Google+ gives those producing excellent content a better chance to be discovered, whereas Twitter is primarily a venue of confirmation and retention, where users will follow brands and individuals with whom they are already familiar.
It’s clear that Google is not planning to stop making Google+ the ultimate platform for bloggers, experts, and hobbyists; from last year’s game-changing introduction of communities to the recently introduced new Follow button and page badges, Google+ continues to add features centered on bringing together people with common interests and allowing experts to shine – a perfect medium for bloggers to attract new followers.
So what are your thoughts on these new features? Let us know in the comments!