The rise and fall of Google Authorship has been discussed ad nausea. Practically everyone has talked about it.
Everyone except me, that is. I like to chime in on a topic after the hype has died down. (Speaking of which, can you believe “Shakespeare in Love” beat “Saving Private Ryan” for Best Picture in 1998? That’s crazy.)
A detailed look at what Google Authorship was and why it went away can be better explained by greater minds. However, for most people, these details are overkill.
This post is going to keep things as simple as possible.
For most of us, Google Authorship can best be explained by the following image:
The benefits of Google Authorship
As you can see from the image, Google Authorship displayed the following extras in search results:
- The author’s photo
- The author’s name
- The author’s follower count
The result? Posts with Google Authorship stood out in search results. And while Google may say their data indicates users were no more likely to click a link with Google Authorship than one without, from my own personal experience I can you tell I was far more likely to click a link with it than without it.
My hunch is most of you were the same way.
Other than the obvious (being different), what made posts with Google Authorship stand out? What made them so effective? What made users such as myself gravitate to them?
- It gave the perception of authority
- It added a human element
What bloggers can learn from the Google Authorship experiment
We bloggers cannot control what Google does, but we can take the things which made Google Authorship so effective in search results, and apply them to our blogs.
“But how, Kevin?”
Great question, voice in my head. Here is how:
1. Add the perception of authority
People like to read posts from people who appear to be an authority on the topic.
But how can you appear authoritative?
Well, for starters, have a nice, professional-looking blog design. Keep advertisements to a minimum. Don’t curse like a sailor.
If you have social proof, use it to your advantage. Proudly display the number of Twitter or Google+ followers you have. Show off the comments you receive by making the counter stand out in some way. Flaunt the number of shares your posts receive on social media. (Conversely, if you lack social proof, hide your numbers for the time being.)
My friend Darren Rowse of ProBlogger uses social proof to great effect. The numbers for Darren’s 300,000+ subscribers and 66,000+ Facebook fans are proudly displayed in his sidebar.
If you have been featured, mentioned, or written guest posts for well-known blogs/websites, adding an “As Seen On…” section to your blog is a great way to boost your authority.
My friend Adam Connell of Blogging Wizard has an image in the sidebar of his blog touting his connections to HuffPost, KISSmetrics, and more. It lets first-time readers know right away Adam has an impressive resume.
Similarly, on his homepage Adam highlights a few testimonials. These let visitors know readers just like them endorse Adam’s content.
My friend Enstine Muki uses testimonials from influential bloggers to validate his recently-launched BroadedNet. By featuring bloggers he knows his readers trust, Enstine knows people will warm up quicker to his latest project.
(To learn more about BroadedNet, a traffic-exchange site designed to help you get blog traffic without search engines or social media, read Enstine’s recent post.)
2. Add a human element
People like it when they can relate to the person who wrote whatever it is they’re reading. This doesn’t mean you have to share with everyone your life’s story, but it does mean you should seriously consider humanizing your blog.
How can you accomplish this?
Well, try including a photo of yourself in your sidebar. (No “duckface” photos, please.)
Use your real name. Don’t use a nickname, and definitely don’t go by “admin.” Be Kevin. Be George. Be Carol. Be whatever name it says on your birth certificate. (Unless your birth certificate says Ke$ha, because that’s just stupid.)
Have an About page, and make at least one paragraph in it be about you.
Have a short author bio at the end of each of your posts.
Mention your readers by name when you respond to their blog comments.
The total number of ways you can add personal touches to your blog are too numerous to list. Just pick what works best for you and your blog.
But seriously… no duckface photos. I can’t stress this one enough.
Wrapping it up
Even if you never used Google Authorship, even if you never even heard of it before this post of mine, you still can use these ideas to boost your blog. Google Authorship and its kin may come and go, but certain things stand the test of time.
Be an authority. Be someone with whom readers can relate.
In short, be the kind of blogger you would read.
Are you ready?
Creative Commons Images via Carsten Tolkmit.