Google Authorship – Personalizing Your Online Image

Just a few months ago the search engine giant Google launched a new feature called Google Authorship. Google Authorship lets you link any content you publish on a specific domain (such as www.yourwebsite.com) to your Google+ profile.

This means that every time someone searches for your name or someone with your expertise, anything you have written with your byline (by Jack Smith, for example) will show up on the Google results page with your name and your photo. It will also include a link to a page with any other articles, blog posts, or even Q&As with your name on them!

For example, Googling the phrase “Greater Boston litigation attorneys” produces:

Appearing on the results page with a photo and byline adds credibility, which builds up your reputation as an authoritative source on the topics you cover. Plus, search results with profile images attract a higher click through rate than those that do not have an image. Remember, three out of four people seeking an attorney search online and almost 70% of all searchers use Google.

Why did Google introduce this new feature? Google is always trying to improve our search experience. The company wants us to have successful searches, to find what we’re looking for quickly and easily, and to minimize results that aren’t relevant to us. Google Authorship verifies content creators’ information to reduce “spam” and duplicated content.

Get the advantage.
Once you’ve been “verified,” Google rewards you by inserting images and links into search engine results for your work. These enhanced results receive a higher click-through rate compared to more traditional results because of three factors: visibility, placement, and trustworthiness.

Search results with pictures are more eye-catching than results without images and they stand out in a list of text-only links. The thumbnail profile pictures shown in connection with content make the web a more personal place. These photos also make the link descriptions slightly larger, which helps them be more noticeable.

Some experts even suggest that Google favors Google+ results over other social media listings. Even to those who don’t know what Google Authorship is, having your photo and byline appear in the results looks impressive and since few “content creators” (or many other attorneys) have taken advantage of this new feature, you’ll be part of an exclusive group.

How it works.
These are the steps to link your Google+ profile to the content you create.
1.    Create a Google+ profile if you don’t already have one.
2.    Upload a high quality headshot and fill out your profile information such as occupation, hometown, etc.
3.    Add account names and URLs for your other social media profiles such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
4.    Go to plus.google.com/authorship, sign up with your email and click on the verification link Google sends you.
5.    Make sure a byline containing your name appears on each page of your content (for example, “By Ian Bardorf”).
6.    Make sure your byline name matches the name on your Google+ profile.
7.    Verify you have an email address (such as ian@bardorfmarketing.com) on the same domain as your content.
8.    Add Google’s “rel=author” tag to any page you want Google to find and link to your Google Profile (be sure to get help with this step if you don’t know HTML).
9.    Ta da! Increased visibility and credibility.

Get to work.
Of course, taking advantage of this new feature means you’ve got to have original content to link to. You can’t just expect Google to add your photo ‘cause your momma thinks you’re cute’.

Posting on your blog, answering questions on AttorneyConnect and Avvo, writing newsletter articles, representative case updates and results, and case summaries for your website are all great ways to get your name and your expertise out there – both for prospects who come to your site and for those who are searching online.

All the time and effort you spend writing will be repaid many times over. It’s not just a one-time win. By reposting this great information to your Facebook Page and LinkedIn profile and groups, and tweeting about it, you’ll get greater visibility and drive prospects and clients back to your site.

Taking advantage of Google Authorship is just one more aspect of online marketing that can help you improve your visibility to searchers, outrank your competition, get the most out of your digital assets, retain loyal customers, and generate leads efficiently and cost-effectively.

Ian M. Bardorf is an Internet marketing and social media advisor to attorneys and law firms seeking to grow and advance their business via the web. This article is copyrighted as original content by Ian M. Bardorf and Bardorf Legal Marketing. This article may be reproduced or republished with appropriate attribution and credit.