Google Account Search Authorship – is it feasible?
So today I came across a very interesting post on hubspot about authorship and search results. In a nut shell it pointed out that an author’s Google + profile could now appear alongside search results if properly optimised. Google have also got plenty on the matter, including a snapshot of what it looks like.
Here’s what we saw at hubspot:
It immediately got me thinking – there are loads of journalists in our organisation! We should definitely do this! So I rushed to this very blog and took all of what hubspot and Google had to say and then optimised accordingly.
After lunch I pondered that if everyone did this, then it wouldn’t really work. Think, for instance, of the nation’s current favourite keyword: Rupert Murdoch. News SERPs can’t display author imagery for this, as there isn’t really enough space since the SERP displays a far more useful thumbnail of a story. On the main SERP, there are way too many relevant images of Rupert Murdoch to the query. Thus, I found it difficult to agree with hubspot’s conclusion:
I also think Google is being too crafty here. The authorship image and information is directly associated with that expressed on your Google + account. At least, that seems to be how it’s worded:
If you publish a blog or site featuring content by a single author, the simplest way to identify author information is to add a link to your Google Profile on every page, like this:
<a rel=”author” href=”https://profiles.google.com/109412257237874861202″>About Matt Cutts</a>
Okay, very nice, but that’s suggesting all journalists, or indeed anyone who publishes on the web needs a Google account in order to be properly search engine optimised vs. competitors. That’s a pretty mean feat – many journalists have issues with the amount of stuff they have to post to Twitter and Facebook (some barely understand either) – now we’re asking they get on Google + – that may take a while to sink in.
I thought there was something interesting in the snapshot – all of these authors are writing on tech topics. Of course, it seems more suitable that they would indeed have a Google + account, and they’d be able to set this up, but I think a wider rollout and understanding would quite possibly take years.
Who Gets their Photo in the SERPs?
Another point lies around who actually gets their photo plonked in the SERPs like Jennifer from Mashable. If everyone did what Google is proposing, then search results couldn’t display all author photos. The appearance would have to be down to an algorithm, so one could really only assume that the most ‘authoritative’ writers would get in… factors like post velocity, number of +1 and number of natural links to each article. It’s like a journalist arms race; at the end of the year we could be celebrating journalists who got the most +1, rather than understanding the depth of what they actually covered.
Really a Major Factor?
I don’t think it is one yet and it may be some time indeed before it becomes one. That said, it’s one to do if you’re people do all have Google + accounts, but perhaps you should wait until the titanic struggle that awaits as Google + vs. Facebook unfolds.