Why Google Authorship is a Death Sentence for Low Quality Bloggers

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David Zheng
Date
 March 20, 2014
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Don’t let the title scare you. If you’re a high quality blogger, you have nothing to worry about. In fact, Google Authorship is one of the best things you can do to increase the visibility of your content.

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Not sure what Google Authorship is? Here’s your chance to change that.

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If you create content and publish it on your blog, or contribute to other blogs, you absolutely need to know what Authorship is to and implement it as soon as you can.

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Authorship creates a connection between you and the content you publish on the web. By attaching Authorship markup to the content you create you’re establishing yourself as the verified author of that content.

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This has tremendous benefits, including increased traffic and being considered an authority by Google. While Authorship is a blessing for high quality bloggers, it’s a death knell for low quality bloggers.

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For low quality bloggers, Authorship is the equivalent of leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for Google to follow that all lead to shady activities around the web.  If Google picks up on this trail, the content will no longer see the light of day in search results.

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There’s a clear distinction between what Google considers high and low quality content, which I will explain in detail so you’re not unwittingly banishing yourself into Google purgatory.

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By the end of this post you will know how to implement Google Authorship, its advantages and disadvantages, and how to stay on Google’s good side by becoming known as a high quality blogger. Ready? Let’s get started!

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How To Set Up Google Authorship

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Here is the easiest way to link yourself to the content you create on the web. The following method works for content on your own website, as well as guest posts you have contributed to other websites.

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First, you need to have a Google+ profile.

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You can’t establish yourself as an author without having a profile Google+. This is how Google knows who you are.

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Next, create a link to your Google+ profile from your webpage with this markup code:

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<a href=”[profile_url]?rel=author”>Google</a>

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Replace [profile_url] with the your Google+ profile URL. Add this code to your site, as well as on all pieces of content you contribute to other sites.

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Add a link on your Google+ profile pointing to the sites where you have added the Authorship code. You can do this by editing the Contributor To section on your profile. Click on Add custom link, and then enter the website URL.

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Repeat this process for all sites you contribute to. When you’re done, click Save.

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To see if you have done everything right, use the structured data testing tool. Put in the URLs of the pages where you have implemented the Authorship markup. If it can read your Authorship information, then you have done everything right!

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The Advantages Of Google Authorship

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Better Looking Search Results = More Clicks

The most immediate benefit of Google Authorship is how much better your content looks in the search results. Anything you’ve published will now have your name and photo attached to it, which stands out exceptionally well compared to plain text.

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But it’s not just aesthetically pleasing, it can also increase traffic. Studies have shown pages with Google Authorship are more likely to get clicked on in search results, increasing click-through rates by 30% to as much as 150% .

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All Your Stats In One Place

With Authorship markup added to your content you can take advantage of Author Stats, which shows key search data in one place for content in which you are the verified author.

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At a glance you will be able to see the number of impressions, number of clicks, and average position in the search results for all of your content across all sites.

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Higher Position In Search Results

Google Executive Chairman, Eric Schmidt, has been quoted in his book The New Digital Age as saying:

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“Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.”

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A definitive statement by one of the most powerful people at Google makes Authorship even harder to ignore.

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The Disadvantages (If You’re a Low Quality Blogger)

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High Risk Of Being Outranked

As Google’s Eric Schmidt said, you risk your content being irrelevant if you’re not a verified Google author. So if you’re not using Authorship you’re already at a disadvantage.

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However, having Authorship markup on your content isn’t a guaranteed fast-track to better rankings. It’s about being more than just a verified author, it’s about being a good verified author.

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With Authorship markup in place, Google collects data that it uses in an elusive algorithm called Author Rank to determine who is most authoritative in their field.

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Google states in their Webmaster Tools Help Page:

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“Authorship markup helps our algorithms to find and present relevant authors and experts in Google search results.”

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If you’re not establishing yourself as an expert in your field with the highest quality, verified content–be prepared to get outranked by those who are.

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Google defines “high quality” as thoroughly well-written content that offers a complete solution to what the user is looking for. Google’s Amit Singhal has offered his guidance on producing high quality content, which includes a checklist of questions to ask yourself to determine whether or not your content is up to par.

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Google Can Track All Of Your Content

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Google knowing who you are and where to find all the content you have published is both a good and bad thing. On one hand, they can reward you for high quality content. On the other hand, they can swiftly penalize everything you’ve published if you try to manipulate them.

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Google has a defined set of Webmaster Guidelines detailing what they will and will not tolerate from users. Defying their guidelines will most certainly result in a penalty for that piece of content, but if they can track all content from that author then they can penalize everything.

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Participating in link schemes is one of the more common violations of Google’s guidelines, as far as blogging is concerned. Google defines a link scheme as “any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site.”

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For example, a lot of bloggers try to guest blog on as many sites as possible to acquire links in an attempt to boost their search rankings.

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This is a clear violation of Google’s guidelines, which defines ‘Large-scale article marketing or guest posting campaigns with keyword-rich anchor text links’ as a link scheme.

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Other link schemes to avoid include excessive link exchanges (such as, “Link to me and I’ll link to you”), and buying or selling links.

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Even Matt Cutts, Google’s head of search spam, has said guest blogging just for links is dead. It’s a flawed strategy, with or without Authorship, because the value of those links are going down.

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Here are best practices to keep in mind when guest posting:

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    • Quality over quantity: Aim for authoritative websites with high quality content and decent traffic numbers.

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    • Target a specific niche: Guest blog on websites within your own niche. Guest posting on a popular websites means little if you’re not reaching your target audience.

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    • Include only relevant links: Include links in your content that add value to the reader. If you link back to your website, use the title of your website as the link text. Don’t stuff anchor text with keywords.

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The Moral?

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Authorship is the greatest thing to happen to high quality bloggers, but it might as well be a death sentence for low quality bloggers.

To make sure Authorship works for you rather than against you, focus on producing the best possible content, guest post strategically (and in moderation), and don’t violate Google’s guidelines.

Now go out there are start reaping the benefits of Google Authorship!

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