5 Steps to Get The Most Out of Google+ and Authorship; A Guide for Small & Medium Businesses

Google+ is now a MUST for any business that takes their online presence seriously. Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman at Google, stated the following in regards to Google+ and Authorship: ““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.” If you’re a small business owner that relies heavily on search traffic, the last thing you want is for your website to be considered irrelevant, whatever that means. Let’s go over the few steps that you’ll need to go through to get the best of Google+:

Step #1 – Setting up & Optimizing your Google+ Author Profile

If you haven’t done so already, you will need to create your personal Google+ author profile, which will be linked to all the blog posts that you have written (and will write in the future). For best results, your profile needs to be entirely filled. Choose a nice and clear face shot as this picture will appear near all your listings in search results! The most important part of your profile is the “Contributor To” section in which you will have to add all the blogs that you contribute to, including your own.

PS: If there are many different bloggers on your site, each one of them will need to set up their own Google+ profile.

Step #2 – Connecting your Google+ Profile to your Blog Posts

There is a new tag called rel=author that you will need to embed in every blog post to implement Google+ authorship. If you are the only author on your blog, you can add the following line in your author bio at the bottom of each post:

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

If you are using WordPress, you can simplify the process by installing WordPress SEO by Yoast. This plugin has a section where you can enter your Google+ profile URL and it will automatically embed it to all of your posts. Remember that if there are many authors on your blog, each one of them will need to have their own rel=author code embedded in each post. Once you’re done setting up your author tags, you will want to use Structural Data Testing Tool within Webmaster Tools to verify that your authorship is properly set up. Enter the URL to any of your blog posts and click Preview. You should see your author info along with your listing.

 

More information on Google+ Authorship here.

Step #3 – Setting up & Optimizing your Google+ Business Page

Now that your personal profile and authorship are all set, the next step is to create your business page. If you have a local business, this page will help you rank in Google local results (Google Maps). If you are a business with multiple locations, check out this post we posted a while ago about how to make sure that each of your locations ranks high in its particular area.

Just like with your personal profile, you want your G+ business page(s) to be entirely filled out, don’t leave any field blank! Add some pictures and/or videos you have of your company. Don’t forget to also add a link to your main website, your blog and links to your other social media pages.

Step #4 – Connecting your Website to your Google+ Business Page

Now that your business page is set up, you want it to come up in the search results (on the right hand side) when someone searches for your brand on Google. (Remember: when someone searches for your brand, you want to completely dominate the 1st page. Your brand name is the easiest but also the most important keyword to rank for! –Reputation Management 101-)

Just like when connecting your author profile to your blog posts, there is a tag that you need to use to link your G+ business page with your website: rel=publisher. Simply add the following line in your header (before the </head> tag):

<link href=”https://plus.google.com/{plusPageUrl}” rel=”publisher” />(replace the link with your G+ business page URL)

Again, if you’re using WordPress, you can do this easily with the WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast.

Step #5 – Building your Network and Improving your Author Rank

Now that both your authorship and business profiles are all set, you want to start building your network on Google+ and improve your author rank.

Author rank is a component of Google’s ranking algorithm that is still work in progress. There are a lot of conflicting opinions on what author rank really is, but I personally like to think that Author rank is to authors what PageRank is to web pages. What we know so far is that many factors will influence your author rank, such as: +1s your content receives, amount of people that have you in their circles, your social activity, amount of articles written (on both your blogs and external blogs), interaction levels with other authors, etc…

Now let’s talk about building your network. If you have just created your author and business pages, you probably don’t have much of a following. The first thing you want to do at this point is to get a few relevant people in your circles. Start by importing contacts from your email address. Add each contact to a specific circle (family, friends, business contacts, etc…). Do this for both your author profile and your business page. While you’re at it, add me and I’ll most likely return the favor! 🙂


If you’re hungry for more contacts, I highly recommend joining a few relevant communities on Google+. This is the easiest way to get noticed in your industry. Some people will add you to their circles just because you’re a member of the same community as them. If there are no relevant communities in your type of business, PERFECT, create one and invite your contacts to join!

Last but not least, don’t forget to share all your blog posts on both your personal author profile and your business page. Ask questions to encourage people to interact with your content. The more interactions, comments and +1s you get, the more authority you’ll gain! Higher Authority = Better Rankings = Higher Traffic = More Sales/Leads.

Additional Advanced Google Plus Tips

For those that want to go the extra mile with G+, here are a few additional tips to make sure you get the best possible results:

  • Put an easy 1-click page badge on your site. (Similar to the one I included above) This allows people to follow you brand on G+ in 1 click.
  • Write guest posts on relevant external blogs and link to your G+ profile from the author bio. (Great way to improve your author rank!)
  • Test different profile pictures. Cyrus Shepard, from seomoz, improved his CTR by 56% simply by changing his profile photo.
  • Don’t be afraid to add unknown people to your circles, as long as they are in your industry. (Unlike Facebook where people tend to only add their own friends, Google+ is more open, so don’t be afraid to add relevant people to your circles.)
  • Link to your G+ profile and business page from everywhere! (your website, blog, email signature, business cards, etc…)
  • Encourage your existing clients to follow your business page and leave positive reviews.
  • Get involved in Google Hangouts. Find out if there are hangouts in your industry that you’d like to be a part of. If not, consider creating your own hangout and invite your contacts to join.
  • Be active on G+ on a daily basis. +1 and comment on the posts you like to generate engagement and be noticed in your industry.

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