The Fog of Social Authority (AKA Where's My Tiny Picture, Google??)
I recently restarted a long-abandoned blog in an effort to do more writing. One of my first steps was to dutifully add my blog, alongside this blog, to my Google Plus profile as the SEO community preaches.
In the early days of Google Plus authorship, marketers and writers were initially given reasons along these lines:
“You’ll become a known entity to Google and build up authority in a topic, potentially getting your articles higher rankings in search as AuthorRank becomes part of the algorithm.” (“Uh, no thanks.”)
Which soon boiled down to this:
“You get your picture next to your blog posts.” (“Done!”)
As a result, countless authors have also linked their Google+ profile to their blogs, added a picture, and worked on growing their Google+ following.
On the publisher side, many companies stepped out on a limb to give new exposure to authors who previously were anonymous on some blogs.
Google Shakes Things Up
Shortly after I updated my Google Plus info, Google made a pretty big announcement that author pics would no longer appear next to search listings. D’oh! So much for my souped up SERP listings.
Despite the change, I did not run out and delete my profile info from Google Plus. Social authority and influence are not going to be irrelevant in the future. Google still wants to know not simply “which sites are experts in this field?,” but also “which people are experts in this field?”
However, a compelling and straightforward reason to spend time developing a Google Plus profile and credit authors on blogs has disappeared. Perhaps Google made this change anyhow is that they didn’t have the success with Google Plus authorship they had hoped for:
“While adoption of Google authorship has been strongest for writers at technology publications (and news sites to a lesser extent), adoption has been quite low among top brands, with only 3.5 percent of Fortune 100 brands using the markup.” – Danny Goodwin of Search Engine Watch__
Bu**ilding Authority Elsewhere**
Bloggers and other experts are going to continue developing their “personal brand” because companies are hunting down writers that not only write well, but also have a big social following or Klout score. Brands value their built-in audience as much as the writing itself. But will people invest time in building up their Google Plus followers over other platforms?
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Even though it’s a small change, it seems likely that Google will lose ground because of this change, while Twitter and others likely benefit. Writers are less likely to spend time building their profiles on Google Plus, and Google in turn is likely to have less knowledge on them for use a factor in it’s organic search algorithm.
Posted by John Greer
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