Authorship: The Deep Dive- SMX Advanced June 2013

Hi Folks, this is Siddharth coming LIVE out of SMX Advanced June 2013. This session on Authorship: The Deep Dive. Session was by John Carcutt (Director of SEO at Advanced Digital), Janet Miller (CEO at Search Mojo), Mitul Gandhi (Chief Architect SEO Clarity) & Mark Traphagen (Director of Digital Outreach at Virante).

Starting with Mitul, he talks about the rise of Google Plus. He Says 30 % of all keywords that they sampled (they took a data set of over 1 million keywords), had authorship markup.

As an aside, I am actually very surprised with this data and feel that Mitul’s data set was skewed as the SERPS I see in India there is no way more than 2% of them would have author markup. Maybe certain industries might go up to 15% but there is no way that it would be 30%.

Anyway coming back to authorship markup. He says clickiness matters. They did an experiment, they took a site which was ranking on 3rd position for a keyword and prior to the implementation of the author markup if the CTR was say 3% and once they implemented the author markup, it didn’t influence ranking yet the CTR doubled. So essentially he is saying that the site remained on the 3rd position but the CTR doubled so if it was 3% it went to 6% .

So this is massive from a traffic perspective. So if you think about it all that has happened is an image has been added to the description snippet that appears in Google search results and this increases CTR massively. He also says ecommerce companies haven’t implemented this & need to take advantage of this. One way to do this would be to tie this with content on ecommerce sites. Think blogs!

Mark Traphagen from Virante comes about, he runs the biggest authorship community on Google Plus and he also confirms that CTR increases significantly when authorship markup is implemented. He ays Google plus profiles, communities and pages all have pagerank. Research that he did shows that getting a link from Google Plus is like getting a link from a website.

He is followed by Janet Miller who says that using the word “by” followed by a name in the content infers authorship. She shows her own results (refer to power point slides from her presentation which I will see if I can put up here or give a link to it). She has also done some research to show that Google is also picking up the author even from the comment section of a page.

She also asks the audience to consider what the author rank means for Public Relations and SEO. When selecting a journalist look at their online credentials. Does the journalist have authorship credibility with Google? Weigh this in your decision. In order to identify good authors with online credibility, use the following command, site:URL followed by author name. For example, “site:newyorktimes.com David Pogue”

Then John Carcutt, talks about the topic from a publisher’s perspective. He says it is very complicated and not easy to implement. You first need to approach the content team and say we need authorship, then you need to approach the technical team and get them to implement. Finally you have to go to the authors themselves and show them how to build author rank. The training for the journalists includes creating a Google Plus account, connecting their account to our sites, managing their “contributor to” links, adding friends to their Google Plus profiles.

Finally email verification is a problem as a lot of times authors are consultants and do not have an official email id from the publisher. In their case they hard coded the author markup into the meta data. He also says that syndicated content is a negative factor because of duplicate content issues.

He asks the audience to consider what happens when an author leaves the organization? What happen to authorship atĀ  that point of time? According to him authorsĀ  continue building on Pagerank or rather author rank over a period of time as they write more articles etc and they get more trustworthy.

So, according to him you should not disassociate from that author when they leave the organization rather keep up the association because that will also improve your own site rank. This will happen because as their author rank increases it adds to your organizations credibility. According to him at some point author rank will become a hiring decision.

As part of the Q&A at the end of the session, some things to consider:
What happens when there are two authors?

Can authorship be associated with a brand rather than an individual? – Someone mentioned that this is already happening on Google News where the ABC logo shows instead of the individual author.

Someone mentioned testing different pictures of authors to influence CTR. The speakers agreed that this is something that must certainly be tried out. Hmm… I thought of Linkedin and Facebook advertising where it is common for us to test out ads with different pictures associated with it.

So, that is it from this session on author rank.

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