6 Ideas to Leverage Google’s “Author” Markup

This is a guest post from Heather Whaling, cross-posted from prTini.


Last week, Google make a fairly techy-sounding announcement. If you’re like me, you saw it, but didn’t pay a lot of attention. As I re-read the announcement today and some corresponding blog posts, the light went on. I get it now. The new “authorship” authority impacts what we do every day as PR people.

Let’s take a step back. Here’s an excerpt from Google’s announcement:

Today we’re beginning to support authorship markup — a way to connect authors with their content on the web. We are experimenting with using this data to help people find content from great authors in our search results.

We know that great content comes from great authors, and we’re looking closely at ways this markup could help us highlight authors and rank search results.

In other words, it sounds like Google will now consider who authored a piece of content when determining relevancy and search rankings. What does this have to do with PR? According to Steve Rubel, it’s all about validation:

Businesses that activate thought leaders across the media cloverleaf will be primed to stand out more in search. In the future you must publish to stand out.

In PR, we’ve always known that there’s value in being seen as a thought-leader in the industry. The direct impact can be another one of those tricky things to measure, but contributing bylines to key industry trade publications, speaking at high-profile conferences, and blogging can boost a public relations effort. PR 2.0 already includes blogger outreach and creating content to share on various networks and sites. Now, Google is saying that authoring content across the web can also strengthen search rankings. Previously, SEO in PR may have meant focusing on PageRank, fine-tuning anchor text keywords or collecting inbound links. Now, PR plays a much larger role in SEO by helping to establish “authorship authority.”

6 Ideas to Help PR Leverage Google’s “Authorship”

  • Guest blog. Guest blogging comes with many benefits, including opportunities to connect with new audiences and sharing expertise to establish credibility, generating inbound links, etc. But, now guest blogging, more specifically, the opportunity to associate yourself with being an “author” in Google’s eyes, becomes even more important.
  • Write op-eds for “traditional” media’s websites. Sarah Evans recently wrote an opinion piece for CNN.com about online privacy — a perfect example of how to get “author” credit via traditional media. Local newspapers, magazines and trade publications could be appropriate outlets to consider for these kind of author opportunities.
  • Become a regular contributor. PR blog Waxing Unlyrical features a regular lineup of contributors. Seek opportunities like this to regularly produce content for existing bloggers.
  • Join a group blog. Some blogs, like PR Breakfast Club, are true collaborative blogs, written by a group of authors. Seek opportunities to join a group blog that connects with your target audience.
  • Think more seriously about YouTube. As a Google property, all YouTube videos have been updated with this new author language. Are you publishing YouTube videos? Knowing that these pages have implemented the “author” coding, how can you be more strategic about creating content for YouTube?
  • Create an “author” page on your own blog. Every time you write a post on your own blog, that’s an opportunity to create an “author” link. Create an “About the Author” page on your own blog that adheres to these new Google recommendations.

It’s worth noting that all sites won’t automatically incorporate this “author” HTML language. The aforementioned five ideas are solid tactical recommendations, but you get “bonus points” in search rankings for taking implementing tactics to sites that are implementing the author markup.

Certainly, this is a technical topic. (My brain hurts a little after reading up on this topic!) In PR, we don’t need to understand all the HTML coding details, but we should know what to look for and where to turn if you have questions or need help. It is our job to understand how our PR efforts can support SEO … further proof that the “silo” mentality (ie., I do this. You do that.) just doesn’t work anymore.

What do you think about this modification to Google’s algorithm? Is it something you’ll think about when looking for online opportunities for clients/brands? What other ideas do you have to help PR people influence search rankings?

Heather Whaling

As president of Geben Communication, Heather Whaling provides public relations and social media services to small- to mid-size businesses. She’s also a public relations blogger, speaker and co-moderator of #pr20chat.

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