Why would you allow employees to build a personal platform via your brand when you know that they will leave within a few years? That’s a key question for brands thinking about assigning Google authorship to employees for the content they produce.
In the end, there’s really not much choice; authorship ties content to individual Google+ profiles. However, that’s not a bad thing because brands can reap huge benefits from assigning authorship, not to mention it’s a good strategy for staying on Google’s good side. Here’s what they can gain.
1. A Human Face for Your Brand
Image via Flickr by Esther Vargas
When you’re looking for content online what do you trust more? The regular search results or the links that display author photos? For most people, seeing a face alongside the content makes it more trustworthy, and that trust subsequently increases clicks and readership. People like to have their content personal. When your employees’ faces appear alongside the content they author, your brand benefits because prospects and customers form a connection with them. In addition, if the same face appears next to multiple pieces of trusted content, it won’t be long until seeing the picture is enough to win the click.
2. More Attention for Your Content
In relation to authorship, many studies show that faces grab attention. Savvy advertisers have been using this approach for years and it works for Google Authorship too. A recent heat map study by JustinBriggs.org shows that the author pictures are among the hottest areas of a search listing. Another hot area is the clickable name next to the image. More attention means more people reading your content, more people seeing your call to action, and better conversions. There’s no way that can be a bad thing.
3. Their Authority = Your Authority
Mark Traphagen said it best, “brands that are associated with authoritative content by authoritative people are winners.” If your in-house authors create great content that attracts search result clicks and social media shares, the people you ultimately want to reach will visit your site. Sure, they may start by following a particular author, but when they get to your site, you get the chance to show your authority with other content and resources. In other words, assigning authorship to employees builds authority for your brand.
4. Happy, Happy People
While we’re on the subject, encouraging employees to build their own platforms and engage is a good way to keep them happy and motivated to continue producing great content. After all, if their name and face is going next to the content, that’s a huge incentive to make it their best work. Your brand will also benefit from the increase in quality.
5. Good for SEO and Content Strategy
All the recent signals from Google have been about surfacing relevant, useful, and authoritative content. That’s another benefit of author photos and Google+ profile links. When people follow those links to share and comment on your content, it starts a cycle of improving your authority and enhancing SEO. It’s pretty good for link-building too.
A couple years ago, Google launched a tool that allowed you to see how your authored content was doing via its Webmaster Tools interface. If you check the statistics, you see how assigning authorship helps boost your brand’s reach, and you will be able to tell which authored content is getting the most social attention, thus guiding your future strategy.
6. The Gift That Keeps on Giving
Even when employees leave, you still benefit from their authorship. As long as you leave their content and authorship intact, it will drive people back to your website, boosting readership and conversions. In addition, as your former employees build authority on other sites, then those who follow those authors may follow a link back to your company’s site or blog. One piece of advice: Brands may want to have distinct a policy on authorship and the ownership of content that employees generate while working for you.
7. Ready for Author Rank
People have speculated for some time that Author Rank would take metrics like your Google+ profile, social media engagement, inbound links to content, and authorship and use them to decide how sites and brands rank in search listings. Nobody knows if this is actually coming, or whether the changes Google has made mean that it’s already here. Either way, assigning authorship to employees means you’re ready for anything.
If you haven’t started assigning authorship yet, there’s still time. Search Engine Watch points out that companies implementing this policy in most sectors are still in the single digits, so if you act now, you can still make a significant impact. In addition, though you can’t claim authorship, you can use similar markup to identify yourself as a content publisher, allowing information about your Google+ page to show next to search results. Doing this should increase readership and conversions too, and that’s a win-win proposition for everyone.