Google is the largest online search engine as you are most likely aware. However, did you know that establishing authority with Google can help drive more traffic and leads to your blog or website?
You may not have thought much about getting found by potential (and existing) clients online through Google searches, but this has become a much greater probability than it was only a few short years ago for a multitude of reasons that I cover in this post. Establishing authority with Google through a Google+ author profile creates a competitive advantage for driving more traffic and leads to your blog or website.
Google is smarter about you and they’re putting your searches into context. Google is evaluating your geographical location, your search history, and your social media networks and activities (known as “social signals”) when you search. The power of your network alone can help to surface your content to the top of search results based on a particular topic.
What this means is that if you are connected with clients and prospects in social networks who live within your targeted geographical area, you have a good chance of showing up in their Google searches if your content is specific to what they are searching for (this is where effective keyword research can come in handy).
The reality is, potential clients can find their way to you through Google if you consistently publish strategic, high quality content to your blog and you expand the depth and breadth of your network through social media.
Google has worked hard to behave in a more human, realistic way when seeking to provide the right answers to search queries. They are dedicated to showing quality content and have made major updates to their algorithm to prove this point. Many low quality websites and blogs that took shortcuts have been hit and penalized by these updates over the last couple of years. Pointing consumers to relevant, quality content is Google’s top priority. Therefore, if you’re blogging, you want to make sure you are publishing high quality content.
If you’re posting ghost-written articles from libraries shared by many financial advisors to your blog or website, Google will view this as duplicate content and potentially penalize those pages/posts. Your content also will not stand out in search results nor will it rise to the top. You need to make certain that your content is unique and original first and foremost, or you can forget about being found in Google searches. I’ve conducted numerous experiments with advisor websites and blogs that share the same content offered by the provider. I can find many instances of the EXACT same article posted on many different sites. Google will dismiss this content and identify it as low quality.
Unfortunately, there are just no shortcuts to producing quality content and getting rewarded for your efforts through inbound traffic and leads to your site.
Building Your Author Rank with Google
The most recent thinking about how Google is evaluating content on the web is by the human being who is producing that content. Google is valuing your online reputation through your unique content contributions.
For those of us who are committed to personally publishing our insights and ideas to our blogs, this is great news and I couldn’t be more excited about it. Google is rewarding those of us who work hard to contribute our unique thought leadership through blogging. Google is taking note as to who the publisher is, the quality of the content, and the actual site the content is published on. You can build online authority through the quality of the content you publish!
If you are a credible publisher/blogger, and you contribute original content to blogs other than your own, you are going to help those sites because of your author rank with Google. High quality sites are going to be looking for and even hiring high quality bloggers who have built up their author rank with Google. Likewise, if you hire writers to contribute to your blog, you’re going to get what you pay for. It is going to be a better investment to find a writer who has established authority with Google and has built an excellent online reputation.
An added benefit of setting up your Google author profile is potentially getting more clicks for your content in search results. Take for instance this search query below that I entered into Google “WordPress for financial advisors”.
Of all of the results that show up on page one of Google for this query, not only is my result on top, but you will notice my professional head shot is attached to it. Which of these results would you be most likely to click on? Which one would you trust more?
Search results with attached head shots are showing significantly higher click-through rates. The visual appeal of that head shot adds credibility.
By establishing your Google author profile, you are able to take control of how your content gets displayed in Google search results and make your entries stand out!
If everyone were producing high quality content and going through the steps to establish their Google authorship, I probably wouldn’t stand out. However, most people either don’t know about this or don’t know how to set it up. Or, they simply aren’t producing their own content! (i.e. ghost-written articles)
Setting up your Google Author Profile
To set up your profile with Google, you will need a free Google+ account. Google+ is not only a place to establish your authorship, but it’s also a platform for sharing content and connecting with others who have Google+ accounts. Because of this, you may not be able to set one up due to your compliance restrictions. If that is the case, I would suggest that you request the ability to set up a static Google+ profile that will remain inactive. This simply means that you wouldn’t be able to engage and share content on Google+, but you would still be able to claim and set up your profile.
Next you will need to complete your Google+ profile. Add your head shot image (the one you want to show in Google search results), add a banner image (optional but looks nicer), and complete each section. Under the “links” section, Google makes it easy for you to link to all of your existing social media profiles. This is important because you are helping Google understand the depth and breadth of your network and your influence. Remember “social signals” do play into search results by taking into account who is sharing your content and how often your content is being shared.
The most important section in your Google+ profile that is relevant to your Google Author Profile is the one that says Contributor To. This is the section where you will list your website, blog, and any other blog you contribute content to.
Important Note: If you contribute to multiple blogs across the web that you do not own (i.e. guest posts), and you have no email that exists with that site’s domain, you will need to ask the owner of the site to include your Google+ profile link with the ?rel=author tag in the author box of any posts you contribute. Otherwise, you’re not going to get credit from Google as the contributor of the content. It sounds complicated but it’s really not. The html code they would insert into the author information box or byline would look like this:
<a href=”https://plus.google.com/u/0/110689450307829812987/?rel=author“>Stephanie Sammons</a>
This is the html code that includes my Google+ profile url with the added author tag.
The final step is to make sure that your Google author profile information is set up correctly on your blog. If you have an email address that matches the domain for your blog, you can verify that email address by visiting the Google+ authorship page and submitting your email address to establish your authorship.
If you’re using WordPress as your blogging platform, you will also want to insert your Google+ profile url under your User account (see below). This is quite simple to do as WordPress makes it super easy. If you want to go the extra step to ensure your Google authorship is being verified (especially if your Google+ profile email address differs from your site domain), you can add the above html code from Step 2 into the Bio Box under your WordPress User Account info.
We go the extra mile and utilize a WordPress plugin on our sites to ensure the Google+ author tag (?rel=author) is being added on every page and post: Google Author Link Plugin
To verify that your Google author profile is set up properly on your own blog as well as any other blog you contribute to online, you can verify using Google’s Rich Snippits tool.
If this seems like a lot of work, it certainly can be, but WordPress does make it quite easy to set up your Google Author Profile and connect the dots between your site(s) and Google+. There is no guarantee that the other sites you contribute content to will set this up for you, however. My suggestion is to politely request that they do and send them your Google+ profile link with the ?rel=author tag attached (or just send the full html code). If it’s a high quality site you’re contributing to, you certainly want to make sure Google is giving you credit for the content.
If you’re blogging or thinking about launching a financial blog, building your authority with Google can help you gain a competitive advantage in online search! Are you building authority with Google? Is this something you will work to incorporate into the building of your online reputation?