Ted Karczewski

Content creation has taken center stage in marketing – it has the spotlight, and it’s not letting go. Brands across all industries have begun to publish custom content to their news resources and blogs to attract consumers to their websites, which has flooded the ‘net with a variety of media. Of course, with content marketing saturation, quality ranges from high to low, and Google needed to find a way to get the right posts in front of web searchers beyond its customary algorithms. To combat this challenge, the search engine introduced the concept of Authorship, and it’s an essential idea for every business to entertain.

Brafton put together a list of six brands already using Authorship to their advantage – some are big news sources, but the others are small businesses. Perhaps the best part about Authorship is it gives added SERP appeal based on an author’s credibility, not budget. Here are six examples of websites using Authorship:

1. Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Times Authorship

2. Forbes

Forbes Authorship

3. CNN

CNN Authorship

4. Max Real Estate Exposure

MAX Authorship

5. Disney Baby

Disney Baby Authorship

6. Marketo

Marketo Authorship

(Brafton also uses Authorship to set its branded content apart from the competition.)

But not everyone knows what Authorship is, nor do they understand the advantages of such a ranking system. Brafton hopes to clarify some confusion with this blog post.

What is Authorship?

Google’s Authorship leverages the social power of Google+ to add more context to search. The feature enables content writers to link their web content to their social profiles, and Google has already verified Authorship accounts for a significant percentage of professional bloggers. The goal of Authorship is to tell searchers (and Google) who the most credible writers on certain subjects are, giving a clearer idea about who will have the most accurate interpretation on a particular topic.

Some skeptics might say Authorship as a future ranking signal is a myth. Google’s search quality engineer Matt Cutts says, “Over time, Google will care more about identity and social reputation. Plus, Authorship gives you a picture next to your content and we know people click more when they see images.”

Rankings aside, how much more will people click on Author Snippets? 

A 2012 study from Curate found that engagement increased 47 percent on articles with photos attached. Authorship gives publishing brands another opportunity to bring visual aids to their content. When a web searcher conducts a simple query, she is presented with a list of blue links and a few ads. Wouldn’t you be more likely to click on a result that featured an image of its author? Put a face to the online advice, and visit the writer again in the future if the information solved a problem or offered unique insight.

Authorship helps SMBs most

Authorship can really help smaller brands that may not have the internet marketing budgets to compete with major enterprises, and help credible writers (of the mainstream news or brand variety) put themselves on the map. “Individuals can absolutely became brands,” Cutts said at March’s SMX West. “If you can put out creative content, the moms and pops of the world can become great brands.”

Brafton showed in its list how the Los Angeles Times, Forbes and CNN use Authorship to give their journalists credit for their work, but let’s take a closer look at the three smaller brands using the feature to catapult over the competition in SERPs.

1. Max Real Estate Exposure

The real estate market is a volatile and competitive space, so finding any edge over the competition helps increase website traffic and conversions. Max Real Estate Exposure understood the power of Author photos in search results, and its contributor Bill Gassett linked his Google+ account to the website. When web searchers hit the ‘net for real estate content, Gassett’s articles are more likely to get clicks if every other post looks to come from an anonymous brand. Buying and selling a house is an extremely personal decision – Gassett’s personal touch in his content helps prospects feel more comfortable taking his advice.

2. Disney Baby

Mothers are an extremely active demographic online, and bloggers who target these readers with high-quality custom content can generate conversions with a little help from Authorship. Looking at Disney Baby’s Erin Loechner’s post “3 things to Love about baby’s first Halloween”, you immediately see how powerful an author image can be in SERPs. Why would anyone navigate to an anonymous result, when they can put a face to Loechner’s post?

More, Loechner puts herself out there online. If readers take her advice and enjoy her ideas, they will read her articles again in the future. Not only will Disney Baby see returning traffic increase, but Loechner also benefits from a credible personal brand. Companies may be reluctant to give their employees too much authority online, but what’s the harm in helping staff members build authority when all the traffic leads back to branded websites in the end?

3. Marketo

The B2B marketing world grows more intense by the day. It’s hard to go a month without hearing about some new cloud service or tech product promising a bucket full of leads for minimal upfront investments. Marketo took the opportunity to give its marketers and writers the chance to stand out online. When prospects search the web for B2B marketing automation help, they want to talk to, (or read media from,) actual people – not a blank canvas or “the man.” Marketo’s posts are linked to the brand itself, but those B2B marketing tips that helped increase ROI – those came from Dayna Rothman, content marketing program manager, and savvy blogger.

Not convinced? That’s OK – your competition would rather outrank you anyway.

Whether brands believe the Authorship hype or not, it doesn’t matter, because it’s clear that’s where search is heading. In fact, other companies hope their competitors don’t buy into the Authorship game, so they can outrank them in search results and gain an edge online.

At Brafton, we use Authorship to help our employees establish themselves online and benefit from more clickable search results. We don’t need you to believe that it’s worthwhile – if you’re in content marketing, we actually prefer you don’t use Authorship. It’s more rewarding for our bottom line when we’re the only experts with photos in competitive SERPs.

Editor’s note: All PageRank and SERP examples were viewed and documented at press time. Rankings are subject to change.