July 23, 2014

How to verify authorship of your blog with Google and benefit from author rank (SEO)

Edit 2/2/14: It’s now a lot simpler to add your G+ details to a WordPress blog, meaning you can skip the steps that require you to edit code in your WordPress blog’s back end. I use All In One SEO, but there are plenty of plugins that just add your G+ details – just search the plugins section for something to suit you. 

I was at Blog Camp UK yesterday, sitting on a panel of PRs, taking questions from 100 or so bloggers about ways the two disciplines can work productively together.

That was the closing session, but before that, the incredibly smart and knowledgeable Lee Smallwood took to the stage and shared some tips on some of the things we can all do to improve how our blog’s rank on Google.

Author rank

Lee explained that there was a way to tell Google that you own a piece of content, and that doing so could help that content rank a lot more highly in search than ‘unsigned content’. Here’s an article on author rank and why it’s important.

Lee didn’t get a chance to go into how to do this in much detail about author rank as he was mobbed with questions from pretty much everyone there, including me, but I did a bit of digging afterwards and managed to figure out how to link my blog to my G+ profile. (When Lee puts his slides live – I’ll link across so you can see in more detail why this is important)

Here’s how I linked my WordPress self-hosted parenting blog to my G+ profile, so Google knows I wrote all the posts on there.

Taking author ownership of my blog with Google

1) I got a Google+ profile https://plus.google.com/u/0/114730564675993386882/ – actually I already had one, but if you haven’t got one, go to http://plus.google.com and get one set up.

2) Inside the WordPress dashboard, I went to Users, clicked on my profile and made sure the First Name and Last Name fields matched what I had in Google+. Then in the bio section, I added my description, plus a link to my G+ profile. I’m not sure this bit is essential, but the end of my bio looks like this: I’d love you to follow me on <a href=”https://plus.google.com/114730564675993386882/”>my Google Profile+</a>.

3) I went to by ‘About’ Page (http://www.amummytoo.co.uk/about-a-mummy-too/) and added a mention of my Google+ profile page. I linked on the phrase “my Google Profile+” and apparently the + on the end is important. The URL I linked to was https://plus.google.com/114730564675993386882/?rel=author and yours should look exactly the same, including the ?rel=author bit at the end, just change the long number to the long number in your profile address.

NOTE: If you have an email address on your blog domain (e.g. me@myblogdomain.com) you can skip the remaining steps. Just make sure you’re logged in to Google+ and register here.

If not, get ready for some PHP tweaking…

4) BEFORE YOU DO THIS PART, BACK UP FIRST – IF YOU GO WRONG, YOU MAY NEED TO RE-UPLOAD A FILE USING FTP.

Still in the WordPress Dashboard, I went Appearance > Editor and because I’m running Bee Crafty on Genesis, I went into Functions.php and found the function that said:

NOTE: Your code might look a little different, depending on your theme. If you don’t have functions.php, try looking in single.php and search for a phrase like “posted on” or “posted by” (or whatever the author, date credit days at the top of all your posts) – that will give you a clue. If you find the bit of code you need, but aren’t exactly sure how to edit it, feel free to paste it into the comments and I’ll reply asap.

5) I changed it so the code now looked like this:

IE I replaced the post_author_posts_link part with a link to my about page, anchored to my full name.

6) I went to any post on my blog and made sure that my name under the title linked to my ‘About Page’ (http://www.amummytoo.co.uk/about-a-mummy-too/)

 

7) I went back into my Google+ profile and clicked Edit

8) I clicked on the section that says “Contributor to” and created a new entry where the name is “+A Mummy Too” and the link was my about page ie http://www.amummytoo.co.uk/about-a-mummy-too/

9) I  checked it was all working by hopping over to Google’s Rich Snippets Testing Tool and entering the URL of any of my posts.

10) The results showed a snippet of how my post would look in Google search results, followed by a green message saying “Verified: Authorship markup is verified for this page”

 

That’s it, done.

If you try this, let me know if you hit problems and I’ll see if I can help.

Once you’re up and running, make sure you share your lovely posts on Google+ and let me know if it’s having any impact for you. I’ll do the same.

The five most useful Google+ write-ups from comms pros

There have been tens of thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of words written about Google+ already, but as the new social network takes its first tentative steps in beta, the industry is asking…

What does this new platform mean for PR, marketing and other comms professionals?

It’s not an easy one to answer, but here are five articles that helped me get to the heart of the matter:

  1. The PR and marketing implications of Google+ by Shel Holtz. This is about as thorough as you can get right now. Shel hasn’t churned out a Google+ 101 post, he’s written an article with the uses for comms pros in mind. Read it.
  2. Should PR and social media people be getting excited by Google+? by Phil Szomszor. Should we all be leaping on board and putting our campaign budgets into Google+ right now? Phil has sensible answers.
  3. Conversations matter in Google+ by Chris Brogan. I have to agree with Chris’s simple but crucial observation here. The quality of conversations and responses in my stream, right now, is blowing Twitter and Facebook out of the water. If that continues, it’s a big deal for brands (particularly when the door opens to them).
  4. Why Google Has the Hammer To Make Businesses Use Google Plus by Jay Baer. This is a comparatively complex article (make a cup of tea before you start reading) but it takes a really good stab at mapping the evolution of search, SEO, social, where Google+ fits in, and where it’s going. Useful stuff.
  5. Google+, Businesses and Beyond by Christian Oestlien. In a video rather than a written post, Christian, a product manager on Google+ explains why it’s not quite ready for businesses yet, and gives some hints on where it might be going. Watch it below:

So, when it comes to Google+, what are your predictions, observations hopes and concerns for the comms industry?

Two months, one experiment, zero search engines

A friend and well-respected comms pro, Paul Sutton, recently embarked on an experiment to see if he can survive two full months without using a search engine. I asked him to share what he’s learned so far.

Ask yourself a question: how long do you think you could go without using an internet search engine? I did some research among my friends, colleagues and networks, and two thirds of the people I asked said that, on average, they use a search engine more than ten times per day. They don’t think about it, they just do it.

It was while I was on a train heading into London that the idea of #NoSearch came to me. Looking around my carriage, about three quarters of the passengers had their heads buried in HTCs, iPads and laptops. And it struck me that all of these people – my friends, my contacts, me, you – we’re all totally reliant on what Google tells us. In fact, more than that, we have 100% trust and, arguably, blind faith in the results that we get back when we click the search button. This gives search engines immense power over us and the way we perceive the world. So I decided to give up Yahoo! and Bing for two entire months; to go Google cold turkey.

Is search behaviour changing?

The #NoSearch project was borne from a desire to investigate just how vital search engines have become to our everyday lives and whether it’s even possible to function without them.  I’m intrigued by the impact that the web is having on society, and I wanted to see whether social media is empowering collective intelligence as much as it’s purported to be doing; whether a social network can act as a ‘personal search engine’. So during June and July I intend to find out whether I can get by online by forgoing search engines in favour of my online networks.

Two weeks in and it’s already throwing up some really interesting areas for further thought and investigation. Google Instant (the feature that auto-suggests websites as you type a search term) quickly became my nemesis, to the point where I had to disable it. I’m not stopping myself visiting URLs that I already know, but typing them into the browser was proving a nightmare as I was effectively performing a search every time I did so. It highlighted to me how much search has changed from ‘pulling’ information from the web to having information ‘pushed’ to us via search engines, and is further evidence of Google’s power and influence. But do you ever question the results Google gives you? How often to you go beyond page one of the SERPS? Think about it…

The power of social networks

From a social media perspective, Twitter quickly became my lifeline. Facebook just doesn’t cut it when you need information in any sort of speed, and Twitter beats it hands down for expediency. And the people who use Twitter are also different; they’re more clued up, more reactive, more socially-savvy. Maybe there’s a learning there for social marketers?

I’ve also started to see great value in social bookmarking, an area I’ve never previously engaged with very heavily. Delicious, Diigo and Stumbleupon hold such a wealth of valuable information, and while they can’t compete with Google for finding a website URL, they’re good for information.

Time as a commodity

One word sums up my #NoSearch experience so far, however: frustrating. Living without search engines is, believe it or not, not that difficult if you have a network of any moderate size and a bunch of reliable and bookmarked web resources. But the time it takes me to find anything is starting to drive me nuts. With search engines you can be on a relevant website on any given topic within a few seconds. Without them it takes minutes at a time to dig out information. And when you’re as busy as I am that’s a lot of wasted time. You don’t realise how valuable time is until you don’t have any because it’s taken up with things you know you could do a lot quicker.

So have I been tempted to quit already? You bet! But in actuality, that’s more through impatience than a real need for Google. So I’m going to stick with it. I suspect that first search in August will be a delicious moment and I’ll probably start dreaming about it soon, but hopefully I’ll have a learned a hell of a lot about online behaviour and social media by the time that comes around.

You can follow the #NoSearch project on Posterous, Twitter and Audioboo. Paul Sutton is Head of Social Communications at BOTTLE, blogs at www.thesocialweb.co.uk and can be found on Twitter as @ThePaulSutton