Using Google+ Authorship for SEO on the Google Analytics Website

Last week Google Analytics published a blog post that I wrote about Google Analytics for Lead Generation. While I am working on a comprehensive follow up post to share thoughts on this topic in 2013 and beyond, I wanted to share a fun little SEO side effect of that post.

Google+ Authorship Works on External Websites Too

Prior to last Wednesday (11/28/12), the search engine results page for “Google Analytics Lead Generation” was filled with solid, yet undifferentiated options on the topic.

Google Analytics Lead Generation 11 28 12

A few blog posts, GA support questions and two slide decks from Slideshare. A typical result set for a targeted, yet fairly ambiguous search term.

That same day, Google Analytics ran my guest blog post about using Google Analytics for Lead Generation websites and the post received some quality activity through Twitter and Google+. There were enough +1's and RTs to bump the page into the top 10 search results on the topic shortly after being posted (note, the screen shot below is while logged in, but the same results were there without logging in as well).

GA for Lead Generation

The next day I did another search (this time including the word “for” in the original query) and the post was now holding strong in the #2 position less than 24 hours after it launched.

Google Analytics for Lead Generation

It's amazing what a high authority website can accomplish by a single timely post! You can usurp well ranking pages in a matter of no time if your post gets picked up across the web.

Linking to Your Google+ Page in a Post

This is when I decided to experiment some more and see if I can enhance the search result any more. I noticed that within the post that when my name was listed, it was hyperlinked to my Google+ profile.

Google+ Link in GA Post

Having recently gone through the verification of Three Deep's Google+ profile for the AdWords Professionals program listing, I noticed a strange phenomenon where Google needed a two step verification in order to associate our company profile with our Google+ page. We needed to do the following:

  1. Include a link to our website on our Google+ company profile and
  2. Have our company website link to our Google+ profile

Sure enough, immediately after I completed both steps, there was a little check box that showed up.

Google+ Certification Page

This got me thinking:

Google has the technology necessary to immediately crawl a website to verify that a link to a Google+ profile is linked to from a website, and that the Google+ profile links back to that site, in near real time.

If it can do this for our company website, why can't we do this on external websites? I already had the most difficult component in place – a link to my Google+ profile from the blog post. Now I just needed to connect the dots.

Connecting Your Google+ Profile to Your Site

This is the easy part. All that I needed to do was go into my Google+ profile and add the Google Analytics blog to the list of sites that I contribute to.

Google+ Contributor

While this was my first time contributing to the Google Analytics blog, I think it is accurate to say that I was a contributor in my profile.

I made this addition to my profile on a Friday and figured it would take a few days to crawl my profile.

Providing SEO Value to Google Analytics

Sure enough, when I looked at the site today and did the same query, not only was the post still #2 in the search results, but now it was complete with my ugly mug by its side!

Google Authorship Achieved

Now that is a search result that differentiates itself!

Key Takeaways and Questions about SEO for Websites You Don't Own

While I have seen posts about doing SEO on external websites, I have never really thought much about doing it myself. Call it selfishness or call it being busy, it just hasn't been a priority. This opportunity was unique in that the most difficult piece (getting them to link to your G+ page) was already done, so everything was in my sphere of control. If there were a barrier to external website SEO, it would probably be participation on the other end.

Here are some things I learned in the process:

  • At present time, all it takes is a single post on a site to be eligible for Google+ Authorship
  • You do not need to have rel=”author” in the metadata of your website to be viewed as an author. There was no meta data linking to my G+ profile in the post
  • There is no indicator as to how many blogs is “too many” blogs to contribute to. I currently have 8-9 sites listed on my profile (and I do contribute to each of these, so I am not cheating the system), and this does not appear to inhibit my chances of achieving authorship
  • Authorship is becoming a “no brainer” for all website owners. It will be interesting to see how much this becomes abused in the future or if a SERP with 10 author profiles on it will lose its meaning, but we are clearly in an interesting era of SEO
  • It is to the advantage of a website that allows guest bloggers to include a link to their Google+  profile in the post and/or meta data in order to enhance your CTR in search results pages
  • In fact, if I were looking for guest bloggers, I would use the number of Google+ circles they are in as a deciding factor, and require that they list themselves as a contributor to my site in their G+ profile
  • I should work further with the Google Analytics team to enhance the title of the blog post to further improve SEO. I would start by making the post title simply “Google Analytics Lead Generation – How to Get the Most Value”

What are your thoughts on Google+ Authorship? Is it a fad or the future? Are you bullish or bearish? Tastes great or less filling? Please sound off in the comments!

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