Earlier this year, I heavily promoted a new search optimization option for business websites — Authorship, also known as the “Author Tag”. For a great many local businesses, this is particularly advantageous. By setting up your personal profile page in Google Plus, and then adding the author tag on your website, your personal photo icon may appear adjacent to your listings in Google search results. Here’s mine:
The steps to setting this up are fairly simple (another method is also available):
Set up a personal profile on Google+ for yourself. This is *not* a page about your business on Google+ — that is separate. Google’s author treatment in listings is based upon using an actual individual as the author. You must include a good headshot as your primary picture on the profile.
In the About section of your profile, add a link to your website in the “Contributor to” section.
Add a link to your Google+ profile onto your homepage (or onto the author info page on your blog), and include ?rel=author at the end of the link.
The main reason to adopt this is that it’s eye-catching compared to listings without the treatment, so it’s likely to improve your click-through rate to your website. Other, similar types of listing treatments have been shown to have improved click-through rates, according to search engines’ research data.
Google adopted this listing treatment because it performs well with searchers, according to their usability research. It’s also clear that they adopted it to encourage and support growth for their social media product, Google+, so they are providing a bit of incentive to get website owners to integrate with and use Google+.
A great many businesses, particularly local ones, have their identities closely tied to that of their proprietors/founders. Some of them, such as doctors and lawyers, even share their personal names with their business names — making the author tag and icon even more influential looking in search results, compared to listings without similar treatment.
I suspect that having a person’s face associated with a business also increases consumer trust, and that this likely improves a business’s conversion rate as well!
So, if you haven’t done so yet, seriously consider adding the author markup to your business’s website and enable your listings to stand out from the crowd. Increased click-through rates likely have a long-term beneficial effect upon your local business website’s rankings in the search results, too, so don’t ignore this tactic!