As I was driving down the interstate this past weekend, I saw a billboard that said, "Buy me for cheap!" and a billboard directly below it that said, "Buy me for cheaper!"
I started thinking about 1) how much business companies bring in based solely on their billboards and 2) why the cheaper billboard was cheaper? Does the eye naturally look at the top one first and then drive past before being able to read the second? In researching Search Engine Optimization this week, I started thinking about the billboards again.
Man, it would be gratifying to have my own "personal billboard" via Google. Someone could type in "Search Engine Optimization" and one of my blogs would pop up with a little tiny picture of me beside it...Google fame. See, according to a study on the understanding of social annotations in web searches, the eye is naturally drawn to pictures on the Google Search page, which you can see on the eye-tracking heat map below.
The red parts on the map are where the eye was most drawn to. Picture, titles and URLs.
The question I set out to answer in this week's #beachread is why Google authorship matters if you're a writer or blogger and how it affects search engine optimization. To answer the first question: if you blog personally, for a business or for a magazine, Google authorship should be your best friend. It matters because it creates great exposure, conversation and drives more traffic to your website. It matters because (proof is in the map above) people are seeing you.
It goes without saying that search engines don't want to share irrelevant content, and Google especially puts an emphasis on sharing the only best content. With the development of Google authorship, Google is essentially telling the world, "Hey, this person is credible and they produce great content."
So how does Google determine whether you're a credible, professional, worthy of your picture on their search results source? None other than search engine optimization, of course. Many anti-SEO people will argue that SEO is pointless because if you're producing great content, it will naturally be noticed and rise to the top. I wish this was true, but I have to disagree.
Google can't know what naturally great content looks like if it can't find it. That is specifically what search engine optimizing is for - using things like keywords, back links, and alt text (just to name a few) to get Google to notice you. It's not until then that Google can decide whether your blogs are worthy of being on the top of the search list.
So, Google authorship is beneficial to search engine optimization and vice versa. And if you're not totally sold on this whole "Google authorship" or "SEO" business, Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, might convince you otherwise,
Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.
The future of Google will weigh heavily on online identity and authorship, so get that authorship and get to optimizing.
If you're interested in getting Google authorship or just want more SEO tips, here are some great blogs -