Google is the world’s largest business directory – any search brings up a huge number of competing organisations trying to get noticed. As more traffic is driven by Google each day, it is becoming a necessity to stand out in search listings.
Since June 2011, you may have noticed pictures of authors next to search results for their articles. These authors have linked their work to their Google profiles in an effort to attract more clicks – a picture and byline can draw attention towards a page, and can link to other work by that person.
There are obvious potential benefits to a Google authorship profile – a photo and name are eye-catching and will make a website stand out next to other search results, but some have suggested that it isn’t worth it.
Having your name and picture displayed in search results requires setting up an account on Google plus, the search engine’s answer to Facebook. Authorship has been criticised as just one way for the search engine to use its domination to promote Google plus.
Tying your professional design work to your Google profile can make some people uneasy, especially if you use Google plus in a social capacity – mixing your personal and professional life online can be a concern for some people.
However, there are other benefits to having an authorship profile beyond seeing your picture next to search results. As Google gives better rankings to websites linked to Google profiles, authorship can boost your visibility to potential clients. Perhaps most importantly, a Google profile makes your work more personal – if a client can see who is behind a website, they will feel a more personal connection, and may feel more comfortable hiring you.
Your Google profile can also display a wide range of other design projects you have done, in effect an online portfolio.
A Google authorship profile does require work to set up, and a degree of professionalism on your authorship profile, but the advantage of adding a personal touch to your work will make it worth it for many.
How to set up a Google authorship profile
First, you need to set up a Google plus profile at plus.google.com. Fill in your details, including a professional picture and some of your details. For Google to verify you as a legitimate author, your profile must be fleshed out with some detail about you, but edit your privacy settings to make sure that certain private details, such as your telephone number, are not made public. The more active you are on Google plus, the more Google will trust you, resulting in higher search rankings.
When editing your profile, add the websites where your content is hosted to the ‘contributor to’ box. You must then link your website to your Google plus profile, which can be done by providing an email address that links to your website, or by adding some simple code to your website.
Google will then take some time to verify you as the author of the work, but eventually your authorship profile will show up alongside your search listings.