Archive for the ‘Google Plus’ Category

How to implement Rel=”publisher” and Musings on the Authorship Markup Landscape

February 8th, 2012
by Tim Resnik

Shortly after the Google+ beta launch in July of 2011, Google began promoting authorship markup to webmasters, publishers, and bloggers. The markup enables Google to semantically build connections between disparate pieces of content and the individuals who wrote them (who have a Google+ profile). You might be saying, well that’s all and good for Google, but what do I get out of it? Google’s answer to that question today would be: you *may* receive authorship information along with your listings in the search results, such as a headshot, rich snippets from your Google+ profile, and even your own author SERP (such as Bianca’s below).  Their likely answer tomorrow: it will be used as a key cog in determining “Author Rank” that will greatly influence rankings and the SERP landscape. (A nice piece by John Doherty discussing Author Rank.)

Example of SERP when Authorship Markup is Implemented Properly

Now to the three authorship tags:

      1. Rel=”author”: a link, usually from the byline, from a piece of content created by an author to an author’s profile page.
      2. Rel=”me”: a link from the author’s profile page to the author’s Google+ profile. A reciprocal link from the author’s Google+ profile, under “Contributor to”
      3. Rel=”publisher”: a link in the head of the webpage to an organization’s Google+ Page.

I’m going to focus on the implementation of the publisher tag in this blog. To learn more about the other two check out AJ Kohn’s very thorough write-up on implementation steps, or check out these other resources: Google’s official guidelines (recently made a lot easier by allowing an email address verification from G+ to be used in place of rel=”me”), WordPress implementation, Matt Cutts YouTube video explaining authorship markup.

We know the value of the “author” and “me” markup, but what is the value of the rel=”publisher” tag? Again, the answer today may be a little different than the answer tomorrow. Today, it makes your site *eligible* for Google Direct Connect  which is a navigational search using the “+”<organization name> that sends the searcher directly to your Google+ Page. For example, if you do a search for +Pepsi instead of seeing a search result you will be directly navigated to Pepsi’s Google+ Page. At this point eligibility is determined algorithmically by Google on relevance and popularity. If you don’t think you qualify, you probably shouldn’t implement it at this point.  I have recently seen several branded SERPs that include Google+ page information right below the site links. I am not sure if this is a direct result of the rel=”publisher” verification or some other algorithm. NYTimes.com has it, yet CNN does not. Neither of which have rel=”publisher” implemented:

Google+ Page Showing up in Publisher SERP

 Implementing rel=”publisher” is not exactly a tough coding job, but there are a few quirks and incongruities.

The first step is to determine if you need the rel=”publisher” tag. If you have a high traffic content-rich website AND a Google+ Page for your business (not to be confused with a personal page on Google+), then rel=”publisher” is the markup that you want to use to let Google know that your site LOLcorp.com owns the Google+ page LOL Corp.

Next, add the rel=”publisher” tag to the <head> of your homepage. Google has a tool where you can generate the code and a Google+ badge for your site. This is the step where the waters get a little murky for me, and perhaps ESPN, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

At AudienceWise we work with clients that have many sub-brands, sometimes on a single domain. The instructions from Google are to put the code in the <head> of the document of your “main page.” However, they have not been clear about using multiple rel=”publisher” tags on a single domain. I have scoured the Google forums, as well as reached out directly to a few folks, but to no avail. No one seems to know for sure.

Undeterred, I looked around to try to find an analogous situation and came across the ESPN implementation. As far as I can tell, ESPN has two verified Google+ pages: NBA on ESPN and ESPN. I first checked ESPN for the rel=”publisher” tag and did not find it. I was then a little surprised to find it on the NBA page, but noticed that it was in the body and not the head. ESPN even left Google’s commented out instructions:

It’s not surprising that ESPN NBA, a site that should be eligible for Direct Connect, is not triggering direct navigation to their Google+ Page.

Once you have figured out the right place to put the tag, you can optionally put the G+ badge anywhere in your document. Next, make the connection from your Google+ page to your webpage. Simply select ‘edit’ and navigate to the ‘about’ tab and add your website. Make sure to use the canonical version of the url, or it won’t work. For example, www.pepsi.com is the canonical location of the website, not pepsi.com or subdomain.pepsi.com.

You should be ready to test at this point. Jump over to the Google Rich Snippet testing tool  and see if Google likes you or not. If you have already implemented your rel=”author” and rel=”me” tags, and they exist on the same page as your rel=”publisher”, tag you will get the warning below. However, Google has confirmed that this is just a bug and you can indeed have both the tags on the same page. In fact, Mashable receives this error in the testing tool (but Direct Connect works) so obviously this is not a problem. 

 At a glance, authorship markup seems a bit insignificant in the grand scheme of Google changes in the last year: Search+, the freshness algo , “secure search”, continued Pandalties, a massive privacy policy overhaul and Google+ Pages for businesses. However, a time will come where these tags (and other microformats) will become increasingly important in rankings and SERP display so it will likely pay off to be ahead of the curve and get it done now. Hopefully Google will provide clearer implementation guidelines, testing tools and equal inclusion for the publishers in the middle class.

Enhanced by Zemanta

How to Setup Google+ Pages [Guide]

November 10th, 2011
by Tim Resnik

After a few days of playing with the new Google + Pages, I am cautiously optimistic that it will provide some unique opportunities over Facebook and Twitter, specifically with Hangouts. However, I am a bit disappointed at other limitations, such as Google’s policy not to allow contests and promotions.

Here are the basic steps to getting started with Google+ Pages:

Step 1: Login to Google+ and Go here. If you want to see their promo splash page, go here instead.

Step 2: Pick a category and add your info. If you have a physical location and a Google Place page you should select “local business or place” because it will integrate some of your Places information to your Page. Google allows you to set up both a local business and a brand, but don’t do this unless you want to dilute presence on Plus and manage multiple accounts.

Google+ Pages - Create a Page

Step 3: Customize your page’s public profile. Not much you can do here, but add a short tagline and a profile photo. Don’t expect to do skyscraper image here. Unlike Facebook, the image size is fixed at 200X200 pixels. One interesting feature here is a fairly sophisticated photo editing option during the upload process.

Google+ Photo Editing

Step 4: Get the word out. Google encourages you to do four things to build your business’s Google+ presence: start posting, build your circles – in other words start adding a bunch of people to your circles, link directly to your profile and connect your website to your Google+ Page. This last piece is probably the most interesting because of the use of the rel=”publisher” link, which will “confirm ownership of a site” for Google. Google requests that you put this link which points to your + page from your website in the section of your site. 

Now it’s time to start posting, interacting and building a following. Here a few important things to note:

When you go to your Google+ home page you will notice a drop down to the right of your profile image and directly below your name. This is where you can toggle between your personal profile and your pages. Be careful. Once you switch to a page your all of your posts and comments will be from that page. Moral of the story: before posting pictures from your recent trip to Burning Man, make sure you are on the right profile/page.

Unlike your personal Google+ profile, your Page cannot add individuals to Circles if your Page is not in their Circles. Pages can however add other Pages to their Circles without reciprocation.

Pages do not appear to have the capability to be managed by multiple accounts. It took Facebook a few years to add this functionality, and I am not entirely surprised that it is not in the first release of Google+ Pages.

Google+ Business Pages: the hesitation from Googleplex (a theory)

October 21st, 2011
by Tim Resnik

Google Plus has now been in public Beta for over 3 months and business pages are nowhere to be found. In the first few weeks of launch, many businesses created profile pages only to see them taken down by Google. Google then came out and publicly said that pages for businesses would be launched later in the year and that there would be a test group for brands. The only official peep that has come from the Googleplex since has been the announcement that businesses could be represented by a living, breathing person. What’s the holdup? Why is Google dragging its feet? Is it to protect the user experience, or are they protecting something else?

There has been speculation that business profiles are currently being tested privately. As evidence, you see company logos coming up when you edit your personal employment history. The small piece of evidence that I have to the contrary is that one of our clients comes up, and I know for a fact that they have nothing to do with the test group for business pages. Although they did apply so it could have something to do with that.

So, the question is: why is Google being so hesitant on allowing businesses to create pages? Is it really because they are building a business experience that far exceeds the consumer profiles in terms of usefulness as Christian Oestlien claims in the video above, or is it something more?

Something that I have talked about in the past is that one of the advantages of Facebook ads over Adwords is that if you convert clicks to Page “likes”, you have created a permanent connection between you and that target, giving the advertiser the ability to connect with the target over and over. Adwords does not share this permanency (unless you point it to your Facebook page) and makes a decent percentage of its Adwords revenue from searchers who have clicked on a brand’s ad more than once. This relationship with clicks, follows, and likes leads me to believe that Google is being protective of their Adwords revenue by not allowing businesses to participate in Google+ until they devise and fully test a model that not only protects this revenue, but increases it.

The Google Plus Killer Feature – Search (or at least it could be)

September 20th, 2011
by Tim Resnik

How do you find people, businesses or topics on social networks? The logical thing to do is use the built in search tools for the  site you’re on. If only it were so easy. Seemingly of late I find myself going to Google and doing a “site:” operator to search Twitter, Linkedin, and probably the worst sinner of all, Facebook. On the other hand, not surprisingly, Google has used its bread and butter skills of indexation and display to make the Google+ search experience far more robust than its social competitors.

Let’s look at a really simple example. A lot of people like Coca-Cola. In fact they are one of the most recognized and valuable brands in the world . Based on that fact, we are going to make the assumption that if someone is searching for the common alias “coke” in a search box, they are generally looking for the parent brand Coca-Cola (unless it happens to be someone that really enjoyed the 80s; people usually infer that if they don’t refine their search they are going to be returned the brand, not the illicit substance). If you perform a basic search for “coke” in Facebook, you get listings that are categorized by Pages, Groups, Apps and People. The top Page listing is an exact title match of a page that has nearly a million ‘likes’, but the Coca-Cola page is nowhere to be found.

Facebook Search

Should Coca-Cola, which doesn’t have an exact match in the Page title, come up before Coke Studio? Google sure thinks so, and I am willing to bet that the 98+% of the people searching for “coke” on Facebook are looking for the official company page. The conclusion is not surprising: Google’s search algorithm appears far more sophisticated than Facebook’s. After all, it is what the empire is built on.

 

Facebook Google Search

 

The adoption of Google+ has been significant, accruing over 25 million users in the last few months (in invite only mode, which was lifted today), however, the usage and sharing has appeared to drop off a cliff (I have no explicit evidence of this, but rather stating a common sentiment within folks in online marketing circles). For Google+ to be a formidable competitor to Facebook, they need to leverage what they are really good at: discovery.

The screen shot below shows the exact same search that I did in Facebook. The test is far from scientific and is not even comparing apples to apples since G+ doesn’t allow business profiles. However, two things are clear: First, the results more closely match my intent, and I assume that once G+ allows business pages that the Coca-Cola business page would be in place of the trucker hat chick. Second, the results page itself has superior organization and provides blended results by default and filters for people, posts and Sparks separately.

Gooogle Plus Search

As Google+ grows and continues to innovate, Facebook will surely be forced to “innovate” here (and vice versa, of course). See: Facebook announcing asynchronous relationships. For G+ to finally throw its full weight into the social media arena, it must leverage what its empire is built on as the killer competitive advantage.