All website owners, but especially website designers and website developers whose job it is to build websites for others, need to understand all of the different tools that are available for increasing website traffic. As many of you already know, there are a lot of great ways to increase traffic to your website. Some are better than others. Some are more expensive than others. And more still require more or less time than others. It’s our job to educate our readers on all of the great ways to increase website traffic, and it’s your job to determine which strategies will work best for your website and/or your clients’.
In this article we are going to review another great way to increase website traffic, which is accomplished by adding Google Author tags to your blog articles and websites.
What Are Google Author Tags?
When you think about all of the amazing technology that Google posses and all of the free software that they have rolled out, one thing that until recently Google wasn’t smart enough to know, was who was publishing content to the web. When I say WHO, I mean tying content to an individual. Google Author Tags have changed all of that. By tagging your blog articles and websites with a special piece of code you can let Google know who published the article and that information can then be published next to the link for your article in Google Search Results. From there you have a leg up on your competitors in regards to how many clicks you will receive from people searching for what you offer. The entire process and results are really cool, but not only that, but they are proving effective, which ultimately is what all of this hard work comes down to.
What is this mysterious piece of HTML code you ask? Well here it is in all of its glory:
Where do Google Author Tags get inserted? The answer is a little complex, but we’ll start at the most basic level and go from there. Everyone reading this article will be familiar with how we insert a normal href anchor tag into a website, well Google Author Tags simply append into that piece of code. Here’s a normal href HTML code:
<a href="http://www.your-website.com">iPad App for Facebook</a>
In the example above we have both the copy being anchored to, or anchor tag, which is “iPad App for Facebook Likes” and we have the attribute which is what the anchor tag is being linked to “http://www.your-website.com”.
If we wanted to add a Google Author Tag to this we would simply add the
rel="author" code into our standard HTML href code to get:
<a rel="author" href="http://www.your-website.com">iPad App for Facebook</a>
What we have done by adding in the Google Author Tag is we have linked the content to an author. Search Engines like Google are now able to associate this content with an author. Again, this is a basic example of implementing Google Author Tags into your website. We will break it down further as we move deeper into this article. Now that you have this basic understanding, let’s talk through the benefits of adding Google Author Tags to your website and blog articles.
Benefits of Adding Google Author Tags to My Website
Although the list of benefits from adding Google Author Tags to your website and blog articles is not long, it is very valuable. Basically, the biggest benefit that adding Google Author Tags to your website provides is increased Search traffic to your website. How does this happen? Easy. In the picture above you can see that when a Google Author Tag is added to a website that Google pulls in an image of the Author and displays that image next to the website information. Why should you care? Again, EASY. Say you’ve made it to page 1 of Google Search Rankings for a given keyword, BUT you’re buried far down the list of search results. It’s great that you’re on page 1, but as you know, if you’re not in the top 1-3 links, your chances that someone is going to click on your link nosedives. All of this can change when an image is inserted next to your content. Why? People like pictures. They like seeing the person behind the content. It also simply gives the Search Results page a different look. If you look at a list of Search Results and the all look the same except for one who has an image next to the content, our eyes are automatically drawn to the listing with the image. Thus, more clicks to your website even if you’re not number 1 in Google Search Results!
How does Google pull in an image of the Author? The answer lies with Google’s social networking product, Google+.
Do I Need a Google+ Account in Order to Use Google Author Tags?
Yes. In order for Google to tie the HTML code to you they have to pull that data from somewhere. In the case of Google Author Tags, Google has decided to pull that data from Google+. If you are not sold on Google+ yet, please know that it’s been said that your website search rankings will automatically increase if you use Google+ to publish content. And now Google Author Tags are tied to Google+. These two facts should be reason enough for you to start spending some time building out your Google+ profile and using it along with Twitter, Facebook and other sites to spread your content.
Setting up a Google+ Account
Setting up a personal Google+ account is easy. You simply fill out some personally identifiable information, customize some settings and boom, you’re all set. Once the account is setup be sure to fill out as much information as you think is relevant in your Google+ profile as Google will pull in this information for your search listing. Again, the more information that’s displayed next to your website listing the more people can learn about you before they click your link. People are more likely to click your link if you appear to be an expert on a given topic. Make sure you position yourself appropriately.
The next two HUGE steps in this process are:
- Adding an image of yourself – Upload a professional image of yourself. This is the image that Google will pull into your search results when you use Google Author Tags on your website.
- Adding the URL and name of the website for ALL websites that you will add Google Author Tags to – Navigate to the section of your Google+ Profile entitled “Contributor to” by clicking the Profile button on the left navigation bar on your Google+ homepage. Once there you can click the “Edit Profile” button, scroll down the page, click the “Contributor to” section button, click “Add Custom Link”, and finally fill in your HOME PAGE URL and Website Name for which you’re contributing content to. Repeat this step for all websites that you want to add Google Author Tags to. Click “Save” and then “Done Editing”. From there you will need to copy your Google+ URL so that you can use it when coding the Google Author Tags on your website.
I have to say that I wasn’t a big fan of Google+ at first, but I started using it because of all of the benefits that your website receives in Google Search Rankings from being on there, and now I’m starting to dig it more. Google Hangouts are really cool. So take a few minutes if you haven’t already done so and set up your Google+ account so that you can start using Google Author Tags to drive more search traffic to your website.
Adding Google Author Tags to Single Author Blogs & Websites
The time consuming part is now out of the way and we can start to complete the process by adding the Google Author Tags to your websites and blogs. Although you can technically add Google Author Tags to web pages it really makes the most sense to add them to your blog articles. If you don’t have a blog then you can certainly add Google Author Tags to your web pages. Remember when I told you to copy your Google+ profile URL, well now is the time to use it. You need to find a good place on the blog article or web page to link to your Google+ profile. If you have a place at the top of your blog article where it lists the author of the article, that might be a good place for it. Some websites also have a little Author bio area at the bottom or to the side of blog articles. If you have a dedicated area for this, I recommend adding the link to your Google+ profile in one of those areas. When you add the href HTML code for your Google+ profile be sure to add the Google Author Tag:
rel="author". Remove any unnecessary code that Google likes to append to their URLs. Your HTML code should look like this when you’re done:
<a rel="author" href="https://plus.google.com/135469843456213209854">Ryan Taft</a>
That’s it! Seriously, it’s that easy. You’ll want to publish that blog article so that Google will recrawl your website sooner than later. It could then be immediate or take some time for that article with your Author listing to appear in Google Search Results. Usually it happens quickly, but you know how these things go. We never truly know what goes on with Google. Some things are instantaneous while other things seem to be delayed. Google will basically tie the content to your Google+ Profile and then display that information in their search results.
Will You Add Google Author Tags to Your Website and Blog?
Now that you have all of the information, let’s get back to the opening paragraph when we explained that everyone must decide which tactics you will implement for increasing website traffic. After understanding all that needs to be done to achieve more website traffic through Google Author Tags, will you take the time to set up your Google+ profile and add Google Author Tags to your websites and blogs? Has anyone already added Google Author Tags to their websites? Have you seen increased traffic from this strategy? Please leave your comments below.