Site owners across the globe blow their noses noisily as they discover the obituary here. And then they don their black clothes and head out. The year is 2014, and this is the funeral of Google Authorship.
Many put time and effort making sure that rel=”author” was laced throughout their website. Each content page frosted with the name and picture of whoever had compiled all of those words into a coherent, informative blog post.
But in the words of the (once) famous boy band Five, you’ve gotta “get on up when you’re down...”
So what exactly did Google Authorship do for us, and what can we do instead now that it’s gone?
**NOTE** If you didn’t use Google Authorship before, the following information is still important to you! It contains valuable instructions that can help you to improve your SEO and click-through rates.
Change A: You’ll Lose Authorship Visibility in Search Results
Those little faces next to search results sure did make the internet a friendlier place. Also, because they were genuinely linked to an account, they carried the authority of the author whose mug it was.
Incorporating authorship helped with SEO, but it also helped with click-through-rates as the faces drew the eye and trust of many a web searcher.
So this advantage is gone for any who were using Google Authorship to get into (not to mention stand out in) top search results, but that doesn't mean that hope is lost.
There are other methods, if somewhat traditional, of standing out in search results and you need to direct your focus there now:
Solution A: Optimize Your Title Tags and Meta Descriptions
That’s right, we’re going back to the age-old method of standing out from the crowd with pure awesomeness. Before I dive into the nitty-gritty though, you need to start by checking that your website isn’t missing any important tags.
You can do this painlessly and effortlessly in a few seconds with the AffiloTools Health Check Module. It will tell you:
- If any of your Title Tags or Meta Descriptions are missing.
- If any of your tags are too long.
- If any of your tags are missing important keywords.
All of those elements are crucial to ensure that Google doesn’t just select snippets to display from your page willy-nilly! You want to make sure you are controlling what is shown, and you want to make sure that it is quality.
As for that quality part, your average-joe headlines just ain't gonna cut it.
Tips for Writing Title Tags and Meta Descriptions That Get Click-Throughs
Go through the following checklist before finalizing your title tags and meta descriptions:
- Is your title tag snappy and to the point?
- Who is your target audience? Does the tone of your title tag and meta description target that audience?
- Does your title tag include at least one of the following:
- A question
- A list (eg. “Top 5 Ways to do X” or “17 Facts About X You Need to Know”).
- An interesting Adjective (e.g., Crucial, Fantastic, or Unbelievable).
- A call to action, backed by a reason (e.g., “Watch this video about X to learn the incredible secrets of X”).
- Do you have your keyword for each page in its title tag and meta description? This is very important for SEO, but also for standing out to the person searching with that keyword!
Check your website now for weak title tags or meta descriptions, and adjust any as required. If you’ve got a lot of content pages, at least make sure to check your most important ones. See for yourself whether or not it makes a difference to your SEO and click-through-rate.
Change B: Google Authorship Was the Ruling Rich Text Markup
For any who don’t know, rich text snippets are the bits of extra information displayed next to search results, just like with this “Ultimate chocolate cake” recipe:
There are review stars with a written rating of 4.7 to prove the quality of the recipe against others without this information. Any searcher can also tell at a glance that it will take them 2 hours and 10 minute to make, and that a serving will be 541 calories.
Google Authorship was the reigning rich text snippet during its lifetime because authors could grow their authority for better SEO, and the profile images in search results would draw the eye for increased click-throughs.
However, there are other rich text snippets you can use that are as effective as ever. These will still help you to improve your SEO while giving a little extra “oomph” to your appearance in search results.
Solution B: Master The Best Rich Text Snippets for Affiliates
Now that Authorship is out of the mix, these other rich text snippets are more important than ever. If you have any doubt about whether or not they’re truly worthwhile, this snippet from the infographic on The Moz Blog should clarify for you:
A 20 to 30 percent rise in click-through rates is not bad at all! And visitors are even more likely to stay because they know more about what they’re going to find before they even arrive. That’s pretty snazzy, in my opinion!
So let’s get you set up with some rich-text snippets. Check the following two main types of rich text markup, ask yourself whether they’re present on your site wherever relevant, and implement any that aren’t!
(Instructions for implementation are at the bottom of the type descriptions.)
When considering a product, people want to know the good, the bad, and the ugly. Review stars indicate that they will find a concise review when they click through, and they’ll even know whether or not it will be positive.
This one is particularly useful for affiliate marketers, as product reviews are one of the best content types for convincing someone to buy a product while providing them with the link to do so.
Breadcrumbs have a similar role on the internet to the role they have in Hansel and Gretel. They tell Google the site structure or path leading to each post. They also mean that one post ranked in Google will display more related links to your site in the same search result.
That’s more bang for buck, you could say! In this case, if someone was looking for an introduction to affiliate marketing, they could also discover a whole bunch of other lessons by clicking one step to the left.
They can also better understand that “Introduction” originates from “Affiliate Marketing Lessons.” This has a double-positive of giving them deeper insight into the content they’re clicking on, as well as attracting relevant site visitors for you that are more likely to stay — i.e., the ones you really want!
As mentioned above, if your site is related to a food niche, or any health and nutrition niche that causes you to have a few recipes present, you want to use recipe rich text snippets.
Having information on how long it will take to prepare at least, and if possible, how many calories it contains, means that they won’t have to waste time searching your site for this information.
People searching for what you have to offer will be more likely to click through, rather than throwing away time searching other websites for the same information. Also, once again, they’re more likely to stick around when they arrive at your website.
A Quick Note on the “Product” Rich Text Snippet...
It may seem intuitive to marketers to use a rich text snippet tailored to products, but Google has outlined that this is only for use by the merchant, so don’t use it as an affiliate!
Implementing the Rich Text Snippets
If your website is built using WordPress, the easiest way to implement Rich Text Snippets is to use the plugin All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets.
Once you’ve got it installed, it’s as simple as:
1. Selecting which type of rich text snippet you want to add to a post.
2. Filling out the boxes to the best of your ability with the information you have.
3. Checking how it looks by entering your page URL into Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.
It’s really that simple to boost your SEO and CTR with rich text snippets, not to mention making your post information more user-friendly in search results.
So Your Site Isn’t Built With WordPress?
Go Get Your Site in the Search-Results Spotlight!
This week, your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to comb through your site for relevant opportunities, and implement the following:
- Improved title tags.
- Improved meta descriptions.
- Review snippets.
- Breadcrumb snippets.
- Recipe snippets (if relevant).
Get these elements in place wherever you can and this should keep you out of trouble for a little while!
As always, comment below if you have any questions or thoughts on this topic, e.g.:
- Do you have better tools for adding rich snippets?
- Is there a type of rich text snippet you use that I’ve missed?
- Is there something else Google Authorship did for you that you need an alternative to now?
Let me know!
RIP Google Authorship...