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Analyzing Google +, Authorship and Snippets

Google+, Authorship and Snippets are an integral part of Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs), so understanding them thoroughly is vital for an effective search engine optimization (SEO) campaign. Even if a website does not incorporate them fully, the webmaster must be careful not be negatively influenced by them. Here is an analysis of the positive and negative effects of these three elements.

Google Inc.’s social network, Google+, possesses some really powerful features that could (but might not as well) topple Facebook from the top. First of all, Google+ allows users to share content, such as links, articles or pictures, without any character or size restrictions, and to a specific set of Groups rather than everybody. This is much better than Twitter, which limits posts to a certain number of characters, and Facebook, with its privacy issues. Google+ can therefore present information in a tidy data flow and will be useful to business as a marketing tool1. It can also help users hide certain information from relatives or work colleagues. Additionally, its Hangout enables group video chat, which will be useful in all environments. Finally, Google Photos, formerly Picasa, enables seamless photo sharing and distribution.

Authorship in Google is a sure way to ensure that your content will not be stolen or copied, thus making you lose a portion of your organic traffic. This technique will also help you protect yourself from negative SEO, where the content and articles of your website are stolen before the Googlebot can index them. Articles with confirmed authorship rank in the SERPs, so it works much like SEO.

In order to confirm authorship of an article, the author or webmaster needs an established Google+ account. Having registered an account, you should go to “Profile, and then “About,” and select the option to edit his profile. Under the line “Contributor To,” you should write down all the websites you contribute to and with which you want to be associated2. Be careful of some content sharing websites such as Helium.com and HubPages.com, where other authors might try to pass off their work as yours to gain more traffic. Then, on each new article link, add your by-line to your Google+ account. Each high-ranking article will give more authenticity to your name and better standing to other articles. Another possibility is to place the rel=author tag on the head of your website3.

The snippet is a body of text that is unique for every item in the SERPs. The snippet is keyword specific, which means that a website can be presented by different snippets according to what keywords the user inputs4. The snippet usually begins with the date the post was created, as Google is extremely adept at locating the creation date. Ellipses signal that some words were omitted, or that the snippet is a mixture of different words from the same page, while an ellipsis at the beginning means that the snippet comes from a larger body of text.

Snippets are usually short in length, around 156 characters, but this is a general rule. More marginal queries, or results deep within the SERPs span three to four lines. Although the webmaster cannot directly influence what Google puts in the snippet, he can help the algorithms by writing a keyword packed and informative meta tag description. By default, Google uses that if it cannot find the keywords on a specific page. However, be sure to make it high quality because Google’s algorithms have a strong aversion to low quality meta tags. Note that accurate meta tags do not affect standing in SERPs, but only improve the click through rates.

References:

  1. http://blog.vistage.com/marketing/analyzing-google-is-there-a-need-for-another-social-network/
  2. http://smartlinkup.com/google-rel-author-your-article/
  3. http://yoast.com/push-rel-author-head/
  4. http://searchengineland.com/anatomy-of-a-google-snippet-38357

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