Eric Schmidt’s forthcoming book is causing quite a stir prior to its release next month. The executive chairman of Google released an excerpt from his book a few months ago where he discusses how identity and authorship might be used to better rank search results. Within the SEO World, some are convinced this is a given that Google are already utilising the ‘Author Rank’ as a ranking factor.
Seeing the full version of the excerpt, highlights how earlier reports fell afoul of taking the quote out of context.
The full quote from an early edit of the book explains;
The basics of online identity could also change. Some governments will consider it too risky to have thousands of anonymous, untraceable and unverified citizens — “hidden people”; they’ll want to know who is associated with each online account, and will require verification, at a state level, in order to exert control over the virtual world.
Your online identity in the future is unlikely to be a simple Facebook page; instead it will be a constellation of profiles, from every online activity, that will be verified and perhaps even regulated by the government.
Imagine all of your accounts — Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Google+, Netflix, New York Times subscription — linked to an “official profile.”
Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results.
The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance; even the most fascinating content, if tied to an anonymous profile, simply won’t be seen because of its excessively low ranking.
What can be taken from this is that it is clear that Schmidt isn't talking about what Google is doing now or even about what it might do with a Google + account. He’s speculating on how governments themselves might change, and in turn, try to control information.
Firstly we are taking the above to mean that Google+ and Google authorship efforts are just as important as ever, for their real benefits that we see now, (increased visibility and user experience) as well as some ranking benefits, but also as preparation for what might be coming.
A Google + account is still regarded as improving rankings, but only marginally when a searcher is signed-out. So in real terms, a prospective client searching for a dental practice is unlikely to find you solely from improved search rankings from your Google+ page. However, if that potential patient was searching signed into their Google+ account, and had a friend who is part of your practices circle, then it is evident that the search will be influenced by this link.
Secondly, the addition of an Authorship photo to the left hand side of your listing is available right now and does look great in the SERPS especially for dental practice websites where a human presence can be the difference between a potential new patient or not.
Eric Schmidt’s speculation of a world whereby governments require verified profiles in exchange for ranking well isn't a reality. But it is increasingly believed that if these are the views of the Google Executive Chairman, then it is not a far stretch to assume that Authorship will become a ranking factor in the future.
Certainly the Authorship mark-ups that we have installed have not greatly improved rankings, but we have noticed increased traffic, implying the addition of a photo of the practice principal is attracting the eye in the search results and gaining a click through.
For more information about authorship mark-up or your Google + page, give us a call and we can discuss how to optimise these for now, and for the future.
This article cites Danny Sullivan from www.seacrhengineland.com, with thanks.