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Google Authorship Helps Boost CTR, Plus Other Hidden Benefits

As Andreas Voniatis pointed out in a recent blog post here on Viral Heat, optimizing your click through rate (CTR) is a major concern when engaging in a search campaign. He also noted that Google’s Rich Snippets can help boost CTR 30%.

A key, but otherwise underdeveloped reference, is how Google’s Authorship is a part of Google’s rich snippet’s tool. While this is true, Authorship is a lot more than meets the eye. It may not look like much, especially with my ugly mug, but here is an example of a page with Authorship enabled.

On page one for the search query “link baiting strategies” my guest post for Apex Pacific is ranking about number five on the SERP, but it is the only link that features an author profile. In the otherwise bland results page, the link to my link is more noticeable that even the higher results. This shows us that Authorship can help you target long tail keywords, and can drive more traffic to your site when compared to your competitors who don’t enable Authorship for their content.

Hidden Benefits
A recently discovered perk of getting Google Authorship enabled is gaining extra real estate and links on the SERPs after a searcher has clicked on your link. If a searcher follows a link like the one above and finds the content engaging and useful, they will hopefully take the time to stop and read the piece for a few minutes. If they click on the “back” button in their browser to go back to the SERP, they’ll find that there are now extra links underneath the author’s original link – like this…

These added links work like a safety net for searchers leaving your content and can catch searchers leaving your page and give them a chance to be redirected back to your content and site. The added links are a huge plus, but the extra real estate on the SERP is almost just as good. With the extra back button links, Sarah’s post is taking up about two normal links. These extra links are fine and dandy, but there is no guarantee they’ll show up since they rely on a few factors.

1. Authorship must be enabled and working on multiple posts of yours.
2. Your pages need to be showing up in the SERPs. Just having Authorship enabled won’t make you rank for search terms that you weren’t ranking for before you enabled Authorship.
3. Searchers need to click on your link. While it’s more likely for this to happen with your picture showing up in the SERP, there still is not guarantee.
4. The searcher has to be on your page for a few minutes to trigger the extra links. Google measures bounce rate and factors that into rankings. If people don’t find a need to stay on your site Google won’t direct people to your site. Make sure your content is engaging enough to be read in its entirety.
5. Searchers have to back out of your page with the browsers back button. If they follow links on your page to other sites, or start a new search query, then they’ll never see those extra links of yours.

These aren’t necessarily cons, since the extra links are an added benefit as is, but you should recognize the limitations.

The Smaller the Niche, The Bigger the Impact
As I mentioned above, enabling Authorship could help boost CTR for long tail keywords and push you past competitors. This is doubly true for sites performing in small niches with close competition. Small sites offering a limited variety of products often do not have blogs, but Google Authorship is a big incentive for these kinds of sites to start regularly publishing keyword relevant content with Authorship enabled. If I’m searching for info about new wiper blades for my Buick (only the best for Buster), I’d be much more likely to click on a blog post with a Authorship snippet attached to it than a seemingly random post by a competitor.

There are multiple rich snippets out there for you to implement on your pages to make them more visually pleasing and informative to searchers. Only one snippet shows up for a link, so making the choice can be difficult. But even if you choose not to enable Authorship to show up on the SERPs, you should still consider using it to claim your content since Author Rank will most likely be rolled out this year. In a simple explanation (which there never is when it comes to SEO or Google), Author Rank will be Google’s way to let people start influencing Page Rank rather than just other sites. The common example is if you put your blood, sweat, and tears into a site only to sell it your hard work won’t be for naught with Author Rank since you’ve claimed your content with Authorship and Author Rank gives you measurable stat of how influential you are on the web. For more information on Author Rank check out this post at SEOmoz.

Increasing CTR is a major step in increasing sales, ad revenue, or readership. Authorship has a lot of potential to help push you past competitors that might rank higher than you in SERPs since it adds trust to your link. Will you be implementing Authorship into your site in the near future?

Author bio: When he’s not taming wild alpacas you can find Thomas McMahon writing killer content for Page One Power, a link building company based out of Boise, Idaho. They provide relevancy first link building services using white hat methods.

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