In August 2014, Google ditched the authorship functionality from all search results. If you missed it, for the past few years Google has encouraged content producers to sign up for a Google+ account and use code within their websites and blogs to indicate that a Google+ user created that content. This can be a gold mine for your B2B lead generation efforts and here's why.
The idea was that content would be indexed and associated with a real human being, rather than a bot scraping from other sites and generating spammy, keyword-stuffed content to get listed in the rankings. For content producers, not only was your content trusted and therefore promoted by Google, but you got a profile picture to pop up next to the search results, which differentiated your link from others. We know people generally respond more to images than text, so you were more likely to get the click-through.
Here at Axon Garside, along with many other publishers, we saw this effect when comparing click-through rates of authored and non-authored content. We were, therefore, happy to maintain a Google+ profile and make the authorship magic happen. So why has Google binned it?
I heard on the grapevine - bear in mind this was in relation to the drop in the number of video thumbs seen in search results (remember those? They dominated everything!) - that because authorship lent a more interesting and eye-catching layout to organic results, the number of people clicking on PPC ads was affected, and that costs Google money.
Sure, it wants you to do well in organic search, but only so your competitors have to spend money to compete on AdWords. Sorry, that's cynical! The official reasons relate to usefulness and authority.
Don't scrap Google+
Google felt the number of people with Google+ accounts and perhaps even the quality and intent of those account setups wasn't sufficient to give a genuine view on the quality of the sites they were promoting. The human recommendation factor was being manipulated because if you don't have natural numbers of users who'll give an opinion or a +1, then it's not that difficult for SEO work to sway things heavily, giving poor quality search results.
Part of the problem was that it wasn't clear how easy or how difficult it was to connect your Google+ account to your content. All the 'rel=author' business just put people off. As the process wasn't automated most people just forgot to include the vital link connection to make it happen.
If you read other blogs about the death of authorship, you'll probably see comments suggesting you scrap your connections with Google+ altogether. But that would be a mistake!
A +1 on a page is still golden to Google. It says that a real person interacted with that content and thought, 'yeah, I like this, I'm going to use this button to let other people in my circles know they should check it out'. That endorsement factor is second only to the authority of the content (which comes from the authority of the pages linking to it) and that is massive. Google hasn't decided to scuttle off with its tail between its legs, authorship was just an element of search it tried and (for whatever reason!) decided it wasn't right for users.
Share content, build trust
B2B companies often feel they're taking a risk by using content or inbound marketing services as their method of digital marketing, and believe it's an even bigger stretch to share content on Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. However, the reality, and this is regardless of Google's protests to the contrary about taking note of social signals in its algorithm so far, is that these are the platforms Google will look at to gauge trust when it comes to content. The more people you share your content with, across more social networks, the more likely it is you'll get that positive feedback that helps Google determine the quality of what you've published.
Remember, while there's no -1 or dislike button, it makes no sense to hide content away on your site. However, it can seem like a daunting task to stay on top of content promotion across all social media platforms. Fortunately, tools like HubSpot enable you to automate the sharing of content through your different accounts. The tool can also measure publishing across platforms to see which times and days produce the greatest response and traction for your content.
In the early stages of working together, our clients are often amazed at the presence of key decision-makers in their market on social networks - within easy reach. It makes sense to publish content on these social platforms because that's where these people are likely to go searching for solutions. Furthermore, Google will continue to increase its reliance on data from these platforms as markers of quality, so failing to take advantage will hurt you more as time goes on.
Even in a B2B environment, smart companies are now taking advantage of Facebook's advertising framework. I recently discovered a SaaS company, a direct competitor to one of our clients, advertising its solutions via the Facebook timeline feed on my mobile app. This was a company that we'd never before seen appear in the search results for the terms our client ranks for, choosing what is often viewed as a B2C platform to promote a B2B solution.
Overall, it's a win-win situation: the opportunity to share your content on sites with a massive user base where it will not only receive a direct response from users, but will be used by Google to assess the relevance of your content against your chosen keywords.
To find out in what other ways you can increase lead generation for your organisation, download our free and easy to use 'B2B lead generation website checklist' and turn your website into a lead generation machine today.
This blog was originally published in January 2015 and has been updated where possible for accuracy and comprehensiveness in June 2017.