When Google+ was launched in 2011, on the one hand it was lauded as the next big thing in social media and on the other it was ridiculed as being just another doomed attempt by Google to compete directly with Facebook, Twitter and MySpace (at the time MySpace was still viewed as a force to be reckoned with).
In the intervening period, neither prediction has come true. Google+ hasn’t disappeared and, while its popularity seems to be growing steadily, it hasn’t yet made a real dent in Facebook’s dominance of the social media sphere.
But, whether you’re a dyed in the wool Facebook fanatic or someone who doesn’t see the “need” for social media, if you’re in business, with any sort of online presence, there is one very good reason to sign up for Google+, even if you never use your account for interaction.
Personalised Search Results
If you’ve searched on Google recently there is a good chance you’ve seen something like this in the results:
What you’re seeing is the information from the author’s Google+ profile page displayed next to the article to personalise the results. Why is this important? The graphic below, taken from eye tracking studies, shows you.
Unsurprisingly, the first results got the most attention from the user. But, the personalised entries, with author photos and names were the next most popular, with not a lot of action in between.
Google’s rationale behind this move is to help users find genuine information posted by real people, rather than spammy or auto generated pages, leading to more relevant results and a better experiencing for the end user. Of course, the upside for Google is that it encourages people to join Google+ 🙂
How do you add your name and photo to search engine results?
There are a few steps to go through:
- Publish some content attributed to you with words to the effect “by Diarmuid Deans”. This is your blog. (What do you mean you don’t have a blog?)
- Go to Google+ and set up your profile. If you have any Google product: Gmail, Blogger, Analytics, Adwords, Docs, Apps, you have a Google account already. If you don’t, signing up is free and easy and I recommend using your existing email address. Be sure to upload a clear headshot as your profile photo, rather than a picture of your pet/child/bike/favourite celebrity.
- Verify you are the author by going to https://plus.google.com/authorship.
- Check the setup using the Google testing tool. If it’s all good, sometime in the future your Google+ profile photo and name will appear next to your articles in Google results and you can add to your position as an expert in your field.