Using Google Authorship to your Advantage

 

UPDATE: In 2014 Google closed the book on the Authorship. Learn more here. 

Ever notice when you search a topic on Google a few of the results include a picture of the author? Those results include Google Authorship markup, a special code you use to link your site to your Google plus profile.  Google authorship tells Google that, like in the example below, a real person named Sue Reynolds created this article on Tending your Social Media Garden. While authorship markup came about shortly after Google Plus launched in 2011, it’s been back in the news again with the speculation around Author Rank. Understand that Authorship and Author Rank are not the same thing.  Author Rank is a possible change to Google’s algorithm that includes authorship markup. It may or may not ever happen. But even if there’s no bump in the search algorithm right now, Google Authorship still helps your content stand out in search results.

Here’s what Google Authorship looks like in the search engine results page. See what I mean? Most people are more likely to click on the link with the picture. So let’s go through the basics of setting this up on your site.

Using Google Authorship Markup

Google Authorship

How to set up Google Authorship Markup

There are several ways to link the content you produce to your Google Plus profile. First make sure your Google Plus profile includes a clear headshot.  Second, link your profile using one of these methods:

1. Use a verified email address to link your Google Plus profile to your content.

2. Add the “rel=author” parameter with your Google Plus profile ID to a link from your website.  Here’s how:

  • Create a link to your Google Plus profile from your webpage with the rel=author tag, like this: <a href=”[profile_url]?rel=author”>Your Google Plus Profile</a>
  • Replace [profile_url] with the your Google Plus profile ID <a href=”https: //plus.google.com/yourIDnumber?rel=author”> Your link must contain the ?rel=author parameter.
  • Now go to your Google Plus profile and add a link back to the site(s) you just updated.
  • Edit the Contributor To section and add a custom link to your URL.
  • Test the connection with the structured data testing tool.

Understand that it is not possible to link a Google Plus business page with authorship markup, just a profile. So if you’re thinking of using this for your business you’ll need to decide who is the branded author and use their personal profile. If you don’t have a Google Plus profile, now’s the time to create one so you can use the feature. In fact, Google Plus has other useful features, like Google Hangouts on Air, which is a free video production tool that streams your content directly to your YouTube channel. If you decide to do a Google Hangout on Air, you might want to check out how to promote Google Hangouts on Air too.

Hmm. So there are reasons to use Google’s social network.

What Go Daddy’s Outage Taught Me About Marketing

If your website was down on Tuesday you probably have heard why. GoDaddy, the internet’s largest domain registrar, was down for 6 hours.

GoDaddy outage

Did a Hacker take down Go Daddy?

For much of the day the world speculated on whether it was the hacktivist collective Anonymous or some other hacking community that was responsible for the attack. Now, GoDaddy’s CEO Scott Wagner has denied that the outage was due a hacker, saying instead it was due to internal failures. This despite the Twitter post from the leader of Anonymous claiming to have broken into a Go Daddy database. These claims are not verified. After admitting to their own server issues, Go Daddy has issued one month credit to customers for the outage in an attempt to make up for the down time.

Full disclosure: I host my sites and domains with Go Daddy. None of my sites experienced an outage and I did not receive the email regarding the credit.

Go Daddy Marketing

I’ve written before in blog posts about my disdain for Go Daddy’s marketing and corporate image. I don’t like their advertising, their use of scantily clothed women or the actions and attitude of their CEO. Forbes questions their image here in a CSR article on gender and ethics.  Their corporate image smacks of an “I don’t care what people think” attitude. Until this week, I wonder if Scott Wagner thought they were too big to fail. Yet they did. And yet, I’m still a customer. Why?

Customer service.

Every time I’ve called Go Daddy they’ve been respectful, helpful and gone above and beyond my expectations. They’ve helped me troubleshoot problems that have nothing to do with their own products, including third party applications that they aren’t, technically, responsible for providing any service whatsoever. And yet, they have. Every time I’ve reached out to them via Twitter I’ve received a timely, and entertaining response. Their customer service is why I’m still a customer.

Here’s the lesson I take away. Customer service trumps marketing

Yes you should try to create a brand image that reflects your business values. Yes you should keep your audience in mind, create content that they’ll share and enjoy and align your brand and voice with your product and mission. Yes you should entertain (edutain) your audience. But if you don’t have a product that fills a need and if you can’t back up that product with excellent customer service, it won’t matter how clever your branding or how entertaining your Facebook posts. People will go elsewhere.

It’s still undetermined how much business GoDaddy will lose because of the outage. The larger question is how many will stay despite the outage (and despite their ridiculous and arrogant marketing) because of their customer service.

Time will tell.

What decisions have you made because of the outage? Was your site affected? Let me know here in the comments.

Deciding Whether Pinterest is Right for your Brand

Carmine Media on PinterestOf all the social networks, Pinterest is one of the easiest to use. Its design is simple and straightforward. Pinners arrange images on a grid according to category – fashion, travel, cooking, fitness and more. Pinterest is the ultimate in content hoarding. The image takes center stage and comments, links and descriptions are secondary. What’s unique about Pinterest is that it is interest rather than relationship based, like Facebook and Twitter.

How do you decide if Pinterest is right for your brand? You have a limited amount of resources to put behind your social media strategy, so before you jump in ask yourself the following questions.

Can you visually represent your brand?

Here’s where you need to think outside the box. If you’re in food or fashion or crafts this is a no brainer as these topics lend themselves perfectly to Pinterest. If you’re in a manufacturing industry or something intangible like insurance or banking, you’ll need to be a bit more creative. To start, think about the lifestyle your product or service can help create, then use images to represent that lifestyle. For example, if you sell insurance you can visually represent the objects most important to people –  homes, cars, art etc. You can also use the idea of security and safety to appeal to pinners. Also think about using text on a colorful background as inspirational quotes make great pins.

Is your audience on Pinterest?

Are the people in your current social networks trying out Pinterest? Can you use the simple act of trying it out as a tool to engage around the platform?

Is your website optimized for Pinterest?

If your website is image rich you’ll have no problem; however, if your developer embedded your images into the background you won’t be able to pin them directly from the site. In that case you’ll need to obtain and upload them, then link back. Moving forward, discuss your intentions to use Pinterest in your marketing strategy with your web developer so they can make images pinnable in future updates.

Can you or someone on staff create or manipulate images?

Original images are the best kind of content for Pinterest. They speak to your brand directly and add value to your stream. So, if you have someone on staff that can create original content for your boards all the better. But even if you don’t you can still be successful by sharing other people’s content within the terms of service and copyright law. There are some important guidelines to follow here, so if you want to learn more about copyright, here’s a blog I wrote recently on how I’m handling copyright on Pinterest. This is by no means a perfect solution and the copyright landscape will change litigation progresses, but it’s a start.

Do you have the resources to put behind a Pinterest strategy?

This is critical. While social media tools for customer engagement are free and have a low barrier to entry, successful implementation and community building takes significant resources. You need the time and the staff to create content and maintain your communities, wherever they are. Many businesses have started Facebook pages, Twitter accounts or YouTube channels and then abandoned them because they don’t see an immediate return. Like any relationship these take time to develop even with an investment of resources. Pinterest, while easy to use, is no different. Plan to invest time and energy to be successful.

Are you adding Pinterest to your strategy? I’d love to see how you’re using the medium to engage – so share your boards here with me! To connect with me on Pinterest visit Pinterest.com/carminemedia. Let’s be PinPals!

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