Google Author Rank - Own Your Content
Google Author Rank – Own Your Content and Share Your Expertise

Last year Google quietly began to support ‘authorship markup’, which the search engine giant described as ‘a way to connect authors with their content on the web’.  Initially, the authorship markup was seen as exclusively benefiting journalists and bloggers.  Google stated in it’s blog post that, ‘if an author at The New York Times has written dozens of articles, using this markup, the webmaster can connect these articles with a New York Times author page.’  But, what about the content that PR professionals write? What about the press releases, features, briefing documents, blog posts of industry influencers?

Public relations professionals are responsible for developing and writing content that pitches a story to specific communities and audiences. More often than not, this collateral is nameless and as such acts as background for respected writers in the public domain.

So, What Is Google Authorship Markup and Google Author Rank?

Google Authorship Markup is very simple.  It is a basic coding procedure that allow authors to connect to their content online.  The purpose is to help people find and ‘read content written by credible and knowledgeable individuals.’

Meanwhile, SEOmoz state that AuthorRank is how Google will assign authority based on a number of key criteria:

  • Average PageRank of an author’s content
  • Reciprocal connections between high AuthorRank authors
  • The level of on-site engagement – comment’s, responses, etc
  • Third-party authority indicators – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Quora, presence on Wikipedia
  • A Google +1‘s of author’s content
  • Number of people in your Google Circles and proportion that score a high AuthorRank

When you put it all together you start to see the importance that AuthorRank delivers individuals with real world expertise – thought leaders.

Writing plenty of posts is no longer a way of getting up Google’s rankings.  What you willneed is the support of a network of influencers to see and read your posts and give them a ‘+1’ endorsement.

How is Google Author Rank relevant to my brand or company?

Google Authorship Markup and AuthorRank are going to transform the way in which niche thought leaders and experts are found online.  If it is your job to help build the reputation and authority of individual industry, political or academic individuals then you are going to need to know about how Google is changing the search game.

Reputations are built on authority.  Those with increased authority command a higher share of voice in the communities that they are members of.

You have to remember that online there are many voices fighting for the attention of individuals that in a quick second make a decision based on the authority and credibility of those that they read.

Companies, organisations and individuals compete every day to stand out from the crowd.  They do this by sharing knowledge, expertise and solutions.

Look within your own organisation and you will see individuals with specific insight.  It doesn’t have to be expertise at a global level, it could just be at a local level and within a niche sector.  Audiences are everywhere and it is by understanding how to best deliver your experts that you will meet the needs of your employer and audience.

Owning that authority online today is as important as owning it in offline media. This requires specific strategies that position spokespeople as leaders in their individual areas of authority.

Ok, so how do I help build authority online?

Firstly, continue to write good content.  In fact, great content that demonstrates expertise and gets people to share it within their own circles and communities.

Asses the material that you currently write, such as press releases and features.  Traditionally they are seen as ‘announcements’ written for the media.  Move away from a stale style of writing towards an engaging style for your audience that better resounds with the community you are working to position your expert in.

Remember to attribute copy to experts within your business that you are trying to position as thought-leaders.  It’s what newsrooms do, which is why you should.

Consider using brand ambassadors who have a presence online to guess blog.

As a PR, don’t let SEO’s, IT staff and web teams promote your content online.  Learn their skills and keep remembering the strategy and bigger picture.  Coding and SEO are a must-have skills for 21st Century PRs.

Oh, and you are going to need a new social network.  There is no if’s or but’s, you need to link your content to a authored Google+ account.  While Google remains the number one search engine, Google+ is going to become the must participate network for everybody who has expertise and wants to be seen online.

Google is changing business and communications.  Authorship markup and AuthorRank is a huge opportunity for PR.

Will all this make a difference to search rankings?

SearchEngineLand.com confirms that ‘there’s a hidden benefit to having authorship status.’  This being that if you click on a ‘authored story’ in Google search results, go to said site, read the story for, say, two minutes and then return to the search results, you will see a ‘more by the author’ area with 3 extra stories.

So how do I get a verified author status?

Simple, click on this link and follow Google’s simple instructions to get your author profile.

If you need to know more get in touch by email and we can talk strategies and solutions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twitter is going to ‘change forever.’ That is according to Pankaj Gupta (LinkedIn), who leads the platform’s Personalization and Recommender Systems group. While he said that the changes would be seen today he shared little information on the changes to Twitter’s search offering, which have been derided by users.

 

As a channel, Twitter’s strength lies in the data that it gathers from people worldwide, ranging from influential political leaders and journalists to the general public. Yet, while it’s deep integration with Apple’s iOS enabled it to grow as a platform it is yet to fully structure it’s database into a diary that allows people to register themselves by not just name, job and location, but subjects of interest.

Only during the last fortnight I have shown clients how to find individuals on Twitter that haven’t declared that they work for specific organisations. Anonymity is good, but authority is only built on the reputations that you have offline. Perhaps this might be a reason why Twitter has separated itself from LinkedIn. With the changes due to be announced soon, what changes would you want to see from Twitter?

UPDATE: Twitter have just announced on their blog the introduction of ‘search autocomplete’ and and ‘People you follow’ search results to twitter.com. In a post by Twitter Software Engineer Frost Li (LinkedIn), Twitter unveiled how after entering the search users will find ‘the the most relevant Tweets, articles, accounts, images and videos for your query.’

 

The move takes the platform in the right direction, enabling users to find content and conversations in real-time.  Auto complete will be available outside the US shortly.

Find out more in their blog post here.

Google logoSo Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt has come out and warned that young people will be entitled one day to change their names so that they can escape online and social media activity that’s been recorded and could hinder their future.

The fact that young people or anybody else might need to change their name is not in my opinion what is shocking, but that society would prejudge people based on what they might have got-up to during their youth.

It’s an astonishing claim from Google, given the amount of data that they cache.

Danny Dover’s recent SEOmoz.org blog post – The Evil Side of Google? Exploring Google’s User Data Collection – gives you an idea of what search engines such as Google have stored.  I would recommend that you read his post to get a clear understanding of how vulnerable reputations have become.  And why are they so vulnerable?  Well, the fact that people are sharing information makes the net a great place for data mining for investigative journalists.

censorshipLet’s remember the case of Stuart MacLennan, a prospective Labour candidate, who before seeking nomination to stand for Labour in Moray referred to pensioners as “coffin dodgers”, the common’s speaker John Bercow as a “opportunist little twat” and referring to Fairtrade he demanded a “slave-grown, chemically enhanced, genetically modified” banana.  Of course he didn’t say this in person, but Tweeted it to his followers some time before he sought the Labour party’s nomination.  Needless to say that it was a journalist who unveiled his comments, which led to the then Prime Minster Gordon Brown to sack him.  So, should he change his name?  Possibly not because in politics nearly everything is forgiven.

With social networking having taken a front seat in the way in which we communicate the watchword for managing a reputation is something that would have sounded odious some time ago.  That word is self-censorship, something that in ‘pluralistic’ countries happens just to conform to the expectations of the wider community.

The big question is my opinion is whether social media will makes us more tolerant or more authoritarian?

And for those who might be using lawyers to get libellous content removed from a web-site, while lawyers can enforce an order on the hosting company, getting the cache-trail cleaned up is a different question all together.

BBC Television Centre Newsroom
BBC Television Centre Newsroom

The BBC’s User-Generated-Content (UGC) unit will be celebrating its fifth birthday this summer.  Since it was set up in 2005, the unit has quietly been transforming how the BBC gathers and reports news.  The unit is now a hub of 23 journalists that sift through stories, pictures and videos sent in by people who either have a story to tell or find themselves at the centre of a newsworthy event.

Today the hub supports the corporation’s newsgathering process.  It links BBC News with its audience or rather the audience with the newsroom through the corporations own website, as well as through email, text and social media platforms such as Facebook and TwitterOn an average week the hub processes 50,000 email comments and contributions, 1,000 images and 100 video clips.

It works because people make it work and the BBC and its senior management understand the concept of citizen journalism.  They see their audience as an asset that can add value to the corporations newsgathering.  For the BBC journalism is now a two-way relationship where they engage with their audience and listen to what they are interested in.  The BBC brings them into the editorial process, allowing them to have a conversation of equals.  This allows ordinary citizens to drive content to experienced and trained journalists who cannot access countries and restricted stories, but can piece together information driven to them by people on the ground.

But how does the UGC hub work, what does it do and how does it corroborate fact from fiction from its contributors?

Thanks to the hub’s editor Matthew Eltringham I spent a day at the BBC in December learning how they work and support the corporation’s news outlets, leading them to win the ‘2009 News Award For Outstanding Contribution To BBC News.’

Located at the heart of the BBC Newsroom, the hub is like any other section, with desks, phones, Dell computers and monitors.  What makes the hub unique is that they are the first contact point for contributors and citizen journalists from around the world.  They allow people to engage and support the newsgathering process.  Once material is verified they’ll make it available internally to television and radio news programmes.

Each news outlet will have their presence online through either a page or blog on the BBC News site.  Some may also have a Twitter feed that they’ll use to reach out to their individual audience through which they can promote their work and content.  Individual journalists might also use and promote their work through their own Twitter feed.

But it was never as easy as it is today.  A number of years back I was told by a now senior BBC News executive of how respected television news personalities were opposed to writing a blog on the BBC’s own website that added insight and detail to 1 minute 30-second TV packages they put together.  They “felt that it devalued their experience and knowledge” and that if it wasn’t in their package it wasn’t important.  It is all very different today with Robert Peston and Nick Robinson amongst others viewing their blogs as central to their work.  In fact they see the blogs as another channel through which they promote their stories and a way of engaging with their respective audiences.

Today the hub works in three ways – it listens to chatter and gauges public reaction on the BBC’s own forums as well as social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, it sends out requests for content (pictures, video and personal reaction) on breaking news stories through the BBC News website and its dedicated Twitter feeds and it filters and verifies content sent in by people.

Engaging with its audience

The BBC’s ‘Have Your Say’ section on the news site is a platform through which readers and viewers can share their thoughts on relevant newsworthy events.  There are around 345,000 registered users and contributors, but only a small number of these contribute on a regular basis.

With so many online registration systems in use the BBC is currently working on unifying these so that visitors to any BBC site – News, iPlayer, etc – need only one registration.  The intention is that by March 2010, BBC iD will be the single sign in for all BBC Online services.  I understand that the aim is for BBC iD to have a social media feel to it, so that users can list amongst other things their likes, comments and contributions – let it be views of programmes on iPlayer or comments or contributions they’ve made to BBC News stories.

The hub also monitors comments on its ‘Have Your Say’ forum and searches for reaction on networking sites such as Facebook.  An example of this was the coverage the BBC gave to how over 20,000 people joined a group on Facebook in support of Massimo Tartaglia, the individual who bloodied Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi after a rally in Milan.

Requesting and searching for collateral

BBC One TEN O'CLOCK NEWS
BBC One Ten O’Clock News

At a recent Chartered Institute of Public Relations Greater London Group event Nic Newman, the BBC’s Future Media and Technology Controller for Journalism and Digital Distribution, said that such has been the impact of social media that news outlets have reacted by abandoning attempts ‘to be first for breaking news, focusing instead on being the best at verifying and curating’ stories.

Depending on the newsworthiness of an event, the UGC hub will access a story on the BBC News website and add a form asking for pictures, video and comment from people caught up or affected by an event.  Staff on the hub will also put out requests through their central BBC newsgathering Twitter feeds.

For diarised stories such as conferences, the hub will set up a Twitter feed dedicated to that event.  For example, for the recent summit in Copenhagen Climate Change Conference they set up: twitter.com/BBC_cop15.  Requests for material and stories on breaking news stories will be pushed out through their twitter.com/BBC_HaveYourSay Twitter feed.

The level of response varies from story to story with people sending in comment, pictures and video through the BBC’s own website as well as email and sms/mms.

The BBC UGC hub is only responsible for the central newsgathering Twitter feeds.  It doesn’t manage the feeds of specific BBC News programmes, such as those for The Today Programme, Newsnight or BBC Radio 5 Live’s Drive.  Each of these outlets is responsible for managing and communicating with their audience.  The BBC News Sports team manage their own social media channels, tools and communications.

Verifying content

BBC News - Get In Touch
BBC News – Get In Touch

Reporting accurate information is at the heart of every news organisation.  But as a public broadcaster the BBC is more accountable than other news outlets.  This is why it is the hub’s policy to verify all user-generated-content that they want to use and forward to other BBC news programmes.

Where appropriate staff on the hub will verify stories and images by speaking with the contributor by phone.  They will also check EXIF details of images that they want to use.

It is the policy of the hub to not pay for any image, exclusive or otherwise that is sent in or offered.  They would rather an independent agency buy the exclusivity and pay them usage rights.

Pictures used are credited to each contributor and meta-tags are added to images used online to support the BBC’s SEO.

The BBC has been setting the standards in newsgathering for many years.  It was one of the first news outlets to set up a website and was one of the first to recognise citizen journalism and use user-generated-content in its newsgathering. More recently they were the first mainstream media organisations to set up a dedicated team to manage user-generated-content.

In the next number of months the corporation will release it’s much anticipated iPhone app, which has been held up by legal wrangles with Apple.  The app though could well prove to be another tool in the corporation’s newsgathering armoury.

For far too long people have criticised the BBC for being too big and not delivering content.  Yet they are the first to reach out, engage with them and listen and use content they supply.

It is going to be an interesting year for media and news organisations and you can be sure that what the BBC have been pioneering will be replicated in other newsrooms around the world.