You don’t need me to tell you how popular ‘Rich Snippets’ have become to the world of search and social media. Everywhere you turn you’ll find write-ups about new schemas that allow you to add extra data to show how great your pages are in the SERPs. You may have even read my recent post ‘How to Implement Rel=’Author – a Step by Step Guide’, which discusses the benefits of putting your name and face to your content, and how to implement it.
However, in amongst the hype of how great it all is, a difficult question has arisen (in the real world), that I think needs to be addressed. After mastering the application of rel=’author’, my colleagues and I made sure to get all of our clients involved in schema, and offered a (perhaps a little over enthusiastically) helping hand. The problem, in the real world, is that sometimes our clients’ websites are full of content which cannot, or should not, be attributed to the writer. Instead, the content is the voice of the company or brand itself, and it is this that should be reflected in the SERPs. After all, employees come and go, but the brand and company values will (hopefully) live on forever.
Initial thoughts lead to the realisation that companies and brands could potentially miss out on maximising their ‘SERPs Real Estate’. When the competition is filling the SERPs with their beautiful portrait photos and fancy titles, how can you make sure your company’s brand is also featured? Fear not, for Rel=’Publisher’ is here!
What is Rel=”Publisher”?
As you may have guessed from the title of this blog post (at least I would hope you have), there is a rich snippets schema which can be used to further promote and highlight your company within the SERPs, and it’s called ‘Rel=Publisher’. In basic terms, rel=”publisher” is an authorship markup (as is rel=”author”) from Google , which connects websites (not people) to the Google+ page of the publisher. Typically, it seems that up to now only big ‘tech-savvy’ brands have implemented the rel=”publisher” schema, and I think I know why.
Firstly, the egotistical side of us would prefer to see our name and a picture of our selves in the SERPs, as opposed to seeing our company logo. For that reason people have jumped head first into the world of rel=”author”, adding it to any piece of content the possibly can. Rel=”publisher” has simply been left by the wayside.
Secondly, Google haven’t really done much to promote the fact that it even exists. Where are you Matt? We need your bubbly little face to tell us all about it!
How to Implement Rel=’Publisher’
1. Add the rel=”publisher” tag to the head of your site, with the URL of you Google+ Business page. BE CAREFUL – it MUST be a ‘business page’ not a ‘user page’.
It should look something like;
2. You need to point your Google+ business page at your site to verify the rel=”publisher” mark up. This can be done easily by going to the Google+ page > Edit > About > Add Your Website. It’s important that you use the canonical version of your site, or the mark up won’t work. e.g. www.epicsite.com NOT subdomain .epicsite.com/index
3. TEST = As with all Google authorship mark ups, you will not see instant changes in the SERPs as it takes a little while for Google to pick up the code. No one really knows how long it takes, sometimes it’s days, sometimes it’s months! There is a tool which you can use to test whether or not the code has worked called the Google Rich Snippet testing tool. However, you cannot rely on this tool as, Google themselves have admitted, there is a glitch with the tool which means it shows false results. My personal recommendation is to carry out a branded search for your website, e.g. “Verve Search”, once a week until you see the added rel=”publisher” information. If you do not see it after 6-8 weeks, you can assume you have made a mistake and my recommendation would then be go through it all again (unfortunately). More likely than not, it will work and you will have gained yet another presence in the SERPs that helps your brand stand out.
The one thing that strikes us with the rel=publisher tag is that its not THAT amazing. As it only shows up when you search for the brand. Yes it’s useful and adds value to brand searches, BUT it’s not as cool as the rel=author tag where anything that you write will be attributed to you no matter which page/site etc it’s been written on. But it’s still early days, this could well be the plan for rel=publisher in the future. It makes sense to allocate authority associated with a Google+ business page to all content and therefore see the company logo and Google+ linked page to any content that was written on the business blog (including blog/content on other sites that it was associated with, maybe in terms of sponsoring the article etc). What rel=publisher functionality is at the moment is simply share and promote content that you have shares on your Google+ business page, which perhaps is giving people another reason to switch Google+ rather than Facebook and other social property. Just saying.