Google has been pushing Google+ pretty hard over the last couple of years, and doing so has raised a number of pretty distracting dilemmas for web masters, business owners and marketers.
One of these questions is what type of authorship connection your website should have with Google+: a publisher connection (rel=publisher) or an authorship connection (rel=author)? Should different parts of your site use a different approach?
Understanding the difference between these two types of verification is the key to making the right choice for your site: whether you have an emergency backup generator company or you sell handmade jewelry, understanding the difference between rel=author and rel=publisher is going to be important for making the most of Google+.
Rel=author dates back to 2011. It was envisioned by Google as a way for authors to tie all of their content back – no matter where it appeared on the web – to a single Google+ profile. This can provide a number of benefits.
The first is that your profile picture from Google+ will appear with your content in search results. You’ll also be somewhat insulated against outranking, in the event that your content is scraped and republished elsewhere. Additionally, you could see a jump in your CTR (click-through rate) in search results.
Perhaps most importantly, you’ll be able to build PageRank authority for your profile, provided your Authorship connection links your profile to your content on high-quality, authoritative sites.
The differences between rel=author and rel=publisher may seem subtle at first, but they could be important for certain types of businesses. What rel=publisher does is provide a way to create a connection between a company website and that company’s official Google+ profile.
The first benefit of this is that it puts a checkmark beside your brand’s name on Google+, which communicates to users that this is, indeed, the officially verified page for the given brand. It’s an important step toward creating credibility and authenticity, since just about anybody could create a profile using your brand’s name.
Furthermore, rel=publisher will provide a way for your +1’s to be attributed to your brand page, which will be an amalgamation of your followers for a given page, along with direct +1’s made on your website or on your content across the web.
So Which Is Best?
As you can probably tell, rel=author and rel=publisher have distinct advantages. The good news is that it’s not an either-or proposition; different circumstances call for different approaches.
Rel=publisher is best applied to your entire website. You can do this most simply by placing a Google+ badge on your homepage, or by linking your website to your Google+ brand page (just remember to add the rel=publisher tag to the link).
Rel=author, on the other hand, is meant to identify the connection between you and your content throughout the web; it’s not meant to be applied to your entire site, but instead to individual pieces of content.
Small business owners should be particularly interested in understanding the differences between these types of authorship, since they contribute to your accumulation of authority and influence in different, but no less important, ways.Adrienne is a social media marketing writer who writes weekly about social media for The Frederick News Post.