Google+ has only been out for a few weeks and it is already having major impact on search engine optimization. We shared earlier this week general ideas about how Google+ will impact search , but today we have our first major example. Google has begun to roll out a change to its search engine results page in which an author profile image and name appears at the far right of the individual search listing. Additionally the image and name links directly to the author's Google+ profile page.
This is a dramtic change to Google's classic results page. It completely changes the visual weight of the results. Even though the mashable article is ranked fourth in this search, the addition of the image and name guide your eye to that link. This could have a significant impact on click-through rates for results that include an author image.
How Does This Work?
Thanks to the keen eye of HubSpot resident SEO genius
, we have dicovered that is change works for sites using the "rel=me" tag. Currently these sites include TechCrunch, Mashable, and GigaOm, but this list could soon include your site as well. The "rel=me" tag is a simple tag that a person can use across the web to tell Google that what may appear to be separate pages, are actually all about the same person.
Basically it is a three step process to get this to work for your website:
Have a link that includes rel="author me" in your blog article. Such as <a href="http://mashable.com/author/jennifer-van-grove/" rel="author me"> like Jennifer's does.
2. On the linked page (http://mashable.com/author/jennifer-van-grove/), link to the Google+ profile for the author. Include the tag, <a href="https://plus.google.com/100834378485895409468" rel="external nofollow me">AnchorText</a>
3. Now google knows that the author of that article has a specific page.
On her Google+ profile she links back to her Mashable profile in the "Links" area, and indicated that the link was about her via the checkbox when adding a link, so that it's established that both profiles are the same person and reciprocal.
These three steps explain how Google knows to show a certain profile images along side a specific result. To learn more about "rel=me" check out this post on Google's Webmaster Forum .
Google+ is new but already having a major impact on Google Search. Including profile images of authors along site search listings is a major change to what had traditionally been a non-visual page. If you have a blog you should start using "rel=me" tags right away to have your Google+ profile image appear next to your resutls in an effort to make them more social and better stand out on the page. Keep an eye out for future cahnges to google's search to make it more social.