The End of Google Authorship
Like March, Google’s push towards Authorship came in like a lion, and left like a lamb. On August 28th, 2014 Google officially removed Authorship markup, after removing Authorship photos and bylines the month prior. Much was written about and invested in the process of building and strengthening Authorship - a fair amount on this blog too. So, where do we go from here?
Is this Good or Bad for the Bike Industry?
While the intention behind Google Authorship was good, for local bike shops it was often difficult to achieve the technical requirements needed to tie Authorship to actual authors - and even when achieved, influence was unfortunately centered around a few content creators, rather than the business as a whole. This outcome made it difficult to quantify the value of Authorship over the long term, and left the business at risk when when its trusted authors changed focuses, or left the company. All in all, I believe this change is positive.
Shift to Strengthening Local Results
Google’s latest algorithm change (nicknamed Pigeon) appears focused on strengthening the accuracy of local search results - which is amazing news for bike shops as they work to position themselves against in-market competition. This means that Google intends to make search results for local goods and services even more relevant to the searcher through more-accurate distance location settings, and hundreds of it’s own ranking signals.
To take advantage, bike shops should continue to do three things:
- Local Listing Pages: claim and maintain up-to-date, and standardized local listing pages, such as Google+, Yahoo Local, Bing Local, and even Facebook. This step can be time consuming as locations are verified often by USPS mailed verification codes, but is well worth the effort as it allows you to manage your local search results and relationship. Polished results also increase consumer confidence and may play a deciding role between two competitors.
- Encourage Reviews: this is a simple, but often overlooked step in the local listing space. Ask your customers to write a review on your page - especially when you feel they’ve had a good experience. Consider designing a simple business card with instructions on how to leave a review on your site of choice. Personally explain the effort and how it helps your business grow, or simply drop it in the bag of happy customers.
- Continue Producing Great Content: your efforts to generate valuable content on your owned channels was not a wasted effort. Quality content attracts viewers and longer pageviews, metrics which Google (and the other search engines) attribute to value to, and in turn are more likely to push forward in search results. So keep building great content that you would personally want to watch or read if you were a customer of your own shop.
In the end, Google’s shift away from Authorship and towards more locally-relevant search results is a good thing for bike shops, large and small. Spend more energy building great local listing pages like Google+ Local - with up-to-date and standardized information; and continue creating quality content that drives traffic and increase time on site.
In Memoriam of Authorship