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Why Aren’t More Bloggers Claiming Ownership of Their Content?

Why aren't more bloggers claiming ownership of their content

Working in the world of digital marketing, I read a lot of blogs every day. When I login to my email every morning I find my inbox full of new articles. All sorts of blogs are talking about everything and anything to do with digital marketing and beyond.

One thing I know is that Google+ is still a hot topic.

Those of us who advocate this social platform talk about it as the future of social media and content marketing. We discuss the benefits of using it for business, about claiming authorship markup and publisher markup and how it has a great impact on search rankings and click through rates.

Then there are the sceptics who say it’s boring. Some say it’s a bad version of Facebook. Others say it’s not user friendly and it’s just another tool created by Google in its quest to monopolise all things internet related. 

What is Google+ about?

Most people in the digital marketing industry agree that Google+ has become an essential part of social media marketing. But it still surprises me when I speak to people (in my industry) who are still not using Google+, still not sure what it’s all about. Many see it as not  being a useful marketing tool for their business.

What is eye opening is when I research things in the digital industry I am presented with a Google SERP (search engine result page) in which only a handful of results have a Google+ cover photo next to it! If we’re in the digital industry, and blogging extensively, aren’t we all supposed to be using Google+ and claiming authorship?

Why Google+ authorship is important

Surely, we all know what Authorship Markup is by now? Could it be that many blog authors dismiss it as not important or not relevant? It’s not exactly a lengthy process to claim authorship, but perhaps many bloggers are not active on Google+? There could be numerous reasons why adoption rates appear low, but to me it’s a no brainer. So why aren’t more bloggers claiming ownership of their content?

If you’re doing it right then you should see the following.

  • An increase in search rankings
  • Improvement in CTR (click through rate)
  • More people with access to your other work

So why wouldn’t you adopt this practice?

Judging from what I’ve read, Google is planning to develop this further and elaborate on author rank, where influential authors appear higher in SERPs, even if their post is published on a lower ranking website. All this seems very exciting. So the earlier we start claiming authorship and using Google+ to establish a reputation, the sooner we will reap the benefits.

The war against spam

It’s not just about rankings and CTR, we’re also talking about waging a war against SPAM and plagiarism by claiming our original content as our own. So, unless you’re a spammer or tend to steal content from all over the web, I really don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t be claiming authorship.

I had a gut feeling that authorship markup was still not as widely used as it should be.

The research

I knew I wasn’t the first person to ask this question, so I decided to do a little research and see if I was right. I took a list of some keyword phrases popular amongst the digital marketing industry and typed each one up in Google search.

I made sure I wasn’t logged into any Google account and changed my settings to show 100 results per page. And then I counted, out of those 100 results, how many had a Google+ profile attached to it. It sounds simple, and it is, but it serves the purpose of answering the question.

And here’s what I found:

Why Bloggers should be claiming Google authorship

I started by searching for search marketing related queries such as “tips for improving traffic to your site” or “on site optimisation best practice”. I knew full well that most of the results would lead to blog articles written by “industry experts”. You can clearly see that results varied but the ones at the bottom of the scale were definitely surprising.

  • Only 10% of results for “online advertising how to” had claimed authorship.
  • 32% of results were for blog articles with a clear author.
  • On the other end of the scale “Recovering from a Google penalty” resulted in 46% of results with claimed authorship (which seemed amazing to me).
  • 86% of the results shown in the SERP were blog articles so, actually the numbers weren’t that great.

Although the numbers were actually much higher than initially expected, I wasn’t blown away. Actually, the further in I delved the more I started to notice a repetition in the profiles that were showing up. I kept seeing the same profile photos again and again.

Do we really only have a handful of “industry experts” in this field?

More research

Let’s try another area of digital.

When searching for “Google+ marketing strategy”, I discovered the following.

  • 42% of results had an author profile which sounds great, but 78% of results were for blog articles. My thoughts on that one are; if you’re writing about Google+ for marketing then I expect you to practice what you preach and claim authorship! In this case, the result was disappointing.
  • On the lower end of the scale “examples of successful social media campaigns” generated 25% results with authorship but 71% of results were blog articles. This was much lower than expected.

Why Bloggers should be claiming Google authorship


Even more research

We all know and have heard about how great G+ authorship is for content marketing strategies right? I’m sure all bloggers out there writing about content marketing are claiming authorship.The last search query was my last ditch attempt to try to get some high figures.

If you write an article about “how to add authorship markup” and you haven’t done so yourself… there’s a real problem!

Why Bloggers should be claiming Google authorship

So this is what I found.

  • 64% of results showed a G+ picture
  • 74% of the results led to a blog

Phew!… Not so bad then.

What does this reveal?

So what do these numbers tell us? A few months ago these figures would have been a lot lower, and I’m sure in a few months they’ll be a lot higher… it’s difficult to form an opinion based on just one study. I’m sure if you search these queries today you’ll get different results but to me they all appear quite low.

I found myself looking at the same profile pictures again and again no matter what I searched for, so although the percentage of total results maybe be average, it’s a lot of the same authors- which perhaps gives us an indication of just how important claiming authorship actually is. Would those results have been in the top 100 so often if they hadn’t claimed authorship?

Authorship has been around since 2011 and I’m noticing that it’s still not a ‘huge’ thing across the industry. Could it be that many authors aren’t using Google+? Or they don’t believe in the power of claiming authorship? Or they don’t see it as a long term solution? I certainly find this aspect of digital marketing fascinating,

I’m looking forward to seeing what Google+ will throw at us next, if it minimises SPAM and plagiarism then I’m all for it!

What are your thoughts?

Have you heard of authorship markup? Have you claimed authorship for your blog yet? I find this a really valuable tool but I’m sure many out there disagree, what are your thoughts and experiences?

Guest author: Joana Ferreira from Fastwebmedia.com



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  • I can’t imagine anyone not finding authorship markup valuable! It is a requirement in my books!

    • Do you think Google is to blame a bit for low adoption? They did elude to bigger things, such as author quality scores, without following through as of yet.

      • Joana Ferreira

        Hi Katherine… perhaps you’re right although I think good things are still to come… we just need to be patient. My thoughts on that are, if you’re already using G+ extensively and seen as an ‘authority figure’ within this platform, then by the time authorship rank etc. comes to play, you’ll be at the top already and reap the highest rewards

  • I absolutely claim my work! Both as part of defense and offense on line.

    As usual, I find the blogs here timely and smart. Thank you!

  • Tim Rowley

    Nice article on Google Authorship. i normally write to my Google+ business page. It’s hard to find information on what is the best practice here. Do you think I should duplicate post to my personal account and the page, or does Google take my page into account? mind you, I don’t actually write much original stuff, i just share the most interesting stuff that I come across.

    • Joana Ferreira

      Authorship is for personal use, not business use. So, in order to claim authorship of your content and have a photo show up in SERPs, it needs to be linked to a personal G+ account and not a business page. However, if you generally just share other people’s content I wouldn’t recommend claiming authorship as your content may just show up as duplicate and you may get in trouble from the original author or (worst) from Google. However, if you start generating original content, by all means, you should definitely claim authorship!

  • Ola Agbaimoni

    Some excellent research. If I’m honest the two times I’ve tried to claim my authorship my brain has melted – what a palarvour as we British say. Maybe that’s the reason more “experts” haven’t bothered. Love the image for the article hahaha very good :~D

    • Joana Ferreira

      It used to be pretty complicated- I remember when I wanted to claim authorship I had to ask for help from someone much more tech savvy than me. If you use wordpress to power your website it’s now very easy to claim authorship- I think the process has gotten much more simple now.

      • Ola Agbaimoni

        Thanks I do use wordpress and I thought I was pretty tech savvy until I tried this lol. It has been a while so when I have a spare moment and a few brain cells to destroy I’lll give it another go. Big Hugs

  • vivienne neale

    I started using Google + in the very early days and I have been unconvinced – even reading through this I couldn’t get excited. It all started when they wouldn’t accept the photo I use everywhere else! It’s funny how certain platforms turn you on immediately and others leave you cold. Now, Glipho is brilliant but Google+ ? Nah! I’ll work harder because I’m told to, but my boat is refusing to float! Thanks for all your efforts on this

  • I’m glad you posted this because I’ve been asking myself the same question. Why are so few people using this awesome tool? I set up authorship a while ago, and I’ve been more active on Google Plus lately. It’s not my favorite site, but it does have some good points.I like that the users aren’t as closed as people on Facebook and that they actually use hashtags to mingle. Either way, I prefer to publish guest posts from people with authorship, and unfortunately I rarely get that opportunity because of low adoption.

    I think a lot of people still don’t “get” authorship because they’re not thinking of the bigger picture. Maybe they assume it’s technically difficult or they think it’s something for more formal writers i.e. journalists, authors, etc.

    • Joana Ferreira

      I agree with you 100%. Working alongside bloggers I find that many ‘smaller’ bloggers just don’t think it’s applicable to them. If you don’t have a huge following or write for the Sunday Times, does that mean you don’t need to claim authorship? I view it the other way around, it distinguishes you from other bloggers, puts a face to your work and you claim it as your own original content. Using G+ will only enable you to grow your following and build a stronger reputation I think

  • guzie

    I think there are other factors involved besides Google Authorship. I have a google+ account and my photo appears in every post I make. However the results are disappointing. Maybe other factors such as backlinks, social media interaction and SEO may be the problem. Google changes are frequent and keeping up with them is a big challenge to any blogger, or marketer online.

  • Hi Jeff,

    It is timely post. I have heavily visited blog and seen it been degraded because of plagiarism by other websites.

    I thought I had covered my bases regarding claiming authorship, but I was missing one part of the process. Adding my blog link to my G+ profile.

    A friend of mine brought it to my attention this past Saturday. And now it is working for the first time in almost two years!

    Where am I going with this? I think it has to do with the “how to claim ownership”. There are many plugins out there that supposedly have a feature in there that helps you claim ownership (this was my case), but it doesn’t work like that.

    So maybe it is ignorance of the process of claiming ownership.



  • Sarah Jocson

    Great post! Extremely right..These process prevents directly that arise when content not owned by a partner inadvertently turns up in a reference file.

  • venkyiyer58

    I have talked to people who allow their personal prejudices against Google (the BIG online bully) to outweigh their awareness of the benefits of claiming authorship. Google+ is Google, ergo, Google+ is no good.

  • Kristine Allcroft

    After spending 12 years in grad school writing my fingers to the bone, you better believe that I claim my work! But, hopefully the plagiarism that is so rampant on the web – for both text and pictures – will be curtailed with the new authorship claims on Google+. It would be nice if folks would learn the practice of citing their resources for information – as you so clearly did in this post! It does help increase credibility for the author (i.e., “thought leadership”) as well as giving great back-links to others. It’s a win-win nice thing to do.

  • Norman

    I have claimed google authorship but havent seen much change in traffic. Is it supposed to help with that?