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Rel=’Publisher’ for Brand-Savvy Marketers

14 November 2012 BY

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I’ve been banging on about Rel=Author and Rich Snippets for a while now. Partly because I like the idea of associating content with people, and partly because I think it’s a good insight into Google’s future plans.

It totally makes sense, to me at least, that the worlds of SEO and Social Media should be run in unison – complementing each other. Rel=Publisher, however, often gets left by the wayside; I view it as Rel=Author’s ugly twin, the one that no-one really talks about, or wants to get to know. But I’m going to tell you why you should!

I wasn’t always a fan

Originally, the whole  idea of the Rel=Author attribute seemed like another way for Google to encourage/force people to start using Google+, “Don’t use Google+, and you’ll be at a serious dis-advantage” seemed to be their message. And like most things Google, they got their way. SEOs, Social Media gurus, publicists  bloggers – everyone that uses the internet for any kind of work, got on board. But regardless of what Google’s motive was to create and implement attributes, such as rel=author, it’s hard not to agree that it’s a truly fantastic concept and will make life a lot richer (pardon the pun) and easier for professionals that rely on the internet to promote themselves and their companies/clients.

Which brings me nicely to Rel=Publisher

The key benefits of most rich snippets attributes, is that you can stand out from the crowd and take up a bigger, fatter piece of the SERPs pie. Everyone wants to have their face featured next to their work, it’s an ego booster! But what about brands? Surely, we can’t start filling up the SERPs with “people” instead of “companies” – that’s just not good business (depends which people, you could argue). So Google have developed Rel=Publisher, as a way for brands to show-off and take up a little more space.

What does Rel=Publisher do?

sony-with-rel=publisher

Much like rel=author, rel=publisher links a brand’s website with its Google+ business page/profile. Again, Google are linking their social platforms with their SERPs, and driving more traffic between the two. For Google, it’s a win-win situation; more users, even more market share. For your brand, it’s a mediocre benefit – for now, at least!

If you use rel=publisher, details of your company such as logo and most recent activity on your company’s G+ page will be shown in the right-hand column.

Problems with Rel=Publisher

Rel=Author shows the author’s photo and name on all SERPs that have been attributed – you do not have to search for the author’s name specifically. However, with Rel=Publisher it only “triggers” the extra feature when you type in nothing but the brand. I.E. “Waterstones” not “Watersones store London”. If you think about it, if you search for a brand the chances are high that you are already pretty familiar with them. So the fact that you get to see their logo and most recent activity on G+ is neither here nor there.

Additionally, Google seems to pick and choose when it actually shows a rel=publisher result. When I first started looking in to it a few months ago, most brand searches triggered the logo and extra G+ info. But today, I actually struggled to find a brand that triggered it. Even “SEOMOZ” didn’t trigger the rel=publisher result, even though theirs was the first example I saw when I was researching it a few months back.

All this leads me to believe that they were, and still are, very much in the “testing stage”.

Why stick with it?

Google is always changing and I can’t help but feel that Rel=Publisher is part of a bigger plan. OK, so at the moment it offers few advantages to the brand/user, but you can bet your bottom dollar that it will play a bigger role in the future of the SERPs as we know them.

How to implement rel=publisher

Manually

Add the rel=”publisher” tag to the head of your site.  The tag must include the URL of your Google+ business page.

rel=publisher html

The easy way

There are always plug-ins to make life easier. The latest version of the Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin has a section that asks you simply to add the URL of your G+ business page. This is super-duper easy and, in my opinion, the best way to go.

yoastpluginforrelpublisher

Final Step

Verification (for both the “manual way” and the “quick way”)

Naturally, Google needs to make sure people are linking the right G+ pages with the right brands, so there is a verification process.

As with rel=author, to verify your rel=publisher, simply go to the G+ page and add the URL of brand’s site to verify it. This creates a “reciprocal” link between the two sites and tells Google that it’s the real deal.

Testing

It will take a few days/weeks to make any difference to what you see in the SERPs. However, you can go to Google’s Rich Snippets tool (which has been vastly improved) to test whether you have implemented it correctly.

Main Points to Remember

1. Rel=Publisher may not give you AMAZING benefits right now, but it’s quick to implement and could very well become a more important feature in the future of Google’s SERPs.

2. There are plug-ins, such as Yoast, to make it very quick and easy to implement it. Or you can quickly add the HTML tag to the head of your site.

3. You MUST verify it from your G+ page – this should be the business page, not a personal “person’s” profile.

4. This should be complimented with the Rel=Author tag, which will give authors greater exposure in Google’s SERPs.

Also be sure to check out Nichola Stott’s beginners guide to rel=attributes!

AUTHORED BY:
h

Ben Holbrook is Head of Content at Verve Search and has a particular interest in content marketing and developing sustainable link development strategies.
  • http://www.barryadams.co.uk/ Barry Adams

    Good stuff Ben. Like with most semantic tagging, it’s not about immediate benefit but about building semantic value around your online presence and connecting different platforms, so that other systems (like Google, but not just them) can understand where your business fits in to the grand scheme of things. It’s about future-proofing your SEO.

    • http://twitter.com/ben_holbrook Ben Holbrook

      Thanks Barry! Yes, I totally agree. It’s a marathon, not a sprint – people need to look at the bigger picture when they’re optimising their sites/brands.

  • http://twitter.com/AndyM23 Andy M

    Was just talking about this and wondering if I have overlooked this as a simpler way to get some form of Google favoured markup on the sites. Especially for those that are reluctant to join G+… (you know the ones).

    Great article Ben.

    • http://twitter.com/ben_holbrook Ben Holbrook

      Cheers, Andy! Yes, it’s a simple idea and another easy way to get on Google’s good side, so we may as well utilise it.

  • http://twitter.com/southcoastdavid David Somerville

    Hi Ben. In the section ‘What does Rel=Publisher do’ you talk about the ‘enhanced listings’ that can be produced, however we have seen this occur numerous times for brands WITHOUT Rel=Publisher implemented?

    • http://twitter.com/ben_holbrook Ben Holbrook

      Sometimes you can see Google trying out new things, you’ll see Wikipedia info next to searches for actors or musicians, or maps next to companies that have chains near to your location. And then other times, as I mention in the post, even though a site has the rel=pulisher mark up they still don’t get any ‘enhancements’ in the SERPs. I can’t really tell why they do what they do, I just think it’s best to play by their rules if you want to compete.

      Have you implemented rel=publisher on any sites yet? Does it work?

      Thanks for your comment, David.

      • Matt Cutts

        Hey Ben, great post! The “enhanced listings” are called Knowledge Graph and are a way Google connects the dots on the web between pieces of information, and the rel=publisher is an authorship signal that is taken into account, yet doesn’t really affect the algorithmic decision to show the graph

      • http://twitter.com/southcoastdavid David Somerville

        Hi Ben. We do have some sites with rel=publisher implemented, but haven’t yet seen anything change yet. Will be interesting to see what happens over the next few months…

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  • http://lostpr.es/ David Iwanow

    Hmm… did a test with Sony and it doesn’t show on Google.com.au so I guess it’s a matter of waiting as there are a number of other verified Google+ accounts that are also not showing in Google.com. So while I think it’s great maybe a waiting game until it’s been shown more widely, sure add the tag in now but don’t expect too much impact just yet.

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  • http://twitter.com/steviephil Steve Morgan

    Great article, Ben. Quick question though: should the code be added site-wide, or just to the homepage? I seem to find differing viewpoints on this wherever I read about it and whenever I’ve checked sites ‘in the wild.’ Thanks!

    • http://www.jonnyross.com/ Jonny Ross

      Steve,

      Did you get a reply to this question? What did you decide in the end?

      Jonny

      • http://twitter.com/steviephil Steve Morgan

        Hi Jonny! Nope, still unsure I’m afraid…!

        • http://www.jonnyross.com/ Jonny Ross

          Ben – would be good to get an answer on this one…?

          • Ben Holbrook

            Hi everyone, super sorry about my 7-month delay, this totally slipped passed me. My answer would be to always prioritise rel=author over rel=publisher. It is far more consistent and offers the same benefit/enhancement as rel=publisher, only on every page of your site, not just your home page. If you use the rel=author plug-ins (there are loads of them about now) it will effectively install the rel=author tag on each page/post of your site, so you don’t have to go through it and do it manually.

            Hope that helps! Thanks again for your comments and questions. I’ll try to respond a bit quicker next time ;) Ben

      • http://twitter.com/southcoastdavid David Somerville

        From what I have read (Google’s own guidelines) you only need to add this to the homepage/root page. We implemented on a site recently in this way and it worked fine. I’m still not 100% convinced that rel=publisher alone accounts for the ‘enhanced listing’, but it certainly is one factor

        • http://www.jonnyross.com/ Jonny Ross

          Interesting, what would you say are the other factors?

          • http://www.facebook.com/das.klemme Myk Klemmë

            If you want to link the frontpage to a goog+ page, then you only need to put the rel=publisher on the frontpage. Otherwise use the rel=author of the post’s creator.

            I’m not sure if it changed, but for a while the publisher meta info showed up on the SERP only if Google’s algorithm thought it was relevant to the search query. Either way it’s worth adding.

          • PliSsK

            So if you run your own web site and all the content is yours, should you have rel=author link on each page? If you have a profile on G+ mainly just to create a page for your web site, is it worth using rel=author or is it enough to stick with just rel=publisher (linked to one’s G+ page)?

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  • http://www.osiaffiliate.com/ Affiliate Software

    Great article. I noticed a lot of brands were coming up in the SERPS and I knew I had to implement this for our company. It is important to have your brand show because you can have competitors that also bid for your brand, so by having this added benefit can help a lot.

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  • http://www.mysecondmillion.com/ Carol Manser

    I think I’ve got all my links in place and working, but when I test at Rich Snippets Tool, I’m getting a red warning message: ‘Warning: Missing Field Required “update”‘ in the data retrieval section.

    The warning is added for all the 6 posts I have on my Home Page.

    Do I need to fix this? And if so, how?

    Any help would be appreciated.

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  • http://youtu.be/mCpIhk9iWeE Leonardo

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  • http://www.impactpr.co.nz PR

    Thanks for this article, i was trying to decide whether to use rel=publisher for our homepage or stick with rel=author. If the extra feature only comes up when exact brand is entered, that really clarifies we are better staying with rel=author. Thanks for this i had not seen this anywhere else.

  • https://plus.google.com/101932652890658937229 Michiel Van Kets

    always good to check, I almost forgot the /> at the end, thanks.

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  • DeadJDona

    making link sample as image is not useful at all. wtf?

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  • saif
  • http://www.PrimaMedia.com.sg/ Shaun Ling

    WordPress for Yoast has been updated. Can no longer find the setting under “Home”

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