The Rel=Author and Rel=Publisher tags have been a very hot topic of debate over the last several months. If you are unfamiliar with these terms just know that when a Google Plus profile properly installs the correct tag a photo can show up beside their search results. As of July 24th, 2013 we are only seeing profile photos showing up in search consistently but more and more Business Page profiles are starting to be released into the wild. When it rolls out completely Google will likely make a major announcement. This is a cause for concern as some business do not know whether they should install the Rel=Author tag for individual authors or the Rel=Publisher tag for the overall business. Let us jump into the details.
Rel=Author Increases CTR
If you have searched on Google in the last few months you have probably noticed there are some search results with photos beside the URL as shown belo. When searching through a text based page a photo of a face jumps out at the user. I have not completed any studies but I have noticed that my CTR has increased for lower level page 1 results. In the past I was lucky to get a 5% click through on a #8 or #9 result. With a photo beside the search result that click through can increase to as high as 25% or 30%. The results will vary.
Knowing that a picture within search is valuable most business want that logo beside every single search result. Unfortunately, this is not available yet. I would imagine that Google will roll this out over the coming months but what about right now? Some business have done a work around by installing the Rel=Author tag for individual Google Plus profiles just to get the picture to show up in search. When trying to understand the technical of installing the Rel=Author and Rel=Publisher tags please feel free to contact Mark Traphagen or join his Google Authorship and Author Rank community.
Patience can be very difficult when money is involved. Businesses are created to make money. If a competitor is showing up in search with pictures beside the results there is a good chance users are going to click the result with the picture. Until Google releases Authorship photos for businesses I would think they are not going to punish those that have installed the Rel=Author tag for individual Google Plus profiles. Before jumping on the bandwagon and installing a Rel=Author tag for all of your products or different web pages I would first ask a second and third opinion.
It is important to note that a Rel=Publisher tag can be used along with a Rel=Author tag. From my experience, the Rel=Author tag will allow a profile picture to show up in search even when both tags have been installed on a particle webpage. Once again, get a second opinion before going through the tedious work of installing these tags on all of your websites.
Right now there is not a set in stone answer. I wish there was, but there is not. If you absolutely want a photo to show up in search install the Rel=Author tag and wait for further notice. In the main header of the website I would install the Rel=Publisher tag just to help build authority when and if Author Rank is released. I would like to have a much more definite opinion right now but I am going to remain patient until Google tells us more. If you have a business with multiple services it is probably best to have one Google+ Page. Keep up with multiple pages and multiple Rel=Publisher tags would be a job in and of itself.