Having just come across Google's new Publisher plugin for WordPress, I wanted to investigate whether it (a) makes life easier and (b) has any real SEO value.
The idea behind the plugin is to make signing up for Google's Webmaster Tools easier and make adding AdSense faster. The latter might not be appropriate for every site, but it's no surprise the two are bundled. After all, if Google can get you to put AdSense on your site, the company profits too.
If the Publisher plugin works as promised, it could be a great SEO strategy for people who hate SEO
. Webmaster Tools provide detailed data reports on sites, and Google says the new plugin lets you install the tools with a single click.
It's quick, it's easy, but...
Although Google provides adequate documentation
, the only way to really test a plugin is to install it on a live site, which we did via WordPress' quick and efficient auto-installer. Rather than take you through every little detail, suffice it to say that everything is relatively quick and painless. The plugin would appear to do all the things it says it will do.
The question is, why?
What we can't see, at this stage, is any real value. Yes, you need Webmaster Tools for your site (or sites), but even if you've never installed it before, Google's help pages are pretty clear. You may or may not want AdSense, but although the plugin puts both tasks in one place, it still requires the same application process. There doesn't seem to be an option for those who already have AdSense accounts, so if you have more than one WordPress site you need to add code the same way you always have. You also, currently, can't use the full range of ad sizes.
To be completely fair to Google, the company is keen to point out that this is a beta release, for self-hosted WordPress sites. It doesn't work with Wordpress.com blogs - but they can't carry ads anyway. If Analytics set-up and management were included, the value might be more apparent, but it's not there at the moment and there's no suggestion that Google intends to add it in future.
Using Google's Publisher Plugin might save you a few minutes - but we're not talking about enough time that you could use valuably elsewhere. But in taking this shortcut, there's the danger that small business people and entrepreneurs won't learn the basics of SEO that can be extremely important to them. You may not like SEO, but ignoring it is foolish.
For many beginners, there's an inclination to want to do everything quickly. Sometimes, however, there's huge benefit in understanding the whole process, from selecting a web host
and installing WordPress, to setting up a Google account, verifying at Webmaster Tools and implementing analytics. Through doing those things, you learn more about how each functions.
Practical SEO, the kind that everyone can implement, doesn't come from discovering "the secret". It comes from experience.