The web has changed the world in so many ways, but few are more awesome than the fact that now anyone can be a “published” author. Search engines like Google made it possible that people might actually find your content. Then social media came along, opening up yet another way for even the “smallest” of authors to be discovered.

With the introduction of the new Search plus Your World change to Google search (which more closely integrates Google+ and other social entities into Google search), Google just put chocolate in your peanut butter, bringing search and social together in a way that opens up whole new levels of opportunities for content producers.

Related People & Pages: Power to the People!

As part of the Personal side of the new Google search, Google has introduced “Related Pages and People.” For relevant topical searches, Google search will display a sidebar box labeled “People and Pages from Google+.” The box displays some active Google+ users who post frequently about the topic you’re searching. If you’re logged in to Google+, you can add them to your Circles right from the box.

Obviously, this could be huge for you if you are trying to build yourself as an authority in a topic are via your online content.

So How Do You Get Yourself Featured on Google Related People and Pages?

The great and encouraging answer is that this feature is not just for +Britney. This morning my Google+ friend +Gerwin Sturm, who is passionate about origami and posts a lot on Google+ about the topic, showed up in that featured box:

Gerwin is a great guy, but he’s no celebrity. If he did it, you can too. Obviously, it helps to be after a niche topic (good luck ousting Britney from the “music” featured box). Here’s how you can conquer your niche:

1. Fill out your Google+ profile

Make sure it is as complete as possible. Include a high quality photo of yourself, and make sure to mention your key topic interest areas in the introduction. Include links to all your other public social media presences.

2. Post about your topics

Write frequently about your central topics. Don’t spam; create useful, original content that your followers will enjoy.

3. Encourage engagement

A major factor Google’s algorithms evaluate in deciding who to put in the featured box is not only frequency and consistency of posting about the topic, but engagement by your followers. This means the more +1’s, comments, and reshares you get on those topical posts, the more “juice” you’ll have with Google to get featured.

You can’t force engagement, of course, but you can encourage and foster it. First and foremost, be interesting and helpful! But don’t shy away from calls to action. Politely invite followers to reshare, comment, and +1 if they like your stuff.

4. Build a following

There’s no way to force people to follow you, but if you consistently practice 2 and 3 above, participate in the community (comment, +1, reshare other’s posts), and make yourself indispensable on your topic, the numbers should follow. Followings can grow faster on Google+ because of how easy it is to add anyone to a circle (just by hovering over their name) and the power of things like Shared Circles.

That’s it!

Oh…and this works for Google Business Pages as well. Welcome to the new SEO!