After my recent blog post covering the rise of Google Plus and the reasons why it is pulling in more active users than Twitter, I received a number of questions around Google Authorship. Here is a complete guide on how to set it up and have your name and photo showing in Google Search next to your articles.
Google Authorship is a feature which allows Google to associate content to an individual person, and display a related headshot and name next to it in Search. You can link content you publish on a specific domain (such as your blog or a website you contribute to) to your Google Plus profile, and Search results will display as in the screenshot below.
Google created Authorship to allow the correct attribution of content, which means writers can claim which content they have produced and be associated with it visually. It also allows searchers to easily navigate to other content written by the same author, which helps establish credibility and legitimacy around content producers.
It’s widely considered in SEO circles that establishing authorship attribution results in a higher click-through rate: the content stands out within the search page, and there’s also an increase in long-tail clicks since searchers can more easily see your other content.
Your first step is to create a Google Plus account, if you haven't already done so. There is a straightforward walkthrough to help you set up your profile, so make sure you fill in all the fields and include a good quality photograph, showing your full face (no avatars, logos or arty shots).
The next step is to fill in the "Contributor to" section of your Google Plus profile. List all the websites that you are writing for or have contributed to. The images below show the editing panel and what the result will look like.
Insert the link either to the homepage of the site, or to your author page. This should include your bio and a list of all the posts you have written - and don't forget to add any new sites you start writing for. Always ensure that a byline containing your name appears on each page of your content (for example, "By Blaise Grimes-Viort" or that there is a bio present on the page that includes your name), and that this name matches exactly the name on your Google Plus profile.
The easiest way to verify your Google Authorship is by having an email address in your name from the website you are publishing or being published on, i.e. having an email address with the website domain. So if your website is www.emoderation.com, then you can verify an email like [yourname]@emoderation.com by adding it to your list of emails in your Google Plus profile and clicking the link in the confirmation email that is sent. Similarly, if you write for another website, it's worth asking if they can give you access to an personal email address from the actual domain name of the site. You can also verify the email for authorship by following the instructions on the simple Google+ Authorship page.
The benefit of verifying in this way is that once you click the confirmation link that is sent to your email to confirm it is yours, the "Contributor to" section of your profile is automatically updated with the relevant website link. You can check that the email addresses are confirmed by the presence of a little tick next to them.
Don't have an email address that includes the domain name of the site you are writing for? There is another way. Once you have set up your Google Plus profile, you will need to insert a small piece of code which includes the rel=author tag into every page you have had published in your name. This rel=author tag links up your content with your Google Plus profile and means Google can then verify the relationship and display your attribution in search. This piece of code can be placed anywhere in the content, but the best place to put it is in the sidebar embedded in a Google Plus icon, or hidden in the HTML code of your header or footer, if you can edit it.
The stock code is:
which you'll need to edit to include your own personal profile URL. Mine would look like this:
Google provide a tool called the Google Structured Data Testing Tool which will allow you to check you have set up your Google Authorship successfully. Just drop in the URL to one of your articles on site you have linked following the instructions above, and if it's worked it will show you what should be displaying in Search.
If a part of the set-up wasn't done properly, this tool will display a list of suggestions on what might be missing and how to fix it.
If you are guest posting across multiple sites, it is highly unlikely that you will either have an email address from those sites or the ability to edit the HTML header code either. So here's a way to claim Authorship for your guest posts. Follow the steps above in the section titles "Verification by rel=author tag", but when you get to the point of needing to insert the rel=author code, insert the following into the HTML of your bio on the website you are guest posting on (or ask the editor or admin to do it):
So, to write 'and you can find him on Google+' which links to my Google+ profile, this is the html I use:
I did this on my SocialMediaToday bio, and this is what it looks like now:
Check in the Google Structured Data Testing Tool that everything is working fine:
Having spent some time playing - and failing - with this process, here are the top potential issues you might face if your content is not attributed and photo is not displaying in Search.
Let me know how you get on!