Fundamentally, Google Authorship is Google’s attempt to give individual authors the ability to get authority from the content they write. Authorship ensures blog posts are no longer exclusively owned by the sites they are posted on, and makes it is easy to find and read all of the articles written by your favorite authors. I, for example, write content for both the RealEstate.com blog and my own personal site. Thanks to Google Authorship, I can claim the articles I write for both. A single click on “More by Andy Fulton” in a Google SERP is all that is required of curious readers to see all the posts I have written for both sites.
Beyond increasing the Web presence of individual authors, Authorship also provides significant search engine optimization benefits to the sites on which their content is posted. Articles that have been claimed by an author, especially one with an active Google Plus profile, are viewed as more credible by the search engine than other, unclaimed articles. Perhaps the most visible change brought on by Authorship is the addition of authors’ Google Plus profile pictures in Google SERPs next to the articles they write. This improvement is more than aesthetic; differentiators in SERPs, like these images, have been shown to increase click-through rates.
In this way, Authorship must become an integral part of every business's social media plan. For example, many of the realtors RealEstate.com works with waste time on social media by continually posting listings to their Facebook, Twitter, and even Google Plus profiles. With almost no time investment, Authorship could provide them with real business benefits - courtesy of increased SEO - that these kinds of ineffective social media strategies could never hope to offer.
Make sure you have the following before you attempt to set up Google Authorship:
Google Authorship can be set up in two simple steps.
First, visit the “Profile” section of your Google Plus account and click the “Edit Profile” button. Tell Google that you are an author for the sites that are posting your content by adding their URLs to the “Contributor to” section.
It is now time to create a link from your content to your Google Plus page. This can be easily accomplished if you have email addresses on the same domains as the sites you added to the “Contributor to” section; visit the Google Plus Authorship page and enter these email addresses there. Otherwise, you will need to add the following HTML code to the text of every article you write:
<a href="[your profile URL]?rel=author">Google</a>
Note that the key piece of code in this link is the “?rel=author” snippet. Authorship will not function if this snippet is not included in the link.
Test your content to verify that Authorship has been successfully set up by entering one of your article’s URLs into Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. Your Google Plus profile picture, byline, and “More by [your profile name]” will appear in the mockup search engine result if it has.