What is Google Authorship and Why Should You Care?

google authorship example

Let’s face it: Even if you create amazing content, there is still no guarantee that it will get you the audience you’re looking for. After all, you can choose just about any subject and find a mountain of pertinent information about it online. If you write a blog post on a popular topic, it’s likely that a few hundred or so other bloggers have or will write on it too.

So how do you stand out in the SERPs among a competitive sea of authors? Enter Google Authorship, Google’s way of letting authors claim their content online and make it stand out from the crowd.

How it Works

Google Authorship adds a rich snippet to your content when it shows up in search results, making it more visible to users. To start claiming your content, you’ll need to create a Google Plus account and verify what websites you write for. Once you verify that you’re an author on that website, your picture and a mini profile will come up in search engine results alongside articles and blog posts you’ve authored.

Benefits of Google Authorship

  • Affects PageRank. You can improve your SEO just by claiming your content.
  • Helps to build your brand and credibility.
  • Establishes your authority online. When people see your picture pop up time and time again next to content they find helpful, they eventually associate your name and face with authority.
  • Helps you to combat plagiarism. People can’t easily claim authorship of your content if you do it first.
  • Allows you to rank for multiple topics without one category diluting your score for the other.
  • Links with pictures – as Authorship results are displayed in the SERPs – tend to get more clicks.
  • Helps users to find other content you’ve written through your rich snippet.
  • Expands the reach of your guest blogging campaigns.

Other Tidbits about Google Authorship

  • No one else can claim your content but you, since they would need access to your website’s HTML (and if someone who does have access to your site’s HTML claimed your content, their picture next to your article would probably be a giveaway).
  • You can only use head shots of yourself – not company logos. Google uses facial recognition software for this reason. The point of Google Authorship is to make search results more personal.
  • You don’t have to be active on Google Plus for Authorship to work.
  • There is no limit to the number of websites you can list yourself as a contributor to.

How to Get It

To start, create a Google Plus profile (if you haven’t already), and then upload a good quality head shot of yourself as your profile picture. Then use one of the following methods:

The Email Method: If you have an email address on the same domain you’re claiming authorship on (e.g., max@cnet.com), visit the Google authorship page and submit your email address. You only need to do this once – not every time you publish new content.

The Linking Method: If you don’t have an email address with the same domain name, then you’ll need to link your site to your Google Plus account.

  1. Open a simple word processor like Notepad and create this link:  <a href=”[[profile_url]]?rel=author”>Your Website</a>
  2. Visit your Google Plus account, and click on your email address at the top of the page. Click the blue “View Profile” button. Copy the address in the address bar and plug it into the link where it says “[[profile_url]]”. This URL should include a string of numbers. Keep the “?rel=author” attribute intact so that Google can use it to find your content.
  3. Go to the “Contributor To” section of your Google Plus profile. Click “Add custom link.”
  4. Add the link you just created. If you want, designate who can see the link.
  5. Click Save.

To see if your Authorship arrangement is working, use the Structured Data Testing Tool.

Google Authorship will also work when you guest blog. Just include the link in the bio that you give the blog owner. Again, make sure that your profile URL and the rel=author attribute are included.

Authorship Troubleshooting

If you’ve followed the above instructions, but you’re still not seeing your picture come up next to your content in the SERPs, see if any of the following pieces of advice apply:

  1. If you’ve just recently added Google Authorship or new content to your site, it may take some time for the changes to be made in the SERPs. Wait a few days and try back. Also note that Google will only display search results they think are most relevant to the search terms used – if you don’t see your snippet displayed, it could be that your content hasn’t been deemed relevant enough.
  2. Make sure your picture is clear and recognizable. Google only allows the use of faces in Authorship snippets.
  3. If you used your email to verify your address, make sure that there is a check mark next to your email in your Google Plus profile. This indicates that your email address is verified. You can only use a verified email address for Authorship.
  4. Make sure that your byline and the name on your Google Plus account are the same.
  5. Make sure your Google Plus profile is set to visible. Visit http://plus.google.com/me/about/edit and check to see that the Profile Discovery section is set to “Profile Visible in Search.” If it says “Profile Not Visible in Search,” check the box next to “Help others discover my profile in search.”
  6. If you’ve added the “rel=noindex” attribute to your page, then Google won’t be able to display authorship information for it.
  7. If you’ve added the “rel=nofollow” attribute to your link or are using a robots.txt file, Google won’t be able to access your information.
  8. If you’re using any HTML that will hide your “rel=author” link from human eyes (e.g., display:none), then it won’t come up. Google won’t display anything that other people can’t see.

Google Authorship is a great tool for gaining exposure for yourself as a web content author. It puts your name and image in front of other people before they even visit your website, and makes it more likely that people will click through to your content. At the end of the day, the more great content you put on the web, the more likely you are to be able to grow your audience through Google search.

Paul helps oversee and direct Bluehost's marketing efforts, from branding to advertising to social. He's passionate about communicating what makes Bluehost great and is always searching for ways to help customers succeed online. He grew up in Southern California, studied economics and political science, and loves the Oxford comma much more than he should.
Share