Authorship is an important concept that has been around on the web for a long time, but is only just now getting used reliably. This is because up until early to mid 2011 adding authorship information to your web pages was an exercise that had no visible effect. Developers who were into microformats or semantics added the
rel=author attribute to their code, but nothing really came of it, so it did not gain much popularity.
But in 2011, Google changed the game by adding authorship information to their search results. When Google has your authorship information, they can display results like the one in the image above, including information like your photo, by-line, links additional pages, and so on. All of this helps make your site more appealing in search.
As you can see from the image, when you do a search in Google, some articles will show up with authorship built right into the search results. This makes adding authorship information even more valuable to your websites and articles because it tells readers that the content displayed has been written by a person who is willing to stand by their work, even put a photo up claiming it. This can imply that the article in question is more reliable than surrounding results and get you more page views.
How to Tell Google You Are the Author
The first thing you need to do to get Google recognition as an author is to create a Google+ profile. You don’t need an invitation or anything special, you just go to Google+ and create an account. Make sure you use a “good, recognizable headshot” as your profile photo.
Once you have a Google+ profile you can associate your content to your profile in two different ways:
The Easy, But Less Private Way
- Make sure that all your content has your full name and email address showing on each page of your content. Most people do this as a by-line, such as:
by: <a href="mailto:email@example.com">Your Full Name</a>
- Then go to your Google+ profile and add that same email address to the contact information box.
- Make sure the email address is visible to anyone on the web.
- Save the email and then ask Google to verify it. Google will send a message to that email address asking you to verify that it’s yours. Once the email is verified, then when Google sees that email address on a web page by-line it will assign you the authorship.
The challenge with doing authorship this way is that there may be some issues with getting the authorship associated correctly. Using the second method may be more difficult, but seems to be more effective. And some people might feel uncomfortable setting their email address as visible to the entire web, as that might attract more spam.
The Harder, But More Effective Way
- Add a link from your Google+ profile back to your website in the “Contributor To” section. Set these links to be visible to anyone on the web.
- Add a Google+ icon to your website. You can build one with the Google Profile Button creator, or create it manually with a link like this:
<a href="Google+ profile URL?rel=author">Google+</a>Make sure to change the words “Google+ profile URL” with your full URL and that the link text ends with a plus.
The advantage of this method is that you have set up reciprocal links between your Google+ profile and your content. This tells Google immediately that you are the same person writing the content and updating the profile.
Seeing Your Results
The first thing you can do is go to Google and do a search for your content. It may take a while to get the authorship information to display. Some people I know have reported waiting months, so don’t give up on your authorship information immediately.
Google doesn’t guarantee that websites with authorship markup will show up in the results. Some of the reasons they might not display it include:
- The structured markup is not the same as what is appearing on the page
- The marked up data is incorrect or misleading
- The marked up content is hidden from the user
- The site has very few pages with marked- up structured data and so was not picked up by the system
Most of these don’t apply to the authorship markup as you are not describing what’s on the page, but rather who the page was written by. As long as your Google+ profile has your full name and a good headshot and point to your authored sites and your authored pages use your full name and point to Google+, the only reason your content might not be added is because you don’t have enough. If that’s the case, you can remedy it by writing more.
You should also test your authorship information in the Google Rich Snippets Testing Tool. This tool shows you the structured data that Google can determine from a page and gives you an idea of how it might display in their results.