Google Authorship for Dummies

If you write content for the web you want to be credited for your work, right? Since the search engine giant first launched ‘authorship in search’, thousands of online authors have linked their work to their Google profile. If you write quality content, it’s time to join them.

Why’s it a good idea? The content you write establishes you as a known author on the subject. Nobody really knows the fine detail about how Google’s search algorithms work, but we can safely assume that when Google’s bots and spiders find a new bit of content written by you, your existing author rank will have a positive influence – however small – on the page rank of the new content, provided it’s good enough.

While this isn’t the place to discuss page rank in any detail, you can take it from me that a high page rank is a worthy ambition as far as SEO is concerned. It’s one of countless small ways to improve a website’s ranking in the search results pages. All you need to know for the purposes of this post is that you want Google to create a circuit of ‘verified trust’ between itself and your published content.

Step one – set up a Google+ Profile

This is the easy bit. If you haven’t joined Google+ yet set up a profile and provide as much information as you can, including a decent quality photo, preferably a good head shot. As a general rule the more information you include in your profile, the better.

Step 2 – Link your online content with your Google profile

You can link your online content with your Google+ profile in two ways. The simplest and fastest is to verify an email address for your url to prove it’s yours. To do this, click through to plus.google.com/authorship, sign up with your email address and click on the email verification link they send you.

You also need to add a byline to every page you’ve written, including your name. Use something simple like ‘By Mike Lowndes’. Just make sure your byline name is the same as the name you’ve used for your Google+ profile, or Google won’t be able to make the connection.

What if you write for other sites, for which you don’t have a valid email address? Luckily there’s another way to link your content with your Google + profile, which works just as well even though it’s a lot more hassle (and you need to be confident about adding html code to your pages).

  1. Create a link to your Google+ profile from your webpage by adding this code, <a href=”[profile_url]?rel=author”>Google</a>
  2. Replace the [profile_url] bit with your Google+ profile URL, which looks like this: <a href=”https://plus.google.com/xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx?rel=author”>Google</a>
  3. Add a reciprocal link back from your Google+ profile to the site you’ve added the code to, like this:
  • Go to the ‘Contributor To’ section and click ‘edit’
  • Click ‘add custom link’in the dialogue box
  • Enter your site’s url
  • Click ‘save’
What about Google Authorship for WordPress?

Wait long enough and someone in the WordPress user community will create a plug-in to make your life easier. If you want to control your Google Authorship easily in WP, there’s a plug-in for it. Here’s a link: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/google-author-link/

This particular plugin works perfectly for single-user and multiple-author WordPress sites, providing each writer with their own field to store their unique Google Profile url and creating an authorship link on every page and post by adding a link to the HTML copy in the page’s <head> code. Install and configure the plug-in then simply add your WordPress site to your Google Profile under the ‘Contributor to’ section.

How long does it take for results to appear?

Google Authorship isn’t instant. You might have to wait two or three weeks before the connections are made and your headshot appears in the search results next to the urls you’ve verified. But you can suck it and see, using Google’s rich snippets testing tool, here: http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/richsnippets.

The tool even delivers instructions about what to do if you’ve got it wrong, for example giving you the chance to verify your email address if you haven’t already done so.

No guarantees…

Bear in mind that Google isn’t under any obligation to link your content with your profile and won’t guarantee it. If they like what you do, your image will eventually show up in the search results. If not, it won’t.

If you’ve already set up Google Authorship, did you find the process straightforward? And what about this article – did you find it useful?

Until next time and happy authoring

Mike is CEO of PML Media Limited, a virtual agency staffed by 14 independent marketing professionals, copywriters and technical geniuses. PML helps authors build and manage their Author Platforms, social media channels, build email lists and create ongoing strategies to help boost their brand, get noticed and sell more books.

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September 17th, 8:17 pm

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