Google Authorship is the next big thing in Google-centric SEO, a form of optimization that works specifically with Google properties and can have a surprising benefit on your website. It only works for blogs, and it carries some strict requirements. For those who can meet those requirements, it’s a powerful resource.
For the past year or so, when you run a search through Google, chances are you’ve noticed articles in the top handful of results that have portraits next to them. These portraits are typically the bright, smiling faces of the authors who wrote those posts; never a logo, never a landscape. Maybe you — consciously or otherwise — decided to click those links preferentially over others. This is the effect Google Authorship has on blog posts. The headshot adds credibility and authority to associated posts, which in turn brings in more SEO power. How can you go about setting up Google Authorship for your blog?
Before you begin, you need two things. The first, of course, is a blog to which you contribute posts. You don’t have to be a regular contributor or owner of the blog. All you need is to have a byline with your name clearly stated. This will come into play later.
The second thing you need is an active Google+ account. Google Authorship ties into Google+ directly, so you can’t reap the benefits of Authorship without an account on Google’s own social media darling. Unfortunately, an account through Blogger, Google Drive or Gmail doesn’t cut it on its own. Fortunately, you can use one of those accounts to quickly and easily set up a Google+ account.
If you don’t have a Google+ account already, it may take a little time to set up Authorship properly. It’s more beneficial to have and use a Google+ account than it is to set up a blank, disused profile for Authorship. If you’re skeptical about Google+, go ahead and research the benefits for a moment. You’ll find that Google+ also offers:
It’s incredibly easy to set up a basic Google+ profile, and sharing your posts for Authorship benefits will help keep it active.
There are a number of different ways to set up Authorship, depending on what platform your blog uses. The process is easiest when using the Google-owned property Blogger. Other platforms have varying degrees of complexity.
In every case, one step is the same. Go to your Google+ profile and click to your “about” tab. On this page, you should see a section titled “Links” with any links to websites you own. Click to edit this section. Under the “contributor to” section, add the URL to any blog to which you contribute. This is the Google+ side of Authorship, and is required for the Authorship program to take hold.
Note: make sure that your Google+ profile picture is a clear, unobstructed portrait of yourself. Google does not allow Authorship pictures that are logos, symbols, landscapes or any other form of inaccurate photo.
Blogger setup is the easiest setup of all for Authorship. In fact, if your blog is a Blogger-based platform, the step where you add the URL to your contributing section in Google+ is all you need to do. It might take a day or two to kick in, but the process is mostly automatic.
WordPress setup depends on whether or not your blog is running the latest builds of WordPress as a platform. If it isn’t, you should upgrade. Seriously, not just for Authorship; WordPress is an insanely popular blogging platform, which means any security holes are ruthlessly exploited. If you’re running an older version of the platform, you’re opening yourself up to unnecessary risk. Upgrade your WordPress installation.
Once you’re running the most recent WordPress version, all you need to do is go into your WordPress dashboard and find the edit profile section. In your profile, you will have an option to claim authorship of your content, which requires that you authenticate your Google+ profile. Doing so is a simple process. Once you’re done, your Authorship is verified and you’ll be able to find your profile picture next to your posts in search results.
If you’re using another blog platform, check with the developers of that platform to see if there is an easy, automatic Authorship tool. Many platforms are upgrading to include this tool, but it takes time, and some have yet to roll out the feature.
The email byline option is the next easiest method for any platform that doesn’t have an automatic Authorship integration feature. For this to work, however, you must have an email address with the domain of your blog. That means if you are a contributor to www.someonesblog.com, you will need an email address that looks like firstname.lastname@example.org for Authorship to work using the manual email configuration.
On each piece of content you publish on that blog, you will need a byline. Your byline name must match the name you use on your Google+ profile. That means you cannot take advantage of Authorship using a pen name. This byline must be clearly visible to the search engine. Once that is the case, use this tool from Google to link your name with that domain email for Authorship.
If you do not have an email you can verify through Google, you must use the manual HTML editing method. You will need to make sure your blog is listed in the contributors section of your Google+ profile. From there, add a link on your blog to your Google+ profile. The link should include the ?rel=author tag after the profile URL. This tag tells Google that the linked profile is the author of the content in question.
If you are not able to add this tag to the links in your content, such as in instances when you’re a minor contributor to a larger blog, you will have little recourse. Unfortunately, until that blog adapts to Authorship, you will not be able to claim the benefits of Authorship for your content.
You can have Authorship claimed on several blogs. Google realizes that many writers contribute to more than one blog, and that one blog may have many writers. This is why Authorship is a per-page system.
Fortunately, once you have set up Authorship once, the process is easy to do again. The hardest part is to remember to add the author tag to your byline links, if you need to use the manual HTML method. If not, your job is made that much easier. As time goes on, more and more platforms will include automatic Authorship integration, and you’ll be able to reap the benefits with a minimum investment in Google+.