How to Set Up Google Authorship
If you are producing content, then setting up Google Authorship is a must for your business. Google launched authorship markup in 2011 as a way to connect authors with their web content. Since then, the search giant has continued to tweak the algorithm to give it more importance in search results.
When someone has authorship set up correctly, you will see their avatar and their name next to their content, along with a content description. Their name is a clickable link that helps you find other content the author has written.
Benefits of Using Authorship
Setting up Google authorship has a number of benefits for content authors:
- It provides a much more appealing search engine entry (great for SEO) and makes your content more visible in search results. Justin Briggs highlighted a study showing that author images and links get more clicks than other search results. Another study by Catalyst Search Marketing suggests that the rich snippet content descriptions boost click through rate (CTR) by 150%.
- It builds authority by linking your name to the content you write.
- It helps build trust among web users, and also improves brand recognition. If people associate your avatar with excellent content, that’s good for business.
Here’s how you can enjoy these benefits.
Before you can set up Google authorship, you need a Google+ account. Make sure that the account name matches the byline you use on the content you plan to claim authorship for.
What You Need – If You Have a Google Account
If you currently have a Gmail email account or a Google Apps account, then navigate to the drop down arrow next to your name in the Gmail window and click “join Google+”. This will take you to an upgrade page where you can add a photo (a recognizable headshot as this is important for authorship), and confirm your name, gender and birthday. The next step is to add people to your circles, either from your current email contacts or people suggested for you to follow. Then you can start using the account.
What You Need – If You Don’t Have a Google Account
If you don’t have a Google account, then go to plus.google.com and fill-in the required information to set up your account. Please note that this will also give you a Gmail email address.
Next, add an image to your account so you don’t have the default blank man or woman. This image will identify you everywhere that you use your Google account. It should be a recognizable headshot as this is important for authorship.
Google will also prompt you to create some circles of people you follow and people that are already friends of yours. You don’t have to do this immediately, but if you plan to use your Google+ account for purposes besides authorship, you should do it at some point.
Add a cover photo and any personal details you are happy to share such as where you work, where you live and where you went to school. This provides context when people follow your content to your Google+ profile.
Setting Up Google Authorship
Now that you have a Google+ profile, you can set up authorship. There are two ways of doing this.
Go to the Google+ authorship page. You will already have completed the first couple of steps by setting up your Google+ page.
Next, check the byline on the content you plan to link and make sure it matches the name on your Google+ profile.
If you have an email address on the domain where your content is published, enter it into the on-screen box and click the “apply for authorship” button. You will soon get a response.
When authorship is approved, the website will appear in the contributor section of your Google+ profile and your email address will be in the work section. However, you can use Google+’s privacy controls to tweak who sees this information.
Shortly after approval, you should see a difference in search results entries.
The above method works best for those publishing content on a single site with which they are affiliated. For those publishing content on a variety of sites, there’s another option.
Link to your Google+ profile from the web page where you are publishing the content (for example, in the author bio box). The link must be coded in a particular way:
<a href="[profile_url]?rel=author">[author name]</a>
Add a link back to the website via the contributor section of your Google+ profile. Click the edit button, select “add custom link” and add the link and a description and save.
Testing Authorship Markup
After you setup authorship, check that you have implemented the markup correctly via Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. It is part of the Webmaster Tools suite, but you can also use it without being logged in.
Input a URL, click the preview button and see the results. You will be able to see what structured data has been extracted from the page. This allows you to see if there are any areas you need to troubleshoot.
So what do you do if everything does not go smoothly?
The tool will usually highlight the problem areas. One possible issue on a multi-author blog is that the wrong person gets the credit for a piece of content. Fix this by giving each author his or her own author page. Moz also recommends avoiding setting up authorship for an entire domain; content publishers can use Google’s publisher markup for this instead.
If you have implemented the markup correctly, but your content is not appearing properly in the actual search listings, here are some of the possible issues:
- A poor author photo may prevent your content from showing up.
- You may not have search visibility enabled in your Google+ profile.
- Your email may not be verified (you’ll know if it is by the little check mark on your profile)
- Your byline and Google+ profile name do not match.
- You have forgotten to include “rel=author” in a manual link.
- Your content has recently been published and is not yet showing up.
Search Engine Land has a handy guide to help with troubleshooting authorship issues.
By now you should have Google authorship set up correctly on your Google+ profile and all the sites you contribute to regularly. Keep checking your search results and you will soon see your avatar linked to your content.