Got Google Authorship? You should. Did you know that sites that have author images displayed in search results enjoy higher click-through rates? They also tend to rank higher.
To understand Google Authorship, you have to understand where it came from. Agent Rank was a patent filed by Google in 2005. The premise was to create a search algorithm that promoted authors who published authoritative content. Of course, for this “identity system” to work they needed a platform — thus was born Google+.
Agent Rank has evolved to become Google Authorship. Anyone can get it. It’s free. The process is simple and it only takes a few minutes. Before we dig into the tutorial, I want to talk about the benefits. There’s a list of them, so hang in there.
Benefits of adding Google Authorship to your site
Google Authorship is exploding right now. It’s hot. It may be that people just want to see their face in Google, but I have an inkling suspicion people are showing up for the results. There are a few intangibles, but when it comes to branding and trust, nothing beats having your headshot right inline with your website in search results.
If you are an author or the face of your company, you need your face in Google’s SERPs. I’ve already mentioned it adds trust, but to take it one step further, it adds transparency. People want to see the people behind the companies they do business with. Gone are the days when companies can leave their personality at the door — you need to showcase who you are on the web. Authorship helps you do that.
Rich Snippets = Higher CTR
Study after study has shown that sites with Google Authorship get more clicks. The extra eye-candy in the search results (your face) naturally attracts eyeballs, especially if you are in an industry or niche where the majority isn’t using Authorship.
A Competitive Edge
Simply getting your picture in the SERPs can be equal to rising up a few spots. Take a look at the picture below and tell me which one you would click first.
Let’s pretend for a second that picture you are seeing is not Brian Clark from Copyblogger fame. That being said, out of all these results, which one do your eyeballs tend to fall on? The answer to that question alone should be the reason you sign up for Google Authorship.
Now, to the fun part.
How to get started with Google Authorship
There are a number of ways to add Google Authorship to your site. I’ll cover all of them.
This one is straight forward. All you need to do is visit the Google Authorship page. First things first: make sure you have a complete Google+ profile. You will need to complete the “About” section and upload a nice headshot, logos won’t do the trick. You should use a professional picture of yourself.
Next, be sure that the content on the site has your byline. This needs to be present in order for Google to associate the content with your profile.
Don’t have an email on the domain where your content is at? No problem. This is the trick for that (as recommended by Google):
1. Create a link to your Google+ profile from your webpage, like this:
Remember: the link has to contain the ?rel=author parameter and you need to add your profile link to the example above.
2. Add a reciprocal link back from your profile to the site(s) you just updated.
Your author bio section should link to the sites you contribute to. The About section in Google+ allows you to do this. First, navigate to your “About” page and find the “Contributor to” section. Once you get there add the website you want verified with Google Authorship.
When you’re done, you can use Google’s structured data tool to test if you did it right.
Method #3 (WordPress users)
If you use WordPress you are in luck. WordPress SEO is an all-in-one SEO plugin that will help you structure your pages to perform better in the search engines. It gives you pointers on where your keywords should appear on your page. It also has a quite a bit more features, including XML sitemaps.
But what really makes it useful (for this article) is the fact that it makes adding Google Authorship to your site incredibly painless. All you need to do is install the plugin and add a link to your Google+ profile in the plugin settings.
Whatever you do, don’t forget to add your profile link with the ?rel=author tag to your bio under your WordPress User settings.
Google Authorship FAQs
My picture is not showing in search results. What gives?
If you just created a Google+ account, you have to give it some time. If you aren’t aware, Google has never made it a habit to be transparent with how search works. According to this little community study though, the average was 3 weeks. Your mileage may vary.
Can I use my company logo instead of my photo?
No. Authorship was designed to showcase authors (i.e. people).
Quick tips on getting approved for Google Authorship
What I mean by “approved” is actually having your picture show up in search results. If you type in “cyber security blog” you should see my smiling mug looking back at you.
I got approved relatively quickly. Here are my thoughts on why:
- My site has unique content.
- I’m (somewhat) active on Google+.
- People have added me to their circles.
- I use social media to share my content.
If you are online trying to build your site you should be doing these things anyway. But, if you want your site to show up in SERPs with a picture, I’d say it’s a must.
Have you signed up for Google Authorship? How long did it take for your picture to show up in search results?
About the author: