Being a blogger or content publisher, if your content is constantly ranking high up in the search results, it is important that you claim authorship for your own content. Last year, Google introduced Authorship Markup, a step towards identifying the authors of great content online and catch those who scrape content. Google’s rel=author tags also help optimize websites and thought leaders on popular topics. Using Google Authorship capabilities, Google aims for better engagement between the blog authors and readers. Though currently the Authorship program is still in pilot mode, and thus you can’t just expect to be included. In fact, the steps themselves can be pretty tough, so we thought to detail you with the procedures involved in order to qualify for the Authorship program. This article will give you a complete idea about what rel=”author” is, why you should pay attention to it and how to set it up on yourself.
What is rel=”author”?
It is an extra attribute for the URL linking to an author, that associates the author of a page with its content on which the link appears. In other words, it’s a mechanism that tells the search engines like Google that you are the owner of the content you create. When implemented correctly on websites or blogs with authored content, this small addition to your articles can have a dramatic impact on how your content appears in Google’s search results.
Why You Should Pay Attention to rel=”author”
The benefits of this functionality are obvious. Users might be attracted to a picture next to search results because of several reasons like trust, authority or just being a good profile picture. Chances are that they will be drawn to that result with the picture—even if it its not the #1 result!
In this image, you can see how Google makes use of the rel=”author” attribute to showcase the content’s author. Google fetches the author image form the display image of the authors Google+ profile. The author’s name just to the right of the image links to that author’s posts on Google+. If you are logged into your Google account, it might also display information such as the author’s circle count on Google+. In some cases, users of search may be able to add the author to their Google+ circles and even comment on their Google+ posts—all from within the search results page! Thus by introducing a variety of relevant, value-added features to search results, searchers are encouraged to interact with the links that contain these interactive features.
How to Implement rel=”author”
We’ve broken down the process of adding the tag to your blog into easy to follow steps below.
#1 Prepare Your Google+ Profile
As we discussed earlier, Google gets the image for an author from their Google+ profile. This means that before you even start thinking about using the rel=”author” markup on your site, you will need to have a personal account on Google+. Once you’ve done creating your Google+ account, upload a clear and pleasing photograph for your profile image. The photo has to look good at full size and also as a tiny thumbnail, like how it is going to appear in the search results.
Complete all those important fields in your profile to let people know more about you. Click the Profile button (underneath the Home button) on the left navigation column on your Google+ home page. Click the blue ‘Edit profile’ button, scroll down and click the ‘Contributor to’ section of your profile. Click the ‘Add custom link’ and fill in the ‘Label’ and ‘URL’ fields to specify the blogs you write on. Click to save your changes, and then click the “Done editing” link at the top of the page. Make sure you note the URL in the address bar of your browser—this is your Google+ profile URL. It should look something like this:
#2 Setting Up rel=”author” in Your Site
This can be done in two ways depending on the nature of your blog. If you are the only author or if it’s a single-author blog, then you can use what is known as the ‘Two-Link’ method. Otherwise, if your site has multiple authors, you have to go through a different process known as “Three-link” method.
Two-link Method (Setting Up rel=”author” for Single-Author Blogs)
The two-link method simplifies the process by allowing the user to link directly from within their blog posts . Once you’ve properly configured your Google+ profile, you’ll need to create a link to your Google+ profile that includes the rel=”author” attribute anywhere on the page of every blog article you’ve authored. A good place to create an unobtrusive link would be to embed it in an image or in the text of the author bio or byline at the end of a blog post. When you create your link to your Google+ profile, just add a rel=”author” attribute. Make sure you strip off all of the extra characters from the URL (like “/u/0/” and “posts”). The following would be an example of the link you would need :
[code]Connect with me on <a href=”https://plus.google.com/u/0/UNIQUEGOOGLEPLUSID?rel=author”>Google+</a>[/code]
Replace “UNIQUEGOOGLEPLUSID” with your Google+ ID that you had noted earlier. The two-link step to authorship is now complete.
Three-link Method (Setting Up rel=”author” for Multi-Author Blogs)
If you are one who writes for or manage a blog with many different authors, then there are few extra steps you’ll need to do to configure rel=”author”. This method involves linking an individual blog post to the author page, and then in turn, linking that author page to their Google Plus profile. Then a final step of linking from the Google Plus profile back to the author page. It may involve a website update, such that every author has his or her own ‘about’ page on your website, so you can connect a profile to a specific author page online. You don’t need to go through this step if you are the only author of your blog. If there are author bylines in your multi-author blog linking to their individual author bio pages, you can configure this link adding a rel=”author” tag. This links the original post to their author page, and tells Google who is the author of the article. This same tag would then be applied to every post the author makes, linking to their author profile page. Use the following snippet :
[code] About Me <a class=“url fn author” rel=“author” href=”http://www.YourBlogURLHere.com/about”>[/code]
Next, on the individual author bio page, create a link to the author’s Google+ profile, using a rel=”me” attribute, which is a variation of the author tag. The author profile page would then link to the authors Google Plus profile page, marking it up in the HTML as the real author. Use the below format :
[code]Connect with me on <a href=”https://plus.google.com/u/0/UNIQUEGOOGLEPLUSID?rel=me”>Google+</a>[/code]
Just replace “UNIQUEGOOGLEPLUSID” with your Google+ ID. The writer must then link back to their authorship page at their blog via their Google Plus profile by putting a link into the ‘Other Profiles’ section of the G+ profile. The rel=”me” tag is applied to this link too. This reciprocal rel=”me” linking tells Google that the G+ profile and the author page belong to one and the same person. But what if your multi-author blog does not offer individual author bio pages? (i.e., author archives) Just follow the procedure for single-author blogs. Make sure you have a link to the author’s Google+ page anywhere in his or her articles, this is often achieved at the footer or author bio that appears at the bottom of each article. Now the three-link step to authorship is complete.
For average users who were unfamiliar with HTML and editing author profiles on blogs, the methods described above would seem complicated. So, we thought to offer an alternate method for entering the Authorship program using email.
Google provides an easy alternative to claim authorship for your content using an email address on your domain. It only works if you have an email address associated with the domain of that website you are writing for. For e.g., if you are writing for the Guardian, you are supposed to have a “[email protected]” address, or for Mashable, you need to have a “[email protected]” email address. If it is available, you can verify this email address within your Google+ profile. This gives Google a signal that you have a legitimate association with that website/domain. They then use some form of heuristics to check whether the name on your profile matches with those written on the articles at this website/domain, again a ‘Contributor To’ link is needed.
This is all complemented by the recently launched Google Plus email address verification tool. This may sounds complicated, but trust us, it’s actually very simple. You just have to rely on the tool to find the correct information.
#3 Testing Your Links With Rich Snippets Tool
Remember that if your blog doesn’t contain the rel=author tags, Google won’t be able to associate your content with your Google+ profile. So its important that you should check if everything has been placed correctly. After Google crawls your website (this could take anywhere from a few hours to a couple of weeks), it will associate the content of the blog post with the image on your Google+ profile. But instead of just waiting indefinitely, you can use Google’s Rich Snippets testing tool to make sure you’ve properly configured rel=”author” for any pages you author. Test the URLs for each page you’d like to check and look out for your Google+ profile image and a green signal saying that your authorship markup was successful on this page. If its not, you need to correct something or worst, follow the whole procedure again.
But Google never stated that the use of rel=”author” will guarantee your place in the search results. If you’re fail to get your image alongwith your articles in the search results within one week or so, Google also provides many troubleshooting steps you should try out to find out the exact problem in your setup. That’s it! Now you need to wait for Google to crawl your pages and eventually, your photo will appear next to search results for your articles, along with an authorship link to your Google+ profile. Afterwards, you can even use Google’s own “Author Stats” to track the increase in traffic to your blog after implementing the rel=”author” markup on your content.
It’s not yet the time to deduce a clear picture how exactly AuthorRank is looked upon by the search engines, or how it affects the page ranks. At the moment, all we know for sure is that it’s the best yet way to directly connect authors on the web to fans of their work, and it’s also useful in identifying the original author when duplicate content seems to be an issue. But there is a lot of rumors that, in the future Google is going to consider authority as one of their ranking factors in their search algorithm, the picture still remains cloudy.
It could be that quite simple as those sites which have an authorship tag will rank above those without one. Those content having a larger number of +1s may fetch better positions in search. It could also be that at that the authority of your Google profile or Google + profile becomes the main factor which determines how well your author tag is viewed as a ranking signal. However, it must be conceded that all of these are in the very first stages at present, but we would like to advice that it’s well worth keeping an eye on, so that you might be in the game rather than out.