You may have noticed the last time that you searched any newsworthy topic on Google—whether it be a recap of the Academy Awards or new developments on the latest iProduct—that some of the search results have a small picture of a smiling individual beside them.
That picture is likely the result of what is known as Author Rank. Sites with regularly updated content can add a specialized link onto each author’s name (a link that connects with the individual’s Google+ account), so Google crawlers recognize that this person wrote the content for the page. The more that author publishes, the higher their Author Rank.
It’s not quite clear yet how Author Rank will affect Google’s algorithm, but it’s likely that articles written by authors with more authority will rank above other articles. It all makes sense when you think about the way Google is evolving. Google wants quality content at the top of its search results. A page that’s linked to a writer with a social presence and a history of great content will likely be one of the best results.
Whatever Google has in store for this initiative, participating in Google Authorship will make your blog more personal and respected.
Creating the Link
Let’s start with the obvious: How do you set up Google Authorship?
In order to create your personal author link, you will need a Google+ profile (which you should set up anyway for a multitude of reasons I don’t delve into here). Add your personal info and a clear picture where people can easily identify you. Remember, Google favors real people with authority. Prove you aren’t some lame person spamming up the Internet by entering your accomplishments and expertise.
There are plugins available, such as AuthorSure, that will automatically connect your account with your articles, but you can claim Authorship with the right links and a little coordination with the blogs you contribute to.
The easier method is if you are writing for a company blog and you also have an email address connected with that name. Add that email to your Google+ and Google will associate you as a contributor once you have verified the account on the Google Authorship page. You can also add the Google+ badge to your site.
However, if you are contributing posts on multiple sites, you will likely need to take the final option: adding a direct link. An author link looks similar to standard anchor text aside from a small addition, the tag that shows how relation equals author. The anchor text can simply be the author’s name so it is easy to fit into an author bio.
An author link looks similar to standard anchor text aside from a small addition, the tag that shows how relation equals author.
<a href=“GOOGLE+ PROFILE?rel=author”>AUTHOR NAME</a>
Once you have the link to your personal Google+ profile, insert the link and your name into the formula to create a link like this:
<a href=“https://plus.google.com/u/1/100758369498172906323/posts?rel=author”>Shannon Williams</a>
Establish Yourself as a Contributor
This next section only applies to accounts without a corresponding email address or authors who write for multiple sites.
Once you have a connection back to your Google+ profile, you have to confirm that you are a contributor.
Go to the “Contributor to” section of your profile (which can be found under About > Links), and add a link to the sites you write for. Google prefers to have a link to an author page or the specific article you wrote (especially if you have an author link).
This will provide a reciprocal link to confirm to Google that you and the site have a relationship.
You can see what your blog post will actually look like on a search results page with the Structured Data Testing Tool.
The Importance for Your Blog
Why does this all matter?
Let’s start with the simplest thing: if everything works out, your posts will look different in the search engines. This may seem like an insignificant change, but a result with a picture, as opposed to all of the listings without pictures, is more likely to catch someone’s eye and send visitors to your site. Higher click-through rates mean more readers, more revenue, or more of whatever you want to accomplish with your blog.
If you write for multiple sites, this is a great way to tie all of your content together. Fans of yours can click your name on the search result to find more content you have written.
If you are a business owner, you are probably already aware that having a blog on your site or writing guest posts for other blogs can help with your online marketing strategy. Claiming Google Authorship takes this a step forward.
This system ties your content to an actual person. This may not be as important on a personal blog that shows a lot of personal information anyway, but for a business, this is vital. An author profile can show a personal side of your employees and humanize the whole company. It can also help your business survive a big problem on the Internet: spam. It can be hard to separate the good stuff online from all of the junk, but if your content is tied to the Google+ account of a real person, your site and company will appear more authoritative.
As mentioned previously, as Google’s adjusts its algorithm, we’ll see Author Rank take a larger effect. You want more traffic on your blog? Take the time to set up Authorship, and you’ll improve in Google’s rankings.
Google Authorship is fairly simple to establish, and it has loads of benefits. Anyone producing content online should consider getting a Google+ profile and starting the process now.