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How to Set Up Google Authorship

I wanted to use the Google Authorship markup and found it to be a little tricky.

In fact, I had to visit several websites in order to piece together how to do this.

All the guides were fairly complicated and didn’t have all the information I needed to make this work.

I actually thought I had everything set up right the first time and waited 3 weeks wondering why my photo never showed up next to my search engine results listings. So I thought a step-by-step guide for others would be useful.

Why Use Google Authorship?

The thing with Authorship is Google is trying to apply a “trust-factor” to who wrote an article.

It’s not enough to say Albert Einstein wrote an article, they want Mr. Einstein to have a Google + account that’s tied to the content on a webpage.

To keep going with this, Mr. Einstein could start his own site and write a bunch of articles, get some of his physicist friends to write other articles for it, and link them up to their individual Google + accounts.

Then Google knows he wrote the content authored by him and his friends wrote the other pieces.

They all write lots of articles on physics and are trusted resources.

People link to their articles, stay on their articles and read all the way through the end of the content, and the articles get lots of visits from all over.  These are the types of articles Google wants showing up at the top of their search engine.

If Einstein went around contributing guest articles now Google knows he wrote a piece of content that’s on your site too. So you have a trusted resource writing content for your site.

Authorship is a way for Google to start trusting individual authors and not just websites.

The hope is, if I write a lot of content on online business and tie it all back to my Google + account then in theory when Google sees my content they’ll be more likely to trust that it’s written by an online business expert and rank it higher.

So that’s the value in this.

The other reason to use it is because listings in the search engine results pages with photos are clicked on more often than those without. And that will bring you more traffic whether you get higher rankings or not.

If you’re publishing content under your name anyway it’s going to be worthwhile to attach it to a Google + account and configure authorship markup for Google.  Many people are already using bylines on their sites, so it’s really is a no brainer in that case.

How to Set Up Google Authorship

The first thing you need to get all this going is a Google + profile.

For that, you’ll need to go here:

https://profiles.google.com/

Sign into your account (or create one).

Click on Profile over on the left under ‘Home’. Once you’re on that page, then hover over the profile photo and you’ll be able to edit it.

You’ll need to add a photo. It should be a real photo of you. They prefer a headshot, but I uploaded one that was not just a headshot and they accepted it.  So if you don’t want a glaring close-up of your face you probably don’t need one.

Once you’ve got that uploaded go to Edit Profile and click +1′s.

Then click on ‘Show this tab on your profile’ and ‘Save’ like I’ve done above.

You can choose to update all this other stuff like where you went to school, things about yourself, and link to your other social media profiles if you want.

When you’re done with your Google + profile, make sure you click on Done editing. Then copy your Google + ID number. It’s used in the URL of your Google + profile and is a 21-digit number.  You’ll need that ID number for the next step.

Getting Your Site Ready for Authorship

Next, you need to figure out how you’re going to work out the bylines on your site. I found it was easiest to have me as an author for each article and also have an author page.

There are a number of ways to make this work, but the main point is you need to list out the author so it’s obvious who wrote the article. You’ll need to link to your Google + profile in a certain way (which I’ll cover below) either on the page with the content or on the author page (or both).

This will be a snap if you’re building your pages by hand.

I am using WordPress for this site and I found that made things more difficult.

The problem is that WordPress will take some of your HTML code and strip it out.

I’ve had problems with this over and over.

I have no idea why I’m using WordPress for any of my sites half the time (it’s handy, but also can be a hassle).

You may like WordPress a lot more than I do, but even if you love it, it’s going to strip out the rel=”me” code and then this won’t work (which is why I had problems the first time).

There are plugins, but I had read that people have problems with their security. And for me, I really don’t want to use a plugin to do something as simple as adding in a little code on my pages.

Anyway, I have myself set up as an author on my site by filling out the user profile.

Then in the ‘about the user’ section I have this:

<a href=”http://www.businessbolts.com/author/lisaparmley” rel=”author”>Lisa Parmley</a>

So it looks like the screenshot below. You should make it more exciting than what I’ve got in my about us page. Hopefully I’ll remember to go back and do that.  But you do need that rel=”author” tag in there like I show:

Then down further on that page in the Author Archive Settings (this is what shows up on my author page), I put this in my Custom Description Text:

The important part here is the <a href=”https://plus.google.com/your21digitnumber/about?rel=author”>+Lisa Parmley</a>

This has my Google + ID in it. That’s where you copy your Google + ID number (the 21-digit number that you copied earlier). It’s in your Google + URL.

For whatever reason, with the theme I’m running at the time I’m writing this, it allowed the rel=”author”, but not the rel=”me”. Crazy.

So I had to look around to figure out how to make this work and found my answer at Yoast.com.

According to Yoast.com there are a few lines of code you can add to your functions.php file:

There is a very in-depth article there that has a lot of useful stuff on it, especially if you’re into coding.

I’m not into coding and I’m trying to keep this short and hopefully a user-friendly guide to google authorship. But you can go visit that page and find the exact code under the heading; ‘How to allow authors to add rel=”me” to links in their bio’s’. It’s a little way down on the page.

Anyway, this code will keep WordPress from stripping out your rel tags. Without this it did not work for me because WordPress stripped out my rel=”me” tag.

I was in a hurry when I first implemented Google Authorship so I didn’t check it. Really, I’m not sure I was in that much of a hurry, I just didn’t expect it to take an hour to do. So near the end I was ready to be done and didn’t check things as well as I should have.

And this is what messed it all up for me. I actually waited about 3 weeks wondering why my picture didn’t show up in the SERPs, feeling like I did something wrong (which I did).

Ok, so now you have your Google + account set up and you have the rel tags on the right pages (you don’t have to do it the way I showed you, there are many other ways to go about it, but this one works). There’s still a couple more steps.

Add Your Site to Your Google + Account

Next you need to go back to your Google + account. Click on Edit Profile and then near the bottom you’ll see Other Profiles.

Click on ‘Other profiles’. From there you need to click on Add custom link.

You’ll see a place where you can add a label and the URL for the author biography page.

Then click “Save” and “Done editing”. You’re actually done now, but this whole process is complicated enough that you really need to do this last step too.

Verification

You can verify that all this is working by visiting this page:

http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/richsnippets

Copy and paste in a URL that has an article you are the author on (that you think you have set up correctly with the rel tags).

So here it shows how it will look in the search engine results pages.

My image shows up. It also says that the author (me or you) is Verified and is green.

You’ll want to check this all out. If it’s not working you won’t see the image and you won’t see the green ‘Verified’ box.

Another thing is you may also need to verify your email address within the Google + account (if you haven’t already done it). That’s easy to do and you’ll be shown instructions here if it’s not been verified. All that’s for is to make sure your Google + account and a Gmail account go together.

Once I successfully set up my Google Authorship it only took a few days for my photo to start showing up next to my search engine results listings.

Again, if you’re already publishing content under your name and trying to brand yourself as a trust-worthy author then I think it’s useful to do this.  Although I did not see an instant jump in my rankings for my site, Google seems to be into Google + and their Authorship program for the long haul.

I can see ’author-trust’ becoming a bigger factor in rankings in the future.  Plus it’s a great way to brand yourself and get more traffic from the pages you’ve already got listed in the search engine results. I’m hoping with this guide, you can get your authorship markup ready in under an hour.

About Lisa Parmley

is the founder of BusinessBolts.com and creator of the InlineSEO System, Authority Site Model, and Magnetic Content Series. She started her online publishing company in 2001. Her focus is on helping entrepreneurs grow their online business by making an positive impact.

Comments

  1. Scott says:

    Hi Lisa,

    Thanks for putting this all together – I have a question about ‘pen names’ – do you think Google would frown upon people using pen names for their different niches – by setting up separate Google + profiles for each niche site/pen name?

    I am in a few niches where I don’t want my ‘true identity’ to be known for safety reasons – crazy people trying to track you down – after all, there are some ‘nuts’ online these days…lol

    This is my main reason for not using Google authorship – protecting my true identity.

    Thanks!

    Scott

    • Admin says:

      Hi Scott,

      Yeah, I don’t think that’s what they want you doing. It will be really tough to use authorship especially if you’ve got a lot of different sites and you want to set up a different account for each. You’d need lots of different fake identities including photos for each. I’m sure someone can figure it all out, but it’s going to be hard to build up any type of author-trust if you’ve got all your content spread out across a lot of different markets. I get what you’re saying though, but Facebook is probably your biggest threat if you don’t want your identity revealed.

      All the best …

      Lisa

  2. Nigel Taylor says:

    Hi
    Can this be done with a pen name ?

    Regs
    nigel

    • Admin says:

      It looks like you can. Here’s an article (although not from Google) that talks about pen names on Google + (which is part of how the authorship process works):

      http://mashable.com/2012/01/23/google-plus-allows-pseudonyms-nicknames/

      I do not know how you’d handle the photo. Maybe use your photo along with a pen name? Not sure if that helps you out.

      If they do move more toward this with their algorithm then you will see a benefit for being transparent. Most people would rather do business with a real person than a fake persona and social media has really pushed us all further that way; Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, it’s all about you now or your company. So it’s going to be harder to hide online. Which that move alone probably will cut down on a lot of spam because no one who puts out spam really wants to be associated with it.

      All the best …

      Lisa

      • Using a pen name is not going to be a cakewalk and they are not accepting new ones. The pen name “allowance” is designed for people who have had a long term pen name with a following and you are going to have to show proof and documentation. Just using a fake name on your blog is not going to be enough for approval.

        Your other choices are to either setup a company page and use it or just create a G+ page with a fake name. Chances are you can get away with it but if you get caught they will close the account and you lose any benefits you have built up. If you are going to go that route I would not use the associated Youtube or gmail accounts because Google will probably close them down as well.

  3. Marc says:

    It will be a while before I can commit my name to a single niche. Until I find one that is a true winner for me in every way, I don’t want to take the chance. Pick the wrong one that I’ll get bored with or doesn’t monetize well and my name will forever be tied to it in Google plus.

    With regard to your response to Nigel Taylor, I have been able to use Gimp to morph a photo of my face so that it doesn’t look like me yet still looks like a real person who might bear some resemblance to me. Maybe there are people on fiverr who can do that for five dollars.

    • Admin says:

      You could always just tag the tags off your content and then you wouldn’t claim authorship to it anymore so it’s not tied to you forever.

  4. Mary says:

    Can we use a pen name +a picture from istockphoto or other similar services?The point here is that the picture is not the true you.

    • Admin says:

      Mary,

      They want you to use your real name and your real picture. Google authorship may not be something you want to do if you don’t want to disclose this.

  5. Owen says:

    Thanks for another great article. I have bookmarked for future reference as I’m doing your Authority site course and don’t want to get side tracked.

  6. Linda says:

    Thank you so much Lisa for all your helpful advice. Can you not benefit from Google using your Google+ account under ‘Other Profiles’, ‘Custom Link’ to add other links you want ‘link juice’ added to?

  7. Tim Dawes says:

    Lisa, this is a terrific article. I’m following your directions and I got stopped almost immediately. I can’t find the author archive settings. They aren’t on my author page. I’ve googled the topic and looked on wordpress.org. Can’t find anything on this. Any idea how to find these today?

    • Admin says:

      It sounds like you’re using wordpress. You just need to assign an author to each of your posts and you can do that by using ‘quick edit’ from the post menu.

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