You probably already know what Google Plus Authorship is. It’s how Google puts those little photo bylines in its search results. If you produce high-quality content, Google Plus Authorship can help boost your search result rankings and increase the number of clickthroughs you receive—and all you need to do is spend five minutes configuring it.
How To Add Google Plus Authorship
First, you need a Google Plus (Google+) account. If you haven’t created an account before, Google insists that you use your real name. You can’t use nicknames or pseudonyms.
For Google Plus authorship, Google also wants your profile picture to be a recognizable headshot. You can’t use a full body shot, a non-identifiable picture, or even a cartoon picture of yourself.
Google also requires a way to identify that you wrote the articles you want to use with Google Plus Authorship.
Google offers two options:
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1. You can verify that you have an email at the domain name where the article is published. For example, if I want to use Google Plus Authorship with my articles on Tips4PC.com, I can simply use my Tips4PC.com email address.
2. You can add a special HTML link pointing to your Google Plus profile and then add your site to your Google Plus profile.
The special HTML link uses the “author” argument to the rel option and points the URL to your Google Plus profile. For example:
My Google Plus Profile
You need to replace 1234 in the example above with your actual profile ID number. To find the ID number, just look at the URL for your main profile page. Make sure that URL doesn’t include any other question marks or the ?rel option won’t work correctly.
This special link won’t work on its own; you will also need to update your Google Plus profile Contributor section to include the website on which your article appears.
How to add a website to your Google Plus Profile
To add a site simply go to settings in your Google Plus, then choose account, then click on the link “edit profile” under your profile picture.
Press on the edit link to add a site. See the big screenshot below.
If you use the email option, then all you need to do is visit http://plus.google.com/authorship, log into your account, and enter the email address which corresponds to the site you write for. Google will send you a verification email and, if it works, you won’t need to add any special links to each page.
Whichever method you use, you will need to make sure each page includes a byline—that’s literally a line which says “By [Your Name]”. For example, see my byline at the end of this post.
The byline doesn’t need to include a link—but it must include your name exactly as it appears in your Google Plus profile. (Google may be smart enough to deal with small differences, such as an abbreviated name, but Google’s documentation doesn’t promise this.)
Verify That Authorship Works
Google has provided a tool which helps you test your website for Google Plus Authorship and other structured data which helps Google create better search results.
You can find the tool at: https://google.com/webmasters/tools/richsnippets
To use the tool, simply paste in the URL of one of your articles and press enter. Google will download the page, show you how it appears in a search result, and check it for structured data.
If you setup authorship using an email address, Google will ask you to paste in your Google Plus address to finish checking the page for Google Plus Authorship.
If you used the special HTML link method, then Google will already have all of the information it needs, so the tool will tell you immediately if your authorship has been verified.
You can also use the same tool to check for other structured data on your website—what Google uses to create its rich snippets. SEOPressor has rich snippets included and easily hooks you up with your Google Plus Authorship.
How Google Plus Authorship Helps You
Google Plus Authorship is still relatively new, so we don’t have any solid data about if it will actually help you dominate the search engine results. But we can make an educated guess that Google will be using it in their never-ending war against content spammers.
Just from looking at Google search results over the last few weeks, I can tell you that I’m more likely to click a link with author information—especially if that author is included in a lot of Google Plus circles.
Right now, Google Plus Authorship is still in the testing phase, both on Google’s side and on the SEO side, so it may see major changes in the next few months. It could even be discontinued, although I think that’s unlikely.
However, if you already have a Google Plus profile (or planned to create one anyway), I can’t see any way it would hurt, except to cost you about five minutes to setup.
Problems With Google Plus Authorship
The main disadvantage of Google Plus authorship is that it’s very Google specific. It only works with Google Plus and it only works in Google search engine result pages.
If it’s successful, we can probably expect the other major search engines to try to do something similar, which could leave webmasters and content producers in another standards war. It would be a pain to have to verify an identity on several different platforms and then add several different authorship links to each post.
In fact, I’m a little surprised Google didn’t try to create an open standard in the first place. After all, we already have an well-established OpenID standard which serves almost the same purpose. But, then, I suppose Google just wanted to encourage more people (especially thought leaders) to use Google Plus.
My advice: Don’t worry about the inevitable changes to authorship. For now, if you use Google Plus, take five minutes to add Google Plus Authorship to your sites or your content.