Ever notice when you search a topic on Google a few of the results include a picture of the author? Those results include Google Authorship markup, a special code you use to link your site to your Google plus profile. Google authorship tells Google that, like in the example below, a real person named Sue Reynolds created this article on Tending your Social Media Garden. While authorship markup came about shortly after Google Plus launched in 2011, it’s been back in the news again with the speculation around Author Rank. Understand that Authorship and Author Rank are not the same thing. Author Rank is a possible change to Google’s algorithm that includes authorship markup. It may or may not ever happen. But even if there’s no bump in the search algorithm right now, Google Authorship still helps your content stand out in search results.

Here’s what Google Authorship looks like in the search engine results page. See what I mean? Most people are more likely to click on the link with the picture. So let’s go through the basics of setting this up on your site.

Using Google Authorship Markup

Google Authorship

How to set up Google Authorship Markup

There are several ways to link the content you produce to your Google Plus profile. First make sure your Google Plus profile includes a clear headshot. Second, link your profile using one of these methods:

1. Use a verified email address to link your Google Plus profile to your content.

2. Add the “rel=author” parameter with your Google Plus profile ID to a link from your website. Here’s how:

  • Create a link to your Google Plus profile from your webpage with the rel=author tag, like this: Your Google Plus Profile
  • Replace [profile_url] with the your Google Plus profile ID Your link must contain the ?rel=author parameter.
  • Now go to your Google Plus profile and add a link back to the site(s) you just updated.
  • Edit the Contributor To section and add a custom link to your URL.
  • Test the connection with the structured data testing tool.

Understand that it is not possible to link a Google Plus business page with authorship markup, just a profile. So if you’re thinking of using this for your business you’ll need to decide who is the branded author and use their personal profile. If you don’t have a Google Plus profile, now’s the time to create one so you can use the feature. In fact, Google Plus has other useful features, like Google Hangouts on Air, which is a free video production tool that streams your content directly to your YouTube channel. If you decide to do a Google Hangout on Air, you might want to check out how to promote Google Hangouts on Air too.

Hmm. So there are reasons to use Google’s social network.