Go to Google and type in a keyword phrase. Any keyword phrase. What do you see in the search results page?
Chances are, a few listings came back with an author’s name, the published date and a fancy headshot next to them. That’s Google Authorship in a nutshell. A way to promote your content on search results pages, and a way for Google to verify quality content created by humans.
Why to Care About Google Authorship
If you’re like me, the idea of putting my mugshot next to content I’ve created doesn’t exactly appeal to me and certainly wouldn’t encourage me to go to the trouble of setting up Google Authorship. Well, consider these other reasons.
Your face will get noticed more (no matter how ugly it is). When a user comes to a search results page, the items on the top of the page will get noticed, but so will the ones further down that include rich snippet data from Google Plus (your headshot, name, published date, google plus circles data).
And your click-through rates (CTRs) can increase. The search marketing firm Catalyst confirmed that rich snippet can actually increase the likelihood of a user clicking on a link instead of passing it over. Rich snippet data looks more credible and therefore increases the value in a user’s mind
And finally, Google’s made it pretty clear that content connected to a verified online profile will rank higher.
How to Set Up Your Own Google Authorship
Now that we know Google plans on using an author’s influence to determine their place in the search results line, you’ll want to take these next several steps to setup Google Authorship.
- Setup Google Plus Profile.
- Match Your Info. Now you want to make sure your info looks the same way on Google Plus as it does on your blog. Confirm that you have a byline including your name on each page of your blog content, and then make sure it’s the exact same name on your Google Plus profile. Also, verify that you have an email address on the same domain as your content. If you don’t, then follow these steps.
- Complete Contributor to Section. On the About page of your Google Plus Profile page, scroll down to the Links area. Click edit and fill in as much info as possible. Most importantly, though, complete the Contribute To section, adding custom links to all the websites for which you create content.
- Add Link to Google Plus from Your Websites. If you’re a WordPress user like me, this can be very easy using the WordPress SEO plugin. Simply go to your Google Plus profile page, copy the URL from there. (It should look something like https://plus.google.com/25921579067955545123). Then, login to your WordPress site, under the Users tab go to Your Profile and paste the URL into the Google + line under Contact Info. Save your changes! If you’re not on WordPress, you’ll need access to the code on your website to add the following to the <HEAD> section of your site: <link rel=”author” href=”https://plus.google.com/25921579067955545123“>. Just be sure to replace the sample Google Plus profile I used above, with your own.
- Preview Your Rich Snippet. Using one of the Google Webmaster Tools—the Structured Data Testing Tool—type in your URL(s) and check out the results. It may take a little time for the headshot to be seen in the preview and a little longer for it start showing up in search results.
And that’s it! Next up, Google Plus Business Pages.