Google is such a dominant force in the world, surely there isn’t anything that keeps the behemoth up at night?
Well, what about this… You know all that content that sits out there on the web? What happens when the same person writes for more than one site? How do you (as Google) track all that information and attribute it to the same author?
Introducing authorship markup
It’s a problem. And it’s a problem that Google has been working on for some time. The nifty solution it has created is called authorship markup.
You’ve probably already seen the results of Google authorship markup. Anytime you do a search and you see an author’s avatar come up next to a search listing, that’s a result of authorship markup. And it is becoming increasingly common.
It’s all about SEO
The reason that more publishers and authors are flocking to this new way of sorting content is partly the kudos of seeing your picture in Google searches (and, in all seriousness, it makes your listing stand out even if it isn’t the highest result) but, more likely, because of the SEO benefits.
As you will see below, authorship markup basically links your content to your Google+ profile page. If you’ve followed out recent posts you’ll know that Google is always giving more SEO weighting to ‘social signals’ (e.g. content that is being talked about and shared on social channels) and, in particular, to brands using Google+. So it’s easy to see why Google will look favourably on sites and blogs that incorporate authorship markup.
Become an authority in Google’s eyes
The other important point here is that, from an individual standpoint, if you are writing lots of content around the web on a specific subject and you are linking all this content together through authorship markup, then Google will start to view you as an authority on that subject. Some of that authority will then brush off on the sites that you write for.
So, if that all sounds good and you are eager to get going, the next question you’ll be asking is how you get Google authorship markup working. The good news is that it is a whole lot easier than it used to be. The bad news is that it’s still a little bit fiddly. Here is a quick overview, but this post is a great source of more detailed instructions if needed.
Step one: Pimp your profile
First, you need to create a Google+ profile if you haven’t got one already. Make sure you use your full name (it needs to be the same name you will be referred to on the content you write) and have a clear picture/avatar.
The next step is to go and edit your profile page and, in the ‘Contributor to’ section add all the blogs and/or sites where you publish content.
Then you are ready to go with one or more of the following options to link your content to your profile page:
Option 1: if you have an email address on the domain where your content lives
If you have an email address that matches the domain where your content will exist (e.g. email@example.com for the site www.emlwildfire.com) then you can simply fill in your details on this form that Google has kindly provided.
You’ll need to then verify your email address. (If this solves things for you, then skip to the end, you can ignore the next two options!)
Option 2: add a link to each piece of content
If you don’t have an email address, then the other solution is to take your Google+ profile URL (e.g. mine is https://plus.google.com/115157031632707026932) and create a hyperlink in any piece of content you write that links back to this profile page. For example, at the end of your post, you might want to include a “keep up to date with me on Google+“.
The important thing to include here (and this does involve a tiny bit of HTML) is a rel=”author” tag in your hyperlink. So your link should look something like this:
<a rel=”author” href=”PUT YOUR GOOGLE+ LINK HERE”>keep up to date with me on Google+</a>
In the example I gave above, my HTML link would look like this:
<a rel=”author” href=”https://plus.google.com/115157031632707026932″>keep up to date with me on Google+</a>
Option 3: link to a profile page
Now, while the second option is relatively simple, it’s not always possible to link directly to your Google+ profile and/or this method can get tricky for multi-author websites or blogs (like the EML Wildfire blog). So there is another option and that is to link to a profile page that then itself includes a link back to your Google+ page.
So, to use this post you are reading now as an example, if you click on my name at the top of the post, you’ll be taken through to my profile page on the EML Wildfire website. All you have to do is remember to include a rel=”me” tag on this hyperlink to tell Google that you are linking through to the author’s profile page. This is relatively easy to set up on multi-author blogs or sites.
Then, on the profile page itself, you just need to ensure there is a link back to your Google+ profile with the rel=”author” tag as referenced in option 2 above.
And that is all there is to it!
Of course, if this all sounds a little bit scary then I’m sure your web team/agency will be more than happy to set it all up for you.
And, if you want to know whether you (or they) have set it up correctly, then Google has created a clever little tool that allows you to enter the URL of a page or post that you have written and it will tell you whether any author tags are included and who they refer to.