Maybe you’ve started to notice them already—authors’ profile pictures in Google’s search results. The general heading that this new feature falls under is called “authorship.” It’s something that Google has begun implementing within the last few months, and we’re likely to see a lot more of it in the future.
The profile pictures have a few obvious benefits. The first is they draw the eye to your snippet in the search results page. The second is they imply that this page was written by somebody with some authority.
Below we’ll go over how authorship works and how you can get your blog set up for it.
The basic idea of how authorship works is that you create a Google profile, you link to that profile from your blog/website, and then you go into your Google profile and link back to your blog in order to confirm that it’s actually you.
And so all that is fairly easy to understand. But then things get a little complicated because you have to know exactly how to link and what to link.
Before we go any further, it’s important to understand some of these basic principles.
When you link from one page to another, you can add different “attributes” in order to give search engines more information. The attribute called “rel” stands for “relationship.” You can describe the relationship between the page you’re linking from to the page you’re linking to.
For example, rel=”nofollow” is a common rel attribute that many people know about. You attach rel=”nofollow” to links that you don’t want the search engine to associate your website with. In other words, you don’t want the search engines to think you have a “relationship” with whatever pages are on the end of those links.
A nofollow link might look like this:
<a href=”http://www.example.com/” rel=”nofollow”>Link text</a>
In order to establish authorship, you will need to link from your website back to your Google profile.
There are a number of different ways to claim authorship, and this is only one of them, but this video below does a very nice job of showing a lot of the basics.
You’ll notice that the maker of this video also uses both the rel=”author” attribute or the rel=”me” attribute here.
The rel=”author” attribute is for links going to his About page. This tells Google that the page it is on was authored by the guy whose information is on the About page.
On the About page, you will notice that he uses the rel=”me” attribute and links to his Google profile. This tells Google that “this is me.” It says, “I’m the guy that this About page is describing. And I’m also the guy who owns this Google profile page.”
(Remember, of course, that you also need to link from your Google profile page back to your site in order to confirm the authorship. If not, then you could link to anyone’s Google profile page and say they’re a writer on your site.)
In order to check whether everything has worked out the way it should have as the video shows, you can visit this Google Webmasters Tools page for “rich snippets.”
Another Way to Claim Authorship
Because some people don’t like going into the code of their themes, Google came up with another way for authors to claim authorship. It involves manually linking from whatever page you’ve written back to your profile. Keep in mind that you will still need to link from you Google profile to the site where your content is. (You only need to do this once. You can simply link to the homepage of the site where you’ve written content.)
You should also check out Google’s help page for this feature.
More Complicated than It Should Be
At the moment, all of this seems to be much more complicated than it should. It also doesn’t help that some themes play more nicely with this concept than others. Also, it appears that there isn’t yet a simple plugin that lets you just pop in a simple URL and be done with it. Hopefully it will all get easier in the future.
One other thing to note. Just because you have done the work to claim authorship doesn’t mean that your profile photo will automatically begin showing up beside your search results. As with everything, it seems, Google also has an algorithm for this feature. Your photo will only show when some magical switch has been tripped.
>> What advantages/disadvantages do you see for this feature? Let us know in the comments.
You might also find these posts interesting:
- Add an Author Box to WordPress Posts with the WP About Author Plugin
- WordPress 3.2 Introduces a New Conditional Tag for Multi-Author Sites
- How to Make an Interactive jQuery Author Box for WordPress / WPMU
(Thanks to Mikael Miettinen for the image.)