Authorship in Search – Google’s Reward to Great Authors

by Jason Acidre on June 30, 2011 · 33 comments · Search


AuthorGoogle has been recently pushing authorship markups to be included on websites, as they will be starting to highlight content creators in their search results.  Matt Cutts also mentioned on an interview by Danny Sullivan that they’ll be using another site/content metric in gauging quality and importance of content through the reputation of its creator – which he called AuthorRank.

This new metric will help search engines identify high quality content, given that great content are from great authors. Google SERP’s landscape is consistently evolving, and apparently they are complementing their results’ user-interface with more trust indicators to fully enhance their users’ search experience through features such as Google preview, sitelinks, Instant Pages on Chrome, rich snippets and now with the authors’ images and names that will be powered by authorship markups (from schema.org’s microdata, rel=”author” on HTML5 or XFN’s rel=”me”).

The images that will be used by Google’s search results are drawn from Google Profiles and will look something like this:

Authorship in Search

How may it change Search?

  • Psychologically, it can affect search users’ behavior as images of authors that will be shown on search result pages may imply a more trustworthy content, which of course can lead to increase in SERP click-through rates.
  • Allows content creators to protect their works from scrapers, given that search crawlers will give more weight on pages’ that have indicated their ownership of the content through authorship markups (like rel=”author” or just by having reciprocal links from the domain hosting the content and the author’s Google profile).
  • Content authored by reputable authors (I guess it will be eventually measured through AuthorRank) may be seen more prominently on search results for competitive keywords, because of the “trust” that search engines see on its creator.

Ways to Confirm Authorship in Google

There are several ways that Google can look for authorship of content and they have set up a guide on how you can do this on Google’s Webmaster Support, though I’ll be listing some of them below:

  • Basically, web crawlers will check for link path or connections from the content itself (blog post or article), to the author page (within the domain) and to a Google Profile. A link to your Google Profile within your domain is essential to all of authorship’s process, since this end of the procedure is the one that will enable your profile information to be displayed on search results.
  • You’ll need to allow crawlers in accessing your author page (be indexed and followed), since all your posts/works are mostly stored and can easily be crawled by search engines there. A link to your Google Profile should also be present on that page.
  • Google profiles should be optimized and provide a link back to your domain or to author pages in website(s) where you contribute content to, as this link path or reciprocal will authorize author attribution (“without them, anyone can attribute content to you or you could take credit for any content on the web”).
  • In optimizing your Google profile, it’s best to provide as much information as necessary, as this can help Google retrieve relevant information from you as an author as well as help improve your content and +1’s in search results. Provide links to your author pages around the web to help search crawlers identify and track your creations (like Twitter, Flickr or other sites) and be sure to use a high-quality picture of you (headshot as suggested by Google), for your photo to be eligible in being displayed in search results as a thumbnail.
  • You can also easily link to your Google Profile from your site by adding a Google Profile button.
  • On content pages, you can also use rel=”author” (that may link to your author page or directly to your Google Profile) to signal search engines that you are the author of the content (ex: <a rel=”author” href=https://profiles.google.com/kaiserthesage>Jason Acidre</a>).
  • On Author pages, you can use rel=”me” when linking to other pages about the same author (like author’s homepage or social networking profiles) to indicate and establish link relationship and content authorship to those linking web pages.

Here’s some examples given by Google:

Here’s some examples of how you might use authorship markup and Google Profiles to help Google surface your content. (This feature is being rolled out gradually and will be implemented algorithmically, so author information will not always display in search results.)

1. You write an article for the Foo Times, and also have a Foo Times author page

  • The article should link to your Foo Times author page using rel="author".
  • Your Foo Times author page should link to your Google Profile using rel="me".
  • Your Google Profile should link to your Foo Times author page. When you add this link to your profile, be sure to check the This page is specifically about me checkbox. This creates a rel="me" link to your Foo Times author page.

2. You write an article for the Foo Times, and you have no author page on that domain.

  • The article should link to your Google Profile using rel="author".
  • Your profile should link to the Foo Times home page.

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Image Credit: Magical-Night

Jason Acidre

Jason Acidre is Co-Founder and CEO of Xight Interactive, marketing consultant for Affilorama and Traffic Travis, and also the sole author of this SEO blog. You can follow him on Twitter @jasonacidre and on Google+.

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