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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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Sean July 1, 2011 at 12:18 am

Saw this article on SEL. It was on younger stages before. Now I guess they’ve some use for it using Author Rank. Cool.

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Kaiserthesage July 3, 2011 at 7:31 pm

Yep, can’t wait for it to have its own toolbar :D

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Mark @ TheBitBot Organic SEO & SEM Blog July 2, 2011 at 4:50 am

Wow. The potential social bias implications of putting everyone’s picture by their listing in organic search results would be a bloc of data that would be most interesting.

I can see it now. Google gets sued for discrimination in search results that have been tied to the plus one social search system.

This actually worries me a tad bit.

Mark

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Kaiserthesage July 3, 2011 at 7:33 pm

This addition to Google’s SERP can really do a lot of changes in terms of search behavior. Though I think it would still need a lot of tests for us practitioners, as it’s still on trial version :D

I think most that have to worry are those who are in the corporate side, seeing as most of them publish content anonymously. They might have to revise their content strategies.

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lawmacs July 2, 2011 at 5:26 am

i have reading about the author rank quite recently and it looks like a good idea at first glance not seen any negative review about this yet Thanks for the heads up on this one Jason

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Kaiserthesage July 3, 2011 at 7:37 pm

Thanks for including this post on your weekly roundup Gary! :) And glad that your readers found it useful.

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Tad Chef July 2, 2011 at 12:36 pm

Sadly Google doesn’t know by itself who the author is and you have to tell it which is quite difficult, especially on sites where you don’t control the markup.

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Kaiserthesage July 3, 2011 at 7:36 pm

Agree Tad, though I guess/hope that they’ll make this process more simple for authors in the long run. I guess it’s just right, as spammers may find their way to spamming this procedure if there will be no reciprocals from sites you contribute content to that you don’t have control of.

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Zarko July 4, 2011 at 7:25 am

Hey Jason,

I connected my account with my google profile as soon as they published their post on google webmasters blog, of course before that I already added rel=”author” to my blog, but I have yet to see my picture next to the search result :( Anyway, love the recent google updates, authorship as well as google+

not sure if your on, but seeing that Google has limited their number of members temporarily I can’t send any invites…

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Kaiserthesage July 4, 2011 at 10:38 pm

A lot were too excited to test Google+, didn’t make it in time :(

With lots of addition on SERP’s landscape, it seems that it (with pictures) will look like more of a status news feed by Facebook in the future. But I’m still excited :D

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Nabil July 6, 2011 at 3:52 pm

I stuffed that author stuff on my blog yesterday, but I still haven’t seen my picture in the search result. For how long is someone supposed to wait?

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Zubair Naeem Paracha July 6, 2011 at 9:49 pm

How soon we’ll see a Wordpress plugin for this? I am too lazy to do things myself!

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Kaiserthesage July 8, 2011 at 12:56 am

Not sure when, but Yoast just published an article on how you can implement this markup on Wordpress: http://yoast.com/wordpress-rel-author-rel-me/

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Jayson@SEOTeky July 9, 2011 at 8:58 am

I can smell blood:) Google continues its full swing of changes, from SERPS new look, authorship, Google plus and the incoming revamp of GMAIL UI. We all know what Google is up to, a competitive nature of Search Engines and the compelling demand for socialization.

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Binu George July 17, 2011 at 3:25 am

This is a good initiative from google

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Mira@Best Free MMORPG 2011 July 22, 2011 at 2:27 am

Ah, how worrisome! I have so many posts in different blogs and website. I’ve been writing and publishing internet stuff since 1992 lol and it’s all under different names. I will have to think about revising my strategy.

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Noel Addison@Web Development Ventura August 9, 2011 at 8:51 pm

I can see this feature as a huge help not only to highlight the best authors on the web but this is very useful for many searchers, too. Searchers will be able to find their favorite author’s easier now.

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Rahul August 19, 2011 at 9:36 am

This is great! I just confirmed my authorship. I also read that a website with confirmed authorship will rank higher in SERPs.

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Gus Van der Walt May 29, 2012 at 12:57 am

Hey Jason!

Awesome article! Just wanted to ask regarding sites that use article spinning methods. For example they take an article from another site and spin it to call it their own. Will Google be able to pick up on this?

I hope so for the webs sake. Thanks again for the post will start going through my site to ensure that i have relevant authorship mark ups in place

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Jeanette October 30, 2012 at 5:52 am

Thanks for this great article Jason!
There are two questions bugging me and it would be great if you would help.

1. How can a brand act as author?

2. Is there any way to contribute content to more than one author? Imagine
- the results of a study issued by a professor (author #1) and his student (author #2) on a corporate blog (author #3)?
- Or an interview, which per se has more than one person’s content.
- Or an article of a guest blogger on a blog …

Cheers, Jeanette

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Scarlett@pris ipad January 6, 2013 at 4:31 pm

I was wondering if you ever thought of changing the layout of your blog?
Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.
But maybe you could a little more in the way of content
so people could connect with it better. Youve
got an awful lot of text for only having 1 or 2 pictures.
Maybe you could space it out better?

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Theron@Read More February 17, 2013 at 12:44 am

Hello there, just became aware of your blog through Google, and found that it is truly informative.
I’m gonna watch out for brussels. I’ll appreciate if you continue this in future.

Many people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

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Abrar Mohi Shafee August 21, 2013 at 7:59 am

Thank you for your informative blog post. Authorship verification for search is totally great. I have done it for my blog. The good news is that, after verifying for this authorship, I am getting more visitors that is unexpected. It will help you get more traffic.

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