What is Google Authorship?
Google Authorship is a way to link content you create with a Google+ profile, which provides benefits such as your headshot image appearing next to your content in Google’s search results.
As Google continues to merge its new and former products, getting setup with Google Authorship should be a top priority for business owners and Webmasters.
What are the benefits of achieving authorship?
Authorship was created with the goal of allowing writers to claim their content, as well as allowing search engine users to find more content written by the same writer. It also helps establish credibility and legitimacy of content for websites as well as authors. It’s widely believed that Google Authorship is the first step toward verifying author identity, which will be used to calculate Author Rank.
Websites that have taken the steps to establish authorship tags get higher click-through rates due to authorship markup applied in search results (which looks like a headshot of the author next to the text listing, drawing the eye and attracting clicks), and greater exposure to more of their content.
The Set Up
Creating Google+ profiles for all authors on the website is the first step. First, have your authors check http://plus.google.com under their personal Gmail address (if they have one) to see if Google has already set up a preliminary Google+ profile under that email address (much like how they did with new Google+ profiles for local businesses).
Google+ will walk you through profile creation. Fill out all the fields, including a professional profile photo, as this photo is what is viewed in search results next to your content.
“Contributor to” Set-up
The next most important part of a profile is the “Contributor To” section. Here, list all the websites that you publish on. The link can be to the homepage of the website, but to be more accurate (if possible), link to the author’s page on the website, which includes a bio and list of posts. Be sure to keep this updated every time you add a new publisher for whom you write.
The rel=author Tag
After setting up your Google+ profile, incorporating a link in every piece of content with the rel=author tag that links to the author’s Google+ profile is what completes the Google Authorship set-up. This snippet can appear anywhere in the content, but most websites are including it at the bottom of their posts, so it isn’t distracting.
If your website is on WordPress, I recommend Yoast’s SEO plugin, which will allow you to easily incorporate these tags into your content.
Another method for authors that can’t add the rel=author tags or want another solution is to verify an email address from the website on which you’re publishing. For instance, if John Doe’s entrepreneur.com email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, it can be verified for authorship by using the Google+ Authorship page to verify the email address.
Once you click on the verification link that was sent to your email, a link to the website verified for is automatically added to their “Contributor To” section on their Google+ profile. The title may default to just the domain, such as “website.com”, but this can be changed manually by editing it in the Edit Profile view.