What is Google Authorship markup?
Chances are if you use Google to search the internet then you have seen a result that shows a thumbnail photo of its author. Here is a couple visual examples of my Google+ profile linked to some content I produced to give you a better idea:
You can see from the examples how authorship markup effects the SERPs (search engine results pages). I want to point out that my photo of myself skating is bending the rules slightly in that Google requires the photo be a good face picture. I am working to get a better photo of my face in there but wanted to test the limits of what Google would allow and somehow the photo above passed the test.
Click here to read more information from Google on authorship.
Why do I need Google Authorship on my website(s)?
Test have shown that having a rich listing with your Google+ profile tied to it increase the CTR (click-through rate) by 400% through to your website. That means if a user searches on Google they are 4 times as likely to click your page if it has the author tied to the result, even if it’s not the top listing. This makes sense because the photos make the listings stand out much more than without the photo. You get the same kind of click-through rates with video results as you can see in the above two examples below the highlighted result. If you are not taking advantage of Google Authorship now then you will fall behind the curve.
What is required for Google Authorship?
A complete personal google+ profile:
You will need to completely fill out your Google+ profile on the account you plan to tie into authorship. This includes a Profile Photo, Scrapbook Photos or Cover Photo, and fully filling out the ‘About‘ tab and introduction sections. I’ve created a screencast video with some tips on how to do that which you can watch below:
An e-mail address at the domain you want to tie authorship:
UPDATE: This is not always required as of now although it is still a good idea to use a e-mail at the primary domain you tie authorship.
When setting up or linking authorship markup between your domain and your Google+ profile Google requires you to verify an e-mail address at the domain you are trying to link up. So if you want authorship tied to say www.yourdomain.com then currently you need an e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org that you can verify. Once you verify through Google’s authorship request form if you are logged into your Google+ account it will add that domain and e-mail to the e-mail and contributor to sections of your Google+ profile about page. Here is the link to the page where you can sign up for Google+ Authorship.
You will need access to the website back-end to add rel=author markup to pages and posts:
The authorship is brought full circle by adding a small piece of code into the pages you want your Google+ Authorship tied to. This is a fairly technical step that any webmaster or developer could complete very quickly especially on WordPress sites. There are also a few plugins out there for WordPress that make this even more simple to achieve.
How Long Will it Take?
The process of setting up your profile, verifying your e-mail at the domain, and adding the markup code to your website can be a quick process done in less than an hour. I would personally recommend that you spend that amount of time or more on just setting up your Google+ profile and truly personalizing it with the tips in the above video. You want people to add you to their circles so an attractive profile is important to have a high conversion rate with that.
Once all the above steps are completed the it’s currently taking about a week or two for the Google+ profiles to show up in the SERPs if everything is configured correctly. There is a tool called the ‘rich snippets testing tool‘ that Google provides to test a website for proper authorship code markup and that tool is available here. That tool will show whether or not you’ve configured your on-page code correctly to tie everything in for authorship.
How Does This Affect SEO
I’ve already explained the value of doing this in terms of click-through rate but what about rankings and search engine positioning? You’ll notice in the above two example screenshots that next to my name it mentions “in 849 Google+ circles” which one could guess might influence the rankings. At some point the amount of people who have you in their circles on Google+ might attribute to better rankings for those posts and pages tied to your authorship if it’s not already having and effect. You could say that the more popular one is on Google+ the more authority they have which in turn gives their content more authority. With that said there is without a doubt a place for Google+ Authorship to be considered as a ranking factor now and in the future. Get on board now or be left behind.
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