Note: This tutorial will be WordPress-specific, but if you use other blogging platforms, you may be able to adapt the instructions.
Could there be anything more cheering to an online author (especially one with a healthy ego like Yours Truly) than seeing this little gift from Google?
Placing verified author profile photos and a linked byline in the search results is a feature Google began rolling out in the summer of 2010. Although anyone could implement the steps that would make their content eligible for the feature, for a while it seemed to only be used for very high profile authors. Now, however, Google is using it more frequently. So it behooves all online writers to get their profile verified and linked to their posts.
Why Verify Your Author Profile with Google?
There are several benefits to verifying your author name and profile with Google, but among the most obvious:
- Facial images are very eye-catching. Your profile avatar next to a result from your site makes it stand out from the other search results.
- Google will promote your content over stolen versions. If you’ve been blogging for any time you’ve probably had the disconcerting experience of finding your original content wholly lifted and posted on another site, often without attribution. It’s most infuriating when the stolen post outranks your own in search results. Google wants to combat that, and their author verification tagging system ensures that they’ll give preference to your original posts.
- And most importantly of all, you will begin to build AuthorRank with Google. Via your Google+ profile, author verification allows Google to identify all your online content. All that content begins to contribute to a score that Google maintains for you that is their assessment of your trustworthiness, relevance, and popularity in your key topics. And that AuthorRank score, as it builds, will boost the rankings of your content in Google search.
How to Verify Your Author Profile with Google
Verifying your post authorship with Google involves placing special tags that create a three-way link between your posts, your author bio on your site, and your Google profile. The chain looks like this:
- The rel=”author” tag should be in the link between the byline in your posts and your author “about me” page.
- The rel=”me” tag should be in a link to your Google+ profile.
- There should be a link from your Google+ profile back to your site’s “about me” page.
The concept is easy to understand. The trick is how to get those tags in the right places in WordPress.
Note: If you have a single author blog, Google has now provided a simpler method to verify your authorship by verifying your email address with Google. Jump down to the heading “Simpler Methods for Single Author Blogs” below.
Setting Up Author Verification in WordPress
Step 1: Create a Google+ Profile
…if you don’t already have one. If not:
- Go to http://profiles.google.com and click “Create my profile”
- Sign in with your Google account. (If you don’t have one, go to https://accounts.google.com/NewAccount)
- Fill out your profile as completely as you like. For our purposes here, you must include a profile photo (use the same one you use on your blog). This should be a clear headshot.
- Google recommends making the +1 page of your profile public. That page displays anything that you have publicly “+1ed” on the web. I’m not sure what this has to do with author verification, but they recommend it so I’d do it. While in edit mode on your profile, click the +1 tab and check the box “show this tab on your profile.”
Step 2: Create an Author Bio Page & Link to Your Google+ Profile
Before you do anything else, you need to make sure you have an author “about me” page on the same domain as your posts, with some important elements included. Important: make sure you’ve updated WordPress to the latest version. Older versions may not let you insert the rel tag in your author link. NOTE: If you use Google’s Blogger product, skip this step. Just link your Blogger account to your Google+ profile and you’re set. However, you do still need to do Step 4 below and properly link back from Google+ to your Blogger blog.
- In your WordPress dashboard, go to “Users” > “All Users” and select your user profile.
- Fill in any relevant fields if you haven’t already. Use your full first and last name as they appear on your Google+ Profile. The only other field important to what we’re doing here is the “Biographical Info” field.
- In the “Biographical Info” field, in addition to whatever information about yourself you want to include, add the following using standard HTML:
- An img link to a good, clear headshot photo of you. This should be the same image used in your Google+ profile (see above).
- A link to your Google+ profile including the rel=”me” tag, with a + at the end of the anchor text. End the anchor text (the text that is displayed for the link) with a +. So if your anchor text is My Google Profile, make it My Google Profile+.
Here’s an example:
<a href=”https://profiles.google.com/Google_Profile_ID” rel=”me”>My Google Profile+</a>
- Each author of your blog needs to edit their Google+ profile to list the website in the “Contributor To” field.
- Install the plugin. It’s easiest to go to Plugins -> Add New -> and then search for “Google authorship for multiple authors” in your WordPress admin.
- Each author needs to update their WordPress User profile and put a link to their Google+ profile.
- It’ll take time for Google to reindex your pages, but if you want to test it out, copy-paste your URL using Google’s Rich Snippets Testing Tool.
Step 3: Link Your Author Byline to Your Blog “About Me” Page
Warning: You’re going to be messing with the HTML in the template for your WordPress site, so proceed with caution! I recommend backing up your site, or at least copying the original single post template code and pasting it in a text file so you can always restore it if something goes amiss.
- In your WordPress dashboard, go to “Appearance” > “Editor”
- From the list of templates, select “Single Post” (single.php). This template controls how your individual blog posts look.
- Find where your author name is inserted into your posts. This is the tricky part, because the code will vary widely between different templates. In most templates you should look for some code referencing “author vcard”. Find the link code (HTML tag starting with . If you can’t find that or are unsure, use step 4.
- Optional, if you can’t do step 3. If you are a single author blog, you can just add the Google+ Profile Button to your site. Go to http://www.google.com/webmasters/profilebutton/ , select the button you want, copy the code, and paste it into your site’s HTML where you want it to appear.
- Add rel=”author” into that tag. So now mine appears (again, with a lot of code left out):
Step 4: Link Your Google+ Profile to Your Blog About Me Page
- On your blog, go to your author bio page (just click your linked name in any of your posts) and copy the URL for that page.
- Make sure you’re logged in to your Google account, then go to http://profiles.google.com
- Click the “Edit Profile” button
- Find the “Contributor to” section in the right sidebar and click on it to edit it
- In the edit box, click “Add custom link.” In the first box put your link text preceded by a + (e.g. “+Joe Smith’s Blog”). In the second box paste the URL from your blog’s “about me” page that you copied in step 1
- Click “Save” and then “Done Editing.”Google automatically adds the rel=”me” tag to links in the “Contributor to” section of your profile, so this establishes the confirming link back to your blog profile.
Step 5: Confirm Your Verification LinkFollow these steps to confirm that Google sees your verification links properly:
- Go to the Google Webmasters Tools Rich Snippets Testing Tool.
- Enter the URL of your author “about me” page from your blog and click “Preview”
- The tool will show you an example of how a search result for your blog might look in Google. If you did everything correctly, you should see your author photo next to the sample result.
- In the “Extracted Author/Publisher for this page” section, you should also see your author name and green text confirming author verification.
If you have a single author blog, you can bypass all the coding above and verify your authorship by either of the following methods.
Method 1: Verify by Email
- Create a Google+ Profile (see Step #1 above).
- Click on Edit Profile.
- On the right-hand side, click the Contributor to box, and add all the sites you write for.
- Next, click the Work box.
- Click the New contact info box (the last in the list) and type the email you want to add.
- In the list to the left of the email address you just added, click Email.
- Click Save, and then click Done editing.
- On your profile, click Verify next to the email address you just added.
- Google will send a verification message to that email address. Once you receive it, open it and follow the instructions to verify your email address.
Method 2: Verify by WordPress Widget+Jonathan Bates on the Momfy’s Odd Blog has posted a very simple method for linking and verifying a one-author WordPress blog using simple code pasted into a widget. Read his method here.
So Where’s My Author Photo?
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t quickly start seeing your author photo and byline on search results for your posts. You should keep in mind that:
- It will take some time for Google to begin to associate your posts with your profile. I saw it first on posts I’d created since completing my verification. A few days later it started appearing on older posts.
- Google doesn’t guarantee that your author photo will always show in results. Google uses complex algorithms to determine not only the order of its search results, but when special features like the author photo help build relevance for the particular searcher.
Good luck! If you have any questions, ask in the comments and I’ll do my best to help you out. In the meantime, check out more of my guides to using Google+ for Business.
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