The Authorship Brief For Publishers

The who, what, when, where, why and how-to of Google Authorship for publishers.

The Authorship Brief For Publishers

Journalists explain the news by answering the five W?s and H of a story. For publishers, webmasters or bloggers, comprehending the intricacies of SEO can be a nightmare. Let?s simplify the topic of Google Authorship by tackling the who, what, when, where, why and how-to of the matter.

First things first, the ?where? is in the interwebs!

When: How Long Until This Matters?

Authorship_timeline (1)

Who: Let Me Guess…Google?

Good, bad or indifferent, Google is entrenched in all things search. The Web giant owns two-thirds of the market share and its decisions directly affect webmasters. For instance, algorithm updates Panda and Penguin created penalties for numerous corporate sites and personal blogs.

It?s frustrating as a publisher to have Google constantly telling you what to do and throwing around penalties if you don?t oblige. However authorship presents an opportunity to appease Matt Cutts and Co. just by verifying your information. This verification will help your site stand above spam and plagiarism thus extending your audience reach.

What: Is This Just The Latest Buzzword?

Authorship rumors began in 2005 when Google filed for a patent for Agent Rank. The patent said that verified agents with associated content more prominent than others could rank accordingly. The authorship talk stayed relatively quiet until Google+ launched in 2011. The combination of a digital verification platform and a pending patent for ranking authors based on their content has created the authorship narrative. Authorship did not universally take off as the timeline indicates, Search Engine Land reported in 2012 that only 9 percent of tech blogs were implementing authorship correctly. Conveniently, Google introduced the Structured Data Testing Tool a month later that allowed publishers to verify their SERP appearance.

Why: Should I Really Care?

Publishers focus on appeasing their audience while avoiding Google penalties. Now publishers need to leverage Google by harnessing Google+. ?An optimized profile, populated circles and clear headshot will make sure your content is associated with your identity according to search functions. This also creates a visual search result where your headshot and byline is displayed.


Which result would you click on?

These results have shown an improved CTR in numerous case studies and visually look more authoritative to a reader?s eye.

Furthermore, building up a content portfolio will help you become an authority and influencer in your industry or vertical. This established and recognized connection to your work may lead to job opportunities and contributions to renowned sites. Making sure your site and authors are set-up properly with authorship will save or boost your rankings if an authorship algorithm update ever came to fruition.

As Matt Cutts and Eric Schmidt have indicated, authorship is a tool that will be used by Google in some capacity. Some marked the end of 2013 as the beginning of authorship as 10 to 15 percent of authorship results disappeared. This was less of the birth of author rank and more a quality tweak by Google. Publishers who lost their authorship unfairly can likely earn it back by making sure their markup is correct.

How: OK Fine, What Do I Do Now?

Knowing what authorship is and why it?s important will do nothing if you don?t know how to utilize it. There are multiple methods for proper markup and verification.

If you have an author biography page on your site, the ideal is the three-link method.

  • All posts link to the author bio page, which links to the Google+ profile. This author bio page has the rel=”author” tag with the first and last name that matches the Google+ profile.
  • The Google+ page then has the author bio page linked in the “Contributor To” section.
  • The content pages are linked with the rel=”author” tag linking to the bio page.

Source: Rick DeJarnette of Search Engine Land

Source: Rick DeJarnette of Search Engine Land

Use the two-link method if you do not have author bio pages and run a one-man or woman blog.

  • The Google+ page has the blog home page linked in the “Contributor To” section.
  • The content pages then have the rel=”author” tag linked to the Google+ page.


Source: Rick DeJarnette of Search Engine Land

The email verification method is the easiest and can be completed in addition to the other methods.

  • Visit the Google+ Authorship Page and verify the email you want associated with your work.
  • A standard byline (By: Author?s Name) should be inserted into every post and linking to the email address verified through Google+.


Source: Rick DeJarnette of Search Engine Land

The email verification method will work with any platform but if you?re using WordPress, it?s easier. WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast and AuthorSure are both free and automatically make sure content is authorship verified. Just enter in your Google+ information and reap the authorship benefits.

If you tried one or all of these steps and encountered problems, help is available. The Structured Data Testing Tool is a starting point for troubleshooting. If you?re building out rich snippets with additional site information, you can test these as well.

A Google support page will take you through the next set of troubleshooting steps. Navigating the Google forums is beneficial for troubleshooting by reading through old questions or submitting your own.

Keep up with any updates or issues by joining the Author Rank and Google Authorship Google+ community. Moderators frequently provide support and give advice in response to members.

Publisher loyalty should lie with your readers, your authors and yourself. Readers want other readers to see your content. Authors want to be attributed for their work. And you want to operate a quality site, that benefits others.

Stay ahead of the search game and set up your authorship today.

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