3 Steps To Get Google Authorship For Yourself And Your Website

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If there’s a knock on your door and when you answer, a man tells you that he’s an FBI agent and needs to search your house, would you let him in without checking his identification? Probably not.

The concept is the same when it comes to Google Authorship. Using another analogy, if you meet someone for the first time and they point at a book you’re reading and they tell you they’re the author, how do you know they’re telling you the truth? Odds are good you check their picture on the back cover. You might even ask them for their identification as proof, and compare it to the name inside of the book. Essentially, Google Authorship is an attempt to do that same kind of verification on the Internet.

If you’ve read my previous article about the 4 biggest reasons why you should set up Google Authorship, then you already know how important it is, and if you’ve read James’ post about how to get your blog listed in Google results, then you know it’s also important for your site rankings. So, what are you waiting for, exactly?

Getting Your Google+ Account Squared Away

The concept of Google Authorship is fairly simple. Each end needs to be confirmed – your Google+ profile and the website where your content is getting published. Unfortunately the process itself isn’t really as simple as it probably should be.

The first step, if you don’t even have a Google+ account at all, is to create your Google+ account. Once you have your account set up, the first thing to do is load up a profile photo that is very clear. It should be a headshot where anyone that knows you could take one look at the picture and recognize that it’s you.

I actually started with the profile photo shown below on the right, and then later while messing around with an article, took a snapshot from my webcam while I was at work on the laptop. I forgot all about Google Authorship when I did it, but even that picture was acceptable, and I noticed my Google+ profile image still appeared in search results besides my article listings.

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So, there’s some leeway when it comes to “clear” headshots, but do the best you can. Make sure the image is shared publicly as well. Once you’ve got that done, it’s time for the most important thing — confirming to Google that you’re a contributor to specific online websites.

You can find this area on your Google+ profile, under the “About” link.


Scroll down to “Links” and edit the “Contributor to” and add links to all of the sites that you are an author on and where you’re trying to establish Google authorship.


These are the things that you have control over. In the next step of establishing authorship, you’re going to have to edit your site, or if you write for someone else, ask them to edit your byline so that Google “sees” a confirmation there that you are an author for the site.

Setting Up the Site for Google Authorship

The first thing you’ll want set up on the site is a byline. If you’re writing for someone else, ask to have a byline there that includes your full name and matches your name on your Google+ profile. Including a clear snapshot there as well is a good idea.



An important element that Google recommends adding is a link back to the author’s Google+ profile page, including the “?rel=author” section of the link. On my blog, this is what the code looks like that I’ve included on every page so that it works for whoever the author of the article is.

Follow <?php echo get_the_author_meta(‘nickname’); ?> on <a href=”<?php echo get_the_author_meta(‘jabber’); ?>?rel=author”>Google+</a>. 

The PHP code above extracts the text from the Jabber/Google Talk field, where I’ve got the Google+ profile stored. This will extract the correct Google+ profile link depending on the author.


This created the “Follow Ryan Dube on Google+” section of the footer byline if you prefer it there. Regardless where you place it, the key is to include the link back to Google+ and include the “?rel=author” designation. 


Now that you’ve got confirmation on both Google+ and the actual website that you’re the author of the article, Google should be able to verify that you are the original author. There’s actually a tool in Google Webmasters that you can use to check this (I’ll get to that below).

Troubleshoot with Structured Data Testing Tool

Thankfully, you don’t have to wait around wondering if you’ve done everything right. Google offers a structured data testing tool that you can find in Google Webmasters under the Google account you’re trying to confirm authorship for. Pick a page on the website that has one of your articles which you believe should properly authenticate your authorship. Pass that URL into the “Verify Authorship” field and submit. If it couldn’t verify authorship, the results will look something like this.



The lower part of the page provides you with a checklist of items that tell you what was verified and what wasn’t, as well as a tool to check if email verification was successful and whether Google was able to verify any of the other required elements for authorship.



If it turns out that email verification didn’t work and you’ve already tried adding the “?rel=author” element to the site (or you can’t because you don’t have access), you’ll need to have an email address on the same domain as the website you’re claiming authorship for, and then submit that address to the Google Form that’ll do it for you.

Just type your email address into the field on step 4, and click “Sign up for authorship”.

It may take trying a few things and tweaking a few other things to get each element of authorship verified by Google. You may even have to do all of the above before it happens, but once you get it right, you’ll finally see results like this on the Google Webmasters authorship verification page.


With everything now working right, you can feel confident that your search listings will show you as the original, verified author of the content. In the end, the value of that is well worth all of the effort, as I have explained in a previous article.

Have you successfully set up your Google Authorship? Did you run into any brick walls? Share your experiences and your feedback about Google Authorship in the comments section below!

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Comments (8)
  • Sean

    Great article, answered every question i had about it.
    This will help me a lot setting up my blog to where i want it.

    Thank you Ryan


  • Salah Mohamed

    Thank you Ryan, Do I need to make my wordpress account Email and the Google+ Email the same or no?

  • Salah Mohamed

    Thank you Ryan, Do i need to make my wordpress account and Google+ the same?

  • Henk van Setten

    Ryan : thanks for replying to my comment. Please let me try to make one thing a little more clear.

    You ask: ” Why wouldn’t you be willing to put your face behind what you write? ” Well, there could be countless reasons for that. A few random examples?

    Case 1 – I am blogging, but in my country I belong to a discriminated, persecuted ethnic minority. Having a photo wherever one of my posts is mentioned, would show immediately I belong to that ethnic minority. Because I do not want prejudice and discrimination interfering with how my readers read my posts, I do not want to show my ethnicity in that way.
    Case 2 – I write an atheist blog onder my own fairly common name, but I live in a very religious community where atheist views would not be accepted at all. If my neighbours knew I am writing in an atheist blog, I would be expelled from the village or even attacked violently. Now if my post entries were all accompanied with a photo of my face, this would make it likely that my neighbours would recognize me as that infidel atheist blogger… (you can fill in the rest).
    Case 3 – I am suffering from schizophrenia and I blog about my experiences with my illness, institutions etc. But because in daily life I do not want to be treated with all the prejudices that psychiatric patients often encounter, I do not want my recognizable face… (you can fill in the rest).
    Case 4 – My face happens to be horribly disfigured from a car accident in my childhood. I do want my readers to concentrate on my writings, not on my weird looks, so… (you can fill in the rest).
    Case 5 – If I were a policital blogger in some dictatorial parts of the world… (you can fill in the rest).

    And so on. Of course in any cases like the the above, if I didn’t mind deception, and I still wanted my authorship verified, I could easily use some false, faked portrait: I could pick a photo that shows not me, but some random stranger. But why should Google force people to take recourse to deception and falsehood?

    With regard to what people write in their blogs, in principle their face is irrelevant. Most bloggers do not want to be judged or evaluated for what they look like, but for the content and quality of what they write. So people should have an option to have their autorship verified without being forced to expose what their face looks like.

    What bloggers write is of course a public matter. But any body parts (including one’s face) should remain a private matter, if people themselves prefer it that way.

    Basically, regardless what might be my personal motives here, I simply think that Google’s policy in this respect is highly unethical, almost immoral.

    • Ryan Dube

      Hey Henk,

      I’d say you just made a very good argument for Google to consider an alternative to using facial profiles! I have to agree with you that the message offered by a blogger’s writing should not have to be influenced by their appearance. Well said.


  • Henk van Setten

    I’ve been trying to get this working for months now, without success. I thought this Google-verified authorship might be a nice defence against the rampant plagiarists who keep copying things from my blog.
    Now my blog (stayontop.org) has a paid-for domain name that is hosted at wordpress.com. These WordPress-hosted domain names do not come with any associated email account, so Google’s email-verification route doesn’t work for me.
    So I tried the rel= (link to Google+ account) method, adding the proper line to all my posts. Didn’t work.
    After having read that this rel= method would work only for individual articles listen in Google+ under “contributing to”, I spent quite some time listing all my blog posts one-by-one in the “contributing” to column. All links are to blog posts that have the proper rel= line in their page code. Still didn’t work.
    I’m now on the verge of giving up.
    I can only guess why it doesn’t work for me, but I see two possible reasons.
    (1) My portrait photo is not a photo, but a very simple drawing: a caricatural self-portrait that I made myself. I refuse to have an actual photo of myself plastered all over the Web (no, I’m not on Facebook either!) so I made that drawing instead. Does Google really want to force me to show my actual face everywhere? In that case, I’m done with Google: I’m not going to change this.
    (2) I opened a Google+ account solely for this verified-authorship thing. Meaning that my Google+ profile page has only the required minimum of information; people who want to know more about me, are referred to my blog. In my Google+ account I have zero followers, and I myself follow no one. On the profile page I state clearly that I have no time for this “social” kind of thing, and I explain that people who want to follow me, can do so by following my blog. Would this (a Google+ account without followers) be the reason that Google refuses to verify my authorship? Well in that case, I’m done with Google too: I just don’t like this “social” friends-followers-circles circus and I ‘m not going to have myself forced to actively participate in that kind of activity.
    Conclusion: if my suspicions are right, then it’s high time that instead of Google, some independent volunteer organization is founded that offers internet authors a honest, simple, no-strings-attached way of having their authorship verified.

    • Ryan Dube

      Hi Henk – that’s definitely the case. I’ve seen such situations occur, and when the person finally loads a clear image of themselves onto their Google + profile, it starts showing up in search results fine.

      I’ve heard other bloggers say the same thing about privacy concerns, but the thing is, if you’re blogging, then you’re essentially putting yourself out there publicly. Why wouldn’t you be willing to put your face behind what you write? My guess is that Google’s view is that credible authors would be willing to – I’m guessing.

      Anyway – your guess is correct, it’s most likely the profile picture.

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Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
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