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.
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!