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How To Set up Google Authorship & the Rel=Author Tag – Keep Up With The Web – Sherryl Perry
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Recently, I published a guest post “What Google Authorship Means for SEO” that generated a lot of discussion. Many readers asked how to set up Google Authorship on their own WordPress blog. Some readers weren’t sure if there were benefits to it. Others questioned how to add the rel=author tag to their content. There was a healthy conversation in the comment section and I promised to write a follow-up post to help answer some of the questions.

What is Google Authorship?

There is a lot of confusion surrounding this topic but it’s really more straightforward than some people think. Once you set up Google Authorship and you configure it into your WordPress blog, it’s done and you don’t have to worry about it again. The rel=author tag will automatically be assigned to the articles on that blog. If you were to start writing for another blog, you would just add that blog to your Google+ profile. As for the relationship of Google+ in all this, it’s simply a matter of setting up your profile. You don’t have to be active on Google+ for this to work. (Please keep in mind that having this set up correctly does not guarantee that your profile picture will show up every time your content is displayed in the search results for Google.)

Why Set Up Google Authorship?

  • Your  profile picture will (usually) display in the search results.
  • Establishing yourself as an author (of articles related to specific topics) helps with SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
  • Having your name and profile picture appear in the search results helps to build top-of-mind awareness and establish an appearance of authority.

How Do You Get Started Setting Up Authorship?

  • Create a Google+ profile.
  • Link your Google+ profile to your content on your domain by verifying your email address at plus.google.com/authorship. (Google doesn’t require that your email address be from your domain but that appears to be the easiest solution and I can’t think of one reason to not use an email account that’s branded with your domain.)
  • On the “About” page of your Google+ profile, under “Other profiles” connect your social media accounts.
  • On the “About” page of Google+ profile, under “Contributor to” add links to sites that you contribute content to (including your blogs).
  • On the “Photos” tab, upload your profile picture. (I use the same picture that I’ve associated with my Gravatar.)

How Do You Add the Rel=Author Tag to Your Content?

The easiest way to add the rel=author tag to your content is by installing a WordPress plugin. There are several plugins available. The solution that worked for me is the Rel=”Author” Plugin For WordPress by Robert Dempsey from Dempsey Marketing. It’s free and his instructions walk you through it step-by-step. Hopefully, it will work for you. (If anyone has successfully used another plugin and would like to recommend it, feel free to mention it in the comment section.)

How Do You Test to see if You Set Authorship up Correctly?

You can test to see if you’ve set up your authorship correctly by going to the Google Rich Snippets Testing Tool. Paste in the URL of an article that you’ve authored and click on “preview”. If you’ve set it up correctly, you will see an example of how your post would appear in the search results.

If anyone needs further proof that there are benefits to establishing authorship, check out the article “Google Confirms Hidden Benefit Of Authorship: Bonus Links After A Back-Button Click” by Matt McGee. Another article that I recommend is “The Ultimate list of Google Authorship resources”. How about you? Have you set up your authorship? Have you noticed an increase in traffic from organic searches from Google?

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Published by Sherryl Perry

Welcome! If you're looking for help building an Internet presence that fits your needs and works for you, you're in the right place. I blog common sense articles about WordPress, social media and SEO. My goal is to help small business owners and entrepreneurs understand their core business. Together, we can develop and implement business strategies that make sense to you.

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62 Comments

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  1. Hey Sherryl,

    I tried getting my authorship profile to show up ages ago and it just never happened. I gave up until I saw this post. The only thing I had to do was to change my email address to my domain name. I tested it vial that link and it worked fine.

    Having said that I’ve noticed it it doesn’t actually show up in normal searches. Perhaps it takes a couple of days to kick in.

    1. Hi Peter,
      It’s always nice to see you here! I’m glad that you found my post helpful (especially after having given up once already). Google authorship is great and it does wonders for brand recognition. (We get to see your smiling face in the SERPs (search engine result pages).

      Definitely give it a few days to start showing up. If it tested fine, I’m confident that you have it set up correctly. It is so easy to miss one little step in a process like this. You must feel a sense of accomplishment! 🙂

  2. Hey Sheryl,A very informative article.I had followed the steps as you have written some 2 months ago,but yet there are no signs of google authorshp for my website.Is it because i have not verified my E-mail,because i dont have an e-mail with my sites domain

    1. Hi Abhijit,
      Somehow, I missed your comment. Hopefully, by now, you’ve got this to work. You do need to have an email address on that domain. If you’re still having trouble, I’d be happy to try to help you.

  3. Pingback: 5 Basic Tips for WordPress Bloggers and Website Owners | BloggerBeat
  4. Hi, thanks for this tutorial.
    I’ve added it to my photocrati header.php file as instructed but im quite confused as although the rich snippets tool says Authorship is working for this webpage.

    the bit below where you add your google+ page:
    “Please enter a Google+ profile to see if the author has successfully verified an email address on the domain to establish authorship for this webpage”

    When I enter the information, the result shows this:

    Email verification has not established authorship for this webpage.
    Email address on the bjmphotography.net domain has been verified on this profile: Yes
    Public contributor-to link from Google+ profile to bjmphotography.net: Yes
    Automatically detected author name on webpage: Not Found.

    I’m confused as to why its saying: Automatically detected author name on webpage: Not Found.

    Thankyou!

  5. There is no set time Neeraj. Some people take longer than others. It depends a lot on how quickly Google indexes your site. After iI set mine up, I waited a few days and then searched on one of my articles. It appeared in the search results with my profile pic. So, I knew that I was all set.

  6. Thanks for this helpful tutorial. I have implemented Authorship according to your tutorial. Richsnippet Tool is showing my verified Google Authorship. How much time will it take to appear in Google Search ?

    1. There’s no hard and fast rule as to how long it will take for your profile pic to start showing up in the SERPs. (Google doesn’t even guarantee that it will.) Some of the factors include how often Google indexes your site and some people who are active on social networking sites and have social “proof” (like a high Klout score) may see results faster than others.

      This may not help you with your Google Authorship but I couldn’t help but notice that your profile pic isn’t showing when you comment. That’s an easy fix. Just go to Gravatar.com and associate a profile pic with the URL of your site and the email address that your comment with. (That’s a good tip for anyone who hasn’t already done that.) BTW -You’re welcome. I’m glad you found my tutorial helpful.

  7. i did every thing and check it using google structural tools also.
    but it my photo is not displaying my search results.
    give me a hand

    1. Hi Shafeeq,
      If you set up your rel=author and you verified it with the Google Rich Snippets Testing Tool, it may just be a matter of time before your profile picture shows up. I read that there’s no guarantee that using the rel author tag will show your picture. Hopefully, you’ll be one of the lucky ones. If you wait a while and it still doesn’t seem to work, you may want to try a different plugin.

    1. Steven,

      When I look at your Google+ page, I can’t see any contributions at all. I just sent you an email with screenshots including shots of another blogger where I can see her blogs. I sent you a link to check if you’ve verified your email address with Google and I also wonder if you have made changes to your Google+ privacy settings.

      Let’s take this conversation offline and I’ll see if I can help you via email. BTW – I deleted the URL from your comment.

    1. Steven,
      I just checked your Google+ profile and I noticed that you haven’t followed this step:

      On the “About” page of Google+ profile, under “Contributor to” add links to sites that you contribute content to (including your blogs).

      Right now, you only have your blog listed under links. Try adding it there and see if it makes a difference.

  8. Hi Sherryl,I always wanted to implement Google Authorship, but never bothered to find out how.This is a good tutorial, and I\’ll try to follow the steps.The same thing applies for your How to Add the Facebook Like Box post.Is time to implement that too.Have a great weekend.

    1. Thanks for letting me know that you found my tutorials helpful Bodan. I started out my career as a teacher and that’s just something that’s a part of me. 🙂 You have a great weekend too!

    1. Hi Naser,
      I find myself clicking on search results that display the author’s profile picture over those that don’t. I think it sends the message that the person is up to speed on things like Google Authorship and that’s impressive on it’s own.

      Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to leave a comment. I apologize for taking so long to reply.

    1. Hi Emilia,
      Thanks for letting me know that you found my post well written. I do my best to help bloggers implement tools like Google Authorship. Sometimes, things seem more confusing than they need to be.

  9. It is a relatively new piece of Semantics, but it’s value was not lost on some. I think that a lot of people are finally getting around to the importance of attributing their work and offering it for others, say on guest posts, with the Google author meta tag. I think the Publisher tag is also important.
    Personally I’m using Drupal, so I relay on the Meta Tags module for all my meta tags. http://drupal.org/project/metatag

    1. I’ve heard a few people mention the publisher tag recently. I did a little research and it appears to be a tool that is used by news publishers or for people running Adwords. Am I missing something or are there other reasons to use this tag.

      I’ve used Joomla myself and I still maintain one site that I built with it. I never took the time to learn Drupal (and at this point don’t intend to). Thanks for taking the time to join the conversation Kurt.

  10. Great information on how to set up a Google Authorship. For those who own their own web sites, you also might want to consider using a rel=publisher tag on the home page and linking it to your business’ Google+ page. It’s just as easy to set up as rel=author tags.

  11. Thanks for letting me know that you found my post valuable and that you’re going to share it. So many people left comments (on the guest post that I published) that I felt it was necessary to explain this in plain English. I knew a lot of readers could benefit from knowing how to do this themselves.

  12. Hey Sherryl,

    I finally made it by. Boy, what a great day it’s been so far.

    I did this on my blog back in the beginning of the summer I think. I had a friend who was having issues getting hers to show up so she hired me to do it for her. Come to find out, her blog had never been authorized in the first place so as soon as I got her set up there it was smooth sailing.

    I think it’s pretty important for everyone to get their blog set up with the author tag because I have a feeling that if they don’t do it now, they’ll regret it later down the road.

    Great post and so easy to understand. I love those kind of how to posts… 🙂

    Hey Sherryl, have a great Friday okay!

    ~Adrienne

    1. Hi Adrienne,
      I’ve noticed your profile pic in the search results! 🙂 I always scan the results quickly to see if I recognize the author and I’m more apt to click on the article that was authored by someone who I recognize as providing good content. So, this does work. I think it’s a bit of “social proof” too.

      Thanks for letting me know that you found my post easy to understand. Sometimes the posts that explain something that’s a little complex can take the longest to write but you already know that. You write how-to posts too!

  13. Thanks Sherryl. I read the plugin details and instructions, which seems good. I was just thinking since it adds a author box how that might work with a site that already uses or has one.

    I did checkout a few others on wordpress org that are supposed to allow you to add Google Plus, but they didn’t seem that popular not too many downloads, and the plugin details on wordpress org were fairly sparse.

    I may have to download it and test it out on my local setup when I get a chance. I keep adding more to my to-do list. I need to get caught up so I can cross some off.

    Anyway thanks again for the great write up and suggestion.

    1. You’re welcome Ray. There’s always the chance that someone has written an article explaining how to add an author box to the theme that you’re using. (I have a lot of luck finding obscure posts. My default search engine is Google but when I’m frustrated, I turn to Bing for different results.)

  14. Hey Sherryl,

    If I understand this right the plugin adds an about Author box or area at the top or bottom of a post that allows you to link to your Google Plus account correct?

    Also I am guessing that it would be for sites or blogs that don’t already have an about Author box. Does it work for sites that have more than one author? I mean can a guest poster add their Google Plus link and it will show their account too?

    I don’t need to do this myself at the current time, but I know a few people that will be adding Google Plus in the near future. Some of them use a theme that has a built in about author box already, and others do not.

    1. Hi Ray,
      You’re correct. This plugin does add the author box on the post page. I’m using Thesis 1.8.5 as my theme and the author box is working for guest bloggers on this site. I’m not sure if it’s working in part due to the way I set up guest bloggers. I create user accounts for them with the role of author. In Thesis, there’s a “bio” field on the user page and that is what is showing up in the author box. In Robert Dempsey’s article, he mentions that his plugin works with the majority of the premium WordPress themes.

  15. This is a great idea – never heard about it before. I’ve registered my blog on the Google plus and will monkey around with inserting the tag into my WordPress. Although my web designer may have already done this, not sure. Thanks for the tip and the easy to follow instructions!

  16. Installed Robert Dempsey’s plug-in as instructed. It has an impact on Google Authorship but I don’t get the little box you have at the end about you. Tried with the settings but it doesn’t seem to make a difference.

    1. Cataraina,
      There may be a conflict between Robert’s plug-in and your theme. I’m using Thesis and it worked fine. A different plugin may work for you but I can’t personally recommend one. Maybe another reader could. The good news is that it sounds like Google Authorship is working for you.

  17. I still feel incredibly lost. But this is mostly because I use blogger and I don’t have a domain email address. The directions for it all on the google site feel like greek to me.

    1. Jon,
      I don’t use Blogger, so, I really can’t advise you on this. I did search for an answer for you but I have never attempted this. So, if you want to try this, you do so at your own risk. (Sorry, I don’t mean to sound like a lawyer here but I am not familiar with the blog/blogger that I’m giving you a link to.)

      I’ve read this article and the logic makes sense to me in theory. (If I had a Blogger or WordPress.com blog, I would try it.) Here’s the link in case you (or someone else) wants to try it. He suggests a couple of WordPress plugin to get the author box to appear on your blog. I always strongly recommend backing up your site before installing any plugins. Here’s the link to the article: http://techbymak.com/rel-author-google-authorship-guide-blogger-wordpress.html.

  18. Sherryl – Useful information. And while I am using the author tag, the fact that Google will have even more information about me is mildly unnerving. It seems to me that once they associate me with my employer\’s website, they may also use this information to decrease the link authority passed back to my employer from my guest posts. Also, if their algorithm is programmed to devalue links generated circles of friends, this provides them with even more information to track my activity and associations.

    1. Randy,
      I imagine that could happen. Google is the big gorilla in the room when it comes to SEO. I’m not sure I understand why Google would program their algorithm to devalue links generated in circles of friends unless it could in some way be construed as abuse. Interesting thoughts. All I know that is at this point, my website traffic from organic searches in Google has increased significantly since I established authorship. I try to not think too much about Google algorithms. It just gives me a headache. 🙂

  19. Pingback: How To Set up Google Authorship & the Rel=Author Tag | Keep Up With The Web | Scoop.it
  20. Thank you for this step by step article. It has been on my today list and today was the day! I had most of it done, just never connected the dots! Now they are! Thank you again for a well written and clear article with instructions.

  21. This alone is a great reason to do this: “Establishing yourself as an author (of articles related to specific topics) helps with SEO (Search Engine Optimization).” Too bad some won’t do it anyway because they don’t want to be public by name. Sigh.

    1. I’ve read arguments before by people who don’t want their name public. Personally, I believe our name is part of our brand. I know some bloggers who have chosen a pen name and branded that. The same goes for not using an email address that includes your domain name. That’s a great way to promote your brand.

      1. Not everyone who puts information online is a blogger. Some are professors and some are business people. People do want some privacy – I can understand that. But with this piece, they lose out.

  22. Sherrryl I did it!!

    Managed to set up my authorship by linking my content to my Google+ profile in a widget. So now I’m verified and Zahur Ramji is no longer mentioned:-)

    Next thing to get a Rel=Author tag. Do I need to do that in order for Google Authorship to work? There is already information on me at the top of my homepage. Honestly think it will be too much of promotion to have one more photograph and text about what I can do. What do you think?

    1. Catarina,
      It looks like all that widget is doing is providing a link to your Google+ page with your posts. What you need to do now is to insert the rel=author tag into your posts which the plugin that I mentioned in my post will do for you. Just follow the link to Robert Dempsey’s post. His instructions are great.

      This reminds me that I should have mentioned in my article that it’s always a good idea to backup your database before installing and/or upgrading any plugin (just in case).

  23. This is a great article Sherryl.

    Tried using my normal email address to verify myself as the author and it worked. However when I get to the Rich Snipped testing tool it says it’s not verified and that I can use “Authorship verification by email” method above to verify your authorship.

    On top of it someone called zahur ramji has also claimed authorship. He is not on Google+.

  24. Sherryl – this is an excellent, easy-to-read tutorial. Thank you. My image shows up in Google’s searches. I don’t believe I signed up for Google authorship (but who knows!), but I plan to follow the steps you outline. I’ve been wanting to do the rel=author tag for a while so I will definitely check out the plugin you recommend. Thanks again for a very informative post.

    1. Jeannette, I just took a peek at the source code of one of your posts and you have the rel=author tag set up. Maybe your webmaster did it for you. I appreciate knowing that you found my tutorial easy to follow. It took me a while to get around to writing it but I did. 🙂 (Now, I need to follow up on a couple of other posts that I wrote a while ago.)

  25. I did this and my profile picture shows up a good bit of the time when I do a blog search of my content. It wasn’t hard to do and it can only enhance my brand. I honestly wouldn’t have thought about it unless you/your guest poster hadn’t brought it to my attention. Thank you for that. 🙂