How To Setup Google Authorship for Guest Posts
Hopefully by now you’ve heard about Google Authorship and what it is. If not, here’s a brief overview.
Authorship is the means by which you claim authorship over an individual blog post or pages you wrote on the internet. Until now, Google could read your name as being associated with a blog post, but there may be hundreds of potential people who have the same name as you. How can Google be sure that YOU were the author of that post?
Enter Google Authorship. With a few simple steps you can connect your Google+ profile with specific blog posts – whether on your blog or not! Before we get into the specific of HOW to set up authorship, it’s important to point out what Authorship is. And what it is NOT.
What is Google Authorship?
As I mentioned, it is the expressed, validated connection between a specific person (represented by their Google+ profile) and a piece of content.
What does Authorship do?
When the authorship connection is made, and when Google decides to show the authorship expression in the search results, your Google+ profile image will appear next to the search result. There will be additional links to dig deeper into your profile information, such as this screen shot from my friend Andy Crestodina’s blog post about Authorship.
The presumed value of authorship markup today is that you will see an increased click through rate on your search result as compared to others that do not have authorship markup present. There’s also the slight chance that a user might dig deeper into your profile or additional content from with the search result. Personally, I don’t think that’s too likely, as searchers are searching for answers to questions. Finding your profile was not top of mind when running that search.
That’s it. As of today that’s the value.
What about Author Rank?
The concept of Author Rank is a future state where the influence of an individual author will be accounted for when determining how a specific piece of content ranks within search results. Executing the authorship markup is an important step to take now, so you will be ready for the day when Author Rank becomes a reality – but it’s important to note that Author Rank is not here yet. To date, I have yet to see any credible report that Author Rank is live today. It’s a gleam in Google’s eye.
The importance of Guest Posts
Despite all the histrionics around new ranking factors in the algorithm, quality inbound links remains one of (and probably THE) most important ranking factor. Writing guest posts for trusted authority sites in your specific vertical is a powerful way to build inbound links to your site. In fact, it’s one of my favorite ways to build links. It’s hard work, but the results are well worth the effort.
How to Setup Authorship for Guest Posts
Did you know that you can implement the Google Authorship markup for all your guest posts and not just the content on sites you control? Here’s the simple step by step process.
Step 1. Setup a Google+ profile if you have not yet done so.
A Google+ profile is a prerequisite for Authorship markup. This is how Google knows you are, in fact you, and not someone else with the same name.
Step 2. Link to your Google+ profile from your Guest Posts using rel=”author” tag.
Most blogs that accept guest posts will do one of two different things to show you as the author. They will either create a blogging account for you inside their CMS, or they will include your bio as guest author at the top or bottom of the individual post. Hopefully, if the blog creates an account for you they are also using a plug in to show your bio associated with the post (my personal favorite is WP About Author). If not, you’ll have to specifically request that they include the bio with the post. Your bio needs to link to your Google+ profile using the following HTML link structure:
<a title=”Author: Erin Feldman on Google+” href=”https://plus.google.com/113009267381530816581?rel=author” rel=”author“>Google+</a>
The bolded sections are the important park – the TWO sections that say rel=author and rel=”author”. Just copy and paste the above text and replace Erin Feldman’s Google+ account number with your own, and swap her name for yours at the beginning of the text. Here’s an image to explain a bit more graphically what’s going on – this is taken from Erin’s recent guest post on this blog.
Step 3. Link to the blog from Contributor section of your Google+ Profile
Now that you have the Google Authorship markup language in your bio on the guest post, we have to complete the connection. This is a simple process. Go to your Google+ profile and edit the contributor section to include the url of the blog where the guest post is being published.
Step 4. Verify the connection with Google Rich Snippets testing tool.
Now that the markup is present on your guest post bio and you’ve completed the cycle by connecting your contributor section to the blog that is publishing your guest post, you should test to ensure everything was done correctly. Navigate your browser to the Google Rich Snippets testing tool and input the url of your guest post (obviously, you’ll have to wait until it’s been published first.) The tool will tell you whether authorship markup is present.
If you’re having problems validating with the rich snippet tool, or instead trying to validate by running a search and looking for the image in search results, consider the following:
- Authorship cannot be connected to a Google+ business page. Businesses are not authors. People are authors.
- Authorship requires a clear head shot image of a person in your Google+ profile. Google will not display an image that is anything other than a head shot. Again, authorship is people-centric, not business-centric or logo-centric.
- If checking a search result and not seeing Authorship present, but it’s been validated in step 4 above, don’t fret. Google decides if/when to show. It’s not a permanent thing, but rather contextual.
- You will only personally ever have one authorship listing per search results page. Don’t run a search for you name and wonder why all listing you have authorship connected for aren’t showing images.
One Final Caveat: Be careful who you write for
It’s important to select your target blogs with care. As with any endeavor on the internet, the blog you select to write for is a partner of sorts and its important to deal with reputable sites and blogs. You should find a blog owner who will go the extra mile to ensure you have authorship markup setup properly for you. They should be vested in your success because your success is equivalent to their success.
I realize this sounds like a bit of a no-brainer, but you do need to be careful.
I’ll point out an example of what can happen, if you’re not careful. About a year and a half ago, I co-founded a group blog that did pretty well on the web. Not long after starting the project, I walked away from the site and relinquished any ownership interest.
This was long before Google authorship was important. In an effort to ensure everything was marked up properly on that site, I logged in and adjusted my bio to include all the proper markup, to update my social media links and to adjust my bio.
When I checked recently, someone from the site had logged in, stripped all markup and social media links and changed my password to ensure I could not add it back in.
Again, it goes without saying, but be careful out there. Select your guest blog targets carefully.
I wish you the very best of luck with setting up your authorship as you gallivant across your corner of the web creating awesome content for others.
What’s been your experience with authorship on your own blog and on guest posts? I continue to hear about a lot of confusion relating to authorship. What about you?
Featured image via creative commons on flickr courtesy of mdanys.