Google recommends adding an author’s URL to article schema to help with disambiguating the correct author when multiple writers have the same or similar names.
This is confirmed in an official Google changelog, which reads:
“August 6: Added a new recommended author.url property to the Article structured data documentation. The url property helps Google disambiguate the correct author of the article.”
To be clear, the author URL property is not new. What’s new is the recommendation to use it to help Google disambiguate the correct author of an article.
The author URL property is nested within Article schema, so if you’re already using that markup on your site it’s just one more field to add.
Google notes that the sameAs property can be used as an alternative to the author URL, as Google can understand both sameAs and URL when disambiguating authors.
Previous to this update, there was no such solution for assisting Google with disambiguating authors. Google’s John Mueller once spoke of a process called reconciliation, in which the search engine looks for URLs in author bio pages to differentiate writers with similar names.
This new method of using author URL schema markup sounds like it could be more effective.
Related: Your Guide to Google E-A-T & SEO
Which URL Should I Use in Author Markup?
Google doesn’t specify what kind of URL the markup should point to, such as a social media link or a link to the author’s home page.
However, it may be best for Google if the markup points to an author bio page on the same domain where the article is published.
Because Google’s Quality Raters are instructed to look for information about authors when manually evaluating websites.
An “unsatisfying” or “inadequate” amount of information about who wrote an article is grounds for rating content as either “low” or “lowest” quality.
Here’s what’s stated in the section 6.6 of Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines (MC = main content):
“We expect some form of website information for many or most websites. We expect clear information about who (e.g., what individual, company, business, foundation, etc.) created the MC, unless there is good reason for anonymity. A long-standing Internet alias or username can also serve the same function as identifying the MC creator.”
The guidelines don’t explicitly state “you need an author bio page,” although it would be a highly effective way to communicate to Google’s quality raters who an author is.
The more information you can provide about an author, the more proof you’re providing to Google your content is high quality.
Moreover, an author bio page further assists with disambiguating authors.
Back to the reconciliation technique I referenced earlier, Mueller explains how social media links in bio pages can help Google tell the difference between authors with the same name:
“So my recommendation here would be to at least link to a common, or kind of like a central place, where you say everything comes together for this author. Which could be something like a social network profile page, for example, and use that across the different author pages that you have when you’re writing, so that when our systems look at an article and they see an author page associated with that, they can recognize this is the same author as the person who wrote something else. And we can kind of group this by entity, and we do that based on maybe this common social networking profile that is there.”
With that stated, the best solution sounds like pointing author URL markup to a bio page that links to their social media profile. This will send multiple signals to Google that can help with determining the correct author.
For authors, linking to the same social media profile on every website where you publish can help Google tell the difference between you and another writer with the same name.