Google’s John Mueller describes a technique called reconciliation which is used to recognize when different content across the web belongs to the same author.
This topic is discussed during the Google Search Central SEO hangout recorded on April 23.
A site owner asks Mueller what’s more important to include on an author’s page between links to social media profiles or an email address.
This question prompts Mueller to explain how Google is able to recognize the entity behind author pages based on a number of different factors.
Read his full response below.
Google’s John Mueller on Recognizing Authors
The short answer to the question is: it’s best to link to a social media profile on an author page.
At the very least, whatever an author chooses to link to on their page, they have to make sure it’s consistent across the web.
The idea is to reconcile all signals to a central place, like a social media profile.
If an author consistently links to their Twitter account, for example, then that will help Google recognize they’re the same entity behind multiple author pages.
Here’s how Mueller puts it:
“Essentially what I see on our side is, when it comes to things like author pages, or information about the author, or information about entities in general behind a website, an article, or something, – what happens there is our systems try to recognize who that is, what that entity is, and we do that based on a number of different factors. And that does include things like links to profile pages for example, or visible information that we can find on these pages themselves.
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.”
Mueller references a retired form of structured data markup called authorship.
Those who are new to SEO may not be familiar with authorship. Simply put, it was markup that could be used to tell Google who authored a piece of content.
Google even displayed an author’s photo in search results at one point, but that’s ancient history in SEO years.
“Long ago we used to have the rel=”author” annotation, and all of the older SEOs will facepalm now, but it’s something essentially where we try to use structured data to explicitly apply this… the rel=”author” annotations are no longer used at Google for quite a while now, but we do try to understand who the entity is behind an author page. And for many authors it’s pretty clear there’s one name and it’s very obvious this one name is associated with this one person.”
Mueller then goes on to acknowledge more complicated situations where multiple people with the same name all have pages about them on the web.
Without a link to a central location, like a social media profile, Google may assume different authors with identical names are the same person.
“For other people it can be a little more complicated. Like me, for example, John Mueller. If you search for me you’ll find Wikipedia pages, barbecue restaurants, bands, all kinds of people who are called John Mueller.
And if, on my site, I don’t specify who I actually am, then it could happen that our systems look at my page and go: “oh this is that guy that runs that barbecue restaurant.” And suddenly I’m associated with a barbecue restaurant, which might be a move up, I don’t know.
But these subtle things make it easier for us to recognize who is actually behind something. We call that reconciliation when it comes to structured data, kind of recognizing which of these entities belong together.”
Hear his full response in the video below: