Step-by-Step SEO: How to Setup Google+ Authorship

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Google initially announced its authorship markup efforts at the 2011 SMX Advanced conference, and yet, many website owners and entrepreneurs have still failed to take the necessary steps to bring these potentially powerful benefits to their own businesses.

In order to help more website owners take advantage of this technique, I’ll first cover what Google+ authorship is and how it can improve your online business results, before diving into more detailed instructions on how to implement this strategy across your various Web properties.

Let’s get started!

First of all, even if you don’t know what Google+ authorship is, you’ve probably seen evidence of the technique in action in the Google search results:

Two of the results in the above SERP (generated by searching for Google+ iPad) feature Google+ authorship, while two of the listings are displayed in Google’s traditional style.

The two listings that feature images and author information have been correctly set up with Google’s “rel=author” tags.  Because the owners of these sites have provided Google with additional information on their on-site authors, Google is able to enhance their listings within the SERPs to include author images, author names, Google+ Circle inclusions, and other sites to which the author has contributed.

The traditional Google listings, on the other hand, don’t feature this information, as they haven’t been marked up with appropriate authorship information. The result isn’t just listings that aren’t as attractive as those with “rel=author” tags. These unmarked results also experience much lower click through rates (CTR) than their updated neighbors.

In a case study carried out by Catalyst Search Marketing, adding authorship data and other types of rich snippets to a sample site increased search clicks by 150 percent throughout the one-month testing period:

Pretty cool, right?

Depending on the type of website you run and the number of authors that contribute to your site blog, setting up Google+ authorship can be downright simple. In the next section of this article, I’ll cover a few different approaches you can use to set up the “rel=author” tag correctly, depending on the platform and configuration of your website.

Option #1: Websites Built on WordPress

If your website runs on WordPress, you’re in luck. Setting up Google’s authorship snippets can be easily accomplished by installing the Yoast SEO for WordPress plugin, which will automatically add the fields necessary to validate content ownership between your site and your Google+ profile.

Once the plugin is installed, head over to Google+ and grab the direct link to your Google+ profile (or, if you haven’t yet set up a Google account, take the time to do so now). Your profile link should look something like this:

While you’re in your account, take a second to update your profile picture to a clear, engaging headshot. Whenever Google detects your content in the search results, it will add your profile image as your author headshot, and you’ll find that logos, cartoons, and other similar images will be rendered too small to be seen clearly. A picture of your face will also perform much better in terms of boosting click through rates from the SERPs, as people are naturally drawn to other faces.

In addition, to use the Yoast SEO for WordPress plugin, you’ll need to make sure your “+1s” are visible within your Google+ profile. To do this, navigate to the “Profile” tab within your account, click “Edit Profile” and then check the box that appears under the “+1’s” item on your navigation bar:

Save your changes and then head back to your WordPress dashboard. Once inside, add your Google+ profile link to the Google+ area of your user profile, as shown below:

Add the profile link to the user profile of every author that contributes to your website. Once this is complete, articles that are published will automatically contain the necessary “rel=author” markup to trigger featured author benefits within the Google search results.

Option #2: HTML Websites

If your website runs on straight HTML, you can still get all the benefits of Google’s authorship markup, though you’ll need to take a few extra steps to get there.

To start, add your profile link to the following piece of code and paste the finished product into the <head> section of any page you’d like to receive author benefits for in the natural SERPs:

<a rel=”author” href=””>

After this is complete, log back into your Google+ profile and click the “Edit Profile” button found on your profile page. Make sure the “About” tab is highlighted and scroll down until you see the “Contributor to” section. Edit these fields to add the name and URL of your website and then click to save your changes.

Once you’ve setup all of your code, head over to Google’s Rich Snippet Testing Tool and type in your website’s URL. If your “rel=author” integrations have been structured correctly, you should see a sample search preview appear. If not, Google will let you know that errors have occurred in the setup process that you’ll need to sort out.

Option #3: Guest Posts on Other Sites

Either of the first two options discussed in this article will ensure that content you host on your own website is marked up with the appropriate code needed to secure featured author benefits in the SERPs. But what happens if you guest post on other websites? How can you claim your content when it’s published on a site you don’t control?

In some cases, the owner of the site you’re posting from might set you up as a user. If this occurs and the webmaster is using the Yoast SEO for WordPress plugin described above, you may be able to have your Google+ profile link added to your user profile in order to set up authorship automatically.

But if this isn’t the case, you can still take matters into your own hands. As most guest article hosts allow authors to include a linked bio at the end of their articles, simply create a link that points back to your Google+ profile using the same structure shown above in Option #2.

For example, your finished bio might look like:

“Sujan is the owner of Single Grain Digital Marketing. You can learn more about him on his personal blog or by connecting on <a rel=”author” href=””>Google+</a>.”

After submitting your guest post, you’ll need to head back over to your Google+ profile and add the name and home page URL of the site that’s publishing your guest post to the “Contributor to” section of your profile (as described above). Once Google determines that this connection is valid, you should see your author headshot and other metadata elements appear in the natural SERPs as soon as two to three weeks after you’ve completed your setup.

In the past, the process of setting up authorship in order to secure featured benefits within the SERPs was a much more complicated process. Fortunately, at the request of confused webmasters, Google has simplified the process, making it easier to set up “rel=author” tags in just a few steps on any type of website. As a result, there’s simply no excuse not to head out and claim these extraordinary benefits for yourself by setting up Google+ authorship today!

Sujan Patel
Sujan Patel has over 12 years of digital marketing experience and has helped hundreds of clients increase web traffic, boost user acquisition, and grow their... Read Full Bio
Sujan Patel
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  • Edwin J.

    Good article, I was wondering why these little avatars appear on google, but now I have found the answer:) I am currently examining how can I benefit from this tool to promote my blog. So far I focus on SEO, social media and use cheap advertising succh as tools found on or I buy marketing books on appsumo. Great post!

  • Tom Thirsk

    Thank you Sujan for an easy to understand guide to Google+ authorship. On the Google profile end, after adding a photo, one of the important steps is to adda link to the website where you have published your work in the “contibutor to” section in your Google+ profile.

    I thought it might be worth adding this to the article, only because people some might not know they need to add themselves as a contributor on the Google+ profile end.

  • Rinkesh

    Your post just came at the right time. I was planning to use it, to give my blog a boost in search rankings. Thanks for the lovely post.

  • Sean

    Great article on how to put up your Google authorship markup! I created a post on how it affects SEO and CTR here if you want to check out further resource about Google Authorship’s importance:
    (Webmaster, you can remove the http:// if this is not allowed but if you could please leave the URL for your readers to copy paste as a resource, that would be greatly appreciated on your end as well as on mine. Thank you!)

  • Sujan Patel

    @sean great post. I gave it a tweet

  • Sean

    Thanks Sujan! Likewise I gave this great step-by-step resource a tweet 😉 Helpful piece of work, mate.

  • Dhvanesh

    I have setup Google+ Authorship on my blog but Google is not yet showing it in search results. I have set it up almost the way you have explained. Let me double check the things.

  • Franco Novello

    Thanks Sujan for this step-by-step information about autorship.

  • simon green

    Excellent post.. in nice easy english so noobs like myslef can understand! question though. rather than setting up personal authorship I just want to get a rich snippet for my site as a whole with the profile pic being our company logo. i have made a google+ page for the business – Roy Green Photography – and linked it to the website. i have added some rel=publisher code to the header of my main page which as far as i can tell is correct (its a wordpress site) but as of yet not getting any rich snippet in SERPs… ?

    Any ideas? Any help would be much appreciated!

  • elena

    This post has come right on time when i needed it the most.Good job sujan

  • JP Roberts

    Thank you for this information. What are peoples thoughts on setting up multiple Authorship profiles? The reason being, we are writing content for our clients and don’t exactly know the best route to take with regards to Authorship. Your input and advice is greatly appreciated.

  • George

    I read this blog post without expecting to learn anything new, but the “Guest Posts on Other Sites” section is fantastic! Thank you for a great tip, Sujan.

  • alex

    hi,i setup my google+ autorship, but i havent see it in the serp result,wat is the problem?

  • Alice Ly

    To answer Simon’s question, you can’t set a company picture/company G+ page to be the “face” of the rich snippet since Google doesn’t consider that as a true author. They will give preference to real people images instead of a corporate image as searchers will typically trust and click on a real face.

    Since your business is named after you, you should use your own photo to associate your face with it 🙂

    • simon green

      aahhh right thank you for the info Alice! will go down that route then

      • Alice Ly

        No problem! And good luck 🙂

  • Mitch Byrne

    Great post. Way to break it down! Wish I had known that yoast helps get authorship done. I had someone help me get it for my two sites last week. I think we did it the long way though….

  • Marc Chamberlain

    Very nice. I’m seeing this more and more, and more and more I see clients asking how I can do it for them. Its not surprising that it increases the CTR, either. Good stuff!

  • Van Whitsett

    Good info. Why does it take so long for Google to index your website so that your Google Authorship is displayed? Maybe I’ve done something wrong but it’s been over a week and still my photo does not appear next to my listing…

  • Thomas WIchmann

    Does anyone knows if Google have changed the way for authorship. ?

    I know many where the Authorship have been work nicely but now its gone. ??

  • Jose

    Google Authorship’s importance is increasing day by day and thank you very much for this step by step guide.

  • Ravi Jain

    This article is great and I’ve been successful in my attempt. But I have a small doubt here. My website has 3 authors & we don’t maintain 3 different pages for the 3 authors. So how do I use the above methodology for individual articles instead of individual pages?

    Any help will be appreciated.

  • Md Alamin

    if Google have changed the way for authorship then what i should to do?