10 Things Every Writer Should Understand About Google+ Authorship

Jimmy Daly
by Jimmy Daly | Last Updated Feb. 5th, 2014 5 COMMENTS

Building authority on your website with good content, SEO, social media and email marketing has always been important to content marketers. In 2014, plan to add authorship to the list of ways you plan to market and grow your site. Authorship, which was rolled out by Google in 2011, connects content to the person who wrote it. Using Google+, search engines can keep tabs on a writer’s content and in the future could factor their personal authority into their search algorithm.

Authorship will be hugely important over the next few years. To help you get acquainted, here are ten things every content creator needs to know.

google authorship example

1. It’s very easy to setup.

Considering how easy it is to link your Google+ profile to your content, it’s a no-brainer that every writer should spend five minutes setting this up. First, add any websites that you own or contribute to in the “Contributor to” section of your Google+ profile. Next, add a link to your Google+ profile in your author bio on each site you write for. Make sure to include ?rel=author after the Google+ URL. For example, mine looks like this:


If you are contributing content to a site that you don’t own, simply ask the site’s webmaster to include your bio on your posts. Send them HTML to ensure that the correct link and attribute are used.

Check out Google’s instructions to ensure it’s setup correctly.

2. There are lots of WordPress plugins to help.

There should be a link to your author bio on every article you write. A number of WordPress plugins make this process very simple. Try Fancier Author Box to easily customize your bio. If you are using a WordPress theme that already includes author bios, check out Google Plus Authorship or Google Author Link.

It’s best to use a plugin designed specifically for your author bio rather than simply adding the link in your site’s header or footer. Authorship is designed for posts that have been authored by a writer or blogger. Home pages, archives and category pages don’t count. Mark Traphagen explains on his blog:

When Google uses the term “authorship” they are being quite literal. Authorship-connected content is to be unique content created by a real, identifiable human being. Your company mascot or logo is not an author; not in the real world and not in Google’s eyes.

As always, it’s smart to play by the rules.

3. It will help you build authority.

When Eric Schmidt — former CEO and current executive chairman at Google — talks about SEO, you listen. In his recent book, “The New Digital Age,” Schmidt has this to say about authorship:

Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.

Although Google isn’t yet using authorship as a ranking factor, it’s inevitable that they will in the future. However, because of the integration of Google+ with products like search, people who have you in their circles see your content higher in search results. This personalization means that people who are active on Google+ and have built large followings have a better chance at getting their content seen and clicked in search results.

4. It increases click-thrus on SERPs.

Additionally, authors whose photo appears in search results are getting more traffic to their sites. Authorship is one example of rich snippets, or microdata, that helps Google categorize and rank your content. Google wants webmasters to know that rich snippets like authorship can generate more traffic:

These rich snippets help users recognize when your site is relevant to their search, and may result in more clicks to your pages.

A study by Search Engine Journal confirmed that users are more likely to click links in search results that have images associated with them. Even results at the bottom of the first page were clicked more often that the first result if authorship was properly implemented. Read the full study here.

Authorship on search results

5. It puts a face on your content.

When people search for information online, they want to hear from someone they can trust. Authorship adds much-needed human context to the web. In the same way that social networks have capitalized on relationships and trust, Google is looking to connect people.

Brands are slowly coming around to this idea. Big Data, analytics and metrics are worthwhile investments, but the companies smart enough to invest in content should also remember that they are trying to reach humans.

6. Google has a patent for it.

Even more interesting, they filed for that patent nine years ago. This is a longterm plan that Google is still working on. Kevan Lee explains on the Buffer blog:

Google authorship wasn’t always Google authorship. It began as Agent Rank.

In 2005, Google filed a U.S. patent on Agent Rank, a system that would allow the content of expert authors to rank higher in search results pages than the content from less credible authors. In many ways, this was to be the foundation for today’s Google authorship.

Making the web more human is no easy task, but Google is working hard to make it happen.

7. Google regrets emphasizing PageRank.

PageRank, which matters less now than it did in the old days of SEO, turned out to be an insufficient way to measure quality. Links alone do not denote authority. As Demian Farnworth wrote on Copyblogger, “The problem with PageRank was that you could game it.”

The Google search team spends their time making results as useful as possible for readers, not marketers or writers. With the benefit of hindsight, Google now understands they need better ways to rank content. Authorship is one of the many ways content can be contextualized and quantified.

8. It’s not too late to be an early adopter.

Because authorship isn’t officially baked into Google’s search algorithm, it’s not too late to be an early adopter. All signs indicate that authorship will be extremely important to the future of content marketing. Get in the door early and reap the benefits when the time comes.

9. Say goodbye to anonymity.

Remember when it was easy to hide behind fake usernames and profiles? That’s getting much harder. As technology permeates every aspect of our lives, the web is becoming a layer rather than a platform. In the world of constant connectivity, anonymity doesn’t work. Recently, Google replaced YouTube’s commenting system with Google+ profiles in an effort to weed out spam and offensive material.

Black hat SEOs might be upset about the end of anonymity but thoughtful, quality writers should be thrilled. Content that is tightly integrated with personal author bios and social media accounts will help readers trust the information and the human behind it.

10. You really should be active on Google+.

While we are waiting for Google to make authorship official in their search algorithm, it’s worth spending some time getting active on Google+. As we already discussed, the more people that follow, the more chance you have at getting your content seen. Google+ isn’t the social dead zone that many people claim. In fact, it’s bustling with activity and conversations about nearly every topic.

If you are having trouble getting started, try searching some of your favorite hashtags or joining a few communities. Here are a few of my favorite people to follow:

Here are a few of my favorite communities:

Have any questions about authorship? Let us know in the comments.