Have you noticed when doing a Google search that sometimes you see the author’s photo showing up next to a particular search result? I was thrilled to see my face next to a front page listing for WordPress Website Designers in Atlanta. You can see below that on page one for the search term phrase at the top, there are three paid results. After that there are two organic listings and then my listing shows up third. But, notice that mine is the only one with an image of the author and so even if my result is not the first, it captures your attention and looks more, “real”.
Maybe that is how the Velveteen Rabbit felt when he became “real”?
Google’s Author Verification Process
Google has been developing a feature that places a verified author profile photo with a linked byline in their search results for a couple of years. They first rolled it out for high profile authors. I was immediately taken with the advantages of this feature and proceeded to follow their steps to “verify” my website with my name about a year ago. Recently, I have seen it actually working in the nicest of ways.
Having your image next to one of your search results makes it pop off of a page of results saying, “Pick this one, she is a real person.” Google uses this author verification process to insure that you are the real deal, and someone did not “scrape” this content from another site. They then give it higher priority in search results than others that do not have author verification.
Google is now using Google + in many ways to confirm and verify online content. Google Local Business Pages are now being run through Google + and can be more easily verified as belonging to a certain person since they now require you to have a Google + account much like you have to have a Facebook profile to create a Facebook Page for your business.
And Google is using author verification along with one’s interactions with Google + to build what is called AuthorRank. When you have verified yourself as the author of your web content, have a Google + Business Page, share your content on Google + where it can get commented on and re-shared, you are building up what basically amounts to your Google clout as they build up their confidence in your online reputation.
So now that I have demonstrated that it is cool, important for search ranking, and that it can work for anyone, I am going to show you how to do it.
How to Verify Your Author Profile with Google
Conceptually, the process involves verifying to Google that you are the author of your blog posts by linking three things: your blog posts, your author bio that you have in your user profile on your website, and your Google profile. Sounds easy? It is very easy to verify your authorship if you have a single author WordPress website. (Note: If you have a multi-author blog, I suggest that you find out the other ways to do this by reading, The Definitive Guide To Google Authorship Markup by Rick DeJarnette.)
Author Verification by Email for Single Author Website
If your website uses the same domain as the e-mail you submit in the Google verification process (your website is on www.yoursite.com and you have an email address that is firstname.lastname@example.org), you can follow the steps below. If you do not have a domain level e-mail address you can easily get one from your webhost and then forward the e-mails from there to your e-mail client of choice.
1. If you don’t have a Google+ Profile go ahead and create one now. If you have a Gmail account then you most likely have a rudimentary Google + account. But you will need to go complete the profile.
- Be sure to include a real picture of your face. Do not use a cartoon or a logo or a photo with someone else in it with you. It’s best to use the same one on your website and or Gravatar.
- Be sure to add your business e-mail that uses your blog’s domain name.
- Fill out all of the links to your other social media accounts and add all urls for blogs that you contribute to.
- Google also recommends making the +1 page of your profile public. That page displays anything that you have publicly “+1ed” on the web. To do so, go to edit mode on your profile, click the +1 tab and check the box “show this tab on your profile.”
2. Go to Google’s email authorship verification form.
3. Enter your email address in the blank and click the signup button.
4. Check your website to see that your byline is attached to your blog content “By Your Name” in what is called the “post meta data”. Your name must be the same name exactly as your name on your Google+ account.
You can also use an author bio box after the post in the post-footer to identify you as its author.
Once you make these changes, it will take some time for Google to start making the connection between your profile and your blog posts. There is no guarantee that Google will always show your photo in results since how one comes up and whether they use your photo is based on their secret algorithms. But, doing the things I suggested and posting content that gets seen and shared helps show Google you are the real deal, and that other people may also find your post relevant and compelling enough to read and to share.