Google Authorship, Author Rank, and Content Marketing

Google Authorship and author rank.  Heard of these concepts?  Maybe you have if you follow Google’s algorithm updates as we do in content marketing, but there is a good chance you haven’t.  Google Authorship has been brewing on a low simmer and has just recently begun to capture the attention of content creators and SEO experts.  It is no secret that Google has been working on a way to link good content with authors, or as they say ‘agents’, for some time.  Google+ is the cornerstone of this effort.

To be clear, authorship and author rank are not one in the same. Google Authorship is the method to display author information in search results for the content you create. Author Rank, on the other hand, is an increasingly important aspect of the search algorithm that Google is implementing. Here are the components:

  • Author rank – your relevance and quality score
  • Google+ – tool used to establish and brand your identity
  • Google Authorship – author verification method

Google is making a direct effort to rank authors based on the quality of their work, where the works are distributed to, and how often it is shared or promoted by others.   Where your work is distributed to and WHO likes your work matters as well, again, Google is striving for quality.  An individual’s author rank gets a bump when their content is displayed on a high quality site.  This also happens when a person who is known by Google to have authority on your topic clicks on your link, the author gets a bump.  What does this mean?  It means your content is more likely to show up in SERP.  This is why Google Authorship matters in content marketing. Implementing the steps I outline below will keep you ahead of the curve and your content competitive as Google continues to refine its search algorithm and improve the quality of SERPs.

Though the focus here is on individual writers, Google Authorship and Author Rank do matter for businesses and brands.  Yes, an individual writer may move on, but having subject matter experts write for your company blog will build an audience, drive more traffic to the site, and boost awareness.  It is important to share with clients that allowing individual writers to digitally sign their work is a good long term strategy and remind them that what is published should goes through an approval process!

This is a Google centric effort for now and Google+ is the hub.  We will have to wait and see how other search engines like Bing and Yahoo respond.

Steps to take to establish Google Authorship and Increase Author Rank:

1. Members of your writing team should create detailed Google+ profile pages.

Google+ profile pages will be used as the author’s verifiable identity.  Be sure to add links to sites you contribute to in the “about” section. The search result will show the content and link to your site, but Google will pull the author’s image and name from their Google+ profile.

2. Verify your email address with Google+

  • Check that you have an email address (for example, on the same domain as your content (
  • Make sure that each article or post you publish on that domain has a clear byline identifying you as the author (for example, “By Rebecca Bell Wilson” or “Author: Rebecca Bell Wilson”).
  • Visit the Authorship page and submit your email address to Google. No matter how many articles or posts you publish on this domain, you only need to do this process once. Your email will appear in the contributor to section of your Google+ profile. If you want to keep your email private, change the visibility of your link.
  • To see what author data Google can extract from your page, use the structured data testing tool.

3. Add individual profiles on your blog, including Google+ profile information.

4. Add the author markup to your blog posts using the rel=”author” attribute tag.  You will also need to note your Google+ profile URL. 

 For a single-author blog, here are the steps:

  • Anywhere on the page of any blog article you’ve authored, you’ll need to create a link to your Google+ profile that includes the rel=”author” attribute. Acceptable places to create an unobtrusive link would be embedded in an image, at the bottom of a post, or in the text of your author bio.
  • As you create the link to your Google+ profile, make sure to add the ?rel=”author” attribute. Also, delete the extra characters from the URL (like “/u/0/” and “posts”) so that you’re left with a direct link like in the example below:

<a href=”
rel=author”>Rebecca on Google+</a>

  • Insert the Google+ link anywhere in the blog post. After Google crawls your website (this can take some time), it will associate the content of the blog post with the image on your Google+ profile. Over time, your profile photo will appear next to search results for your articles, along with an authorship link to your Google+ profile.
  • You can even use Google’s own “Author Stats” to track the increase in traffic to your blog after implementing the rel=”author” markup on your content.

Setting Up rel=”author” for Multi-Author Blogs

  • If you write for or manage a blog with a team of contributors, there are a couple of extra steps you’ll need to do to properly configure rel=”author”.
  • If the author bylines in your multi-author blog link to individual author bio pages, configure the link to the author bio page using a variation of the rel=”author” attribute called rel=”me”.
  • If your blog does not offer individual author bio pages or author archives, follow the instructions for single-author blogs.  Insert a link to the author’s Google+ page anywhere in their blog posts.  Placement at the bottom of the post or in an author bio is common and viewed as good form.(information source on author markup:

5.  Test your rich snippets.

Once Google Authorship is set up, go back through your content and make sure your rich snippet mark up is correct using the Rich Snippet Testing Tool.  You want to get credit for the killer blog posts you have been writing!

6. Continue creating great, unique content that is worth sharing!

7. Get active on Google+.  Share content consistently, engage, and befriend high-ranking authors.

8. Promote your Google+ profile.  It is the hub of authorship, even though content lives on your website.

9. Distribute content to quality sites.  Sites like Quora, Scoop.It, Facebook, Mashable, etc. are high quality and will benefit you in the long run.  Avoid mass distribution sites like Ezine or Article Hub.  Google knows the difference.