Google – How I failed Neil Patel’s Idiot Proof Google Author Guide

Google Authorship Markup

Water Wings

Before I begin, let me say  I follow Neil Patel.  His tech oriented mind is the one I will never have.  I lack the needed neurons on that side of my brain.  So, I truly appreciate his insights about the online world as well as his efforts to assist those of us who are more technologically challenged.  Truly.

For people like me, jumping into the online geek soup of coding and the like is a lot like jumping out a helicopter into the ocean 20 miles from shore and not knowing how to swim.  So the outcome really has to be worth the effort. Generating a 150% boost in traffic through Google’s authorship connection seemed worth the effort.  Or so I thought.

Now that I’ve explained my online stalking for Neil and my lack of online technology prowess, I have to confess I flunked Neil’s “Idiot-Proof Guide to Google Authorship Markup“.  Crashed and burned.  Well, kinda.  I was able to recover, I think. Let me explain.

Neil went to great lengths in his recent piece to explain how to implement Google’s Authorship Markup.  He explained how he – my tech savvy god – had studied various guides from Google and from others only to remain confused about how to initiate the rich snippet for Google.  Neil went on to generously provide not just one detailed walk-through option, but two.  He referred to it as his “dummy proof” guide.


Perhaps is was dummy proof for some, but not for all.

First Stumble

So what happened?  Well, I walked through Neil’s first option.  I followed his instructions on the Author Box Reloaded plugin and the WP Plugin Framework Reloaded.  Although I was not crazy about having an author box for each post, I thought the ugly appearance would be worth the trade off to generate additional traffic.

I’m smart enough to handle plugins, so these steps were crossed off quickly.

He explained how option one required Google to verify one’s company email address.  This was my first stumble.

I have a company email address, but it isn’t associated with my Goolge+ account.  I also have several Google email accounts for various reasons.

Yes, I tried adding the company email to my Google+ account, but try as I might Google continued to tell me that my company email was associated with a “different account“.  Unfortunately, Google wouldn’t identify which account or what type of account was attached to this email address.  In typical Google fashion, it wouldn’t give me a link to that account…it was just “different”.

I was stumped.  If Google knew the account, why not share the information? It shares everything else!

I didn’t have another Google+ account and try as I might, I got nowhere.  At this stage, the clock was well beyond the ten minutes Neil suggested this process could take.

I started to open a Yahoo account as Neil had suggested this as an alternative, but stopped.  I didn’t want to.  How many email boxes does one person need?  I had enough email accounts and was already having difficulties keeping them straight.

Not one to give up and my persistence kicking in, I went to Neil’s option two.  I walked through that process and felt somewhat assured I had connected my website and my Google+ account.

Stumped Again, But Still Learning

When I visited the rich snippet testing tool, I saw my photo but discovered these warnings after my posts:

Warning: Missing required field “entry-title”.
Warning: Missing required field “updated”.
Warning: Missing required hCard “author”.

Interesting.  Even a dummy knows that warning signs are never good.  Right?

Where can I find an answer?

I dog-paddled through all of the comments Neil received on his idiot proof post thinking maybe someone else had received these warnings.  Someone did. Two someones. Unfortunately, Neil’s responses were not encouraging.

“I wish I could help, but I am not that technical.”  AND “That is odd, you want to contact a developer and see if they can help you figure out what is going on.”

Really?  If Neil “is not that technical“, I really must be a true idiot.

Well, I may not understand the ins and outs of Google – like anyone does – or code, but I am persistent and can be resourceful.

I found someone else in the comments section who had also received Google’s message that the email address was used by another account.  Neil wasn’t able to answer that question either, but suggested contacting Google.

Okay, I may be an dummy, but I am not a masochist.  If I’m struggling to implement Neil’s dummy guide, how am I going to understand anyone at Google?

Don’t they talk a different language?  Isn’t that why Neil did this guide in the first place?

Heck, I can’t figure out HOW to contact a live person at Google!

What’s their email address? Do they have one?  Do they have chat support?  Can I do hang out with them?

That’s what I thought.

The comment crawl, however, was great for my self-confidence because it told me I had company.  I could tell many found this entire authoring process confusing and genuinely appreciated Neil’s effort to simplify the ordeal as did I.  It just wasn’t going according to plan.

Google Authorship Options 3 and 4

Google Authorship Option 3 – In the crawl process, I also found someone suggesting that Neil’s approach was “too difficult” and they would be happy to set it up for $40.  Neil thought that was a good price and, at this stage, so did I.  I had already wasted enough time slogging through this process and was wondering if any progress was being made.

I did contact this resource and I am sure they would do an excellent job.  But I had already discovered several problems on my own and could see that $40 turning into an easy three figures.

Google Authorship Option 4 –  I found another comment that said Neil’s process was too difficult and they had an easier alternative.  Music to this dummy’s ears.  There was a link.  I followed the link back to a post by Matt Greener.

I read his post a couple of times and knew I could do this. Hallelujah!  The sun was shinning a little brighter.  Of course, by this time, the sun was also going down.

Three simple steps and it worked.  Or at least I think it did.  Who knows?  Apparently Google will take 5 days to two weeks to kick in.

Really?  Isn’t that about the same time frame UPS promises for ground deliveries?  Oh well.

Neither Matt nor Neil had an answer to address the warning sign issue.

Not a problem.  I was feeling cocky.  Maybe I was just punchy.  I copied and pasted one of the warning signs into Google search.  Guess what?  I found at least four blog posts online explaining what these warnings were about and how to get rid of them.  The bad news for this dummy was that each author had a different solution.

Dummies want and need for there to be ONE absolutely answer to follow, which may go a long way to explain why we are not online techies but dummies.

I decided to put off addressing the warning signs for another day.  I was exhausted.  My head hurt from having to turn my brain 180 degrees to understand all this online stuff.  There is only so much new stuff a dummy can absorb in one day.

Lessons Learned

I learned a lot through this process.

1. My brother was right.  Long ago, he explained to me that writing code could either be elegant or messy.  This is why there are different answers to the same online coding question.  It’s all in the coding style of the author.  While I may want and need ONE absolute answer when it comes to things online, chances are slim I will get just one.

2. The reason I am not and it is highly unlikely I’ll ever become a online tech wizard is that most online technology is based upon factors that are too ambiguous and amorphous for my taste. This is why I will continue to follow Neil Patel and other like him.

3.  While I lack an understanding of all things geeky, my persistence and resourcefulness will be my water wings to shore.

4. Usage of the terms “idiot proof” or “dummy guide” can be dangerous as there is always someone out there who will be dumber than anticipated.

5.  I am not as dumb or alone as it sometimes feel. There are other dummies out there and for them I am truly thankful.

6.  Of all the tools Google offers, I can always count on Google Search to answer my needs and never to disappoint.

7.  When confused or having difficulties, always crawl through the comments.  You’ll feel better and you just may find an answer to your problem…one that is truly idiot proof.

Use the comments section below to share your thoughts.

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Sheila Hibbard

Sheila Hibbard takes the fluff, hype and confusion out of marketing and social media. She provides small business owners with straight forward, no nonsense marketing guidance and techniques that produce results based on her 35 plus years in advertising, communications, research, strategic planning and social media. Author of Marketing Online Made Simple - WHO.

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  1. Thanks for sharing your woes AND linking to a simple solution. There’s something to be said about keeping it simple, and unfortunately, Google has NOT been doing this. Google + has some very badly thought out navigation.

    • I agree, Mike. Google minds just don’t seem to rotate in the simple sphere. Everything G related seems to be a mysterious challenge that one has to climb into and out of. Oh well. The upside is I’m learning more than desired about how things link up. Downside? Way too much of a time investment.

      Thanks for your comments. Sheila

  2. I know what you had to go through as it was similar process for me until I figured out an easier way.

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I received some flack by others that were concerned that Google might change the way authorship is implemented. As of right now, 1 year and 6 months have passed and this method is working great. Here’s the thing…

    Google is ALWAYS changing stuff, and so you do what you can to stay abreast of the changes, spending the least amount of time possible so that you can get back and focus on what really matters.

    • Matt:

      Thank you for letting me know there are others out there as confused as I about Google’s Authorship markup.

      A big, juicy THANK YOU for your solution. It worked and seems to continue to work.

      I’ve wanted to change my WP theme, but hesitate I’ll undo the G authorship and have to swim through the process again. Although I’ve seen that Google has tried to make the process easier.


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