Google – More Traffic With The Authorship Markup

A Simpler Version of Google Authorship Markup

I’ve been hemming and hawing about doing this post on Google Authorship markup for several weeks.  Why?  Well, you’d be amazed at how difficult it can be to make this process simple.  In an ideal world, this process would be far simpler, but as with most things that involve Google, it isn’t.  Yet, the value outweighs the complexity.  So, walk through these steps slowly and you will see light at the end.

What is a Google Authorship Markup? 

Excellent question. The screen shot below of a typical Google search page should explain it all. With the authorship markup, (also referred to as rel=auth) one’s photo appears next to posts in search results.  Without the authorship markup, it doesn’t appear.

Google authorship

Why should you care? 

I think you’d agree that the photo draws one’s eyes almost immediately to the search result with the photo.  The idea is that with this enhanced visibility in the Google search results there will be increased opportunities to increase your traffic to your site.  Some sites have claimed up to have experienced 150% increase with this one technique.  Your photo next to your posts also aids in establishing you as the original author of the piece for Google.

Many who follow Google believe that this technique will, in time, aid in SEO efforts in the future. Google has been making several moves to enhance Google+ and this authorship markup is just one of those moves.  But that’s a conversation for another time.  Let’s focus on getting your photo to appear in the search results.

How does one set-up a Authorship?

Step 1 – That is the ultimate question, but before you can set-up your authorship, you need to set-up a Google+ page, if you don’t already have one.  Regardless of your feelings about Google+, a Google+ profile is required for the authorship mark-up to work.  Here is a Google Video explaining how.  I’ve also included a simple digest of how to optimize your Google+ account and get some people into your circles for future reference. This first step is really very easy.



Now, that you have created your Google+ account, click on “Profile” and copy the url in a notepad or text file because you will need it for the next step.

At this stage, you have several options.  I wish it could be just one option, but that isn’t how the world turns online.  There are many options. Sometimes, too many.  But, I’ve winnowed down the process for self-hosted WordPress users.  I also have some experiences to share that should guide you through.

There may be ways to make this work with other blogging platforms.  If so, I am not aware of them.  If you are, please feel free to share in the comments section. 

Step 2 / Option 1 – In early May, I came across a post by offering an “idiot proof guide” through the Google Authorship process.  While I may not be a techie, this guide was not idiot proof for me.  I found it confusing, but that could just be me.   You may not have a problem with this guide.

Plus his process required that I have an authorship box appear after each one of my posts.  I’m not crazy about this technique as my preference is to have people share my posts rather than to read my bio.  You may feel differently and if you do, you may want to follow Neil’s instructions.

Step 2 / Option 2 – I discovered several alternatives to Neil’s not so idiot proof guide.  First, there are a couple of WordPress plug-ins, but one was less than ideal as it required using a short-code for each post.  Hassle.

The other plugin was much easier and will appear as a widget on the side bar of your website.  If you like that approach, then you should definitely consider it.

Go to the Plugin section of your WordPress blog, click Add New and input Google Authorship Widget.  Hit Install” and then visit your Widgets where you’ll find the authorship widget listed.

Google Authorship WidgetOpen up the widget, fill-in your name, your bio information, the url of your photo and the url to your Google+ profile and save.  It will appear in the side bar of your website.

Google Authorship Widget Instructions

Pretty simple.  But again, I didn’t like the looks of the added widget.  It looked too busy.  So here is a third option.

Step 2 / Option 3 – This is my favorite option because it is so simple and it doesn’t eat up space on my side bar.  I discovered it when struggling through Neil’s guide.   It from Matt Greener.   But there are a few downside risks.  This option requires to go into your theme’s code and to insert some additional code so Google can connect you with the post.  Such action can be problematic for a couple of reasons.  Unless you know what you’re doing, there is the potential of messing up your theme. But Matt Greener’s option doesn’t require the ‘alteration’ of code.  One simply adds code to the existing theme.  For me, that is modest risk.

Another potential problem with this approach is when you go to do updates to your theme, you have to remember the added code and where you inserted it in order to re-engage whatever function the code added.  In this case, the Google authorship markup.

I am forewarning you about these issues so you don’t mess up your theme and so you will take the necessary steps to record the code and where you inserted it for future reference.

The process is relatively simple.

A.  Go to your WordPress Themes editor (under Appearance).  Open the editor and scroll down the right hand side until you find the template for the “Header”.  Open up the Header and look for a code reference to “Title“.  Just below this title code, you want to add the following code.  Insert your Google+ profile url between the quotes and where it says “YOUR-GOOGLE-PROFILE-URL-HERE”.

<link rel="author" href="YOUR-GOOGLE-PROFILE-URL-HERE"/>

This is how it appears in my Header template for my theme.

Title code and Google Authorship Snippet

B.  Return to your Google+ account, login, click on “Profile“.  Go to “Edit Profile” just above your cover.

Google+ Profile

Scroll down and click on “Contributor To” and add the website url where you added the Google+ code in the previous step (A).

Google + Contributor Website

Before you hit “Save“, make certain you have the Contributor function set to “Public“.  Then hit “Save“.

Google+ Contributor Public

 C.  While you are still in your profile, scroll back up to the top and click on “+1s” Tab.  Set this tab to “Public” before you save.



All done!

You’ll want to visit Google’s rich snippet tool to ensure everything is set up and working correctly.  Simply input your website’s url and hit “Preview“.  You should see something similar to this.

Google Rich Snippet Tool


  • It will take Google between 5 days and 2 weeks before you will start seeing your photo appearing in actual search results.  So be patient as it will take some time.
  • You may want to take a hard look at your current website traffic, so you can tell if the addition of your photo is increasing your traffic or not when your authorship markup kicks in.
  • When you check your url with Google’s Rich Snippet Tool, you may find warnings like the ones below.  I did and I’m still trying to figure out the best way to address these.  As with the authorship Markup, there are many options and I am still deciding which approach will work best for me.  All I can suggest, is that you do a Google search on one of these warnings and you’ll see the same list of possible solutions I found.  Decide which one works best for you and your theme.
    Warning: Missing required field “entry-title”.
    Warning: Missing required field “updated”.
    Warning: Missing required hCard “author”.

Let me know if you found this post helpful.

If you have other options for installing the Google authorship markup or for addressing the snippet warnings, by all means leave a comment and share.  I’d love to hear from you.

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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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