If you’ve ever conducted a Google search and seen results that appear with the author’s picture and byline attached (as shown below), you’ve seen the results of Google authorship:
Essentially, this feature – which launched at the end of 2011 – allows writers to “claim” their content with Google through the use of their Google+ profiles. The results of these marked-up search results listings are higher click-through rates, greater perceived authority and increased website traffic – making it highly advantageous for website authors to set up authorship correctly.
Because the guidelines for doing so have changed over the past few years, the following steps will give you the most up-to-date process for setting up Google authorship on your own site:
Step #1 – Set up your Google+ profile
The first thing you’ll need to do to take advantage of Google’s authorship features is to create a personal Google+ profile.
If you don’t already have a Google Account, start by navigating to https://accounts.google.com/SignUp to complete your registration. If you have an existing Account, head to https://plus.google.com and log in with your Google credentials.
Once inside, you’ll see a number of different options for creating your personal profile and adding your friends and contacts to your Google Circles. Take a second to add a headshot picture to your profile, as the authorship system will pull this image to display alongside your marked up results in the search listings.
Go ahead and grab your Google+ profile URL as well while you’re at this stage, as we’ll be using it later on in the process. Your URL should look something like this:
Step #2 – Add your website to the “Contributor to” tab
Next, click on the “Profile” tab in the far left-hand menu. Select the “About” tab from your profile page and scroll down until you see the section labeled “Links.” Click “Edit” in order to open the Links window and look for the link labeled “Add custom link” under the “Contributor to” section:
Add the title of your blog and its URL into the fields that appear. Click “Save” and then close out of your Google+ profile.
Step #3 – Add your Google+ profile URL to the Yoast SEO plugin
Once you’ve set things up on the Google+ side, you need to finish making the connection by adding your Google+ profile code to your website. This allows Google and your site to work together and identify any instances of content you’ve published online.
The easiest way to do this is to install the Yoast SEO plugin to your website.
After the plugin has been installed and activated, open up the “Users” panel within your WordPress dashboard and locate your profile. Click to edit it and then paste your Google+ profile URL into the field labeled “Google+”:
In addition to adding this code, you’ll want to be sure that every post on your website includes a byline featuring the same name that’s displayed on your Google+ profile. As an example, if your Google+ profile uses the name “Mike Smith,” add the byline “By Mike Smith” to all of your website posts by hand, using an author box plugin or by coding this information into your site’s theme.
Step #4 – Confirm your authorship setup using the Rich Snippets Testing Tool
Congratulations! At this point, your Google authorship should be set up correctly (unless you’ve chosen to use Google’s alternate instructions for confirming content ownership via email).
However, to be sure that you’ve completed the process correctly, head over to Google’s Rich Snippet Testing Tool. Enter a URL from a post you’ve recently published and take a look at the snippet preview that appears. If it includes your image, you’re good to go! If not, work back through the steps listed above until you’re able to troubleshoot the issue that’s preventing your site’s authorship from triggering correctly.
Step #5 – Add authorship markup to guest posts
All of the steps above will ensure that your content is correctly attributed using Google’s authorship system when you’re posting on your own site – but what if you provide a guest post for another blog? Odds are, you still want to receive authorship markup for these posts in the Google results, even if you can’t log in to the hosting site’s WordPress back end to add your profile URL.
In these cases, you still have one option… As long as the site’s owner allows you to add an author box or bio to your post, simply add your Google+ profile URL code with the “rel=author” tag appended to the end like so:
Then, add the site that’s hosting your article to your list of “Contributed to” websites within your Google+ profile and your authorship markup should come through correctly.
Though the process might seem complicated, it only takes a few minutes to setup Google authorship correctly. Take the time to do it today and start reaping the rewards of marked up snippets in the search results!
UPDATE: please see our follow-up post regarding Google Authorship, or rather the death of Google Authorship.