By now, you’ve probably noticed that when you search on Google, sometimes the articles in the results pop up with a person’s headshot and link to their Google+ page.
Case in point:
How did I make that happen? I dusted off Google Plus and added myself as a contributor to the publications I write for.
Basically, this tells Google a human being — YOU! — wrote this piece of content. And it shows your face and how many people you’re connected to — again, my Google+ profile is a bit dusty so not too impressive, but it’s enough to establish I’m not just a spambot. I have legitimate connections and a full-fledged profile.
It’s really simple, too. There are two ways to establish authorship, but start by putting a decent headshot on your Google+ account (well, I guess start by creating and filling out the Google+ account if somehow you’ve made it this far without it). Then add the pages you contribute to your profile. You can do this by…
Email: Go to the Google+ authorship page and enter your work email address. This only works if you have a work email. If you’re firstname.lastname@example.org and you want to establish authorship of articles published under your byline on that domain, you’re set. This will add a section to your Google+ profile that says Contributor to: Name of Publication.
Link: As you’ll see on the Google authorship page, there is an option if you don’t have an email address with that domain. (I don’t have an @mediabistro.com email, even though I’m a regular contributor to this blog, for example.) The way to establish authorship in that situation is to add a link back to your Google plus profile from the page. Do this by adding this link somewhere on your page: <a href=”[profile_url]?rel=author”>Google</a>
The [profile url] should be replaced by your profile link, so mine now is http://google.com/+MerandaAdams (if you haven’t claimed your custom name it’s probably just a bunch of numbers) and then the rel=author is the important part — it tells Google the author of this page = the owner of that Google+ profile. Then, add that site to your contributor to section manually. (More explanation from Google on this second option.)
Now, at this point, Google says it’s not using authorship as a factor in its rankings. Yet. But, even if it doesn’t help your content land on page 1, it does help content stand out when scrolling down a page of links.
You can totally fall down the rabbit hole and learn a lot more about Google authorship by reading endless posts about it and it’s potential benefit. But from questions I received after posting about how my search rankings ranked after changing my name when I got married, I realized a lot of journalists didn’t know about this relatively simple tool to make their work stand out online. If nothing else, this is a reason to finally set up and fill out that Google+ page.