Google Authorship and Author Stats (How-to Video)

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Andy Crestodina
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Ever wondered why people’s faces are appearing in Google search results? Have you wondered how you can get your own picture to appear there? It’s all about authors. It’s called Google Authorship, and it’s literally changing the face of search results. Google Authorship is measured through Author Stats, and it’s part of a patent called Agent Rank.

Google Authorship

This 10-minute video explains exactly how to get your picture into search results and how to measure the impact with Google Author Stats, including:

  • Step-by-step instructions for Google Authorship
  • Real-world examples of rich snippets
  • Measurement and analytics with Author Stats
  • Primary source: Interview with a Google engineer – Author reputation is not currently a search ranking factor
  • Primary source: Google Agent Rank patent – Google has patented the ability to use author reputation to affect search rankings

Recommended Approach: the Two Link Method

Author Stats: screen shot showing impressions, clicks, CTR and average position

A few things that are not mentioned in the video…

  • It may take a week or more before Google makes the connection and the profile picture appears in search results.
  • Google uses facial recognition software to make sure the picture in search results is an actual face. If you change your profile picture to a logo, Authorship will quit working.

Resources:

  • KISSmetrics Google Authorship Article
    This is the one I referred to in the video. It includes step-by-step instructions and tips on troubleshooting.
  • Original Sagar Kamdar Interview (by Grant Crowell)
    When Grant told me he was writing this, I offered to help. He allowed me to submit some of my questions. But Grant was the one who reached out to Sagar. Well done!
  • Google Agent Rank Patent (patent number 7565358)
    This is the Agent Rank patent excerpt seen in the video: (It was on a blog post by A.J. Kohn where I first read this)
    Assuming that a given agent has a high reputational score, representing an established reputation for authoring valuable content, then additional content authored and signed by that agent will be promoted relative to unsigned content or content from less reputable agents in search results.

We’ll keep this page updated as changes are made to Authorship and Author Stats. Subscribe to this blog to receive bi-weekly updates on all kinds of web marketing techniques.

UPDATE: Here is some research that shows that a “rich snippet” and Google Authorship can increase clickthrough rates by 150% or more. There you have it!

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Comments (23)
  • Andy – love the video! Very informative and helpful. I’m going to go edit my G+ account now! 🙂

  • Two Questions:
    1. What’s the benefit of having one’s picture show up (if any)?
    2.  How has my own picture shown up and I hadn’t knowingly done anything to make it happen?

    • @OzData Hey there, Oz. Sorry I didn’t answer this sooner. Here goes…
       
      1. The idea is that a listing with a profile picture will be more visually prominent, which should increase the click through rate (CTR) when you rank. I’ve seen two studies on this. One suggested a 35% lift in CTR. The other showed a 150% increase.  
      2. If you’re picture already shows up and you haven’t set up Authorship, Google is likely using another method to figure out that you wrote those posts. It’s likely that the email address you have in your G+ bio has the same domain as the blog, and that the same email address appears somewhere on the posts. This is the older, original method Google tried to use to figure out who wrote what. If it’s working for you, great!
       
      Hope this helps, Oz! Always good to see you here in the comments. 🙂

      • @crestodina Thanks for the reply. I think the Google Authorship is working. Though, I am having trouble getting it to work on guest blog posts. Going to Manna’s Office Hours Friday to get ands-on help with that.

  • Great Video, very cool linking method
    <a href=”http://www.carngerrish.co.uk/seo-in-bristol”>SEO Bristol</a>

  • Great Video, very cool linking method
    http://www.carngerrish.co.uk/seo-in-bristol

  • Excellent article and video! Thank you so much!!!

  • I contribute to a blog regularly. I am curious if you have to change the url in Google + after each new post. Or is there a way to have it link to all of my posts.

    • @amandaingle Hi, Amanda! Good question. In the “contributor to” links on your G+ profile, you just need to link to the blog itself, not the specific posts. This should allow Google to identify you as the author of any post on that blog. No need to change it or add it for each post. 
       
      It may help to take a look at the contributor links on my G+ profile. Here’s the link:
      https://plus.google.com/113272929328812128697/about
       
      Hope this helps!

  • Bookmarked this to study – I just wanted to say I SO appreciate the subtitles! It’s not so often i get bloggers who do that!

    • @AnneReuss Accessibility is important! Looking at the video now, I see how I could have done a much better job at subtitles. Thanks for the reminder to keep this in mind…

  • @testtoabc1 The page ranking for that phrase is your home page. That page doesn’t have a rel=”author” link to your G+ profile. Email verification alone isn’t enough to confirm authorship. Use the 2-link method to confirm authorship. Hope this helps!

  • Thanks so much for this excellent overview! I’ve tried verifying my Google email address but I haven’t seen it working, and I’m  going to try the link method you explain here. Ready to push out a series of guest blogs and this is exactly what I needed to figure out before I start — thanks!!

    • @Sarah Kolb-Williams Yes, email verification is almost never enough. Use the links! 
       
      It’s great that you’re guest blogging. It’s my favorite web marketing tactic. So much fun if you do it right. Here’s an article that you might find useful. It’s a guest post I wrote for Marketing Profs…
      http://www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2012/8867/how-to-guest-blog-like-a-champion-seo-social-media-and-google-author-stats
       
      The second half of the article is about using Author Stats to collaborate with the host blog for better SEO. Hope this is helpful!

      • Great, thanks! I tried the two-link approach over the weekend and have yet to see myself in a search result, but you did mention that it can take a week or more, so we’ll see what happens.
         
        Quick note: I did see that the link Google recommends is slightly different than what you recommend (it looks like they need only the one “?rel=author” now). This post was made several months ago, so I’m assuming Google has the most recent info — but if I’m still not seeing my picture in another week or so, I’ll troubleshoot again with your version.
         
        (I found that link info here: http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1408986&expand=option2)
         
        Thanks so much for you help!

        • Have yet to see my picture in a search result, that is. I’m able to find my content just fine. 🙂

        • @Sarah Kolb-Williams Yes, Google doesn’t seem to think you need the second tag, but I add it anyway just in case. The separate “rel=author” tag is technically HTML5 so I’m trying to stay in front of the curve! 
           
          Still not seeing your face? What phrase are you targeting? Or what page are you tagging? If I can help you troubleshoot this, just let me know.

  • Hi Andy,
    I have a website for my business (not a blog, just a normal website) and my foto from my Google+ used to appeared on the google results but it disappeared suddenly some days ago! 🙁  I checked on the “structured data testing tool” and my personal Google+ profil doesn’t appear there either. What it does appear in the tool, linked to my website is the Google + profil of my business. It appears so “By Spanisch-Übersetzerteam Inh. Rosenver Yepez Arrieta ” but As I said before that’s my Google+profile site not my personal one. Instead of my foto there appears obvoisly the logo of my business. It would be nice if you helped me! Thanks in advance!
    my website is http://www.spanisch-uebersetzerteam.de

    • @rosenver Maybe I can help. When I search for “By Spanisch-Übersetzerteam Inh. Rosenver Yepez Arrieta” (which is a very long specific phrase, and I’m not sure of the meaning!) I do see a Google+ page ranking first. But this is a business page, not profile page. Only people with profile pages can be authors in Google. Businesses cannot be authors. It’s always a human that writes the content, right?
       
      Is this helpful?

      • @crestodina  @rosenver Hi Andy, yes that is the google+ page of my business. If you enter my website on the Google Structured Data too http://www.spanisch-uebersetzerteam.de you will see that it appears the Google+page. If you enter a subpage like http://www.spanisch-uebersetzerteam.de/beglaubigungen/  my foto from my personal google+ profile will appear. I was told today that everything was correct. Google just doesn’t show my photo anymore 🙁

        • @rosenver Ah! I think I may have found the problem. Have you changed your profile picture lately? Google is using facial recognition software to make sure that profile pics are actual faces. On your picture, the building behind you is clearly visible, but your face is small. Try uploading a better image of your face, wait a few days and see if that helps. I’ve seen this work before…

        • @crestodina No, that has always being my pic on my profil and like I said before my photo appeared on the results til last week.

        • @rosenver I’m looking more closely now and I see other problems. Regardless of whether or not the image appeared before, this page does not have a link to your G+ profile. Without that link, Authorship won’t work! You have not followed the instructions in the video above. Follow those steps, and if you still have other issues, please contact me on Twitter. Thanks!

 
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