How to Build Authorship with rel=author and rel=me

April 9th, 2012 @ 9:06 am

In some of your recent Google searches you may have noticed certain entries that stand out because they have a mugshot of the author adjacent to the link, like so:

 As you can see the benefits of having this enabled are obvious- anything that makes your site stand out from the rest is going to increase CTR (click through rate) and help you rise in the rankings, so there’s no reason not to set up authorship, especially since it’s not an overly technical process.

First we need to understand how Google goes about verifying authorship, how does the algorithm know which pages belong to who? This process relies heavily on your Google+ profile, so if you haven’t already created one and fleshed it out, now would be a good time. Keep in mind that the avatar you use will be the one that shows up in the SERPs, so use a presentable one (yes, it should be a shot of your face).

Let’s go over how the ‘rel’ function works before diving into implementation. We can use rel=x when making links to specify what type of link it is and how it behaves, in our case rel=author ties our identity to the content and tells Google that a specific account is responsible for all pages linked to it, which gives us those more prominent search results. In order to use a rel tag, you can add ?rel=author to the end of a link- or if you have access to HTML you can use rel=”author” tag before the href part. By using a combination of rel=author and rel=me tags, we are telling Google to enable Authorship for certain sites and articles.

There is essentially 3 links involved in this process that Google uses to complete the handshake between your site/article and Google+ to verify that you are the owner of both. First, each article that you write must link to an author profile page on the same site using rel=author, which can be a page of your choosing but is most often either your profile page or the About page. This establishes a connection between your articles and your author profile page, but now that profile page needs to be connected to your Google+ page. To do this you should have a link to your Google+ profile from your author page using rel=me, and your Google+ profile should link back using the Contributor section.

So to summarize:

  • A link from your blog posts or articles to your author page using rel=author
  • A link from your author page to your Google+ profile using rel=me
  • A link from your Google+ profile to your author page in the Contributor section

This may seem a tad confusing if you aren’t technically inclined, but thankfully there are several options for those of you that want to make this a tad easier. Google has an alternate method using email addresses and a form that you can submit, but there are some reports of this taking longer to aggregate. There is also a WordPress Plugin called Authorsure that pretty much does all the work for you besides linking back from your Google+ account, it really streamlines everything and makes it very easy to implement properly.

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