Want your picture or those of your blog authors to show up in search results? You’ve probably seen search results with a picture next to them, like this:

Want your picture or those of your blog authors to show up in search results? You’ve probably seen search results with a picture next to them, like this:

Want your picture or those of your blog authors to show up in search results? You’ve probably seen search results with a picture next to them, like this:

Those results appear because the blog has set up rel author, linking the author’s Google+ profile with the blog. As we described in an earlier post, this is one of three ways to get in good with Google. Rel author provides benefits beyond just a pretty search result. Here’s how to set your blog up with rel author:

  1. Create individual user accounts for each author in WordPress.
  2. Have each author create a Google+ profile.
  3. Add the blog to the Google+ profile.
  4. Add the Google+ profile URL to the WordPress user account.
  5. Make sure authors sign in with their user accounts to publish blog posts.

Create user accounts in WordPress

WordPress user menuFor each author on your blog, create a separate WordPress user account. Sign in as an administrator, and then, in the left menu, click Users.  Add a new user, or edit an existing one. Enter the name, user name, and email for the writer, and set the permission level. After you create the account, you or the new user can fill in additional information for the WordPress profile.

Creating your Google+ profile

Rel author works with your Google+ profile. So, the first step is to create one if you don’t have one already. Each author for your blog needs to do this.

Google walks you through the process. Before you start, you need:

  • An email address (or you can create a gmail one as part of the process).
  • A user name. (Of course, all the common ones—and a lot of variations—are already in use. So, get creative.)
  • A picture of yourself. This is what will appear in the search results, so choose a good one.

When you’re ready to create your account, go to http://google.com and, in the upper-right corner, click +You.  (If you see a blue Sign In button Sign In Button in GPlus in the upper-right corner, click it. Then, click Add account.) Under the sign-in box, click Create an account.

Fill out the box to create your account. You may have to try a few user names to find one that is available. Agree to the terms, and then click Next step.

Google Plus Profile Dialog

On the next page, click Add a photo and upload a photograph. This is very important, because it is the photo that will appear in search and on your Google profile page.

Continue adding information to set up your profile, following the instructions that Google provides.

Add your blog to G+

After you set up your initial profile, you can return to it to add more information. Just go to Google.com. In the upper-right corner, you’ll see +[your name]. (You may need to sign in, by clicking the blue Sign in  button Sign In Button in GPlus.)

To go to Google+, click your name. Then, point to the Home button Home Button in Google Plus on the left.  A menu appears. Select Profile.

Home Menu in Google Plus

On the profile page, click About. Fill in as much information as you’d like to—making your profile more personal is better for search and content distribution.

On the profile page, scroll down to the Links box. Under Links, click Edit.

Link section in Google Plus

Under Contributor to, click Add custom link.

Add Blog Link in Google Plus

In the Label field, enter the name of your blog. In the URL field, enter the address of the blog.

This adds your blog to your Google+ profile. Now, you need to do the reverse and add your Google+ profile to your blog.

Add your G+ profile to the blog

To go to your profile page in Google+, in the left menu, select Profile. Check the URL in your browser. It will look like something like this: https://plus.google.com/u/0/103131876029074251407/posts. This URL is your profile ID. Write it down or otherwise make a copy of it. (If you are setting this up for another author, have them send you the URL.)

Sign in to WordPress and then, to go to your user profile, in the left menu, click Users and select your name. Scroll down to the Contact Info section. Under Google+, enter or paste the profile ID and then click Update User.

That’s it. You have now set up rel author. When an author publishes a post, Google will pick up the association between the user and their Google+ profile, and it will use the picture from their G+ page to populate search results. Google also tracks the author’s posts over time, associating them with certain topics and thus helping the individual to gain authority in the topic. You can aid the process by using schema.org tags to better identify the content, as discussed in our post, Three ways to get in good with Google. In the meantime, enjoy your new, personalized descriptions in search!

Magnifying glass search

Magnifying glass searchBeing found through search is the number one goal for most bloggers—after all, people have to find you before they can read you. Google remains the top search engine. So, how do you get in good with Google? Try adding these three tools that Google uses to track, rank, or present your posts in search results.

Rel author, rel publisher, and schema.org are three tools which Google has specifically mentioned that it is using. We definitely recommend that you implement rel author and rel publisher. They aren’t very hard to set up, and they don’t take much ongoing work. Schema.org is more complicated and does take ongoing work, so you’ll have to decide whether it’s worth the effort.

Google and other search engines regularly traverse your blog and content. The search algorithms combine that gathered knowledge with other information about your business and authors, and they use all of the information to rank and surface your posts. The better the picture that Google has of you and your content, the better it can highlight your content in relevant searches. Using these three tools helps Google to create a complete picture of you and to more enticingly present your  pages to users in search.

Rel author

Rel author is the tagging which ensures that your blog authors’ pictures appear next to search results, like this:

Rel Author in search results

These search results include a picture of the article’s author, because the post or article has the author’s biography associated with it. There’s general agreement that these personalized results get better click-through rates. So, rel author is probably worth doing for that reason alone. In addition, Google places greater emphasis on content from people it considers “authorities” on a topic. By associating your profile with the content you produce, you allow Google to assess and rank your authority on different topics, based on the content you produce over time about those topics.

Lastly, that authority ranking is a factor which Google uses to determine which articles appear in its new “in-depth article” search results.

In depth articles in search results

All indicators are that Google is committed to author authority and rel author. So, it’s a good SEO investment to make.

Rel author is relatively easy to set up:

  • Create individual user accounts for each author in WordPress.
  • Have each author create a Google+ (G+) profile.
  • Add the blog to the Google+ profile.
  • Add the Google+ profile URL to the WordPress user account.
  • Make sure authors sign in with their user accounts to publish blog posts.

Rel publisher

Whereas rel author associates an individual writer with an individual post, rel publisher associates a business profile with the business’s website, via the brand’s Google+ page. The biggest immediate benefit is that, if you have created a Google+ page for your business and you use rel publisher to associate the G+ page with your blog or website, Google pulls the logo for your business from the G+ page and displays it in relevant searches.

Rel publisher in search results

In addition to this benefit, the association tells Google that you are a brand so that it can treat your business properly in search. It also may help you obtain and properly attribute +1 votes, if you are using that feature. And it increases the chances that your Google+ business page will appear in search results (via Google Direct Connect), which can help you gain both visibility as a brand and more Google+ followers for your business. Lastly, it helps ensure that you are properly positioned if Google decides to make additional use of rel publisher in the future.

Rel publisher is also relatively easy to set up:

  • Have an individual in the company create a Google+ page for the business.
  • Add your business website as a link in the profile for the business page.
  • Link the website by adding a piece of html (provided by Google) to the home page of your website.

Schema.org tagging

Schema.org is a tagging system that tells Google (and other search engines) more about a piece of content. The tags provide information, such as what type of content this is (like a recipe, an event, or an article, among other types), when it was published, what specifically it covers, and more. When Google uses the information you supply via schema.org tags, it can provide richer descriptions of your content. For example, here’s a recipe result where the top item is a rich snippet and the bottom is the same recipe without the rich content:

Schemaorg rich snippets in search results

Again, the idea is that users are more likely to click the rich snippet—the result with a picture, a rating, and a concise summary of the recipe rating and time requirement.

The key reasons for using schema.org tagging include the opportunity to display as rich snippets in results and the fact that Google uses the information to help determine whether your content appears as an in-depth article. Unfortunately, Google is reducing the number of rich snippets in search results because, predictably, spammers have latched onto this technique and spammed rich snippets. Still, rich snippets will continue to appear, and presumably Google will improve its spam-filtering algorithms to weed spammers out.

As for in-depth articles, there’s plenty of competition to appear in these results and using schema.org tagging doesn’t guarantee that you’ll show up. On the other hand, not using the tagging almost assures that you won’t appear. Moreover, Google is likely to continue to leverage the schema.org information as it unveils new features and new updates to its algorithms. So, if you can make the investment, it may prove worthwhile.

What’s involved?

  • Familiarize yourself with the tags at http://schema.org/.
  • Either use one of the available plugins (such as All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets) or edit your WordPress templates to include some of the tags in the headers and other areas so that they apply by default to all posts (for instance, indicating by default that posts should be considered articles rather than recipes or events).
  • Tag the content in each individual post, for the key tags:
    • headline
    • alternativeHeadline
    • image (which will appear in any rich snippet, but must be crawlable and indexable)
    • description (which will appear in any rich snippet)
    • datePublished
    • articleBody

Getting in good with Google takes a little effort, but it can yield big rewards in traffic to your website or blog. If you’re interested in implementing any or all of these tools, watch our blog. In future posts, we’ll be documenting in detail how to implement each of them.