Boost your image in the eyes of Google – get your authorship already!

by on February 26, 2014


Google Authorship is now officially over and done with. Apparently according to Google, the authorship markup was not as useful as they hoped it would be. Even though I saw plenty of articles talking about how authorship markup really improved click through rates from search results, Google asserts there was no such benefit to it in the end.

Authorship also did not get adopted as much as Google probably expected it would. Apparently lots of folks never bothered with it, finding it too hard perhaps (it did involve some kind of techy stuff in the backend of your blog), or maybe just not having the time to fuss with yet another internet marketing update.

So if you set up your authorship, do you need to do anything? Nope, no need. The Google bots just won’t be reading the authorship markup you set up. Who knows, maybe there will be a resurrection of the concept one day.

With all that said, I’m taking this as a reminder that you don’t need to jump on all the shiny new tools and toys internet marketing churns out. There was a lot of ‘you must have Authorship for search marketing success’ type sentiments floating around. You may have panicked thinking you’re getting left behind.

So let’s take a deep breath, and do the best we can with our online presences. If we don’t get around to something, the world will not end.

See more on the official announcement of the end of Google Authorship over at Search Engine Land.

Google Authorship is certainly not a new thing. In fact, if you don’t have it yet according to some search experts, you’re already behind the game. Sigh. What’s a busy small business owner to do? It’s OK, remember, just do the best you can and don’t feel like you must jump on every single little update that happens or your business will fall apart around you. If you haven’t had the time to do your authorship yet because you’re busy running your business (like I’ve been), I think that’s forgiveable 😉

Anyways, as part of my goals for this year, I wanted to focus more on the marketing tasks that are important to my business (versus just marketing for my lovely clients, which of course is why I’m here, but my own biz matters too). And search is really important to me. It’s how I get a lot of those clients in the first place.

Is it important to your biz too? OK then, let’s get on this authorship thing together, shall we?

What is Google Authorship?

Even if you’re not exactly sure what it is, you’ve probably seen it in action. In a Google search, it will show a picture of you and a link to your Google+ profile alongside any blog posts you  have written.

Search result without authorship:

Google Authorship
Search result with authorship:

Google authorship*Note that this is just an example of what it will look like once my authorship gets picked up by Google. Next to my name when live you should also see how many people have me in Google+ circles.

UPDATE June 2014: Google has officially decided to remove both the profile image and the G+ circle count from search engine results. See what I mean here. Unfortunately, some of what follows below (click through rate, visbility, credibility) no longer applies to the same degree, obviously. BUT, authorship markup is still a Google initiative and as we as know, Google loves Google and if you want Google to love you, you should play along with them.

Why do you need it?

It proves you’re human, to put it simply. It adds credibility. People are reassured by seeing an actual person, knowing that it’s a  proper article not just written by  some spam-y web robot. It helps you stand out in search results and increases clicks through to your site. In a case study done by Catalyst Search Marketing, having Google Authorship can increase click rate by 150%.

Authorship gives you authority, especially if you have a robust Google+ presence – you will be able to see the number of circles the author is in when a specific blog post or article is delivered in the search results page. The more active your presence is and the more traction you have the better.

And Google takes authorship and this authority into consideration when delivering those search results.

What if you don’t have a Google+ presence?

You need a G+ profile to do this whole authorship thing. Groaning at the thought of another social media profile?

If you have you laid your foundation for search marketing (keyword research, proper optimization of your copy and your tags, creating plenty of great content) and you’re STILL not where you want to be in terms of your search rankings, then creating a Google+ presence with Google Authorship is definitely something to consider. A Google plus profile is becoming synonymous with must-do search marketing tactics.

What if I don’t want myself as a person linked to my content?

Does the thought of having personal authorship make you a bit leery? Some of us don’t want to link our personal profiles to our business with the goal of maintaining a personal life away from your biz. Perhaps you have built up your small business around your brand, not around you as a person. Or maybe lots of different people contribute to your content and you think it’s just plain weird to associate your personal profile to something that isn’t from you specifically. For now, authorship is only for one person per post. And no, you shouldn’t set up a fake persona (perhaps a mascot to represent your brand) to be the author. Google really wants to see actual humans here.

“The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.” – from The New Digital Age, the latest book by Google’s chairman Eric Schmidt

I know that I personally have focused more on my Google+ Business Page than my personal profile and when I first heard of authorship I was really hoping it was linked to the business pages. I do have to say that Google+ is a little different than say Facebook. They didn’t have business pages initially when they launched the platform and so using the personal profile for business, such as sharing your blog posts or other useful resources for your business’ target audience, was and is a super common thing. I definitely have personal friends on G+ and I know that many of them are not interested in seeing my marketing related updates and resources. But that’s just the way the cookie crumbles, I guess.

Google+ Publisher Markup

You can also opt for Google+ Publisher markup, which is a way to highlight your business in search results. So when someone searches for your business, your Google+ Business Page info can be displayed to the right of the search results. The reason I say “can” is that I find this really quite inconsistent – just because you’re taking steps to either add your authorship or your publisher info doesn’t guarantee that Google will actually display it. Still waiting for mine to show up. I tried searching a bunch of other businesses to give you guys an example of the Publisher Markup in action to no avail, until I was finally able to pull up an example from Laura Roeder (see image below).  So in short, it really doesn’t do much, at least for the moment.

Getting it is really easy. You need to have your website link in your Google+ Business Page. And then you can just add your Google+ Business Page badge to your website. Or do the code thing. More details here on publisher versus authorship.

Google Publisher Markup

What if you don’t blog?

Authorship is really designed to work with blogs or articles – a piece of content written by one person expressing an opinion or giving an analysis.

If you are serious in any way about moving your business up in search rankings, you really do need a blog. Those of you that have been with me for a while know that I’m a huge cheerleader for small business blogging. Check out: 5 reasons blogging rocks for small business.

How to get Google Authorship

OK, now let’s talk about getting authorship set up for yourself. It is a bit technical and requires some playing around with the backend of your site (and even potentially working with the code). If that makes you want to run for the hills, get in touch with whoever helps you to manage your website. And please note that while I’m pretty good tech wise, I’m not an expert in web development by any means – if you are and have something to add or some insight to share, please do leave a comment. It would be very much appreciated!

There have been a ton of articles posted that give you instructions for setting up authorship. Here’s my pick:

  • Go right to the source, Google+ itself, which guides you through the set up here. Head here to actually apply for authorship.
  • Really in-depth, super awesome article on buffer.

Some basic requirements/tips:

  • Google Authorship requires an email with your domain name. (Don’t have this? Check out my blog: Say hello to a more professional image & use a proper business email). If you don’t have this type of email, getting authorship requires a bit more work.
  • It requires that every post on your blog is linked to your Google+ profile. If you’re on WordPress, there are plenty of plugins that make this really easy – no code required. Just make sure that your user profile has the link to your Google+ page and you should be good to go.
  • You actually have to take the step of applying for the authorship here.
  • You can easily test things out with Google Webmaster Tools to make sure they are working properly.

Some notes from my personal experience with setting Authorship up:

  • My blog runs on the Thesis theme, so I found that needed to go for a Thesis specific plugin for it to work.
  • When I went through the email verification process, I was having issues with the link they sent me. It kept on saying that there was something wrong with the link. But when I checked in Webmaster tools, I was good to go.
  • I’m still waiting to actually see my authorship in search results. Apparently it can take anywhere from days to months to show up.

Hopefully I’ve helped to shed some light on this whole google authorship thing. Any questions, let me know in the comments.

I’d love for you to connect with me on Google Plus – here for my personal profile, below for the biz page.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Sandy Rubias April 3, 2014 at 6:53 pm

Thanks for the great post Martina. I’m writing for clients who want to link their blog content to my G+ profile which is a personal profile (my G+ authorship is verified) Do I create another G+ account under the domain of my client?


Martina Iring April 4, 2014 at 9:53 am

Hi Sandy,
In order to link your personal G+ profile to your client’s blogs (assuming that you are officially listed as the author of their posts), you can add their blog to the list of sites you contribute to. Go to your About page, then click to edit the Links section and add their blog in the “Contributor to” section. Does that help to answer your question?


Sandy April 17, 2014 at 4:56 pm

Hi Martina!

I did just that, it took a while to show up and I admit I’m pretty impatient but everything fell in place after a few days. Whew!


Martina Iring April 19, 2014 at 9:17 am

That’s great Sandy! Glad to hear it all worked out 🙂


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