Seeing the picture of an article author next to a listing not only grabs attention, but somehow lends credibility to the article.
Grouped together with 9 other picture-less listings on a page, the one above would naturally stand out. But how does Google know who wrote a given article? The answer is supposed to be simple, but in practice, I've found it to be a little unscientific.
Different sources provide different techniques and code snippets. Some work on some sites, some work on others. It has been my practice to apply all of them on a given page, to reach the highest probability that Google will connect your page with your Google Plus account.
Create a Google Plus Account
So, as the previous paragraph suggests, the first step is to create a Google Plus account. This requires that you first have a Google account. Once you have your account, visit the google home page. You'll notice, in the upper left, within the black bar, a link called "+ You". Give it a click, then complete your profile.
Tell Google Your're an Author on your Site
Google would love to trust everyone in the world about who they claim wrote their article. Imagine that you had a home improvement blog, and you decided to make Bob Vila the article author. It would probably get more attention, but you might be getting an angry phone call from Mr. Vila.
Google prevents this scenario by requiring every author to identify the websites that they actually contribute content to. You'll find this within your Google Plus account -> Profile -> About -> Links -> Contributor to.
Click the edit link at the bottom of the portlet, then Add Custom Link under Contributor To.
Enter a label, then the root of your website, for example:
Make yourself an Article Author
Now, just because you're a contributor to a site, doesn't mean you wrote every piece of content on it. The next step is the unscientific part I was talking about. To be safe, I typically include anything that will help connect a given page to a Google Plus Author.
To start, grab your Google Plus Author URL. Go to the Profile tab of your Google plus account, then make note of that really long number near the end of the URL. This is your Google Plus "ID".
Now that you have your Google Plus ID, add the following to your page.
- Before your closing </head> tag, insert:
<link rel="author" href="https://plus.google.com/[Your Google Plus ID]/posts" />
- Add a link somewhere within your site, to your Google Plus profile.
You can do this with a generic link in your site footer:
<p><a href="https://plus.google.com/[Your Google Plus ID]" rel="publisher" target="_blank">Find us on Google+</a></p>
- Or, by turning your name into a link, and adding a rel=author query string parameter:
<a href="https://plus.google.com/[Your Google Plus ID]?rel=author">Author Name</a>
Test it out
Visit Google's Structured Data Testing Tool, and enter the URL of an article on your site.
You should see a notification such as Authorship is working for this webpage.
You did it!
But, to be complete, since you're at the Testing Tool already, have a look at the Extracted Structured Data area. The majority of sites that I've worked with had some kind of "error" here. The great news is that they're easy to fix, many times just by adding class names to your markup.
As an example, if you received the following errors.
<span class="updated">March 30, 2013</span>
<a href="https://plus.google.com/[Your Google Plus ID]?rel=author" class="author">Author Name</a>