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Google launched its authorship program last year, which allows authors to get more enhanced listings in the search results by using the rel=author markup. 

This is something we have done for many of the staff and guest writers on this blog, and it's (generally) easy to set up. 

Here are five reasons why you should try this on your site... 

How to implement rel=author

First of all, you need to set up a Google+ profile page, which will be linked to from your author name in the search results. Make sure you have a clear, recognisable mugshot, as this will be the one that shows next to your results. 

There are a few methods, but the simplest way at the moment is to submit your email address to Google. This works if you have an email address on the same domain as your website.

If this isn't the case, then you can link your content to your Google+ profile. 

1. Create a link to your Google+ profile from your webpage like this:  <a href="[Google + profile URL]?rel=author">Google</a>

On Econsultancy, I have added the rel=author markup to the author information which is shown at the bottom of each blog post. 

2. Add a reciprocal link back from your profile to the site(s) you just updated.

To do this, you need to edit the 'Contributor To' section on your G+ profile page.

Then simply click 'add custom link', and then enter the website URL. I've received conflicting advice on this. Some say you should add the main domain URL, others the author page on the blog. I've covered all bases: 

3. Once you have done this, you can check this has worked using the rich snippets testing tool. This will show the information Google will extract from the page and preview the search listing: 

This should be enough, though I found that, while some of my colleagues had enhanced listings almost immediately, I had to wait a while. 

For alternative methods, see this useful post from AJ Kohn

Why you need rel=author

Google is integrating more social signals

As Google looks to use more information from social media in its search results, this is one possible way to improve your search visibility. 

It is already providing enhanced listings for some brands that are using Google+, and though results are unclear so far, it's something that is likely to be more significant in future. 

As Kevin Gibbons pointed out in a recent post on Google+ and SEO

A strong social footprint is likely to make your rankings more defensible and future proof to algorithm updates. So rather than thinking about the next quick fix or latest SEO or link building tactic, make content marketing the centre of your SEO strategy instead!

It makes your results stand out

In this example, my mugshot does make this listing stand out from the other all-text results. In theory, this should improve CTR:

It's easy to do

The steps described above take just a few minutes, and should help to give your search results an edge. At the very least, it's worth a try. 

It increases credibility

By showing your mugshot and linking to your G+ profile page, this suggest that Google has verified the site and author, and thereby lends credibility to the search result. 

It can benefit your website

Apart from the increased CTR from the enhanced search listings, it can be a strong trust signal for a website. According to Tom Anthony from Distilled:

Google can see that you have a range of authors who all have authoritative inbound links (with authorship it can see how many inbound links different authors on your site are getting) and who are all engaged and respected socially. 

For more on the significance of rel=author and possible future developments around Google's authorship program, this post gathers together some expert opinions from SEOs

Graham Charlton

Published 1 June, 2012 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

Comments (7)

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Jamie

This is starting to really annoy me. I've been trying to use re=author for my blog a couple of weeks but I can't get it to work.

I've followed the instructions to the letter (having an email address on the domain led me to use the easy option) but it's still not showing in the SERPs and the rich snippet testing tool says nothing is there.

Any idea how long it can take?

For the record, my blog is www.tqsmagazine.co.uk and my G+ profile is https://plus.google.com/u/1/115902668771367222382/

over 4 years ago

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Nick Stamoulis

I really like being able to string all of my content together. It's great to help build a stronger online presence and really establish a personal brand.

over 4 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

@Jamie It can take time - took at least a few weeks for me. I had a quick look through your site, but couldn't find an article with your name on it.

Are the 'admin' ones written by you? If so, perhaps that's the issue. On this blog, all of the authors have their full names next to the article, while the 'blog signature' underneath the post contains the rel=author markup.

It may be worth trying the second method if simply submitting your email hasn't worked.

over 4 years ago

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Jamie

Hi Graham, thanks for the reply, my name can be seen on 4 or 5 recent posts, at the end I just put "By Jamie McHale" as they suggest. Let's give it another week and if not I'll try the reciprocal link method.

Thanks again

Jamie

over 4 years ago

John Courtney

John Courtney, CEO and Executive Chairman at Pay on Results SEO, Content Marketing, Social Media, Digital PR, PPC & CRO from Strategy Digital

Our in-house writers use this all the time now, well worth the effort.

about 4 years ago

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Jesse VArgas

I followed your instructions! Thanks for the useful information. I even went back and put my Google+ on all my past posts. Thanks again!

about 4 years ago

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MathewPorter

I had the rel=author meta tag implemented in my site a few months back, but didnt know you can also add it to links that go to your g+ profile to (i am using my g+ page for my sites authorship).

I have implemented both and they both get recognised in googles rich snippet testing tool.

over 3 years ago

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