The use of the rel=author markup to create enhanced listings in Google's SERPs is growing, with 13% of searches now showing author images in the top 100 results. 

These stats come from a Searchmetrics study, which looked at Google UK search results relating to 1m popular keywords.

The enhanced listings make search results more visible, and are likely to be used as in indicator of trust by Google in future. 

Authorship markup on Google UK

Currently, journalists and bloggers who write about technology, medical and food topics are among those that are most visible in the the SERPs, thanks to their author markup. 

The most visible is Elaine Lemm, who writes for the New York Times, and, while the remainder of the top 10 are authors on either or the WebMDNetwork, which suggests these two sites a) rank well for a number of keywords and b) have encouraged their authors to sort out their markup. 

Edward Chester of and the Guardian's Tech Editor Charles Arthur are among the most visible UK-based authors on the list. 

Authorship markup in US

A similar study for the US found that 17% of results tested are showing author integrations. As in the UK, authors writing about food and medical matters were the most visible. 

How to get authorship markup

If you have a Google+ profile, you can head over to this page for instructions on enhancing search results for your articles. 

This is something we have implemented for Econsultancy's authors, with varying degrees of success. 

While several guest authors and staff (such as Andrew Warren Payne shown below) have their mugshots next to their results, annoyingly it hasn't worked for me as yet... 

Why is authorship markup important? 

The theory is that, anything which makes you search results stand out should increase CTR, so it's worth trying for that reason alone. 

Also, since it's relatively simple to set up, or at least it shopuld be, then it's worth experimenting to see if it does improve search visibility. 

It is possible that this will become nore significant as a ranking factor in future, as Google looks to integrate social signals into its algorithm. This is the view of SEO experts I asked to contribute to a recent article on this. 

According to Econsultancy giuest blogger Kevin Gibbons: 

In my opinion, this will become very important. Google is aware that the importance of a website shouldn't just be based around links. Social is a huge indicator of influence and many people will now share great content instead of linking to it.

That makes things harder for Google as it means that by ignoring social it's missing out on a huge part of the big picture when reviewing how authoritative a website is.

This means that brands now struggle to rank so highly if they just hire copywriters to publish content for them. If Google is going to measure a the influence of a writers social profile when ranking content, you should do the same when looking to hire them too!

Graham Charlton

Published 30 April, 2012 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is editor in chief at SaleCycle, and former editor at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin.

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Comments (2)


Terry Simmonds

I have the opposite problem to most, in that I am trying to figure out how to stop my image appearing :(

I use the rel=author tag in the link to my author details on my blogs which means my image shows for virtually every post I make.

Occasionally I make post where I don't want my image showing, but can't appear to control this.

It would be nice if Google provided a tag or bit of code we could add to pages/posts to overwrite the rel=author tag.

over 6 years ago


Jon Leon

This is another way that businesses can really establish themselves and beat the competition. It's an obvious choice for publishers and blogs to use an image however, how many B2B suppliers will utilise it? Not many, or not for a long time, so it's a great way to stand out.

over 6 years ago

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