The SteamLoft Ultimate Guide to Google Authorship & AuthorRank

November 19th, 2012          6 Comments


Table of Contents

  1. Introduction to Google Authorship
  2. Benefits of Google Authorship
  3. How to Set Up Google Authorship
  4. Rich Snippet Testing Tool
  5. Google Authorship Statistics
  6. Hidden Secrets of Google Authorship
  7. So What is AuthorRank?
  8. Preparing for AuthorRank
  9. Additional Resources


Introduction to Google Authorship

So I’m sure by now you’ve all seen those little profile pictures popping up in search listings on Google right? If you’ve been living under a rock, or haven’t taken the time to figure it out, this is a product of Google Authorship, a program devised to attribute content to its respective authors, and reward them for doing so in various ways. We’ll get to that later. If you’re still unsure what the hell I’m talking about, it looks like this:


A long time in the making, the genesis of Google Authorship takes us back to 2005, when Google filed a patent deemed “author agent”. The patent was centralized around ranking “agents” by the content they were sharing on the web. However, the problem was Google had no sufficient way of identifying these “agents”.

Enter Google Plus. With the emergence of Google’s hot new social network, they now had both a platform where authors could verify their attributions. By allowing users of Google Plus to verify both what websites they contribute to and what specific pieces of content they were creating, Google had the makings of both for both their search algorithm and social network alike.

Here’s a quick video of Matt Cutts and Othar Hanson talking about Google Authorship:

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Benefits of Google Authorship

So great, Google has a new toy right? But what’s in it for us? More importantly, why should we take the time out of our already busy days to implement this? I’m glad you asked. Let’s talk benefits.

While the long term reasoning behind Google Authorship has yet to be revealed, we are starting to get a better picture (see AuthorRank chapter). However, for the time being, there a quite a few benefits to make it worth the while in the meantime.

First off, let’s talk conversion rate, and more specifically, click through rate from Google search results. With Google Authorship properly set up and implemented, attributed content has a clear advantage when it comes to scoring clicks. Each search listing of attributed content is now accompanied by both a profile picture and name of the corresponding author, as well as a link to other content they have created around the web. Let’s face it, which link would you click here:


Another advantage of using Google Authorship is that it has some influence on search results. While there are bigger plans for ranking using Authorship down the road (AuthorRank), for now the “Search plus your world” update allows your results to appear higher for anyone in contact with you socially via Google Plus. Another perk from Google to start using their social platform eh?

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How to Set Up Google Authorship

So, if you look around the web, there seems to be a million and one ways to set this bad boy up, from plugins, to who knows what. However, showing all of these ways to you in my opinion is a ways of both of our time. So I’ll show you my way, the easy way.

The first thing you’ll want to do is head over to your website, blog, or whatever else the kids are calling it these days. From here, you’ll need to create a link to your Google Plus profile (if you don’t have one yet, head over here and create one) on every piece of content you want attributed. If you are using WordPress, the easiest way to do this would be to place a link to your Google Plus page in your “author bio” that appears at the bottom of every blog post. Here is my author bio for this website:

The next task it to verify things on the Google Plus side of the equation. Simply head over to your Google Plus profile, navigate to the “About” section and click “edit”. From here you will see a section called “Contributor to”.

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Rich Snippet Testing Tool

Now that we’ve got everything in place, how do we know things are working? Enter the trusty rich snippet testing tool:

One you’ve followed the link above, simply grab the URL of one of your attributed pages, and click “Preview”. If everything is set up correctly, you should see a result similar to this:

Sidenote: While you’re there, the rich snippet testing tool is also a great way to see all the other “marked up” data your site is outputting. When you run a test you might see things such as author name, associated social media profiles and more. Micro formats are near and dear to my heart, so maybe you’ll get a kick out of it to. (Blog post on micro formats coming shortly, stay tuned)

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Google Authorship Statistics

Alright great, so we’ve got Authorship all set up, but how can we tell what kind of impact it is having? Or if people are even seeing this stuff?

Luckily our friends at Google have rolled out a nice little feature in Webmaster Tools called “Authorship Statistics”, where you can see all kinds of neat data on your content and search impact. To find your Authorship Statistics, head over to Webmaster Tools, click on “Labs” from the dashboard, then Authorship Statistics.

Probably the coolest feature of the data shown is the graph of search impact overtime. This graph will give you data on both impressions and clicks on all your content within a specific time range. As you can see, though I don’t spend near enough time generating content (laughs not appreciated), the recent dedication to this blog have had a bit of an impact:

Within Authorship Statistics you can also see data relating to specific pieces of published content, such as the number of impressions and clicks, click through rate and average position in search results. Here’s a few examples:

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Hidden Secrets of Google Authorship

Remember from before when I was talking about all the known benefits of Google Authorship? Well there was one Google forgot to tell us about, though some sharp eyes have uncovered it. Officially confirmed by Google, a newly found benefit of Google Authorship is the ability for more of authors’ content links to appear in results when returning to the search results after viewing a piece of content.

I’m sure that was a bit confusion, so here’s how it works. Say someone clicks one of your attributed links from a search result page. If the user stays on your page for a certain amount of time and then returns “back” to the search result page, they will see something like this:

While there is no official answer at time of posting as to how long this takes, after playing around with it for a few minutes (you know you want to) you should be able to get a good idea. The idea is that if a user simply “bounces” off your content, authors shouldn’t be rewarded, however if someone stays long enough, Google deems that piece of content as “useful”, and will show more from that author when returning to Google.

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So What is AuthorRank?

While no one knows for sure yet, Google is preparing for a new algorithm update known as “AuthorRank”. This update will help rank content within search results based on author authority. Basically things like the more content created, the better the quality of that content, and the social implication will result in higher rankings. It is a query independent update, which means it will impact any search result involved. (Think “PageRank” instead of “keyword usage”)

Though the specifics of what AuthorRank will entail are somewhat unclear, the search world is abuzz, deeming this update as a “game changer”. Here are a few items that AuthorRank will be sure to focus on:

  • PageRank of the content itself
  • On site engagement of published content
  • Number of Google +1’s received
  • Amount of published content by the author
  • The connections or “circles” of the author
  • Google Plus engagement as a whole
  • Social factors outside of Google (think Twitter, etc.)
  • Other general “authority” indicators (think Google Books)

Out of all of this noise, one thing we all can agree for certain: it’s time to start planning for AuthorRank now.

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Preparing for AuthorRank

With the next phase of Google Authorship right around the corner in the form of “AuthorRank”, here is a quick list of things we all should be doing to make sure we are prepared for when it hits:

  • Set Up Google Authorship

    If you haven’t already done so, what are you waiting for! Head back up to the “How to Set up Google Authorship” section and get crackin’.

  • Track Down All Your Content

    Once your authorship is set up, seek out all the content you’ve created on the web and get it attributed. As one of the factors of AuthorRank will surely be number of attributed posts, every little bit counts.

  • Start Publishing Amazing Content

    By now you’ve all heard the words “content is king”. While I’m not hear to give you all a lecture on why great content is immportant, be sure that engaging, quality content is sure to be rewarded in AuthorRank.

  • Start Using Google Plus

    I know I know, the last thing anyone needs is another social media network to keep track of. However, for internet publishers and authors, it will be a necessity very shortly. The good news is, in our particular space (and one of the very few), there is actually a decent conversation happening on the new social platform.

  • Get Social

    While Google Plus is a good start for your AuthorRank assault, it is no the only place you should be focusing your time. Conversation, and more importantly “influencers” hang out in a variety of different spaces on the web. Get your name, and most importantly your content in front of as many as you can, be engaging and build your social hub

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Additional Resources

Ultimate list of Google Authorship resources
Google Authorship: The Future of Search
The Definitive Guide To Google Authorship Markup
How to Prepare for AuthorRank and Get the Jump on Google
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About Josh Patterson

Josh is a young entrepreneur & inbound marketer from Baltimore, has an unhealthy obsession with tacos, a love of craft beer and is known to occasionally grow a pretty mean mustache. Founder @Steamloft.   


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 6 Comments on The SteamLoft Ultimate Guide to Google Authorship & AuthorRank

Steven J Fromm & Associates says: January 23, 2013 at 2:52 pm

this is a great piece. But I cannot get this to work for my blog. I have tried everything but am clearly missing something. Maybe the names are not identical. Just am at a loss.

joshpatterson says: February 14, 2013 at 1:52 am

Hmmm…that’s a great question Steven! To be honest with you I haven’t tried it. Have you made sure you put BOTH the link to your G+ profile in your author bio AND added your site as one your contribute to your G+ page itself?

Steven J Fromm & Associates says: February 14, 2013 at 12:51 pm

Yes and Yes. Here is the problem:
Can anyone figure this out? Help!

Steven J Fromm & Associates says: January 23, 2013 at 6:31 pm

Can this be done with type blogs. I have tried everything for my blog to get google+ author verification with my blog, but nothing seems to work. Is there a way to do it on type blogs?


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