Note: This is a revamped, rewritten, and updated version of our original 2012 article & tutorial on Author Rich Snippets. All information is now current for 2013. Happy reading!
What are Author Rich Snippets?
An author rich snippet is an enhanced result in Google’s SERPs that features a person’s photo/headshot, their byline (i.e. name), and a link to their Google+ profile. Google pulls this information into their results for one simple reason: users trust and seek out information on the web that’s been written by real people. In most cases, people find more value in content that someone’s put their name behind rather than cold corporate content, or anonymous content. To that end, Google highlights the work of established authors in search results to surface content that their users (i.e. searchers) are going to find valuable.
Why are Author Rich Snippets important?
Aside from the obvious ego boost that accompanies your own Author Rich Snippet showing up in search, Author Rich Snippets offer the following additional benefits. An Author Rich Snippet:
- breaks up standard wall-of-text search results.
- calls significant attention to your result.
- leads to more qualified traffic by giving searchers a better idea of what to expect when they click on your results.
- establishes AuthorRank for the author and builds search trust for the site.
- allows readers to get to know you and trust your contributions to the web.
Now, Author Rich Snippets aren’t for everyone. However, they are for most people, so if you’re serious about doing well in organic search, ask yourself the following questions.
- Do you want to attract more search traffic to your site? Yeah, that’s rhetorical. In any case, many sites report at least a 20-30% increase in their organic click-through rate after implementing author rich snippets. At SwellPath, we’ve worked with clients who’ve enjoyed upward of 200% increases in CTR.
- Do you want to set yourself apart from the competition? Every site that shows up next to yours is officially your competitor; they’re competing with you for the click. If your competitors are already using author rich snippets, don’t be the one sad result without it! If your competitors don’t have it set up, get in there and become the standout result that people are attracted to.
- Do you need to improve your site’s search trust? Search engine algorithms evaluate a site’s trust or authority and having authoritative authors linked to your site can help with that in a big way. Essentially, search engines have learned that spammy sites, sites that use boilerplate content, and sites that use low-quality or hastily produced content give their searchers a poor experience. Author Rich Snippets connect a website’s content with real people; this equates to quality content (in the eyes of Google, at least).
- Do you want to build your personal brand? If you’re looking to build up an online reputation as an authority or thought-leader in your industry, you need to be using Author Rich Snippets. If you consistently create great content, you’ll soon have people scanning the SERPs just for your picture so they can find reliable information that they trust.
Sound good? You bet it does! Let’s get into how to set this all up.
Setting up Author Rich Snippets
There are a few things you need in order to step up Author Rich Snippets:
- A public Google+ profile.
Make sure to upload a decent looking profile picture. Google will use this when it pulls in your Author Rich Snippet. If you already have a presence online, I recommend using the same photo you use elsewhere (Twitter, Facebook, Quora, etc).
- Access to your blog
That, or a webmaster/IT guy who doesn’t hate your guts. You’ll need to tweak your blog posts or blog post template a bit.
Once you have these requisites taken care of, the first thing you’ll need to do is edit your Google+ profile. Head over to the “Contributor To” section: Click here to login and edit this section. What you want to do is add the site you write for (you can add as many as needed) so that Google knows that you are, as an author, associated with that website. You can (and should) also set whether you are a current or a past contributor to each site that you list. More on current & past contributions here.
From there, you need to add a few things to your blog posts. What you need to do boils down to linking each of your blog posts with your profile on Google+ so that Google can clearly identify the relationship.
On-Page Link Option
We can do this using a link to your Google+ profile, coupled with the rel=author query string parameter.
- Go to your Google+ profile and copy the URL
- Insert a link in your blog post and use the copied URL as the destination (make sure to remove anything like /posts that’s at the end).
- Add ?rel=author to the end of that link destination in step 2. This indicates that this link signifies a relationship (“rel”. Get it?) and that your relationship to that post is “author”.
- Make sure the anchor text is your full name (it should match the name used on your Google+ profile).
Head Link Option
Now there’s an even easier way to do this and it’s also my preferred method. It involves putting an unambiguous declaration of authorship in the <head> section of your page’s code. Just make sure the line of code below gets dropped into the <head> of each blog post you write (and switch out my Google+ URL for your own, of course).
What makes this option even better is that, if you’re running WordPress, you don’t have to really do anything. Just download the SEO for WordPress plugin by Yoast (it’s free) and install it in your blog. Then just have each author on your site login using their WordPress login and add their Google+ profile URL into their user account. The plugin will then automatically build out the line of code from above and dynamically insert it into every post that’s associated with that specific WordPress login.
Both options (the on-page link or the head link) work equally well. Just choose whichever one is easier for you or your organization to implement.
Now that you’re set up, you’ll have to wait until Google discovers your association and updates its data on your posts. Don’t wait for days and just hope that you executed all this correctly; test. Head over to Google’s SDTT (Structured Data Testing Tool) and plugin a URL of one of your posts. If Google returns an example of your Author Rich Snippet, you’re good to go.
Now, Let the Magic Happen
It can take a day or two for Google to make the association and re-crawl your blog posts. My official prescription is patience. Also note that for newer authors, I’ve seen plenty of cases where Google will wait until you’ve published two or three posts (and set them up with authorship/author rich snippets) before anything will show up in the SERPs. Just test to make sure you’re good on the technical side and be patient.
So that’s how you configure Author Rich Snippets to appear in Google SERPs. I highly recommend it. Give it a shot and I’d love it if you came back here to give me a report on how it works out in the comments. Happy optimizing.