Author Rich Snippets Tutorial – 2013 Edition

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.

Author Rich Snippet Example from 2013
This is what an author rich snippet looks like

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. 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:

  1. 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).
  2. 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.

  1. Go to your Google+ profile and copy the URL
  2. 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).
  3. 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”.
  4. Make sure the anchor text is your full name (it should match the name used on your Google+ profile).
Google Code for Author Rich Snippets
Link to your Google+ profile using rel=author

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).

Rel Author in the page's header
Rel Author in the page’s header

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.

Go to Users and add the URL for your Google+ profile
Go to Users and add the URL for your Google+ profile

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.

Mike Arnesen

Mike Arnesen - Director of Analytics & Optimization

A diehard SEO and web analytics geek, Mike is the Director of Analytics & Optimization at SwellPath. He is also a board member at SEMpdx. Mike's fascination for search experience optimization, structured data and semantic markup, and web technology knows no bounds. Beyond geeking out with SEO and analytics, Mike is also a prolific blogger, speaker (MozCon, SemTechBiz, SEMpdx, SMX, State of Search Conference, etc.), and company culture advocate. When not in the office, Mike is spending time with his wife, enjoying the outdoors, or keeping up with inbound marketing news via mobile; most of the time, it's all three simultaneously.

Watch Mike talk about his role and life at SwellPath

20 Responses to “Author Rich Snippets Tutorial – 2013 Edition”

  1. Ignatius

    Thanks! it worked!

  2. Mkpelland

    Thanks, good information and it pointed me to clarifications I needed. I’ll be posting a piece about this for writers and authors, and will be sure to credit you and link to your explanation!

  3. Dietmar Reigber

    Hi Mike,

    do you happen to know if YOAST will also apply the rel author for older posts or only new posts ? I quote from your post: “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.”

    Let me know your experience! Best regards from Mauritius, Dietmar

  4. Dietmar Reigber

    I also wanted to ask you if you have tried AuthorSure which is also recommended for this aspect.

  5. Geiner

    Thanks! it worked!

  6. Andre Jensen

    For the On-Page Link Option, Google says you you have to Add a reciprocal link back from your profile to the site(s) you just updated.

    Does this mean, that for each article/ post, I need to go to Google Plus and insert the link to EACH article?

    If so, is there no automated way?

  7. Kevin Sheldrake

    Brilliant! I navigated my way through your excellent tutorial and then used the Structured Data Testing Tool to test. A great help – thanks Mike!

  8. Mainak Das

    Your rich snippet idea is really simple for me then others. Thanks for sharing…

  9. Bryan

    Hi there, Thank you for this tutorial. I was wondering if there was a way to get the author image to show up for folks who are not logged into their gmail/google plus accounts when performing searches. Or if I did something wrong because I can only see the added author image when logged in. Thanks for the info/understanding.

  10. agung darmawan

    hi mike….
    your tutorial not working on my site….
    i don’t know what’s the trouble. please check my site ( ) with Structured Data Testing Tool thats running well, but on Google SERP thats not Shown :(
    Please help me….

  11. Deepak HM

    Hi Mike,

    Here is a blog I am handling & for Blog home page Author rich snippet is showing but not for individual posts.

    We have a wordpress blog with multiple authors contributing for each post.

    There we love to show specifi ahthor bio for each posts.

    Please help me – I have followed up step by step still while testing on richsnippet testing tools Author image is not visible but it show successfully linked Author Tag.

    Here is the post link – & this is authors google
    + profile.

    I am using Star box plugin, If you can show for this that I could follow for other posts as well.

  12. Rafael Perez

    Thanks for the easy to follow instructions! It was a great help!

  13. Shelly Duncan

    HI Mike,
    great little trick – I LOVE it!
    Thanks for the easy to follow instructions

  14. Dan

    I had to do some running around on google looking for someone who could explain this process as simply as you did. Thanks a lot man!

  15. Randy

    Is a blog required? … can it be just pages on a website?

  16. GG

    So the Google Structured Data Tool said everything was hunky-dory. Previews all working as expected. Showed my lovely mug. Now three weeks later and it is still not working? But SDTT says everything is good? What gives? I am using YOAST.

  17. Len Hend

    Great – you are someone who gets straight to the point without ambiguous and half explained statements – I’ve been days looking for you – thanks.
    (you can now see a picture of my head all over Google – RRAAAAHHH)

  18. thaibahts

    I just set it up. your instructions were clear, I wonder how long its going to take before my pic shows up on SERPs

  19. Traffic and Sales.

    This is the right webpage for anyone who hopes to understand this topic.
    You realize so much its almost tough to argue with you (not
    that I really will need to…HaHa). You certainly put a new spin on a topic that
    has been written about for a long time. Excellent
    stuff, just great!


Leave a Reply

Loading Facebook Comments ...

Get Our Newsletter

To keep up with the latest news from SwellPath on digital advertising, analytics, and SEO, sign up for our newsletter.