As the purveyors of FOAM we
assume hope that the surveyors of search are able to identify high quality FOAM content and distribute this educational sustenance to the heady position that gravity dictates. However, this juxtaposition rarely occurs when high quality writing appears on low ranking blogs.
Fortunately, as authors we have the opportunity to facilitate a simple(ish) validation process through ‘rel=me’, ‘rel=author’ and ‘rel=publisher’ verification.
Mmmmm, I hear you mutter – that sounds like an impossibly insurmountable task, I am an educator and health care provider – not a geeky coder. If this is you…stop reading this article right now and go to the Google Author Idiot Guide (and Google Author Stats)
Read on to see some pretty pictures, a simple schema, an illusory explanation and the consideration of four simple statements
- What exactly is the problem?
- OK, well what is the solution?
- Talk code to me baby…(briefly)
- Enough already, how can I implement the solution?
What is the Problem?
Search is a complex series of algorithms performed billions of times a day in the blink of an eye. To provide appropriate responses to our search box enquiries, Google crawls 60 trillion pages following links from page to page and sorts pages based on content and other factors into an index.
Until recently Google searched content only, and saw pages – not people. Readers were able to determine which sites to trust as domain authority has always been part of the Google algorithm – but there was no way of determining who was responsible for creating the indexed content and no way to determine the trust or validity of a particular content author.
What is the solution?
Google Authorship is one part of the solution. Authorship allows content to be linked to an individual putting the ‘author’ at the center of the content equation. This allows writers to verify their identity and be directly affiliated with the content they create. In time this will build an authors trust, authority and credibility and hopefully reduce the superfluity of spam, high-ranking low quality content, misinformation and plagiarism.
Bidirectional verification and validation is used to identify authors, associate content, propose a trusted relationship and indirectly define credibility.
However, authorship does not happen automatically and without appropriate action medical authors are set to remain anonymous in the online space with their writing deemed less qualified and trustworthy in the eyes of Google.
Talk Code to me baby…
Standard HTML5 markup includes the attribute [rel] which is used by search engines to gauge the relationship between the hypertext reference [href] and the resource on which it appears.
- [rel=”me”] identifies, verifies and attributes your ownership on multiple profile pages
- The rel=”me” relationship allows individuals to link multiple ‘user profile pages’ to each other. By adding a link from a profile page (e.g. twitter) to another profile page (e.g. google scholar) the inclusion of the rel=”me” tag tells search engines ‘hey, that profile over there is also me…‘
- Fortunately most social media profiles do this automagically by adding the rel=”me’ tag behind the scenes to plain text links users add to their profile pages.
- [rel=”author”] attributes articles (content pages) to authors (author profile page)
- The rel=”author” relationship allows users to associate articles and pages they publish with their author profile (e.g. author landing page on a blog).
What does it all look like
What can I do about it? (Stepwise approach to Google authorship)
- Create a Google Plus profile (verification and validation)
- Link your Google plus profile to other profiles (validation rel=”me”)
- Add your Google plus profile url to your author profile on your blog/website (rel=”author”)
- Add reciprocal link (rel=”me”) from Google plus profile page to your blog/website homepage
- Add reciprocal link (rel=”me”) from Google plus profile page to your author profile page on the blog/website
- Optional rel=”publisher’ setup
- The Easy Way
- Test your pages rel=”me”, rel=”author”, rel =”publisher” status
1) Create a Google Plus profile
Simple enough. (here is the G+ link, just in case)
2) Link your Google plus profile to your other profiles
Go to the about section of your G+ profile and find the Links heading. Click on edit and add a plain text title for your profile, and url web address (href). Google will automagically add the required (rel=”me”) to the link and your verification process is underway
3) Add your Google plus profile url to your author profile
There are a number of options depending on your blogging platform, theme and knowledge of HTML. You will need to locate your user profile page and have your Google + profile URL handy. Best practice is to use the base URL of your Google+ profile.
Note: Author link must contain the ?rel=author parameter. If it’s missing, Google won’t be able to associate your content with your Google+ profile
Good quality themes such as the Genesis Framework – have created a field within the author profile for you to add your Google + base URL. This automatically creates the rel=”author” relational tag required to identify you as the author.
If you are using an SEO plugin such as WP SEO by Yoast then you can add the rel=”author” HTML in the custom description text. Simply replace the [G+URL] with your Google + profile URL. This will code the relationship into the header of each page published by the author.
In addition I also like to add rel=”me” to the author profile box which appears on each article. Simply replace the [G+URL] with your Google + profile URL. Note: the code for “author” and “me” are subtly different.
Plain text between the <a href…> and the </a> is displayed as a hyperlink with the relational attribute rel=”me” on every post the author publishes
4) and 5) Add reciprocal link from Google plus profile
Next you need to confirm that you are a current contributor to the blog/website that you have set up your outbound links from. This creates a reciprocal link that helps verify and validate you as the author of the writing. Again, Google plus will add the necessary rel=”me” relationship when you create your plain text links.
- Go to the about section of your G+ profile and find the Contributor to heading. Click on edit and add a plain text title for your profile, and url web address (href).
- Google will automagically add the required (rel=”me”) to the outbound link.
- I like to link back to both the homepage of the blog/website as well as to your specific author profile page maximising the chance of identification and verification
6) Optional rel=”publisher” setup
Many blogs also have a social media ‘page’ on Facebook and Google +. Creating the rel=”publisher” tag provides Google with additional information to help determine the relevancy of the blog/website site to a user query on Google Search. This only works if your G+ Page is set up as a Google plus business page
7) The Easy Way…
At this point, I should let you know about an alternate, somewhat less complicated (but much less fun) method that can be used…this requires B of the following
- You have an email address on the same domain as your content (e.g. email@example.com)
- Each article published has a clear byline identifying you as the author (by Mike Cadogan)
- The byline name is the same as your Google + profile
Simply visit the Google Authorship site and enter your email…you only need to do this once and everything will happen magically behind the scenes.
8) Test your Google Authorship credentials
Again, there are myriad ways to check that the Google authorship process is working and underway.
Right click on the page you are checking, click ‘View Page Source’ and in the top section of the code you will see your rel=”author” and rel=”publisher” tags in glorious technicolor
If you have the WP SEO plugin installed you can hover over the SEO button in the top toolbar to check Rich Snippets from directly within the post [SEO > Analyze this page > Check Rich Snippets]
- Google Author – the Idiots Guide
- Google: Author information in share results
- Google: Author Names in Search Results
- Google: Rich Snippets testing Tool
- Blind 5 Year Old Implementation of rel=author
- Search Engine Land: Latest iteration of Google Author search display – no images
- Search Engine land: The definitive guide to Google Author markup