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Google+ Authorship: Why you should set it up (and how)

Written by Tom Ewer on 23 October 2013

Have you ever noticed when looking at Google's search engine page results that certain results are accompanied by a thumbnail-sized profile picture of the content’s author? The profile picture lends instant credibility, right?

Well this is Google+ authorship, a free opportunity to boost click through rates from Google search results by up to 150%. In simple terms, this means that you can attract more search engine traffic without an increase in rankings.

In this post I am going to discuss why you should set up Google+ authorship and show you how to do so in three simple steps.

What is Google+ Authorship?

You’ve no doubt heard of Google+, but you may not be as familiar with exactly what Google+ authorship is.

Even if you are not familiar with it, you’ve probably seen it. It is represented by those Google search results that feature a little headshot. Here’s an example:

What’s going on here is simple: the webpage is associated with the author’s Google+ profile, which means that Google can pull a headshot, author name and his or her number of Google+ followers and incorporate it into the search results.

So why should you use authorship? Firstly, it makes it easier for people in your Google+ Circles to see which sites or blogs you contribute to, which in turn, could increase traffic to those sites. Secondly, it helps your pages to stand out in search results as your photograph will begin to appear alongside them, helping to attract attention and create a sense of credibility and authority.

That sounds pretty good, right? But Google+ authorship also functions on a deeper level and it can have a drastic effect on click through rates (CTR) to your site from Google search results.

Google+ Click Through Rates

In this recent article by Justin Briggs, he discusses how sites ran tests to see how much Google+ authorship increased mark-up. In some cases it was discovered that the increase in click through rates was as high as 150%.

Increasing your site’s CTR is an important step towards increasing readership, sales and/or return visitors. With this in mind it’s a no-brainer -- Google+ authorship is something you should be taking advantage of. So let’s get to it!

Step 1: Link to Your Google+ Profile Page from Your Website

In order for Google to verify you as the author of your own website, you must create a reciprocal connection between the site and your Google+ profile. The first thing to do is to link to your Google+ profile page from your website.

Within thesection of your website's page template, add the following piece of code:

Substitute your own Google+ profile URL into the 'href' attribute - or change the long number to match your Google+ profile ID.

To find your Google+ profile ID simply log in to Google+ and click on the Profile tab to view your own profile. If you look at the URL in the address bar, it should look something like this:

The long numerical string in the URL is your Google+ ID.

The code should always be placed within the tags of the HTML document, or if you are using WordPress within header.php. If you’re not keen on altering theme files yourself you can also use a plugin such as Google+ Author Information in Search Results.

Step 2: Link to Your Website from Your Google+ Profile Page

Whichever method you use, you must then link back to your website from your Google+ profile by adding a text link to your website or blog homepage in the 'Contributor to' section of your Google+ profile.

This verifies to Google+ that the owner of the profile is the same person attempting to claim authorship of an article or post. This also helps prevent other people from putting your name on items you did not write.

The Links section you’ll need is located on your About page (accessed via the About tab within your profile):

Click the Edit link within the Links section and add your website to the “Contributor to” list.

Step 3: Test It

Once Google Authorship is set up, test that it is working correctly using theGoogle Structured Data Testing Tool. This will help you to identify any problems with the way you have set up the code on your page.

Once you’ve entered your information, your results should look something like this:

And finally, be patient! It can take up to two weeks for your authorship information to begin appearing in search results.

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