The photo and byline that appears on Google search results pages is just part of Google Authorship. The byline contains “rich snippets” of information that show the author’s full name, profile picture taken from his/her Google+ account and the number of Google+ circles that he/she belongs to. This can have a significant impact on how your content will appear on Google search results.
Authorship helps establish the credibility and legitimacy of authors and content written for websites. It also allows web users to find more content written by the same writer.
To put it simply, when a web user searches for a particular topic, Google search engine will provide the user with a list of trusted and reputable authors who have written about that topic. These authors get greater exposure and returning readership.
Google Authorship also improves a website’s click through rate (CTR) which may result in actual sales if the content delivered contains information about the product or service that users need.
Google Authorship plays an important role in Search Engine Result Pages (SERP). According to a study conducted by Catalyst Search Marketing, the number of clicks on a website increased by 150% when the “rich snippet” was added to the side of the SERP.
Studies have also proven that photos attract the attention of readers. If the short information seen in the byline is well-crafted and unique, the entry will stand out. When you have high visibility, you get more clicks.
To show you how this happens, look at the image below. It is a heatmap generated from eyetracking data of a subject’s gaze pattern. As expected, the subject looked at the top results more than once, and the same thing happened with the rich snippets. However, the subject barely looked at the results in between.
So, how do you get Google Authorship?
First, set up a Google Plus profile. It should be a personal page, not a business page. Make sure you have a profile photo with a recognizable head shot. Then, you need to:
Step 1: Link your content to your Google+ profile
Create a link to your Google+ profile from your webpage. Also, your link should contain the ?rel=author parameter. Google will not be able to connect your content with your Google+ profile if you don’t put this in the link.
<a href="https://plus.google.com/109412257237874861202? rel=author">eg.Your Name</a>
Step 2: Go through a process of verification
You need to add a reciprocal link back from your profile to the site that you updated. Add the name and complete URL of the blog or website that you wish to claim authorship for, in the Contributor To section on the right side of your profile.
Step 3: Check if the data extracted from your page is correct
You need to confirm if you already have authorship. To do this you need to use the structured data testing tool.
Type in your URL in the designated box. Google will tell you if the authorship markup code is working or not. It should look like this:
Since the tool only looks at a single page, you need to check content pages and author pages separately to see if they are linking to each other.
Step 4: Just Wait
It takes two to three weeks for your profile picture to show up in the search results. Sometimes, longer.
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