Did you ever wonder how you people get their picture in the Google search results? You want this too? Sure you can, this is quite easy. This feature is called “rich snippet”. Compared to a “normal” (boring) snippet. The magic in getting you verified as the author for your articles on your Google+ profile. This is done by the the rel=author tag.
There are several blogs about this feature, however I noticed a lot of bloggers do not use this for their content. I think this is a missed opportunity. By having your picture next to the search results it becomes more prominent (and even more credible). Studies have proven a higher click through rate on content with a verified author (up till 40%). So it matters to register yourself as an author and post your content correctly.
Google has some basic instructions for author verification on https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/1408986 It still took me some time to verify this content on this WordPress blog. Here are the steps to get it working.
1. Create a Google+ account
The trick is to link your content to your Google+ profile. Even if you’re not active in Google+ (and who is), Google Authorship will still work. Only thing you have to do is to setup your profile. Make sure you use a good profile picture since this is the one that will be shown in the search results! Use this 15 minutes Google+ Jumpstart Guide.
2. List yourself as contributor.
Now you have to list yourself as and contributor to your site in Google+. Do this by adding the url of the site you are sharing articles on to the contributor part of Google+. Make sure this part of your Google+ profile is publicly visible. The manual states it does not matter if your profile is public but for authorship I’ve noticed it does.
Make sure your blog publications on your site list you as the author by the quote “Author : Your Name” or “By : Your Name”. Most blogs offer this feature. Make sure your name is exactly the same as on your Google+ profile.
Next you have to activate your content. This can be done in two ways. Like in step 3: Activate via Email verification OR like in step 4: Link your content to your Google+ account via rel=author. Either way works. Just use the one that is the easiest for you to enable.
3. Activate via Email verification.
This only works if your content is posted on the same domain as your email address. So if your content is on www.amis.nl you need to have an email address like firstname.lastname@example.org. Go to https://plus.google.com/authorship, sign in with your Google+ account, and enter your email address to verify you as an author. You will get a confirmation email from Google. It does not matter if multiple authors enter their email. You only get marked as an author for your own content (Author: Your Name). When you confirm your email the authorship will automatically work for the content on this domain. Go to step 5.
4. Or : Activate via a link to your Google+ profile
Add a link to your Google+ profile in your web page or in your blog profile. There is probably a section where you can post links to your social networks. Make sure the link ends with ?rel=author So in my case the url would look like : https://plus.google.com/u/0/+RobbrechtvanAmerongen?rel=author See if you can have this link on every page of your publication as part of your profile. Some networks scramble your personal url so this does not work (For example LinkedIn or Facebook). As far as I know there is no solution yet for authorship of content on these networks.
To validate your content and your Google plus registration you can validate your authorship with the Structured data testing tool on https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/richsnippets . Past the specific article url in this tool and check the authorship information or re-link your profile. Scroll down to see the results.
6. Next you wait
Next you wait until Google has indexed and linked your articles to your profile. On average every site with an active content refresh gets indexed every 4-6 days (for high traffic sites this is more frequent). If you have Google Webmaster Toolkit activated on your site you can check the status of your articles via this link : https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/labs-author-stats-1