Since the feature debuted (I believe in the spring of 2012) acquiring Google Authorship for your WordPress website has become a lot easier and a lot less confusing. That is, if you can avoid the old articles out there that make it insanely complicated.
Which is why for today's post I'm going to attempt to cut out all of the unnecessary over complications still floating around on this topic and give you a complete (but to the point) guide on Google Authorship and WordPress.
What is Google Authorship?
Google Authorship is part of Google's ongoing efforts to combat spam and validate the trustworthiness of specific authors. How this affects their search algorithms is (as usual) a complete mystery. However, the visual evidence is quite plain to both authors and Google search users when browsing search results. A nice author profile picture appears next to the result, often boosting click-through rates.
In addition to the profile picture (and increased click through rates as a result) there are some other unique benefits to having Google Authorship verified for your WordPress website. When someone clicks your image on a search result it will bring them to a page like the one below. This page will be a huge list of your articles as well as more info on you via Google+. Not to mention there's a Google+ follow link! Talk about social growth potential!
So now the obvious question is: how do I claim my content with Google and acquire the Google Authorship Markup?
The answer is that there are several ways. I've split each solution into the sections below. I recommend reading this post in its entirety, choosing the method that makes the most sense for you and ignoring the rest.
The Non-Plugin Methods of Claiming Google Authorship
If for some reason you do not want to use any of the much simpler solutions listed below, there are two ways in which Google allows you to manually verify Google Authorship for your website.
1. Link your content to your Google+ profile using a verified email address
- Check that you have an email address with the same domain as your blog (for example, firstname.lastname@example.org (not a real email address btw)).
- Make sure that each article or post you publish on that domain has a clear byline identifying you as the author (for example, the author box below and the byline at the top of this post).
- Visit the Authorship Page and submit your email address to Google. No matter how many articles or posts you publish on this domain, you only need to do this process once. Your email will appear in the Contributor to section of your Google+ profile. If you want to keep your email private, change the visibility of your link.
2. Set up authorship by linking your content to your Google+ profile
- Create a link to your Google+ profile from your website. It should look like this:
The rel="author" tag is really important; so make sure that's in there just like the image shows. Most people choose to put this link in their header.
- Add a reciprocal link back from your Google+ profile to the site you just added. You can do this by going to About > Links > Contributor To > Add Custom Link > And enter your site's URL.
Once one of the above methods is complete, go to Google's Structured Data Testing Tools and check to see if your search snippets now feature a profile picture.
Note: Both of these methods work (obviously) but since your using WordPress any one of the methods below is bound to be easier. It's just that this wouldn't be the complete guide if I didn't at least briefly explain the "official" methods provided by Google.
The Easy Method of Claiming Google Authorship for Genesis Users
Genesis is one of the most used WordPress theme frameworks in the marketplace. As such they've decided to "bake in" the second method provided by Google above. Here's what you do:
Go to your profile page of Google+ and copy the link. It should look like this - https://plus.google.com/u/0/117930730043793469237/posts
Next, navigate to your WordPress Admin > Users > Your Profile and paste that link into the new Google+ section.
Then you will want to go back to your Google+ profile > About > Links > Contributor to > Add Custom Link and add your blog URL.
When this is done you should be able to head over to the Google Structured Data Testing Tool and check to make sure everything is working properly.
Note: I'm running Genesis on my personal site and when I first tried to claim my Google Authorship via the steps I just mentioned it did not work. I later found out this is because I was also running SEO by Yoast and did not have those settings configured properly. So if like me you are in the same position then be sure to double check the SEO settings I'll show below too.
The Easy Method of Claiming Google Authorship for SEO by Yoast Users
There are few (if any) WordPress plugins that are as ubiquitous as SEO by Yoast. Combine that with the fact that Google Authorship is the new big thing for boosting SEO and you've got a great reason for a new feature. Which is exactly what happened back in June of 2012, making SEO by Yoast the easiest way for the majority of WordPress/Google+ users to claim their Google Authorship.
Here's what you do:
Go to your Google+ profile and add your blog URL under About > Links > Contributor to. Also, double check to make sure your +1's tab is public. Then before going to WordPress copy your Google+ profile URL.
In your WordPress Admin navigate to Users > Your Profile and paste your Google+ profile link into the contact info section.
Then, go to your SEO by Yoast sidebar menu > Titles & Meta > Home tab > Author Metadata and select your name in the drop down menu. Click Save Settings.
When this is done feel free to head back over to the Google Structured Data Testing Tool and see if everything checks out.
The Highest Ranking Plugin Solutions for Claiming Google Authorship
Now I realize that not all WordPress users are running on Genesis or using SEO by Yoast. So here is a quick list of the highest ranking plugin solutions for claiming your Google Authorship markup from the WordPress Plugin Repository.
Note: Each plugin has step by step instructions on their info page, installation page, or in the help documents of the plugin once installed.
The conversation surrounding Google Authorship has been confusing. It's the new big thing on the block and in everyone's haste to understand and communicate their "expertise", a lot of people over-complicated the process.
Thankfully that's not the case anymore. With any one of these simple plugins (or with Genesis) you can quickly and easily reap the rewards of having claimed your Google Authorship markup. I hope this post answered any questions you might have about Google Authorship and WordPress, but if not please feel free to drop us a line in the comments below and we'll be sure to get back to you with our best answer.