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How do I set up authorship?

How do I set up authorship? - answered by Matt Cutts

Matt's answer:

MATT CUTTS: OK, welcome back for another round of webmaster questions and answers. We wanted to start with a sort of fun one, talking about rel=author, which launched recently. And so, just to start out, Othar, what it is rel=author exactly? OTHAR HANSSON: So rel=author is actually in the HTML5 spec that any link can have a rel=author attribute on it. And the use is that you’re saying that the other end of this link represents the author of the page that link is coming from. So people should be doing this. In fact, they have been doing this. And Google is just using the standard to get authorship information more broadly. MATT CUTTS: It’s always nice if you can reuse an existing HTML5 standard instead of in inventing new markup and stuff like that. OTHAR HANSSON: It shows good design in the HTML5. MATT CUTTS: Absolutely. So now, webmasters, site owners, they’re busy folks. So I’m sure the first question they’re going to ask is, what’s in it for me? What do they get if they implement rel=author? Will people get higher rankings? Is there a rankings boost for rel=author? OTHAR HANSSON: Right, so it’s obviously early days. So we hope to use this information and any information as a ranking signal at Google. So in this case, we want to get information on credibility of authors from all kinds of sources and eventually use that in ranking. We’re only experimenting with that now. Who knows where it will go. But right now, what you get if you do the rel=author markup is that your photo may show up next to your results. Obviously want to subject that to some triggering logic as well, but the idea is to show photos next to results. That’s our goal with this project. MATT CUTTS: And I’ve seen that happen with– like you can search for something that Gina Trapani wrote, and you can see her picture there, so you know, OK, this is a little more trustworthy. OTHAR HANSSON: Exactly. We started with a field trial, and it was sort of a Johnny Authorseed model, where we went to one author at each site we could find, and we got them to work. We got them and their webmaster and whoever else had to be involved to get their photo to show up. And so we’ve done this for dozens of sites now and learned a lot. And hence, we’re here to explain how to make this simpler for people. MATT CUTTS: Awesome. OK, so if people believe it’s a good idea, using HTML5, hopefully might help Google and any other search engine figure out more about content on the web and what’s trustworthy and what’s less trustworthy over time. So imagine people have bought in, they’re convinced. OTHAR HANSSON: OK. MATT CUTTS: What do they need to do now? Where where they go? What do they implement? OTHAR HANSSON: Right, so let me preface this by saying that they should visit our Help Center and look for Google Authorship there– we’ll add a link to the video– for the full details and links to WordPress plugins and instructions for Blogger and all kinds of specific details like that. And we’ll keep updating that. But let me just describe the general case and the simplest approach we’ve found in working with different sites. So you have a site. Let’s say it’s example.com. And on that site, you have a post, you have a piece of content, a full-page piece of content. For consistency for both authors and users, we’re using Google Profiles basically as a tool for authors to tell us what photo to use on their results and to give them one place to go to give their readers more information about themselves. So the simplest case is on every post– so let’s take a single-author blog to start with. Add a link somewhere on the page pointing to your Google Profile, and on that link, add an attribute, rel=author. So this is an A tag with an href pointing to the Google Profile. And just add rel=author on that link. So figure out a way to add this to every page on your site if you’re a single-author blog. Put in the footer, put in the header. Put it in the right-hand side, wherever you can make it work. That’s the simplest case. You can wrap this around an image. We have a nice little image to use to represent the Google profile. Or put your own photo or whatever you want there. MATT CUTTS: And so on my blog, I had just my name. So I turned that into a hyperlink, and then I added rel=author on that hyperlink. So that was an easy way to do it. OTHAR HANSSON: Right, exactly. So that’s the simple case. MATT CUTTS: Whenever you link to a Google Profile, is there any way– OTHAR HANSSON: Oh, yeah, yeah. I forgot. Good thing you’re here, Matt. So to make sure that I can’t start writing nonsense a and attribute it to Matt more than I usually do, you have to link back from your Google Profile to the site. So let’s say this is example.com. So go into the Profiles Editor, edit your Profile, add a link to example.com. And that closes the loop and lets us know that you actually want this incoming author credit. MATT CUTTS: OK. So we’ve seen a few people ask about, well, what’s to keep me from me pretending to be Barack Obama or pretending to be Gina Trapani. And it sounds like the answer is you can link to Barack Obama’s Profile– if he joins Google+, I guess– but he wouldn’t link back your stuff. So it’s the bi-directional nature of the links that sort of authenticate. OTHAR HANSSON: Right. MATT CUTTS: OK, that makes sense. OTHAR HANSSON: Right. So you need to control both endpoints, basically. So that’s the single-author blog case. So let’s talk about multi-author blogs. The first case is: So you have multiple authors on the site. They each write posts. And they have different Google Profiles, obviously. MATT CUTTS: That makes sense. OTHAR HANSSON: You can tell that I sit at a keyboard by my handwriting. MATT CUTTS: Engineering handwriting, yeah, absolutely. OTHAR HANSSON: So from each post, if you can figure out a way in your CMS to point from that post to that author’s Google Profile with the same rel=author attribute. So that could be as simple as just at the bottom of each post, have the author actually insert a link themselves with this attribute on it. That’s the next simplest case. Another thing that a lot of sites have– let me clean up diagram a little– is on their site, they have author bios. So you have a bio for author one, you have a bio for author two. And this post already has a link to that bio. And the only problem is that link doesn’t have rel=author on it yet. So step one, add rel=author on that. If only changing your site was easy as drawing on a whiteboard. MATT CUTTS: Yeah. Getting all the CMS people to make the change can sometimes be tricky. OTHAR HANSSON: Yes. MATT CUTTS: But in fact, we’re trying to work with software manufacturers and makers so that individual people maybe don’t have to do all the work unless they really want to. OTHAR HANSSON: You just have to use a theme from the blogging software you’re using, and it’ll all happen. MATT CUTTS: And there’s plugins for WordPress and some other stuff. OTHAR HANSSON: And so if this is a post by author one, this is a post by author two. So this already has a link to his bio. So just add rel=author on those links. And then step two is from those bio pages, add rel=me links. Rel=me is something that’s been in XFN for a long, long time. MATT CUTTS: What does XFN stand for? Well, actually, I don’t know. OTHAR HANSSON: Something Friend Network– Sorry, I don’t know. MATT CUTTS: But basically, rel=me– OTHAR HANSSON: That’s how old that standard is. We don’t know what it means. MATT CUTTS: It’s really well-established. So rel=me me is essentially something to say, this bio, this Google Profile, or this whatever you point to with rel=me, it’s all the same thing. It’s all mine. OTHAR HANSSON: They represent the same person, yeah. So do that link, that link, and then as always, the confirmation link from your Google Profile. And that handles the multi-author site pretty well. MATT CUTTS: So someone like CNET or The New York Times, if they’ve got an author bio, you can link right to that. OTHAR HANSSON: Right, and this is exactly the approach that they’re taking. MATT CUTTS: So they’ve already implemented? OTHAR HANSSON: A bunch of those sites, yes. MATT CUTTS: Awesome. Very cool. OTHAR HANSSON: So that’s it in a nutshell. This obviously requires authors to make profiles, and it requires website webmasters to do the markup. In some cases, those are the same person. That’s the easiest case. MATT CUTTS: Well, and the nice thing is– really, most of the time, you have a bio page, or something that you can use as a bio page. Or worst case, you can use a Google Profile. And so a lot of the times, it’s just making sure there exists a link, and then you add this rel=author. It’s not like a bunch of XML you have to memorize. You don’t have to make huge, long site maps or anything like that. It’s more along the lines of just annotating the web so that people or search engines– anybody who can see that markup– can glom those together and know that that’s the same person. OTHAR HANSSON: Right, right. And in fact, not only do a lot of sites already have these bios, but they already are pointing out to their home pages. MATT CUTTS: Yep, different sites– OTHAR HANSSON: Their Flickr page, whatever. MATT CUTTS: So a few people have asked me, how hard is it to do? And we wanted to just do a quick video and talk about what’s involved, what’s the process. And it turns out, it’s not that hard. So if you’re really interested, you can implement it now. We’ll also have links in the metadata of this video so you can do a little bit more reading, read the Help Center documentation. And Othar, thanks very much. Any last stuff you wanted to mention? OTHAR HANSSON: No, send us feedback. MATT CUTTS: Yeah. We’re happy to hear about how to make this system better, right? OTHAR HANSSON: Absolutely. MATT CUTTS: And we’re excited to think about how we could possibly improve rankings. If you think about it, if you have a scraper versus someone who’s really got a lot of credibility, I love the idea of scraper doesn’t rank, and the real person does. OTHAR HANSSON: I was going to mention this earlier. But just having an author photo next to results I think will have a huge psychological impact on users. Even if they don’t click on it, they know that that’s an article where they can find the author, and interact with them, ask a question, find out more about them. MATT CUTTS: It’s a little more trusted. OTHAR HANSSON: It’s going make the web much more human. MATT CUTTS: Awesome. OK, thanks very much.

by Matt Cutts - Google's Head of Search Quality Team


Original video: