Are you telling the Online World Who You Are? Do you use Rel=Author?

September 25, 2012

If your focus is to insure that your posts are being found online, then I’m sure you’re familiar with rel=author?

Well if your answer is no,  it’s OK. I’m here to explain and show you how you can quickly and easily implement the rel=author tag.

Here’s why Rel=author is Important
Now before I lose you because I keep talking about something that looks like code (which it is), let’s talk about why this is CRITICAL to ensuring that you’re found for your name and your brilliant online writing.

Rel=author is a part of schema.org. (I know, it still sounds techie – stay with me).

Schema.org is a new way of adding additional coding to your website that is supported by all major search engines. It helps search engines in their quest to understand that you are a “person” who works for a “company” and writes about a “book.”  This is important because the search engines are placing more weight on individuals/people – you and me rather than actual websites. To that end (I would encourage you to read more about how the search engines are now focused on creating a database of entities and things with connections between them here in a presentation that I have at EXL Pharma this year).

Google views rel=author is the way companies like Google can better connect authors with new or existing readers and vice versa.

Rel=Author Helps Connect Online Content about You
Rel=author is one of the new ways of adding additional coding to a site that helps the search engine understand who you are as a person. It links your blog bio to your Google+ profile. By adding the coding and linking to your Google+ profile, you are letting Google know more about you.  If I use myself as an example, I would be letting Google know:

  • I am Katherine Watier a “person”
  • Who works for “Ketchum”
  • With a Twitter handle @kwatier
  • I’ve previously worked for Environmental Working Group
  • Environmental working group is a “nonprofit”
  • Who my friends are
  • Who has previously read my Google+ postings
  • Where else I write online

Google then uses all of this data to ensure that all blog posts that are linked to my name are displayed in search engine results when people search for me.

Rel=Author – Awesome Exposure in Search Results
Oh I almost forgot! Rel=author also allows you to have awesome enhanced search snippets like this:

 

 

 

If you’ve ever been exposed to online usability theory, you know that as humans we love to look at others’ faces and click on them more than other types of online content. So if you’re not using rel=author you don’t get to have your beautiful face next to your search results.

There is also additional online exposure benefits from installing the coding. In April, Search Metrics ran an experiment which showed that 1 out of every 5 Google Searches shows rel=author in the top 100 results.

Rel=Author – Helping Develop Author Rank
It’s more than just labeling though. Over the last few years, both search engines have talked about a new piece of the ranking algorithm called “Author Rank.” While it’s still mostly mystery, the search engines have said that they use it when creating search results, but are pretty mum about what’s behind it. However, we know that Rel=author does plays a part.

Let me explain this in a “what if” situation to make it more tangible. Say I’m Craig Newmark of Craigslist. I blog on the Craigslist blog, and I have the rel=author code added to my site. On its own, the Craiglist blog has a decent amount of PageRank, and traffic so you’d expect that my blog posts on Craiglist will be found by people who are looking for me. However, what if I (Craig) decide to contribute posts to a no-name blog with very little traffic, but I’ve added the extra rel=author coding to this blog so that the search engines know that it’s me acting as a contributor?

The prediction is that any post by Craig on this no-name blog will have the potential to get tons of traffic because the search engines will know that it’s Craig from Craiglist. The search equity is moving from websites with PageRank to an understanding of people and the human connections between them.

How to get started with Rel=author
Hopefully by now I’ve convinced you that you need this rel=author thing, because it’s not going away and you’re just missing out on more traffic to your brilliant online musings.

Below I’ve added instructions on how to set up rel=author for yourself as a blogger.

Step 1: Add Contributor links to your Google+ Profile
Click on your Google+ profile page, select “edit” and add links under your contributor section to the bio pages of the various blogs you blog on:

 

 

 

Step 2: Add links to your Google+ Profile from your Author Bio and Blog posts
Here’s where the instructions get trickier, but it’s easy if you’re blogging on WordPress – installed on a server you own/rent space on; not a site hosted on WordPress.com.

  • First, have the blog admin install the Yoast WordPress plugin.:
  • Go to the WordPress Dashboard
  • Under “Appearance” click on “Users” and “All Users
  • Click on “Add New” and add your profile, or edit one if you already have a user profile set up.
  • Click on “Edit” to open the profile page
  • Add your Google+ profile link into the Google+ field.
  • Also make sure to fill in all the other information in the other user fields. There is a great video here explaining how to set it up

Did you set Rel=Author up Properly? Let’s Test
Don’t worry about needing a developer or a QA person to help, luckily Google has a Rich Snippets testing tool to ensure whether you set up your coding properly. Make sure to use the tool to check your steps.

And that’s it! Why are you still here? You should get going and set up your rel=author tags so that your fans can find you and all of your brilliant writing!

Katherine Watier Ong works with clients to stay on top of the changing nature of search & social. She has 8 years of SEO and social experience, and is part of the 1 million visitors per month club after taking one of the websites she was promoting from 300K to 1.2 million in one month with an integrated 360 degree promotion program. She is VP, Online Strategy and Market Insights in Ketchum’s online strategy department, and helps manage a team that tracks the online consumer, online analytics, changing online platforms and algorithms, and develops strategies for clients to connect with their online consumer. Follow Katherine at @kwatier, Google+ or connect with her on LinkedIn.