Rel-Author Tag - Getting Started

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Google's announcement that they will soon begin highlighting authors in the search results took some by surprise - but not others (including WM).

The search engine has been on a quest to organize and provide access to the world’s content since its inception. Through the use of the rel=author tag, Google search engine users will start seeing an image/avatar of the author next to search results. If you are a blogger interested in increasing click-through rates on search results, the rel=author tag is a powerful way to do that.

To identify the author of a blog or article, Google checks for a connection between the content page (such as an article/post), an author page, and a Google Profile. Authorship markup uses the rel attribute (part of the open HTML5 standard) in links to indicate the relationship between a content page and an author page. But how do you get started with the Rel-author tag? Here are a few tips:

Start with the Google Profile: Providing/creating a detailed Google profile enables Google to identify content authors and is a great way to share information with users. Make sure to include in your Google profile links to other author pages around the Web and a profile picture (photograph). You will also need to link to your Google website profile button from your website. Once Google detects content that has been marked as yours, that content is listed on the +1 tab of your Google profile.

Single-Author Sites
If your website has but one author, the easiest way to identify author information is to add a link to the Google profile created (see above) on every page. Once complete, make sure that you are cross linking the Google profile and the website.

Multi-Author Sites
Websites which have multiple authors have quite a few more challenges in regards to implementation as each author will need to be identified. Again, Google will check for a connection between the content page, an author page, and a Google profile. To confirm authorship, Google again uses the rel attribute and looks for links from the content page to the author page.

Content Pages
On content page, whether single or multi-author sites, when linking out make sure to include the rel=me tag. This indicates to Google that all the profiles represent the same person and will likely increase the likelihood that an author profile is highlighted on the search results pages.

There might be (perhaps should be) some hesitation on the part of Web workers to link so frequently and liberally to Google, but if the reward is greater exposure on the SERPs, more trust from users and a more formidable social graph then the work is well warranted.

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