The Difference Between rel=author & rel=publisher
Google conveniently features two distinctly different tags that can be added to a Web page’s HTML to promote the individuals that authored a piece of content or an entire brand.
These are the two new tags known as rel=author and rel=publisher, that will automatically link an article or website back to a corresponding Google+ profile from within the search engine results pages (SERPs). This provides those listings with greater authority (as they’ve essentially been vouched for by Google) and helps them stand out among the other results on the page.
In other words, both of these tags can be very useful for search engine optimization (SEO) and Internet marketing, as long as you know the difference between them.
You know those little author pictures that appear next to some of the blog posts and other content that you come across on Google’s SERPs? They’re the result of a rel=author tag that has been attached to that page.
These tags are meant to help promote individuals alongside each unique article by tying their work to their personal Google+ profiles. Of course, the tags do more than just make articles stand out on the SERPs (although that certainly helps); they also provide more credibility to a listing and garner significantly more exposure for the writer, as they also provide a “More by” link that collects other content that the writer has published and added the rel=author tag to.
Linking an article to a Google+ profile is a simple two-step process. The first is to add a link from the site or Web page with the content to your G+ profile by adding this tag into the HTML:
Obviously, you’ll want to replace profile_url with the URL for your Google+ profile. After that, you need to link to your content from your profile, which can be done by signing into Google+, clicking on “Edit profile” and adding a custom link to the Contributor To section toward the bottom of your profile page. However, you must be sure to link your rel=author tag to an author page that is on the same website as your content.
The rel=publisher tag has a much broader focus. It will tie a Google+ business page to an entire website, as opposed to claiming just a single article like the rel=author tag. And while the author tag will show a writer’s picture in the search results for a particular article, the publisher tag shows a Google+ page summary in search results for that particular brand.
In doing this, Google is recognizing a brand’s G+ page as its “official” profile, which it will give preference to in the SERPs. It also means they’ll be eligible for Google Direct Connect and aggregates all of the brand’s +1s across their site, G+ page, search results and AdWords ads.
Basically, the rel=publisher tag is Google’s way of providing an incentive to get brands to sign up for Google+ profiles. Right now, however, the capabilities of the tag are pretty limited (just ask any SEO or marketer), largely because it isn’t triggered until someone searches for only a brand’s name without any additional words in their query. That being said, the very existence of the tag is enough to assume that Google will be coming up with new ways to feature it on its search results in the future, meaning implementing it will eventually show greater benefits for marketers.
To manually use the tag, simply add it to the head of your site in the HTML and include the URL of your business’s Google+ page. It should look like this:
Once you’ve done that, you need to go through the verification process. As with the rel=author tag, you just go to your Google+ page and click “Edit profile,” then add the URL to your brand’s website in the Website section to create a reciprocal link between the two sites.