Google’s search results pages are looking a little different lately, and it’s all because of a tiny snippet of code. In an effort to boost the popularity of Google+, the search engine now includes authors’ photos and links to their profiles right on the SERPs. Of course, this doesn’t happen automatically. If you’d like your photo to show up next to your search engine listings, you’re going to need an active Google Plus profile. You’ll also have to add the rel=author code to every post. Getting this to work properly isn’t always easy, but the extra effort is more than worth it.

 

Google Authorship and the Rel=Author Code

When used properly, the rel=author code allows your Google+ profile picture to show up alongside your search engine listings. You’ve probably already seen this in action. It’s undeniably snazzy and certainly catches the eye. In addition to including your photo, your listing will include your name as a clickable link that directs readers to your Google+ profile. Google may have started offering this feature to promote Google+, which hasn’t exactly given Facebook at run for its money, but the feature is quickly being embraced by SEOs, CMOs, content marketers and many other professionals for a variety of reasons.

 

Making it Happen

It should come as no surprise that making the rel=author code work for you isn’t a cut-and-dry proposition. As mentioned above, the first step is to create a Google+ profile. You can’t take advantage of this feature without one. The next step is to add a link to your Google Plus profile from the content that you’re posting. It can’t be an ordinary link; it has to include the rel=author code.

Normally, the code for a hyperlink looks like this, but with brackets around it instead of parentheses:

(a href=”www.example.com”)example(/a)

Examples of how rel=author is implemented at the site and page level is below:

In order to take advantage of Google’s authorship feature, you need to add this code to the link that you post on your content:

(a href=”www.example.com” rel=”author”)example(/a)

Use the URL for your Google Plus profile, and the anchor text should be your name. It appears that the name you use on your posts has to match the name on your Google+ profile as well.

You need to do one more thing to make this work: link to your content from your Google+ profile to verify that you are actually the author. From your Google+ profile, go to the “Edit Profile” section. From there, click on the “Contributor to” link, and then click on the “Add Custom Link” link. Add the URL of your website and select whether it should be visible on your profile or not. Save your settings, and then go back and add authorship links to as many of your old posts as possible.

When you’re finished, you’re shiny new profile should look something like this:

Top Benefits of Rel=Author

The benefits of using the rel=author are considerable. A few of the best ones include:

  • Visibility – In the SERPs, listings that include author photos really stand out. People are more likely to be drawn to your listings, which means they’ll be more likely to click on them too.
  • Credibility – In the wake of content farms that clogged the results pages with low-quality content, people like to know who has written whatever they are reading. Putting your name and face on your content is a great way to add credibility. Your content won’t be anonymous, and it won’t immediately be ruled out as random drivel.
  • Better Click-Through Rates – Your click-through rates are sure to improve after implementing the rel=author code.

 

How Rel=Author Helps Your Brand

These days, having an online presence isn’t enough. Creating content isn’t enough either. The content you create has to be interesting and informative. It needs to be authoritative and credible too. By taking advantage of Google’s authorship feature, you’ll be able to show readers that you stand behind your content. In turn, this will boost your brand’s image in a big way.

Don’t be discouraged if rel=author doesn’t work the first time. Read through Google’s guidelines carefully and try again. While you’re at it, try to be more active on Google Plus in general. It’s an excellent way to make your content stand out and to gain valuable online exposure for your brand. Set up your Google+ profile now, and put rel=author to work for you right this minute.