Google Improves The Display Of Authorship on Search Results, Makes it Easy to Add Authorship Support
By on October 29th, 2011

Google introduced author markup on search results to improve the visibility of qualitysources and highlight high quality content that makes sense. Author markup in Google search helps you find useful content written by reputed authors and not just every Tom and Harry.

It is Google’s way of determining which authors are trustworthyand whether you, as a user, would derive value from the authors content. Google uses a lot of different signals to determine whether this particular user enjoys reading the posts of this particular author. This includes relevancy of the page, user’s query, social connections, mutual interests, links, engagement, return visits, previous search history and so on.

Implementing author markup in your website was a little geeky, here is the classical way to do it:

1. On your website, you have to create a dedicated author page which should link to the Google Plus profile of the author using the rel=meattribute. (see example)

2. Every post written by the author on his website must link to the author page using the rel=authorattribute. (check the author bio section of this post)

3. The Google Plus profile of the author must link back to the author page on the same domain. (My Google Plus profile links back to the author page of Techie Buzz)

When all of the above three conditions holds true, Google will re-crawl your entire website and there is a high chance that your Google Plus author thumbnail will be shown on search result pages. Here is an example:

author-thumbnails

Google has now made it easier to add author markup tags on pages which is beyond your control.   There can be situations when you might not have enough access privileges to modify internal codes, template files and add the HTML code for author markup. In such scenarios, you can use your Google Plus verified email address to implement author markup and tell Google that you wrote this content.

To do this, go to your Google Plus profile, click Editand add your email address in the new contact infotext field. Next, add this same email address along with your name on the blog post you write. This is applicable on any blog where you contribute posts, not just your own website or personal blog.

Modifications In The Display Of Author Thumbnails

Additionally, Google has slightly tweaked the display and layout of author thumbnails on search results. Previously, the thumbnails used to appear at far right but as of now, the photos are placed left aligned to the meta description of the post. Here is an example:

matt-cutts-google-plus

Some things to note:

  • Circle count: Google shows the Google Plus circle count of the author, which can be a measure of popularity and reach.
  • Name of the circle: On rare occasions, Google also pulls in the name of the circle, in case the author is already present in one of your Google Plus circles and you heavily interact with him or engage with his updates (comment, reshare, +1… you name it).Here is an example:

    add-to-circles

    I have added Barry in a circle called Searchand when I searched for [SEO eye tracking], I was shown the above listing. It is important to note that this result only appeared when I was logged into my Google Plus account and Google’s algorithm was able to gauge the connection between me, Barry, mutual connections, my search query, Barry’s blog post and his share on Google Plus.

  • Comments: Some webmasters have reported that Google also shows number of comments and comment previews directly under the Meta description of a Google Plus post. Here is an example:google-plus-post

Personally, I like things that are simple, easily discoverable and as fluid as water.

Author thumbnails helps cut the clutter but excessive integration with Google Plus is again another distraction. At the end of the day, it is an algorithm which doesn’t have human eyes so spammers are already preparing their false fronts, trying to game the system and make the maximum profit out of this.

Whether they win or lose is just a matter of time; but I have this feeling that the prying nose of a social network can sometimes cause biased results. Crowdsourcing user signals is one thing but placing your banners all over the place is like trying to win the battle by crushing your own army.

Two years back, Google search was so simple.  No background images, no YouTube crap, less ads and distractions.

Enter 2011 and we have Google maps, YouTube ads, Adwords advertisements, local results, related searches, best guess match, a left column, instant search, plus one button and so on. Google Plus integration is just adding to the noise for many.

Ask yourself   Do you use all these features on Google search result pages? I don’t, to be honest.

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Author: Amit Banerjee Google Profile for Amit Banerjee
Amit has been writing for Techie Buzz since early 2009 and keeps a close eye on web apps, Google and all things Tech. He also writes at his own tech blog, Ampercent. Follow him on Twitter @ amit_banerjee

Amit Banerjee has written and can be contacted at amit@techie-buzz.com.

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