Google has just introduced yet another update on how content is shown on search result pages. Starting today, you might see a small thumbnail of the author placed on the right of a search result, as shown below:
This is a indeed a huge step towards increasing the quality of search results and providing the user substantial amount of trust factor. If you are a well known person in your industry and people trust you for the content you write, there is a high chance that they will see and recognize your image on Google search result pages. In some situations, they will skip the highly ranked pages and will click through the link to read your piece. It’s human nature!
The name and thumbnail image are derived from the Google profile of the author in question. This feature is still in it’s experimental stage but the way Google is rolling up updates one after another, expect it to go global within a couple of weeks.
How Google Identifies the Author of An Article?
Three things are in play here: the content page on the website, an author page on the same domain and an active Google profile of the author.
Google uses a lot of different signals to determine whether a particular author has a substantial amount of authorityon the subject. To ensure that your author profile is shown on Google search result pages, here are a few things you should know and implement:
1. If you haven’t created a Google profile yet, do it right now. Add a profile image and a clear bio describing your areas of interest, previous work experience and the sites for whom you write or contribute.
2. Next, add the links of sites where you contribute articles on a regular basis. When you link your Google profile to the author pages where you contribute content, you are telling Google that you are the person who wrote this piece. And don’t just link to the homepage of the site, link to your author page so Google can find all your articles.
3. Ask the webmaster of the site to incorporate support for authorship markup. The markup uses standard markup tags e.g (rel=author) and (rel=me) to enable search engines and other web services identify content produced by the same author across different websites.
It is important to note that Google will list the identifiedcontent on the +1 tab of your Google profile. This is unlike manual links added by the author and Google will automatically identify Youas the author of an article and show it on your Google profile.
Will following all the best practices for authorship markup automatically guarantee that your profile image will be shown on Google search results? I guess, No.
Users won’t see a thumbnail attached to every link on search result pages. Instead, a few results will be highlighted, showcasing the work produced by Bestauthors writing on the subject the user is searching for. Will this also include social signals? Google isn’t saying but with the introduction of Google plus one button and the very recent +1 social service, I guess it’s just a matter of time when social signals and authorship markup will go hand in hand.
From the past couple of months, Google has been increasingly focusing upon increasing the overall quality and usability of their search results. First, they declared war on content farms by introducing an algorithmic update which was geared towards reducing the rankings of low quality sites and pushing higher quality sites up, so users can find high quality content instantly. The algorithmic update had some serious consequences, so Google is constantly pushing out minor tweaks to it’s search algorithm.
And not just machine learning, Google is also heavily experimenting with the behavior of humans and how their eyeballs react to the design changes. They introduced a related search feature at the bottom, removed the I am feeling lucky button from the middle and changed the header by introducing a black navigational bar at the top.
With so many design and usability changes in such a short span of time, it is evident that Google is constantly experimenting the overall usability and quality factor of search results.
More information regarding author results on Google search is available on this webmaster tools help page