Google AuthorRank is going to become a deciding factor in search engine optimization, as well as personal branding. As we’ve discussed recently, Google seems to be setting itself up to use AuthorRank as a ranking factor, although no one is sure when that will happen. (A couple people I’ve talked to think they already have).
How do you set up for AuthorRank? Do you have to do anything special? Or is it all done for you?
First, you don’t actually need to do anything for AuthorRank. That’s the name of the signal Google is using, like PageRank. It’s their assessment for your page, or your name. And they’ll most likely keep the actual ranking number a secret.
While you can’t set up your AuthorRank, what you can do is start using the rel=”author” tag in your blog posts so when they launch the algorithm, you’ll be ready.
Here’s what you need to do:
1. Set Up Your Google+ Account
(If you’re setting up your Gmail for the first time, just remember this is going to be your identity and your legacy email that goes with you wherever you go, even if you move across the country and change cable systems (i.e. and lose your cable-provided email address). So don’t pick something stupid like HotCougar68 as your Gmail address. You’ll kick yourself if you ever have to use your Gmail in a professional manner.)
2. Fill Out Your Google+ Profile
This means filling out everything — past workplaces, education. Everything. Anything that Google could find and associate you with elsewhere.
Your photo needs to be a real photo, not you with a friend, your dog, your kid, or even you as a kid. Remember, this is the photo that will be shown when your name appears in a Google search. So a backlit photo of you standing on the beach at sunset from 200 yards away is not a good idea.
Add your other social network profiles too. Keep in mind that these are public, and anyone who’s looking at them can find you through your Google+ profile. So if you have a secret personal account you don’t want anyone to know about, don’t include it. Otherwise, include as much as you can.
3. Fill Out the “Contributor To” Section With All Blogs
This is where you tell Google where your work can be found. Your blog(s), your website, anywhere your written content appears. Even if you wrote a guest post for a blog a year or two ago, include it.
4. Include Any Email Addresses Associated With Your “Contributor To” Links
This will help Google+ verify that you really are the author of the pieces you listed on the actual blog. For example, this particular blog post is published on the problogservice.com blog. In order to get Google to recognize that I’m the author, I had to include my problogservice.com email address.
5. Update Your Blog’s Bio With Your rel=”author” Tag
First, copy the URL of your Google+ profile. It may include the word “posts” or “about” at the end. I recommend leaving the word “about,” because that takes people directly to your Google+ profile. The “posts” at the end takes them to your timeline.
You’ll end up with something like this:
You can go to Bitly.com to shorten your Google+ URL. That way, you can track whether it got clicked on. And you can even customize it so you know it, and can type it from memory (mine is bit.ly/erik-plus, because I’m a bit of an egotist).
Next, go into your blog’s bio and add the following code:
<a href=”Your Google+ URL” rel=”author”>Your Name</a>
When you’re done, it will look like this:
You just told Google, “I wrote this! And to prove it, I can be found at this Google+ profile.”
Google will then go check, see that you listed this particular blog in your “Contributor To” section, and say “VOILA! We have an Author!” And the circle will be complete.
Then when that particular post shows up in a Google search, it will have your name and smiling face right next to it, so everyone knows it’s yours.
6. WordPress Users Get the AuthorSure Plugin
One thing I don’t like about the self-hosted WordPress platform is that it strips out the rel=”author” tags from the user bios. It doesn’t matter how many times you try, they remove it every time. So download the AuthorSure plugin to your WordPress blog. This will keep the rel=”author”, rel=”me”, and rel=publisher tags intact, and working properly.
7. What Do Those Other rel Tags Mean?
You should use rel=”me” when your name appears in a blog post or article, but you’re not the author. This is especially useful for speaker bios on someone else’s page. When you submit a bio to be published elsewhere, hyperlink your name to your Google+ profile, and use the rel=”me” tag, so Google recognizes that it’s you, but doesn’t think you wrote that particular page.
The rel=”publisher”, according to Google’s Webmaster Help, “. . . tells Google that the Google+ page represents the publisher of the site, and makes your site eligible for Google Direct Connect.” In other words, it’s useful for companies and brands that are publishing their website. Link the company name to its Google+ page.
Setting up your Google Author profile does two very important things for you:
1) It tells Google who you are, so if you’ve written something that shows up in a search, your name and picture will be highlighted, and will appear next to the entry. That’s great for personal branding.
2) When people do a search, Google assumes your Google+ friends will want to read your stuff. That means, the bigger your Google+ network, the more people Google can/will show your content to.