Turn on Google, do a search, and you’ll notice something. Instead of the blue-underlined, fully-text-based results page you’re used to, some links have pictures below them. There are bylines, and those bylines even have their own links.
What you’re seeing is a website using the rel=author markup. Introduced in 2011, this was created as part of Google’s Authorship program wherein the company gives proper credit to online writers via its authentication method. This gives writers of original work more ownership over their content, and increases their search engine ranking. It’s also Google’s way of making searches more social-media friendly, as it makes use of your Google+ account to share information.
Despite the length of time since the rel=author markup was released, it doesn’t show up all that much. But this is to your advantage.
Here are 5 reasons why you should get the trend going for rel=author usage:
1. Visibility. Using the rel=author markup allows you to display your name and your image on your content right away. And by clicking on your name, readers can be transported to your Google+ profile where they can find your bio, posts related to the subject, and even all previous content you’ve written. They can even see how others have responded to your content. Google has even sweetened the deal by prioritizing content that has author verification via rel=author in search engine results. This gives you a great deal of exposure to new audiences.
2. Uniqueness. Using rel=author has resulted in increased clickthrough rates for many who have used it. This is because your search result will be different from others who are not using the markup, and people tend to notice what stands out. With the option of using an avatar, you can take the opportunity to express more of who you are in your picture, and “brand” your work. And with the link to your Google+ account and bio, here is where you can maximize the power of social media in helping your content to pop. Remember, readers will pay more heed to content that has a name and a face to go with it.
3. Credibility. With rel=author, you’re assuring your readers that your site is reliable and safe, and that your content can be trusted. Because when you enter Google’s authorship program, you are signifying to the world that you have been checked out, you’re legit, and you’re authenticated with Google’s seal of approval. This increases the chance that new readers will visit your site. At the same time, you’re also showing users through your Google+ profile that this is you, this is what you’ve done already so far, and this will help convince them that you do know what you’re doing.
4. User-friendliness. If rel=author’s sophistication makes it look difficult to install, looks are deceiving. It is actually very easy to use, and there are two ways to use it. The first is to simply submit a valid e-mail address that is on the same domain as your site to Google. It will immediately appear on your profile’s Work section, and the public link to your profile will come out. The second method is for when you don’t have an e-mail address on the same domain. Simply use the linking code <a href=”[Google + profile URL]?rel=author”>Google</a> on your post, then link back to your post on your Google+ account by editing the ‘Contributor To’ section on your profile, clicking ‘Add Custom Link’, and inputting your site’s URL. Give it one or two days, then the link will be active. You can even choose to test if the link works via Google’s Rich Snippets Tool by entering your URL and hitting Preview.
5. Dynamic usability. The use of rel=author isn’t just limited to authors who have their own site. Even those who are just guest-blogging or are part of multiple-author sites can place their personal stamp on their content with the markup. All you need to do is change rel=”author” to rel=”me” in order to link to the right author bio, then on your individual bio, link your author name to your Google+ account, using rel=”author” again in the code. This option allows a guest blogger or an individual writer to be recognized for his/her own content, giving him/her a distinct identity and voice.
What else are you waiting for? Put yourself out there, stick out like a good sore thumb, and boost your SEO performance by using rel=author today.
Celina Conner is a Yoga Instructor, an alumna of Business Management at Martin College Australia and a mother of a beautiful daughter, Krizia. She has a passion in cooking and formulating vegan recipes. Follow her adventures on her Twitter.