Recently Google Webmaster tools was updated with a new look and feel as well as new Webmaster options. As part of that update I have noticed that authorship and site publisher links between your Web presence and Google+ have gained importance.
The Google Structured Data Testing Tool gives Webmasters a quick and easy way to check if the link between their blog site and Google is properly configured. In my case I had authorship properly set up, but had not even heard of establishing a publisher link.
After a bit of investigation, it’s clearer to me what authorship and publisher mean to Google.
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Authorship is a way for Webmasters to connect their articles and unique content to their Google+ profiles in order to tell Google that they have ownership of the content. This may help Google fight content scrapers which currently is a major problem. An extra bonus is that claiming authorship will show your Google+ picture in search results beside your Web site when people search for your content.
The basic concept of authorship is that you set up your Web site so that each of your content articles contain a hyperlink containing the attribute rel=”author” back to your Google+ profile. Then you add a link back your Website in your Google+ profile. Alternately you can use an email method to claim authorship, but I can’t speak for this since I haven’t tried claiming authorship this way.
You can set up authorship on your own domain or even on a site you don’t own, but where you have contributed content. So for example you can claim authorship on a guest post you have made.
Properly setting up authorship with Google is relatively straightforward in theory but can get confusing in practice. If you are looking for in-depth instructions, then here is a link to Google’s step-by-step guide to setting up authorship.
Setting yourself up as a publisher of a site means claiming ownership of the site itself. Google wants you to do so by linking your Google+ Page with your Web site’s home page. Just to re-hash, this means that Google does not want or need you to link each article on your site, just your site’s main page. If you’re not sure about how to set up a Page in Google+, here are Google’s instructions.
I’m still not quite sure of the benefits of claiming to be a site publisher, but in the interest of thoroughness I have done so with my site. Google mentions it might be useful for something they call Direct Connect, but from what I understand this just means that people can find your site in Google search by putting a plus sign in front of your brand. This might be useful for major brands such as Dell. I think the primary advantage of linking your site to a G+ page is that your page/site details will appear as an information blurb on the top right side of search results done for your brand.
A final advantage is that Google search will try to use publisher information for your site to match your specialities from authorship with the interests of searchers via their authorship. Seems interesting, but I’m not sure how far along they are in implementing this. Authorship and author profile will continue to become growing factors in search relevancy, so this is something to consider.
To claim site publisher status, you’ll need to own a Google+ Page. In your page you’ll need to register your Web site’s address in your page profile. Once you’ve done this, you can link to your Google+ Page from your site with a hyperlink that also contains the attribute rel=”publisher”. Again, this seems quite straightforward, and for more detailed instructions, point your browser to Google’s detailed instruction page.
Properly configuring Google Authorship and site Publisher status used to be more confusing before Google came out with their Structured Data Testing Tool. Now that I’m able to use Google’s tool to immediately test the results of adding the necessary rel=”author” and rel=”publisher” hyperlinks, it’s become much easier to properly configure your site for Google.
If you are running on a hosted blogging platform such as WordPress.com, then you’ll need to add a text widget to your menu bar into which you can put your hyperlinks. If you own your own server, then adding the links shouldn’t be a problem.
As to the markup, on your main page you’ll want to add both the author and publisher hyperlinks as follows:
<a href="http://plus.google.com/[Your Google+ Id number]" rel="author">My Authorship on Google+</a> <a href="https://plus.google.com/[Your Google+ Page Id number]" rel="publisher">Find me on Google+</a>
Then on all of your content pages, include just the authorship markup:
<a href="http://plus.google.com/[Your Google+ Id number]" rel="author">My Authorship on Google+</a>
Once you have this in place, test your markup in Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. Make sure to test both your site’s home page as well as one of your content pages. The testing tool has a section for authorship and for site publisher. If you added your markup correctly, then you should see both working properly.