Not-So Basic Questions About the Rel=Author Tag and Google Authorship

Search Engine OptimizationIf you keep up to date with all things search optimization (like you should be!), you know that the rel=author tag is really important for establishing yourself as an authority in Google search results. Declaring authorship presents the articles you write in the search results with your photo positioned next to them. This makes your content stand out and makes you really look like an authority. Not only does this make individual articles stand out–it also makes it so when people click on your byline, they’re presented with a full list of your articles.

But beyond this basic info about this aspect of search optimization, you might have some questions about how rel=author works.

What if I don’t want my photo to appear in results? What if I want a logo instead?

Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do about this. Authorship requires that a photo of a real person be featured. Google pulls your profile photo from Google+ and they only allow photos of people there, not logos. And since you can’t attribute authorship to a Google+ page as of yet, you’re stuck with a photo of a real person at this point.

Can any page have authorship attributed to it?

In theory, yes. If you place the rel=author tag on a page, it should show up in the search results with your photo next to it. However, it should only be featured on pages that you actually wrote and that contain a clear byline. Forum posts don’t seem to work as authorship can’t be clearly attributed for this type of search optimization.

What if more than one person worked on an article?

Unfortunately, only one person can be attributed with authorship at this point. However, there are likely to be updates in the future that allow searchers to see multiple authors if need be.

What if I don’t want authorship?

If you don’t want your photo to appear next to an article you wrote in the search results, don’t add the markup to the page and/or make it so your Google+ profile isn’t discoverable in search results.

How is rel=author different from rel=publisher?

Rel=author is how you connect a specific page you wrote to your Google+ profile, regardless of what website it appears on. Rel=publisher allows businesses to connect a website with a Google+ Page. Both are essential for proper search optimization.

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