What is Google Authorship and how does it work?

Written by stephen byron cooper Google
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What is Google Authorship and how does it work?
Google Authorship will change search rankings. (Getty editorial images)

Google launched its “Authorship” program in June 2011. This was a technical change to the search engine’s display of search results that has profound effects for those who write on the Internet. Google introduced this system, not only as a method of displaying more information, but also as a way to refine its ranking algorithm.


When you do a search in Google, the engine returns a list of links that match the search terms. Each link is followed by a brief description of the page to which it points. Since implementing the author format, Google now shows the author’s picture to the left of the link’s description. The author’s name also appears before all information in the description.


Google intends to reduce the incentive for anonymous posts on the World Wide Web and wants to push those entries further down the search results. Google’s web crawler picks up comments in forums and anonymous posts, which are more likely to be defamatory, or factually incorrect. Google needs a way to recognise authored content and improve its visibility. Google Authorship enables the search engine to verify that a text was written by a registered author who is a verified, traceable human being. Maintaining an author’s contact details on file also gives Google further options to communicate with authors in the future.


Authors will only get this service from Google, highlighting their work, if they are registered members of Google+. Simply mentioning their work in a Google+ profile does not grant the writer this treatment. The profile has to include a headshot as its principal photo and the writer needs to enter in some details of work in the profile’s pages. This involves putting the home URL of the sites you write for in the “Contributes To” section of the profile. Each article must have a byline, which must match the name in the author's profile.


The Google Authorship program requires that the email address associated with the profile is on the domain of the site you write for. For example, if you write for www.writersplace.co.uk your email address must end with “@writersplace.co.uk.” However, if it does not, you can still link your work to your profile by using the email verification form on the Google+ Authorship page.

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