Google Authorship Guide – How To Get Your Picture In Search Results


Google Authorship

In the last few weeks, I have had quite a few people ask me about ‘Google Authorship’ and how they can set it up on their own site.  Therefore I thought it time to put a post together to try and answer those questions and help you to set it up for your own site.

What Is Google Authorship?

When you have been searching for content on Google, have you noticed that some results have portrait pictures next to them?

Google Authorship

An example of what your search results will look like in Google SERPs

This is Google Authorship!  This means that an author has claimed a piece of content online as their own work.  Usually this is when they have posted on their own website, but it can also be used to verify content that you have posted on other sites as a guest post.

What Are The Benefits?

So, what are the benefits of doing this, I hear you ask.  Well there are a number of benefits to setting this up;

  1. Boost your reputation
  2. Higher click-through rate

Boost Your Reputation

The more articles you post, the more your author image will appear in the SERPs.  This means that you will start to build up a reputation online, as people will begin to recognise your picture.

You can also use your “authorship” to link to other content that you have posted online.  This means that you can use the same authorship if you set-up another website or post on other peoples sites as a guest post.

Higher Click-Through Rates

Having a simple author picture next to your search results can actually improve your click-through rate.  People seem to be more willing to click onto site that use the Google Authorship, so it is in your interest to implement it.

You can actually see your author stats in your Google Webmaster Tools account, where you will be able to see how many times your content has been shown to people, how many clicks it has got, it’s average position in the Google SERPs and your overall click-through rate.

Google Authorship

How Do I Sign-Up?

It’s actually pretty straight forward to setting up your own Google Authorship, just follow these easy steps;

1. Sign Up To Google+ – If you haven’t already done so yet, go and sign-up for your own Google+ account and set up your profile.  (Once you have, feel free to say hi!)

2. Upload Your Photo – You need to make sure that you upload a photo of yourself to your profile.  Google only allows real portrait photos of yourself for authorship, so make sure it is a good one.

3. Use Your Name – Make sure that your name appears on each page of your content (i.e. By Matt Smith)

4. Link Google+ To Your Content – You can do this in 2 different ways;

a) Verify email address – Verify you have an email address (such as on the same domain as your content.  You can verify your email here.  This will add your email address to the ‘Work’ section of your Google+ profile.<

b) Link Content To Google+ – Create a link to your Google+ profile from your webpage, like this;

<a href="[G+ PROFILE URL]?rel=author">Google+</a>

(where you replace [G+ PROFILE URL] with your own Google+ profile URL to look like this;

<a href="">Google+</a>

The key to this working is that the link contains the ?rel=author code.  Without it, Google can’t associate your content with your profile.

Lastly, add a reciprocal link back from your Google+ profile to the site you have added content to.  You do this in the ‘Contributor’ section of your profile.  Simply click ‘Add custom link’ and enter the website URL (not individual pages).

Now you should have everything set-up.  Having said that, you may have to wait a while (maybe a day or two) for your image to start appearing in Google’s search results. You can check to see how your results will look by using the ‘structured data testing tool’.

Have you successfully set up and started using Google Authorship yet?  If so, did you find it straight forward to do? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

About Matt Smith

Matt Smith is the founder and editor of OnlineIncomeTeacher. He is a Professional Blogger, SEO Consultant & Web Developer, running a number of sites from the UK. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

  • Hasan Imam

    Nice post. I thought about my google authorship. Thanks for such a great tutorial.

  • Nice one for this – I was wondering if mine was set correctly….

    • Should only take a couple of days (at the most) before your author picture starts appearing in the SERPs

  • The Secret Insider

    Just the post I needed, obviously this pen name cannot have authorship but my real identity could and I had no idea how to do that. I will be bookmarking this page to come back to it when I am ready, which hopefully shouldn’t be long from now. Anyway, I shall share this, it is worth spreading so others can do it.

    • That’s a good point actually. I hadn’t thought about anonymous like yourself, as Google only allows real photos of people. It’s a shame, as it would have been good to find out who you are?!? 🙂

      Still, that’s not to stop you from using it for your real identity (Clark Kent) in your everyday role.

      Hope the post helps and let me know if you get stuck.

  • gregjeffries

    Awesome. Thanks for the Google Authorship tips. Just recently heard about it but didn’t really know how to go about setting it up.

    • No problem Greg! Seems like a lot of people are trying to get this sorted out for their own sites at the moment. Hope the post helps (and if not, let me know). 🙂

  • Andi Leeman

    I was one of those people asking for this information… A very valuable post Matt thanks.

    Google authorship sounds great, when people search for things and posts appear in the search results your face will be recognised and that is simply awesome for branding and confidence building. The more times your face is seen and by more people you are gaining a reputation and becoming noticed.

    This is exactly what we want, a great way to become that ‘go to expert’. Will share this post a few times, this is information bloggers and writers need.

    • Yes, you were one of the people asking for this post, as well as Clair, John & Steve from our Facebook group. I even got a couple of emails asking about this, so I know there are plenty of people out there that are interested in this.

      I have to admit, the first time I heard about Google Authorship, I didn’t think it was a good idea. Why would your face have any impact on click-through rates?

      But when you think about it, it makes quite a lot of sense. People will start to recognise you, (hopefully) as someone that produces quality content that they want to read. It’s actually a very smart idea by Google as it forces people to produce quality posts AND helps to promote Google+

      Over the next couple of years, I think this could start to dint Facebook’s monopoly on social media, as Google as smartly tied G+ and their search engine together.

  • Hi Lionel,

    Yes, I’d noticed the authorship element on the ‘WordPress SEO by Yoast’ plugin, though I thought I’d better tell people about the other way of doing it.

    The only risk of doing authorship with a plugin is that you have to stick with that plugin for life. Were something to happen to the Yoast plugin, or you decided to try a different SEO plugin, you would lose all your authorship information.

    At least this way, you know that your author information is safe as it is directly on your posts & pages.

    • Hi Matt,

      Yes that’s true, have to stick with that plugin now

      Anyway, I also input rel=author in Genesis child theme

      • That’s a good way of making sure nothing goes wrong. At least now, if you change the plugin in the future, you will not be affected. Similarly, if you change your WordPress theme, you still have the info on the Yoast plugin.

        Just remember not to get rid of both at the same time 🙂

  • Clair Trebes

    Matt …. I really want to set this up … but I just can’t seem to get my head around how to do it 🙁

    • Hi Clair!

      Right, well I know that you already have your own Google+ page, so you are already half way there.

      Next, you need to make sure that your name is on each of your posts (i.e. By Clair Trebes). This usually automatically appears at the top of your posts, which links to all the posts that author has written.

      Now, you need to link your G+ profile link to your content. You do this either by verifying your email address (link is in post above) OR by including the piece of code on your pages. I ended up doing both just to make sure.

      Adding the code is a lot easier than you may think. I placed it in two places here on the site. One on my ‘about’ page and the other in my ‘Author Box’ which appears under each of my posts (hover over the ‘Google+’ link that I added).

      Last but not least, you need to place a link on your Google+ profile (on your ‘about’ page) back to your site. You do this by adding your blog URL to the ‘Contributor’ section of your profile.

      That’s it! Basically, you are linking G+ to your blog and your blog to your G+ profile. The two way link allows Google to identify that you have produced the content, therefore showing your pic in the search results.

      Hope that helps Clair. Let me know if you are still having problems and I will try to sort it out for you.

      • Clair Trebes

        I think I am just being REALLY thick here ….

        Do i just add my name to all the posts?

        I dont understand about adding some code to my pages either? Like how – just copy and paste it in anywhere?

        I’ve verified my G+ account with email address etc and the contributor bit … but basically everything you’ve written above goes WAY over my head … (this is my dyslexia curse hitting me again, sometimes I struggle to understand basic logical instructions)

        I just can’t get my head around it!!! GRRRRRRRR

        • Don’t worry about it Clair, I found this hard to understand initially. From what you have said, you have probably set everything up already. You may just have to wait a couple of days for your pic to appear in the SERPs.

          If you still want to add the code, add this link to each of your posts (This is YOUR unique link):

          Clair Trebes

          An easy way is to just add the link in your author box. That way, the link will appear on each of your posts straight away.

          • Clair Trebes

            I am going to email you, because that still isn’t registering in my brain! 🙁

  • Glen Michael

    Hi Matt

    Great post!

    I’m having trouble and wondered if anybody would be so kind as to tell me where I’m being stupid…

    I setup this Google Authorship about 4 weeks ago for my blog. I followed the steps and have my name and author bio on the blog, I have Google+ with the link back in the Contributer section, it’s verified and works in the Structured Data Testing Tool… However when I do a search and find my blog in the results, there’s no authorship data.

    Is there anything I can check???


    • Hi Glen,

      Well that’s strange?!?! If it shows up in the data testing tool, then it should show up in the search results.

      You have verified your email?

      Have you added the code that I mentioned to each of your pages?

      • Thanks for the reply Matt,

        I believe my email is already verified because it’s already in the Work section of my Profile. I have a Google Authorship Widget on the site but have added the code you provided for good measure 😉

        Better give it a day or two to kick in.

        Thanks again.

        • Hi Glen!

          Yes, it can take a few days for your authorship to kick in once it’s been set up. Remember to use the ‘data testing’ tool (link in post above) to check everything is working.

  • I think….I hope I have done this right! I added the link and updated my profile. I am not so good with all this technical stuff, so maybe if I havnt seen my face in google search results in a few days, Ill let you know as maybe I did something wrong! Never thought would be wanting to see my face pop up in google!!!

    • I know what you mean. Didn’t think I would want my face appearing on Google either. 🙂

      I’m sure, if you have followed the above tips, that you will have done this right. It can take a few days for Google to sort it out though, but once they have you should be fine. Remember to use the ‘data testing’ tool (link in article) to check if it’s working properly.

      If not, just let me know and I will help you sort it out.

      • Hi Matt. I have not noticed any update with this yet….not sure if I have not waited long enough? I tried the data testing tool, but ti stated that the service is currently unavailable!

        • Hi Catherine!

          I checked your site and I think I know why your picture hasn’t started appearing yet. You need to add the code (mentioned in the post) to each of your posts.

          An easy way to do this would be to add it in your sidebar, so that it is displayed on each of your pages. You need this link on your site to “connect” with your G+ profile. I think once you have done that, your pic will start to appear.

  • Hi Matt,

    How will AuthorRank get me more traffic, and convert it into subscribers?

    This is the really important stuff :). I mean, okay, so I get to claim all my content, get my face into the search results, but how does this get me more traffic?



    • Hi Tom,

      Great question. Well, by getting your image into the Google SERPs, next to your post, people will begin to recognize you. As people read your content and like what you are providing to them, they will be more inclined to click on your future posts when they see you.

      It’s also been shown that results that have authorship markup (picture next to their post in SERPs) are clicked on more frequently than results without it. People trust content more when their is a face, a real person, behind that article.

      The fact that authorship also lists how many people are following you in Google+ also helps. Obviously, the more people that are following you, the more likely it is that that person has something worthwhile to read.

      At the end of the day, the most important reason to implement authorship is because Google is pushing it. They are starting to put more emphasis on posts that use authorship, which makes it pretty important in the near future.

      Whilst I remember, I am going back through my site and setting up proper accounts for guest authors that have written on my site. Here is your official page:

  • Catherine Holt

    Hi Matt

    I have followed these steps and when I have clicked the structured data testing pool but my photo still doesn’t show. Does this mean I have set it up wrong? A preview comes up, just missing my picture.

    • Hi Catherine,

      You’ve just set-up your account again though haven’t you? You may need to give it a few days for it to re-appear.

      • Catherine Holt

        It’s been a week and its still not working ;0( I put the google+ link on my about page only. iI this right or should I have put it under every post I do?

        • Hi Catherine,

          Just checked your site and I can see where you are going wrong. I will send you an email (bit too long to leave here in a comment).

          • Catherine Holt

            Thanks so much for your help Matt!

          • Always a pleasure 🙂

          • shayeryan

            I would be interested to know what the resolution was here. I’m having the same issue where you can see my name “By Shaye Bigelow” but my image does not show up. I’ve used the data structure tool and I’m passing.

          • Hi,

            If the data structure tool says that you are passing, then you may have to get in touch with Google. The only other thing is to give it some time, I remember mine took a few days before mine started showing.

            Also, try checking for your content in other browsers. Mine sometimes doesn’t show up on Google chrome, but when I check on Firefox or Opera it shows up fine. May be because I’m signed in on Chrome, though not sure why that would be.

          • shayeryan

            Thanks Matt, I’ll have to reach out and see what they have to say. Thanks for the great post.

          • No problem. Sorry I couldn’t be more help though.


    Just what i needed to learn this week, thanks Matt!

    • No problem Robert! Authorship looks set to become more important over the coming years, so best to get it up and running for your site ASAP

  • Hannah Hill

    Hi Matt,

    I set up Google Authorship a few months back, but my picture is still not appearing in Google search results, even though it appears when I verify using Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. Do you have any idea why this might be happening?

    Thanks for your help.

    • Hi Hannah,

      That is very strange?!? If it appears in the structured data testing tool, then it should appear in the search results.

      Try using a different browser, one where you aren’t logged into Google. I sometimes do this to check that I’m appearing.

      If you are still not showing up, then you may have to get in touch with someone from Google. If you have followed all the steps properly, then it’s probably a problem their end.

  • alexwhalley

    your html code could use some cleaning up – it is not necessary to add the anchor text of ‘Google’ as you will end up having the word appear in your header.

    This line

    should suffice – anywhere between the header tags on your site.

    ALso to note- if you install or are already using SEO Yoast plugin then you can simply enter your Google Profile ID into the settings provided.

    And again, same with Thesis theme – you can add your code to the theme template widget, no coding required

    • Hi Alex,

      Do you mean that if you use the Yoast plugin, you don’t need to add the rel=”author” to your bio box?

  • I tend to fill that in for all author profiles, though I do also add the code to the author bio section manually. Shouldn’t think adding it twice would affect it though, would it?

  • Mosam Gor

    Hi Matt,

    Great Share!!

    I Verify My authorship for Single author Blog.. and it’s work Perfectly :).. But Please can you tell Me How to Verify Google Authorship For Multiple author Blog??? ASAP! Thank you


  • xevoke

    very nice tips to suggest that how well show web search on google through google plus accout or as an authorship style ,it’s a to get power linked formate in structured.