Everything you need to know about rel="author"

by Leo Dimilo September 19th, 2011 

The rel="author" markup centralizes all the articles that you have written that are scattered across the internet into one place.

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Unless you know HTML and understand SEO, you probably don't know much about the rel= "author" tag. In this article, I am going to give you everything you need to know about the tag including what it is, why it is important and the possible future scenarios in which this tag will be used to enhance your personal "brand" (meaning you) know matter where you write. This is especially important if you are involved in content marketing and are trying to make a name for yourself.

For the person who doesn't know HTML, the rel="author"/rel="me" is nothing more than mark up language that helps the search engines define who the author is. I will give examples later in this article to illustrate the "look" of it.

Before I get into what it looks like and how to apply the mark up language, I want to help you understand why you should even care. Let's pretend that you are an expert on parenting and have written articles for a variety of websites on the subject.

Before the rel="author" tag, the articles you wrote on the web were fragmented and disjointed, with no centralized place to establish that all the articles you wrote came from YOU.

The result was you could very well be an expert in the field but beyond your own website, there wasn't a way for the search engines to connect the dots of all the various places that you wrote for.

The rel="author" markup centralizes all the articles that you have written that are scattered across the internet into one place.

That centralized place is your google profile. (we will get into that when we explore the "how's")

Why should this matter?

There are a couple reasons why this should matter. The first reason is that when you successfully implement the mark up language, whenever someone uses search and you happen to be in the results, your profile picture could be right next to your article which may raise the chances of a click through visit.

Another reason why it should matter to you is that by verifying that you are the original author of a page, you will more likely be credited as the author. This is important when you start to consider all the websites that currently like to curate content found on the web and do so in a not so nice manner (by scraping and not giving attribution). In essence, you would be giving your content a leg up from being stolen and ranking ahead of you in the search engine rankings.

The biggest reason is what could happen in the future. Some have theorized that in the future, Google could assign a ranking value to your google profile that could boost your individual articles up .

Author profiling, the author tags that Google is using, they might be asking is this person an authority? If Rand Fishkin links to you with anchor text about SEO, Google may in the future decide Rand Fishkin is an expert about SEO. That link is so much more important then Joe Schmoe SEO because they know his author profile.

-Source: SEOMoz

In other words, if you are aiming to be deemed an expert by the search engines, then your author profile page could be the connection between all your articles "out there" and your expertise. In essence, your expertise will follow you wherever you go on the web.

How to apply the rel="author" markup.

I have read several technical "how to's" on this subject but most would go over the heads of the people that matter most in the equation- the authors. Most require messing with .php files on your website, which for many, can be the reason why you wouldn't want to even try to add it. Fortunately, the steps are much easier to implement than us "geeks" would have you know.

If you are using this for your own website, then there are three steps.

  1. Add the mark up to your "about me" page (you do have one of those, right?) with the rel="me" tag and connect the link to your google profile. (you can include this anywhere on the page.
  2. Add the mark up to each of your articles pointing to your "about" page on your website with the rel="author" tag.
  3. Include a link to your website in your google profile (make sure to check the box that says "this page is specifically about me")

It would look like this-

  • On your about page- <a href="google-profile-url.com" rel="me">your name</a>
  • One each of your articles- <a href="yourwebsite.com/about-page" rel="author"</a>
  • On your google profile- Link to your about page (make sure to check the box that says "this page is specifically about me")

If you are writing articles for other places, the step is a 3 step process.

  1. Add the mark up to each article you wrote with the rel="author" and connect the link to your author page on the website.
  2. Add the markup on your author page with the rel="me" and connect the link to your google profile.
  3. Include the author link in your google profile.

In this case it would look like this-

  • (step 1-on the individual articles) <a rel="author" href="website-you-are-contributing-on/your-author-page">link-name</a>
  • (step 2-on the author's profile page for the website) <a rel="me" href="google-profile-url.com">your name</a>
  • (step 3-on your google profile) Link that points back to your author page.

Why Google is requiring a "profile" page.

The basic reason is that the profile page will complete the loop and verify that the article is indeed the authors. The thought process behind this is that if it isn't you, you wouldn't have access to the profile page. Obviously, there are other reasons why google would want to be included in the loop but that is another story altogether.

Summary

That is really all there is to it. There are some caveats though. If you are guest posting on other webmaster's websites, then you may have to wait until everyone catches up. This is especially true with websites that use wordpress (the platform automatically strips out certain HTML). Google is currently working with many of the more popular website platforms to automatically include the markup in the future.

Leo Dimilo

Leo Dimilo is a marketing consultant for local businesses in his area. He develops online marketing strategies to help businesses become more visible on the web. Read More Articles by Leo on Search Engine People

Leo Dimilo

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4 Responses to “Everything you need to know about rel="author"”

  1. [...] Everything you need to know about rel="author", Search Engine People [...]

  2. Great tutorial! Just regarding what you said about WordPress: it doesn't strip out the type of HTML mentioned in this post, i.e. in href links. It strips out other stuff, like iFrames.

  3. I have a problem in that Google banned me from G+ because I don't use a "real name." I'm wondering if I can benefit from rel="author" when Big G won't recognize me? Great article, Leo.

  4. Peter says:

    Hi Leo
    I had my rel-author set up correctly all my pages were indexed by Google and showed my images along side my search results.
    I decided to change my actual photo to my company logo, it worked for a while then they started to disappear from the search results,I then changed my G+ profile image back to the original photo but now only a few results show my image,did I upset Google by making that image change and will my images re appear in time?
    I have checked my urls in the rich snippet tester and they are ok for my web site and my blog