If you have used Google lately (and seriously, who hasn’t) you have probably noticed that there are some search results that have a picture of the author and a by line show up. When I first saw these results, I thought that they were pretty cool, but that was about it. I didn’t think that it was something worth looking into. But, I have rethought that a little bit (and some new studies show the value of the pictures in the search results too). I now definitely recommend setting up your Google Authorship so that your picture shows up in the search results.
So What Has Changed?
First, the picture has gotten bigger. When the pictures first started showing up, they were about half of the size that they are now. The bigger pictures make a much bigger impact than the old, smaller images. Also, Google+ has become a lot more powerful in the SEO world (it’s owned by Google, how could it not?). But the most powerful thing are the studies that I have seen showing how those pictures influence searchers’ behavior. One study (you can see it here) that I saw was an eye tracking study. They took a look at where peoples’ eyes were drawn on a Google search. They found that the author picture was very powerful in pulling a searcher’s eyes. Even if it was the fourth or fifth result on the page, having a picture next to the result meant that searchers spent more time looking at that result than the others.
I know, you are probably saying, “who cares how long someone looks at a result?” And you are right. That doesn’t really matter. It just shows that results with an author’s picture get more attention than those that do not. But another study measured the click through rate and found that things have changed dramatically. It used to be that the first three search results would get almost all of the attention and almost all of the clicks. But now, that just isn’t the case any more. You need to do what you can to make your listing stand out.
The second thing that has changed my opinion is the fact that I want to be seen as the expert in my industry (you should too – check out the New Year’s Resolution Episode of Two Cans TV). I want people to identify me with my content. The old adage that “people buy from people” is true, and this is one of the ways to do that in the internet age. I want to develop the trust of my readers and be seen as an authority in their eyes. And I know that seeing my picture in the search results will not do that on its own, as a part of an overall strategy it can definitely help.
So How Do You Get Your Picture To Show Up?
Luckily, it really isn’t that hard. It is just a matter of getting everything set up right. I’ll walk you through the steps and soon you see your face smiling back at you when you search for your content.
Step 1 – Get A Google+ Account
Of course, most people already have one, but if you do not have a Google account, you need to sign up for one. If you already have a Google account (YouTube, gmail, Google Analytics, etc.) then it is just a couple of extra clicks to set up your Google+ account. Keep in mind that you must use a picture of your face as your profile picture if you want it to show up in the search results. Your picture needs to be at least 250 pixels by 250 pixels and that it will be displayed as a square, so choose a picture that will look good as a square!
Step 2 – Link To Your Content From Your Google+ Profile
In order to get your content to show up, you must link to it from your Google+ profile (follow this link to get there if you are signed into your google account).
- From here, click on the Home drop down menu on the top left and select profile.
- From your profile, click on the About button on the left of the menu right under your cover photo.
- On your About page, scroll down to the links section and click the blue edit link at the bottom left of the box.
- Under the Contributor to section, click add custom link.
- Enter the name of your site/company into the Label box and the URL of your homepage into the URL box, make sure current contributor is selected and hit save.
Step 3 – Verify Your Email Address With Google+
One last thing that you have to do in your Google+ profile is to verify an email address on your domain (it needs to be firstname.lastname@example.org) to let Google know that you own the website and have the authority to add your author information to the site (if you do not have an email address @yoursite.com and you cannot create one, there is an alternate way to do it – you can see how to do it here.)
- Access the About page of your profile as in the above step.
- Scroll down to Contact Information (towards the bottom on the left) and click the blue Edit.
- In the work section, enter your email address and click Save.
- Click the blue Verify link next to your email address.
- Check your email box and follow the instructions.
Step 4 – Link To Your Google+ Profile From Your Site
I like to keep things simple. Most websites have a copyright section at the bottom. You can link to your Google+profile from that section of the footer. Your link will look something like this (make sure to replace the number with the number that shows up in the address bar of your browser when you are looking at your profile) –
<a href=”https://plus.google.com/123456789012345678901/posts?rel=author”>Your Name</a>
Adding this to your site footer will make sure that Google knows that every page of your blog goes with your author profile.
Step 5 – Check To Make Sure It Works
Google has a Rich Snippet Checker to make sure that you have done everything right. You can find it here – http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/richsnippets
Just enter your domain name (include the http://) and click preview. If you’ve done everything right, it will look something like this.
Step 6 – Wait…
In a perfect world, your picture would start showing up instantly in the search results. Unfortunately, this is not a perfect world. In some cases, your author picture will start showing up in the search results in as little as 6 days. In other cases, it can take weeks or even months.
Have questions? Ask in the comments! And when you set up your authorship, please keep track of how long it takes to start showing up in the search results and let me know! I’m always curious how long it is taking other people to start showing up.