Today’s post may seem like an under the hood, techie kind of tip, and it is that, but it also outlines something content producers and bloggers need to be aware of.

In an effort to place more emphasis on the original authors of content and perhaps further eliminate duplicate content, Google has begun placing great emphasis on an anchor text attribute – rel=”author”

An anchor text attribute is just more information contained in the HMTL code of a link. In this case the use of the author attribute in conjunction with content, such as a blog post, signals search spiders that this is the original author.

So a link to my about us page with attribute would look like this:
a href="" rel="author"John Jantsch

The reward for using this attribute has started showing up in search results with the image of the author placed to the right of the results in a growing number of instances. The Google author program kicked off formally a while back with a limited number of well-know bloggers and journalists and is slowly rolling out to others. (Here’s the official Google announcement)

The images Google is showing next to the selected articles are drawn from Google Plus profiles and link back to the author’s profile page. Some people have noted, incorrectly that this is a further extension of active Google+ users into the search results. The author program was actually in place prior to Google Plus and drew originally on the old Google personal profiles. In fact, some of the higher profile authors chosen have very limited Google+ activity.

author highlighting with rel author

Going forward a Google+ account and profile will be part of the deal for those that want to have their images included on original content, but use of the rel=”author” attribute in a very specific fashion is what will ultimately get your content chosen.

The video below, featuring Google spokesperson Matt Cutts, outlines the path Google hopes you’ll take to include the rel=author attribute.

Basically here are the steps:

  • You need to have a link on every page of content that points to the author’s about me page, on the same domain, using the author attribute in the link.
  • The author’s about me page should also point to their Google+ profile.
  • To close the loop, the author’s Google+ profile should point to the author’s about me page.

How to get the author attribute in your links

  1. Go back and put a byline on all pages with articles and add the link to your about me page
  2. Read more about various ways to implement from Google help
  3. On WordPress blogs – you have plug in options, but my advice is start with this post on author highlight from Yoast
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John Jantsch

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.
  • Thank you John for this very valuable information!

    • You bet, hope you get to put it to work

  • Thanks, John.  This is very helpful information and the idea behind it makes a ton of sense.  Paul

  • venajensen

    This is GREAT info, thanks!

  • This could give a significant CTR boost on the SERPs. Useful post. 

  • Great info! Thanks for sharing this

  • This is really showing how Google plans on impacting the world wide web. I doubt this will have any SEO benefit for the time being? But do you think this may change in time? The +1’s already playing a bigger role in SEO and this kind of convergence with G+ profiles and web content is seemingly not far away from taking over the web. I think Google will know the quest for SEO is on everyone’s minds and as they are the holders to that, they will undoubtedly make SEO benefits from interlinking your G+ account to every aspect of your online presence. Google certainly have a great deal of leverage over the users and consumers…

    • I think it’s the credibility boost that an author gets that has immediate impact – if you’re looking for an answer and one article has this feature and another does not, my guess is people will opt to read the one with the author profile first.

  • The Senior List

    Excellent info on author highlighting. Thx guys!