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How to Dramatically Improve Your Google Authorship

Editor’s Note: Authorship is no longer supported in web search.

Google Authorship is one of the most important features of the new era of content marketing. It’s an authority or trust badge that signals to search engines and readers alike that your content is trustworthy, reputable, and high-quality.

But how do you gain those trust signals that Google Authorship provides? How do you improve your authorship reputation, rise in the ranks, and gain more readers?

Thankfully, it’s possible. I know, because I’ve been able to do so myself. In this article, I’ll explain exactly how it’s done.

By following these step-by-step instructions, you will be able to

  • Enhance your content marketing. Fundamental to content marketing is content authorship. And the name of the game in authorship is Google Authorship. If you really want to improve your content marketing, it’s necessary to improve your Google Authorship.
  • Improve clickthroughs on your content. Google SERPs display your author profile next to content for which you write. Having your image in the search results improves the click-through rate (CTR) on your articles. In the screenshot below, you’ll see that I rank number one for the query “what type of content gets shared the most on twitter.” Out of the hundreds of millions of results, only my picture appears (at least for all the pages I checked). This means that CTRs on my Quicksprout article will be many times higher than any other result on this page — all because my authorship is in play.
  • 1-what-type-of-content

  • Increase your SEO. Studies on Google+ have concluded that Google Authorship has an immediate impact upon SEO. Not only will you be able to enhance personal reputation and branding, but you’ll also make valuable contributions to the SEO of your sites.

Google itself explains some of these benefits in their discussion on Google Authorship:

2 why link your content

Before you start.

This article assumes two things:

  • You’re already on Google+, and
  • You have signed up for Google Authorship. If not, please do so.

Additionally, you can check out the video on adding Google+ Authorship for more information.

Now it’s time to dramatically improve your Google Authorship.

1. Write often.

The only way to expand your Google Authorship is to expand your writing. The more you write, the more trust and authority you gain.

It’s that simple.

Here is some advice on writing often. Make sure that you write high-quality content. Don’t let quantity outweigh quality. You need to write a lot of good stuff, not a lot of crap.

I encourage aggressive content marketing — publishing awesome content as often as possible. I understand that it takes a lot of time and effort, but I’m convinced that it pays off, because I have the data to prove it.

The more content you write on the web, the more you’re going to rank in the SERPs, and get your authorship profile featured.

2. Write for a variety of sites.

Not only should you be increasing your output, but you should also be adding to the variety of sites for which you write.

I contribute content to several different sites. In addition, I’ve launched a few different companies. Because I’ve written content on these sites, I gain authorship and recognition on that website, even if I don’t own or operate the site.

Here’s an example of my Search Engine Journal author profile in the SERP:

3 neil patel at sej

But isn’t guest blogging dangerous?

As you’re probably aware, Google’s Matt Cutts recently announced the decline of spammy guest blogging. Operative word: spammy.

I’ve provided my commentary on this announcement, and I’ve explained why guest blogging is still a reputable and important way to improve your SEO.

I still encourage you to seek high quality sites where you can produce high quality content as a guest author. Here are my recommendations for guest blogging best practices:

  1. Choose sites within your niche. As an author, you should have a single area or two of expertise that you’re writing about. Stick with blogs that are firmly within your field.
  2. Choose high quality sites. Avoid posting on sites that have signs of spam, indiscriminate posting of off-topic articles, unedited content, paid link content, or material that is ad heavy.
  3. Don’t post self-promoting links. The motive behind the guest posting crackdown was to eliminate spammy attempts to add backlinks in order to manipulate the search engine. The links that you add in your article are an important SEO signal of whether your content is spammy or not. Only add links when it adds to your discussion and benefits the reader.

Guest posting is still a legitimate way of improving your authorship reputation and presence, but only if you’re playing by the rules.

3. Verify all sites for which you write.

Whenever you write for a site, you need to add it to your Google+ profile.

Here’s how.

Go to your Google+ profile.

Click on your “about” tab.

5 about button

Click “edit” under any of your information boxes.

click edit under information boxes

In the popup, navigate to “links.”

6 links

Add the URL for any site on which you have published content in your name:

7 contributor to

To add new sites, simply click “Add custom link.”

Make sure that you have these set as “public.”

Anytime you write for a new site, you should go to your Google+ profile and add it.

4. Become consistently active on Google+.

For many of us, it takes discipline to become active on Google+. For several years, we spent all our social media energy on Facebook and Twitter. Google+ joined the game a little bit late, and it’s been harder, perhaps, to get on board with it.

Because of the impact that Google+ has upon search and reputation, it’s important that you become active.

Here are some of the things that you should be doing.

  • Share content.
  • Add people to your circles.
  • Join groups.
  • Join hangouts.

Feature your most flattering picture.

Your profile photo will become your authorship photo, so use one that represents who you are. You don’t have to be good looking. You just have to use a decent photo, since it will be used in public search results.

Here’s my Google+ profile:

9 neil patel

And here’s my authorship photo. Apart from the shaped frame crop, it’s the same.

9 the advanced guide to SEO

After careful testing, Cyrus Shepard of Moz, discovered that an improved Google+ pic increased his traffic by 35%. That’s a pretty significant uptick for a seemingly small improvement. He tested quite a few photos before settling on the perfect one.

10 headshots

His conclusion was that that quality of the photo does matter. (I would argue that the photogenic quality of the photo subject is not as relevant.)

You don’t have to be good looking. You just have to, as Cyrus Shepard put it, “put your best face forward.”

5. Grow your circles.

The more people who have you in their circles, the more people will trust you.

When you have a large following, people trust you more. The number of people who have you in their circles is public information. In other words, when you see search results, you also see how popular or trustworthy the author is.

Check out this screenshot:

11 pointers

Based on this SERP alone, I know that Barry, Cyrus, and Mark have significant followings.

Therefore, I am more likely to click on their articles. The following of Brian Jensen is not displayed, the following of Sean Patrick is comparatively low, as is the following of Hendrik-Jan Francke. My attention is drawn to the three authors who have large Google+ followings, because of the number of people listed as being in their circles.

Your goal, then, is to grow your circles as large as possible. This improves how trustworthy people consider your content to be.

Add lots of people to your circles.

The more people you add to your circles, the more likely they are to add you back.

  • Unlike Twitter, there are no follow limits. You can add as many people as you want.
  • Unlike LinkedIn, you don’t have to know the people whom you add to your circles. For example, even if you don’t know Barack Obama personally, you can add him to your circles.

12 barack obama

Add famous people to your circles.

When you have a famous person in your network, Google+ reports this to people who visit your profile. Here’s what it looks like.

13 in his circles

This acquaintance of mine, let’s call her Marj, has in her circles, Larry Page, co-founder of Google. Maybe she doesn’t know him personally. It doesn’t matter.

When I look at her profile and see Larry Page, I transfer this name trust to Marj herself. My trust for Marj improves because of the recognized name that she has in her network.

It makes sense, then, to follow recognized people, not only for what you can learn from them, but because of the transfer trust that they give to you. Be aware of the influencers in your niche, and add them to your circles.

Include your Google+ profile link on email signatures and websites.

Improving your Google Authorship is marketing. You’ve got to get your name out there. Do this by adding your Google+ link on email signatures, in website “abouts,” in other social profiles, and anywhere else that it is appropriate.

6. Monitor your Google Author Stats.

One of the lab rollouts in Google Webmaster Tools is called Author Stats. Keep up with your stats so you can know how to improve your authorship.

To find your author stats, go to Webmaster Tools.

Click on Labs.

Click on Author Stats.

14 GWT Author Stats

In Author Stats, you can look at the data for the impressions and clicks on the content that you’ve created. You can find out your most popular posts, and discover how your content is being visited over time.

15 Google Webmaster Tools

Like any data research, this information helps you know what you should to do improve or enhance your authorship.

  • If you see that certain sites give you the most CTRs or impression, keep contributing there.
  • If you see that certain topics have high rates of readership, keep writing on those topics.
  • If you see your impressions trending downward, see if writing more will help pick them back up.

Becoming a Better Google Author

The key to successful authorship on the web is to improve your Google Authorship. Since its creation, Google Authorship has only been growing in influence and importance. And as you can see, it’s becoming imperative to keep your SEO efforts up to par.

Now is the time to improve your own authorship.

How are you enhancing your Google Authorship?

About the Author: Neil Patel is the cofounder of Neil Patel Digital.

  1. Rachael Hampton Apr 17, 2014 at 11:55 am

    Thxs great info on the webmasters tools.

  2. Very informative article. One thing that needs clarification though is the fact that there are follow limits. You can only add 5k people to your circles.

  3. very very informative post with awesome analysis.

  4. Great post Neil. Is there any limits on circles?


  5. I agree with you, effective increase in SEO after considering G+ authorship, but not with point to follow more people to get followed back, after some extent it doesn’t works. Morepver people can ignore you if you are following more people than followed you, or if following ratio is less.

    • Ashraf, thanks for your insights. They are spot on :) It’s about engagement more than anything else.

  6. Rupal Sathavara Apr 18, 2014 at 12:06 am

    Great post, Authorship was created with the goal of allowing writers to claim their content, as well as allowing search engine users to find more content written by the same writer.

    • Rupal, glad you liked it. I think authorship has served it’s purpose because there is more relevant content showing up on SERPs.

  7. Neil,

    You continue to deliver high-quality posts on a frequent basis. So, thank you for that.

    Google+ is amazing, so glad I got on board last year. Authorship is such a kick-ass idea, it definitely does help to separate the get-rich-quick & crappy internet marketers from the value-giving & high-quality niche leaders. People want to learn from a few thought leaders, not hundreds of copycats. Google Authorship will help to usher in this vision, I am certain of it.


    • Hazza, thanks for the kind words of support :)
      Glad I can help!
      I think Google + is definitely gaining more traction and has been for the last couple of years. Authorship is more important than ever.

  8. Fausta Germani Apr 19, 2014 at 10:24 am

    Hi Neil, I do not know if with the increase of authoship the organic ranking of the website improves in general. Thanks

    Fausta Germani

  9. Parampreet Chanana Apr 19, 2014 at 10:42 am

    Nice and detailed. I am working on all the points from now. I wanna ask one thing that, if i done all these points, will i get the photo showing in my serps?

    • Parampreet, I am sure you will. Keep doing all the right things and the results will follow :)

  10. Hi Im the manager of a transportation company name Virtual-Dispatch .
    We own about 150 websites all through out USA and Canada we are constantly working on these sites to improve the SERPs. Lately I started to write about the cities we serve and the website on this respective cities on Blogger .
    Your post will definitely add more assertiveness to our goal and also quality to our SEO ranking position thank you so much for sharing your insight.

    One question About SEO : if we share links within our own transportation sites you think it will be ok under Google SEO guidelines ??

    Thanks so much for your help.

  11. Chris @ Write House Apr 21, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    Another gold mine. Thank you

  12. Great post! Google Authorship is very important for your SEO strategies.

  13. That was interesting , detailed , good to read article. Authorship has been important and with recent increase importance to Google plus by Google in terms of SEO as well , right kind of marketing strategy will be backbone for long last good performing websites.

    • Ankit, thanks for reading and providing these great insights. I look forward to hearing more from you :)

  14. Sylvain Gauchet Apr 22, 2014 at 8:28 am

    Hi Neil,

    Thanks again for a great post. When adding the links to the blog you’ve contributed to, do you just put the domain name, the URL of the blog or the full URL of the article?


    • Slyvain, it really depends on what content I am trying to promote. Landing pages matter so it’s essential that you have the appropriate pages.

  15. Excellent article Neil – loved it- I’ll be sharing!! Thanks for your research.

  16. Abhishek Joshi Apr 23, 2014 at 1:50 am

    Thanks Neil. The elaborate post and screenshots make for an easy to follow guide.

  17. Parampreet Chanana Apr 23, 2014 at 2:49 am

    Sorry for asking the same question again, I am repeating it now – My Google Authorship showing in Google Results, my name and Circles showing them.. But my photo not showing.. So, The Question is,if i start improving my Authorship, I will get my photo back on Google Results? And any Traffic Changes?

  18. Parampreet Chanana Apr 23, 2014 at 2:51 am

    And my another Question is : I am running many niche website, with almost every category articles. How can i manage my Authorship well to get maximum benefits?

    Thank you!!

  19. Creating a strong reach is very important and this blog has some very helpful hints that I learned today. The bottom line is the MORE you SHARE the more people will know and trust you on the internet. You must make yourself known and knowledgable. Making connections and networking helps too, it always matters who you know and who is in your circle. Watch yourself, and see what people see from you.

    • Raquel, great points. Thanks for sharing. As always your network is really representative of your reach. Looking forward to hearing more from you :)

  20. Kayleigh Vingino Apr 28, 2014 at 4:48 am

    Great resourse for creating authorship however it has changed a lot lately. I doenst show your picture that much on the SERPS unless you’re a real authority.

    • Glad we could help. It’s all about creating that authorship profile and promoting it constantly :)

  21. Fernando Cuscuela Apr 28, 2014 at 8:10 am

    Neil, this is a great article with some fantastic insights for both SEO veterans and beginners. I’m interested to hear what you’ve learned about how Google Authorship’s weight in searches compares to other popular SEO tactics.

  22. Very good article. Thanks for sharing the tips and advice.

  23. Great and helpful article.
    Some days ago i searched a website name on google and I saw for the first time on the right side recent post from google+ profiles. I believe that this are great news for all.

  24. Andrew Healey May 20, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    Another excellent post, Neil.

    I must admit that I only add people to my Google + circles if they are related to my industry or likely to me interested in what I offer. Is this wrong? I know with Facebook, if you have lots of irrelevant likes it can be very damaging.

    I’m interested in your opinion.



  25. It depends what you are using Google+ for, I myself mainly use it for business so I try to stick with relevant friends as it helps with the spread of the content.

  26. Carlos Escorcio Oct 24, 2014 at 5:55 am

    Authorship in web-search Authorship markup is no longer supported in web search.

  27. Mikkel Pitzner Jan 29, 2015 at 5:53 am

    OK – found out how to do the verification and upload of the google file – so that is now sorted

  28. I thought this was a great post – excellent content. BUT when I go to the Google Authorship link, I get this message: “Authorship markup is no longer supported in web search.” So is it all over?

  29. A search yielded results indicating that google authorship is “no longer a thing.” Is this true?

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