Google Answers Authorship Questions, Still Advises Being Human

We all know by now how important authorship is to the Google ecosystem, but sometimes find that the oft reticent search giant leaves us in a position of wondering if we’re doing everything the way they intended. Well, at least today we can go forth with confidence, as Google delighted us with some great answers to advanced FAQs on rel=”author”. Thanks to the Webmaster Central blog, we now know what kind of pages can be used with authorship, about connecting multi-lingual content, and the difference between rel=”author” and rel=”publisher”. Heck, they even told us why we shouldn’t write articles as the Pied Piper! Here are some key takeaways:

1. Stop putting authorship markup on everything you can get your fingers on!
By far, the biggest clarification in this article for me is what types of pages should include authorship. I see it all the time—a search query turns up a page of results, one of which is a business home page with an author’s face next to it. It seems immediately sketchy to me, but with the increased click-throughs of author results, it seems like a no-brainer to implement if it’s within Google’s rules, right?

Well, according to Google, your authorship annotation is most likely to be displayed for a single article or piece of content by the same author, which should also include a clear byline on the page identifying the author the same way you’d see them identified on their Google+ profile. Google also notes that a page aggregating posts or links of posts to multiple authors doesn’t really fit this criteria, so sitemaps and blog home pages should be excluded. Wondering if you can get away with adding authorship to product or services pages?

Google advises:

Authorship annotation is useful to searchers because it signals that a page conveys a real person’s perspective or analysis on a topic. Since property listings and product pages are less perspective/analysis oriented, we discourage using authorship in these cases. However, an article about products that provides helpful commentary, such as, ‘Camera X vs. Camera Y: Faceoff in the Arizona Desert’ could have authorship.

google authorship example

ABOVE: Me, authoring things.

2. Want to be an author? BE A HUMAN.
At CM, we’re all about giving out pro tips, so here’s another for your arsenal: BE A HUMAN.

That’s right, Google would like you to connect authorship using your real name and your real face. This means no cat pictures, no family photos, no company logos, and definitely no fictional characters. Even a glamour shot would be appropriate here . . . if that was ever appropriate.

Google reminds us:

Google prefers to feature a human who wrote the content. By doing so, authorship annotation better indicates that a search result is the perspective of a person, and this helps add credibility for searchers.

Yes, be a human! I’d think this info would have been accepted as common sense by this point, but alas, my utopia fails to exist.

3. rel=”author” and rel=”publisher” are not the same thing.
rel=”author” helps individuals to associate their individual articles to their Google+ profile, while rel=”publisher” helps a business to link their identity to their Google+ profile. Google notes that while both are link relationships, they’re entirely independent of one another.

4. One author per article, until further notice.
At least for now, Google only supports one author per piece of content, whether that content is a blog post, article, review, etc.

5. Articles translated to multiple languages still have the same author.
Did you translate your blog post from English to German, French, and Swahili and actually wondered if you should maintain separate Google+ profiles in each language? We didn’t either, but in any event, Google would like to point out that this kind of effort is unnecessary. You’re one person so all of your content, no matter the language, should link to just one Google+ profile. Now you have time to learn that other language you don’t know yet!

6. Don’t you dare do this.
Last but not least, Google included information on how to keep authorship out of search results, but I’m ignoring it since it’d be plain silly not to hop on that train.

So that’s it, kids. Be just one single author who acts undeniably human, even if you know various languages, and please stop trying to game the system!