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Rel=Publisher and Rel=Author: Putting the Author in Authority

It seems that since the launch of Google+, we have all been waiting for it to really take off, but so far it has been a bit of a ghost town. The majority of regular users seem to be businesses (ourselves included) and there is far less interaction directly from individuals. Having said that, Google seems to be placing a great deal of weight toward websites that are linking up with their Google+ page and specific content authors. In terms of search quality, I am all for this as it gives a way for us to determine the quality of content around who has personally written it as opposed to just simply how ‘reputable’ the website in general is.

When Do I Use Rel=Author and Rel=Publisher?

There are two tags that Google have given us that enable you to link up your webpage to the Google+ profile of the user that wrote the content and the Google+ page of the business that the website belongs to. The first is rel=author: this bit of code tells Google which individual wrote the content on the page. The second is rel=publisher: this code tells Google which business the page belongs to.

I Don't Always Use Rel=Author, But When I Do, Google Loves It Meme

There are a few advantages to using these tags: the first is that, through using rel=author your profile image is displayed within the SERPs which has been proven to improve click through rates; the second lies with the rel=publisher tag which can make your website eligible to appear within Google’s ‘Direct Connect‘ search results.

With the rel=author tag, it is important to understand where you should use this. It should be used on any webpage that has content that can be attributed to an individual as opposed to the business in general. What I mean by this is that you should use it when a particular blogger within the business has written a blog on your website (like the blog that you are reading right now). This could also be the case for white papers, press releases, etc, but it shouldn’t be used on general website content such as your homepage or ‘about us’ page (unless your website is purely just a blog). You can check out exactly how to implement the rel=author tag in this post that I wrote a few weeks ago.

Now, the rel=publisher tag works slightly different in the way that it should be used on all pages of your website in order to link this to your Google+ page. By doing this, your Google+ page could appear on the left side of the search results when your brand name is searched for (which can be pretty powerful). You can see in the image below that when I search for ‘search engine land’ within Google, the Google+ page info is shown on the left via Google Direct Connect:

Google Direct Connect

To set up rel=publisher on your website, just follow these quick few steps:

Step 1: Enter your website’s root domain address on the about section of your business Google+ page, under the ‘website’ section.

Step 2: Add a link on each of your webpages with a link back to your Google+ page, including the rel=publisher code. For example, for the Wow Internet Google+ page, the line of code would be:

<a href=”https://plus.google.com/101046941815252899885/” rel=”publisher”>Follow Us on Google+<a/>

Step 3: Check back on your Google+ page to see if there is a little grey tick next to your website address to show it has been verified (like in the image below). Note: it may take a day or so for this to appear.

Verified Google+

Can I Use Rel=Author and Rel=Publisher at the Same Time?

In a word, the answer is yes. There has been a lot of discussion regarding this, and there was also a slight bug in the Google rich snippets testing tool that caused it to show an error when both the tags were present. This should now be correct and there has been confirmation from Google that you can use both tags on the same webpage, as is stated by John Mueller, a trends analyst at Google Switzerland:

“Hi guys,
Just a few short comments: it’s fine to have both a link rel=publisher and author-markup on the same page. The rel=publisher confirms that your website is the publisher of that Google+ Page; the authorship markup confirms that you (your personal profile) is the author of the content on that page. This markup can be used independently, since  the meanings are slightly different. The issue with the Rich Snippets testing tool flagging this as an error is a bug on our side and should be resolved soon (sorry about the confusion caused by that!). 

Hopefully this has helped clear things up a bit, but if you would like any more information on any aspect of content authorship then leave a comment on the blog and I’ll do my best to answer it!

Qasim Majid About the author
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