Why You Should Spend More Time Thinking About Google Authorship

Google AuthorshipI noticed at the end of last year that my image wasn’t coming through on search results as often as it had been.

I don’t mean the Google+ links that show in the search results because they always show my image.

Just the ones directly linked to my blogs.

Have you noticed that too?

I started to look into what could be happening with Google Authorship.

It seems that Google have been up to quite a bit!

What Has Happened To Google Authorship?

Barry Schwartz reported on the Search Engine Roundtable in October that Google were planning on applying a 15% reduction in the amount of rich snippets and authorship displayed in their search results.

Since then Google have gone ahead with this and I now see very few entries with rich snippets in the results.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that your Google Authorship isn’t working just that Google made the decision to alter their parameters.

It’s become much more difficult now to have your face image show up in the search results.

Google Authorship Is Split Into Three Classes

Mike Johnson at WPSocial suggests that Google Authorship may now have been divided into three different “classes”.

First Class

If you’re now one of the privileged few, you’ll still get the full authorship snippet, including your photo, byline and optionally the number of Google+ circles you’re in.

Second Class

Authors that fall into this class will see their byline and sometimes the number of circles they’re in but their photo isn’t shown.

Third Class

The remaining group of authors  won’t see google rich snippets on any of their content.

Only Use Google Authorship On Quality Content

One thing that Mike also mentions is that you should be careful where you actually use Google Authorship.

I hadn’t really thought about it until I read his article. I just set it up and let it get to work.

Mike takes an interesting step of actually using an “Admin” author on his sites with zero authorship.

He uses this on Pages, Product Pages, and Custom Post Types.

Although he does still make use of the Google Publisher status with all his content.

Google Authorship And WordPress SEO By Yoast

It seems that it’s not as simple as set it and forget it after all.

Samuel Scott mentions on the YouMoz Blog that in general we shouldn’t place Google Authorship on Pages only on Posts.

So, that includes your Home Page, your About Page and any other pages you have set up.

Ouch! I did get rid of Authorship from my Home Page a few weeks ago using WordPress SEO by Yoast.

Under the Social section on the Google+ tab, you have the option not to show an author on the Home Page and to add your Google Publisher Page.

WordPress SEO Yoast Google+

I’m still trying to work out how to drop Google Authorship from my Home Page completely though.

The Rich Snippet Tool still picks up the Author byline as a possible reference for Authorship.

I had also set up a link to my About Page specifically to make Authorship work.

That’s now gone and so has Authorship from all of my other Pages.

You can see how to do that with WordPress SEO by Yoast in Samuel’s post.

Still Confused About Google Authorship?

Search Engine Land published a handy infographic that might help.

How To Troubleshoot Authorship Issues: Step by Step Flowchart

OK, so we still have to accept that Google aren’t going to show everyone’s photo any more.

All we can do is continue to write our very best content and keep working towards achieving a greater authorship authority.

At least if we have everything set up correctly though we have a chance of getting our photos shown!

Where’s This All Leading To?

Anyone’s guess but one possible answer might be Author Rank.

This has been talked about as a possible metric for Google to measure the value of the content that you produce.

Based on your author value, Google may then decide your place in the search engine listings.

Virante set up a website to figure out possible Author Rank.

There’s no suggestion yet that Google are applying this sort of thing in their algorithm.

However, to give you an idea of what your Author Rank might be, take a look at

Over To You

Have you seen a decrease in your rich snippet showing up in Google search results?

Have you changed the way you approach using Google Authorship because of the changes Google have made?

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Tim Bonner

Tim Bonner is a Stay At Home Dad, Blogger and Internet Marketer. Learn more about him here.

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  • Lisa Buben

    Tim, excellent post and topic! I’ve got to check my Yoast settings on this now. I did notice a drop in seeing my photo from rich snippets. I also checked out my author rank and have the widget on the bottom of my blog so others can check their’s out from it. Mine was 70.2 – not sure how well that score is. (I just did that about 2 weeks ago)

    I did NOT realize the part too about the pages vs. the posts. Very interesting Tim. You just gave me some work to do…Should I say thanks or not ? – LOL. Have a great new week ahead there Tim.

    • Tim Bonner

      Thanks Lisa. I’m glad you found it useful!

      Good to hear you checked out your author rank.

      I knew about the Home page issue with Google Authorship Lisa but not that every other page shouldn’t really have it either.

      I’m still trying to figure out how to get rid of it from my Home page entirely.

      The rich snippet checker still picks up my author archives as potential authorship.

      I don’t particularly want to do away with those but I might have to.

      I’m sorry if I’ve caused you some work Lisa! When it comes to Google, it seems to be never ending.

  • Ryan Biddulph


    I have not paid much attention to Authorship. I see the power in it; all signed up on my Google profile…but with all of Google’s changes these days I do little to tailor my marketing approach to their ever changing standards ;)

    Thanks for sharing Tim!

    • Tim Bonner

      If things work well for you without worrying too much about Google Ryan then that’s fantastic.

      I know quite a few people who have the same philosophy and do very well from Google traffic.

      I guess I’m still playing the Google game at the moment.

      If it becomes any more of a burden though, I’m not so sure I will!

  • Ileane

    Hi Tim,
    When I switched themes and started using Genesis, I had to find a way to get Authorship back for all of my guest authors. My old theme (from Hesham) had a great way of integrating Authorship in each bio box.
    I found Authorsure and after adding dozens of Google+ profile links for my guests, the authorship kicked in. I used the Virante tool to check before and after to confirm this.

    Another thing I noticed with the Virante tool is that the first time I used it for myself I got a score of about 5 or so, but after adding the badge to the sidebar of my Blogger blog I think the tool got an update and found more of my content because now I’m showing a score of 7.54

    Thanks for the post Tim!

    • Tim Bonner

      Authorsure is a great way to get Google Authorship working Ileane.

      I used to use it a while back. I’m not sure whether it allows you to remove Authorship from Pages and in particular from your Home page?

      That may not be something you want to do though necessarily.

      I now use the Starbox plugin which does something similar.

      I moved to that because of the various design features and options it has. It’s also HTML5 compliant.

      I haven’t added the Virante tool to my blog yet but it sounds as though it would be useful to.

      My author rank is currently showing as 5.01 so I’m going to add the badge and see whether that changes.

      Thanks for that tip Ileane!

  • Okto

    Hi Tim,

    What an explanation you have made here about google authorsip. Really nice and simple. I never known this far about it until read your post here. Thanks

    • Tim Bonner

      You should look into adding Google Authorship to your blog if you haven’t already Okto.

      It may help to increase your ranking on Google.

      I’m glad you found my post useful in any case.

      If you need any further information, give me a shout!

    • Kingsley

      Hey okto,

      I noticed you shared this entire article on, word for word. Please refrain from doing that. We have edited out the rest of the article, and only left the snippets, with links to the full article, for readers to read more, if interested.

      Please in future, unless you are the original author of the article, it is copyright infringement to post every word of an article on Kingged,com, without the author’s permission, this case Tim Bonner’s permission. You are supposed to just include snippets of the main article on Kingged, with links to the full article here on Tim’s blog.

      Unless of course this is okay with Tim. Is it, Tim?

      • Tim Bonner

        Hi Kingsley

        I agree. Okto should have only shared snippets from my article with a link to the full article.

        Thank you for correcting the entry on!

        • Kingsley

          Thanks for your response, Tim.

          Yes, I am sure it was an innocent mistake on Okto’s part. Good thing we have live team members on ground, who always check and ensure articles shared are shared right, :)

          Anyway, about this article itself, I have “kingged” it on and hope others do the same.

          • Tim Bonner

            Thank you Kingsley, I appreciate it.

  • http://www.AffiliateHelp.Info Jon Rhodes

    One problem I see with this Tim is that people could write low quality content and link to a competitor’s Google+ account and see them down graded.

    • Tim Bonner

      That shouldn’t be able to happen Jon.

      You have to have two things in place in order for Google Authorship to work.

      1. On your Google+ account you have to have a link to the website you contributed an article to.
      2. On the actual article you have to have a link back to your Google+ profile or you have to validate authorship by an email address linked to the website’s domain name.

      One won’t work without the other.

      So someone could link to a competitor’s Google+ account but if they weren’t set up as a contributor on that account, Authorship wouldn’t work.

      • http://www.AffiliateHelp.Info Jon Rhodes

        Good point Tim, forgot about the contributor section! I suppose the only way it would be possible was if you down as a contributor for some multi author type site.

        • Tim Bonner

          That’s true Jon. It could happen that way.

          I think in the past some multi author sites had set up accounts so that people wouldn’t need to get their articles approved.

          I’m pretty sure they will have stopped now though or at least learnt from their lesson!

          • http://www.AffiliateHelp.Info Jon Rhodes

            You would hope they wouldn’t do that now Tim. All sorts of spam could get onto their site if it accepts content automatically.

            We all have a responsibility of where we post. If a site automatically accepts your post then you should be VERY careful. You don’t want to be associated with a load of spam.

          • Tim Bonner

            Very true Jon.

            I read recently that Huffington Post had set up accounts for some authors so they could publish their articles without them being scrutinised.

            People were then keyword stuffing their articles and adding links to their own websites to gain PageRank.

            I think Huffington Post learnt their lesson pretty quickly!

  • Robert Singh

    Great post with detailed explanation I guess. To be honest I have little knowledge about google authorship and I think I’ve got total info from this infographics.

    Thanks for share

    • Tim Bonner

      I’m glad the infographic came in useful Robert!

  • Sunday

    Reading through this piece could give one the impression that the Google Authorship is not as important as we think.

    However, that mindset could be misleading. The Authorship is crucial for Author Rank ( because that is probably how Google is going to apply it eventually).

    One part of this article that readers shouldn’t ignore and to which I agree with is that the Authorship should be added to the most valuable contents of a post.

    In – the content syndication and aggregation website for Internet marketing, I have left the above comment where this post was shared.

    Sunday – contributor

    • Tim Bonner

      Interesting Sunday that I gave you that impression.

      That wasn’t my intention at all – in fact quite the opposite. Hence the title of the post.

      I was advising people to be careful about how they use Google Authorship so that they can gain the most from it – not that it isn’t important.

      I take on board your observations though. Thank you.

  • Adrienne

    Hey Tim,

    I agree, great post.

    I was over at Gazalla’s post yesterday and she shared some tools that we should all pay attention to this year and one was seeing where you rank with your Google Authorship and domain. I checked mine and it was about a 5.46 I believe and the best is 10. I’m halfway there and my domain rank was a little higher but not much.

    I hadn’t really noticed a drop in the snippets but I’ll have to pay closer attention. To be honest with you I haven’t had the best start to this year so my mind has been elsewhere. I could have taken a complete nose dive and wouldn’t even know it.

    Who the heck knows what Google is up to next but either way it goes we’re in for another wild ride.

    Thanks for this great share Tim and have fun today with the kids.


    • Tim Bonner

      Thank you Adrienne.

      You’re definitely on the way up with Author Rank. I’m currently sitting at 5.01.

      Ileane mentioned that hers increased when she added the Author Rank badge to her site. I might give that a try too.

      It’s not been an easy start to your year, Adrienne that’s for sure!

      I wish Google would just stop changing things so often so we can all consolidate where we are.

      I doubt they’ll do that though because they like to be one step ahead.

  • Ashley

    Hey Tim

    I did notice in some situations this had happened to me.
    When you are searching your own blog, it obviously happens. But also on other searches where I appear in the results (if I am checking my ranking). Sometimes my lovely face is not that! Does google think I am ugly! ha, nasty
    Interesting to hear that it is becoming so complex, but then again given the search algorithm changes, perhaps not so surprising! Time will tell

    • Tim Bonner

      When I search on Google now, I usually only see a couple of face images on each page.

      Google seem to have made up their mind who they consider an authority Ashley.

      I seem to fall into the Google Authorship section that shows everything apart from my face image a lot of the time.

      Strangely, it always seems to show my image for the search terms I’m targeting on my potty training site.

      I’ve obviously become an authority on potty training – not that I want to shout that too loud!

  • Sarah Arrow

    A lot to think about here Tim, I’m not sure whether to be thanking you or not!
    I’m not sure how the pages / posts part is relevant. Both are created by the author, and surely they want that content associated with them? I’m going to read more on it, and click all your links and study that too… but if you want to explain it to me in short syllable words it would be appreciated ;)

    • Tim Bonner

      One of Google’s guidelines for using Authorship Sarah is that there must be a clear byline on the page (in other words it must state By Sarah Arrow or have an author box), stating the author wrote the article and using the same name as used on their Google+ profile.

      WordPress Pages don’t always have a byline or an author box so they may not meet Google’s requirements, meaning they’re less likely to show authorship on the site as a whole.

      They also don’t generally convey a perspective or share an analysis on a topic so Google discourage using Authorship on Pages.

      With regard to the Home page, placing Authorship on there also doesn’t always meet their guidelines. Many blogs show a few of their latest posts on the Home page (including guest posts).

      To increase the likelihood of Authorship being shown, Google advise that a URL must contain a single article or piece of content by the same author.

      Does that answer your question Sarah?

  • Susan Cooper

    I had no idea that you could determine what pages go out with Google Authorship. It certainly give me pause. I need to think about this some for sure.

    I have notice higher traffic form google but I’m really not sure why. I think it’s because of my recipe and Youtube post. They really seem to love those. :-)

    • Tim Bonner

      It’s getting more complicated with Google Authorship Susan, that’s for sure!

      I don’t have the programming skills to be able to code it so Google Authorship appears on posts only.

      I’m so glad there’s some plugins out there that can help!

      Great to hear that you’re doing well with traffic from Google :-).

      Do you use recipe schema markup for those so that they might also appear in the rich snippets?

      • Susan Cooper

        Good question, and to the best of my knowledge, no. I will ask my web guy if in fact he set it up for me. He sometimes does things to aid in my blog traffic etc.

        • Tim Bonner

          You should definitely speak to your web guy Susan.

          I’m sure the recipe rich snippet would only enhance your search listing on Google.

          • Susan Cooper

            I have a meeting with him today about huge changes we are making to my site. This will be on my list to talk about. :-)

          • Tim Bonner

            Sounds exciting Susan! I hope it went well :-).

  • Sylviane Nuccio

    Hi Tim,

    This is an excellent post, but it does make my head spin :)

    One thing that I had noticed is that while I could see my picture for search results of my writing/marketing blog I couldn’t see it for my personal development and France blogs. Now it looks like they are all gone.

    Oh, well, there’re the boss, there is not much I can do about this. At least now I know that there’s nothing wrong with my links. I was always wondering about that.

    Thank you for the heads up on that.

    • Tim Bonner

      Thank you Sylviane.

      My images are mostly gone too from Google apart from my potty training blog.

      They must consider me an authority on potty training – not sure I want to be known for that!

  • Nanda Rahmanius

    Hi Tim,

    Until now I did not realize that Google authorship was important and I do not have one. Honestly, I do not even know how to create it.

    After I read a few other articles and your article, I began to believe that Google authorship is important. I started thinking of making one :)

    Thank you for this article, Tim.
    Very useful for me.


    • Tim Bonner

      My pleasure Nanda.

      Check out the infographic I shared for help with setting Authorship up.

      Please let me know if I can help in any way.

  • Liz McGee

    Thanks Tim,

    This is super useful information. I have SEO by Yoast and didn’t have Google+ even set up. It helps to have little tutorials like this to make sure things are done. I also appreciate Samual Scott’s info.


    • Tim Bonner

      My pleasure Liz.

      I’m pleased that you found my post useful.

      Great that you now have Google Authorship set up.

      That’s all we can do and if Google then shows our images on the rich snippet, all the better!

  • I. C. Daniel

    I’m glad now when I click a link from result page I find valuable content, Author Rank sound SF if you ask me, but who knows what Google has in mind for us. Kind regards!

    • Tim Bonner

      All we can try and do is produce the best quality content we can I guess.

      If Google then wants to help us then that’s great.

      If they don’t then there are other ways of getting traffic so all is not lost.

  • Andrew Stark

    Hi Tim,

    Thanks to this post I checked my profile and now I have been able to make it personal rather than just a string of numbers. I’ve also found my author rank is already at 5.12 which is green and means I must be doing something right.

    Overall I think that anyway who can explain what it all means is in a prime position to create an information product and make a killing via selling that information.


    • Tim Bonner

      I’m glad you found out about personalising your Google+ URL Andrew.

      I set up my personal account and page a few weeks ago like that.

      It looks so much better than a string of numbers!

      Well done on your author rank. I’m at 5.03 so you’re ahead of me :-).

      You’re right about the information product. Google are starting to make things complicated.

      If someone can put together a training course on how it all works, they’re going to pull in some money.

      Hmmm, now there’s a thought!

  • Jeevan Jacob John

    I am in the second class :D

    I think I just got lucky…considering that my blog is brand new, I didn’t expect any authorship in searches (I had searcher earlier..and didn’t get anything) – I still have to do some work, since the search for my blog doesn’t exactly lead to my blog (my blog is in the second page).

    Perhaps we shouldn’t worry much about this. Who knows what Google has in mind? (Perhaps they are trying to integrate searches completely into G+ – seeing how much aggressive has been with G+, I wouldn’t be surprised if they do that).

    Anyways, thank you for the write up, Tim :) Hope you are having a great week!

    • Tim Bonner

      That’s good going Jeevan that you fall into the second class of Google Authorship with a new blog!

      You’re right. We’ve no idea what Google really want. All we can do is try and follow their guidelines, don’t do anything silly and write articles to the best of our ability.

      No-one can ask for more than that, can they?

  • Ray

    I noticed a slight drop in mine appearing in Google results a month or two ago. I didn’t really think too much about it because every time I check mine I swear it’s always different.

    One day my image appears for a specific post and the next it doesn’t. Then, a few days later it appears again.

    Lately when a new article is indexed in Google it is hit and miss. One will get my author image right away, and another article won’t.

    I do have the authorship code on a few pages that show up in search results, but most of them do not.

    I never know if I should change some of the author code on some pages or posts, or if I am better off just leaving it alone.

    • Tim Bonner

      You’re right Ray. I’ve had a similar experience with the image showing sometimes but at other times, just the rich snippet without the image.

      It’s hard to know definitively what we should be doing.

      Google’s guidelines are clear enough about Home Pages and to a lesser extent about other Pages.

      I decided to remove Authorship from all of my Pages because I don’t show a byline on them.

      As that’s one of Google’s requirements for Authorship it made sense for me to do it.

      I guess time will tell exactly where this is all going.

      • Ray

        Have you looked into the publisher markup code for homepage and other pages on your site?

        From what I gather it’s more for business and brands and such. I don’t know how well they play together if one happened to have both on a page or post.

        I know some sites have both publisher and author code on a post. I don’t because I haven’t created a Google+ page, business page, or whatever it is they call it.

        One of these days I may create a Google+ page and add the publisher markup to see what happens, but that will probably be a while yet.

        • Tim Bonner

          I have a Google+ Page and use the publisher markup code Ray.

          To be honest, I’m not sure how much of a difference it makes.

          I use the publisher markup on all posts and pages on the site.

          It’s tricky though because I don’t really use the Google+ Page that much.

          I guess I need to advertise it a lot more than I do!

  • Daniel Page

    Hey Tim,
    I just wanted to let you know that I thought this was a great post, and I’ve included it in my monthly roundup of the best SEO, content marketing, and social media articles. Thanks for the nice post.

    • Tim Bonner

      Thank you Daniel I appreciate it.

      Hopefully people will stop and think a little bit more about Google Authorship!