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By now, you’ve probably noticed that some entries in your Google search results are appearing with a small picture of the author, along with their name and the page’s publication date.

Google+ Search

This is the result of Google’s latest push to boost Google+ membership via further integration with search. While associating a profile with a search result may not increase the item’s search rank (although it might), it certainly does make it stand out more from the other results and without a doubt improves click thru percentages. That alone should be enough of an incentive to get a Google+ profile and start associating it with your posts.

Here is how you can do it in 3 steps:

Step 1 – Get a Google+ Profile

Right now, only the profiles of individual people (not groups, companies, or other profile types) will appear in linked search results. If you don’t want the world up in your profile, you can create a separate public one specifically for this purpose, but you can’t use a pseudonym or an organization (maybe someday). Make sure you’ve uploaded a good profile picture headshot and that your profile is available for linking by checking “Help others discover my profile in search results” under the Profile Discovery option.

Step 2 – Verify Your Ownership

Google requires 2 way verification of authorship to prevent pages from asserting false author information and profiles from claiming pages they didn’t author. To verify your authorship, add a Contributor to custom link section in your Google+ profile.

Step 3 – Add Author Markup

Google relies on some fairly simple structured data markup on pages to determine the author’s information. You will have to place a link to your Google+ profile containing the rel="author" attribute. If the page is a blog post, you can also include publication date information using the hAtom microformat.

So for example, I would minimally need to include (verify):

<a href="https://plus.google.com/u/0/109234737292513586670/about" rel="author">Luke Mlsna</a>

Or if we include some hAtom data (verify):

<article class="hentry">
	<h1 class="entry-title">My Blog Post</h1>
		<span class="vcard author">Published by 
			<a class="fn n" href="https://plus.google.com/u/0/109234737292513586670/about" rel="author">
				<span class="given-name">Luke</span> 
				<span class="family-name">Mlsna</span>
			</a> on 
		</span>
	<date class="updated published" datetime="2013-02-28">Feb 28, 2013</date>
</article>

Pros and Cons

The big benefit of doing this is the added visibility in search. The downside is that authorship is limited to a single individual, which is not applicable to a lot of web pages. There is also no guarantee that Google will link your profile, even if you do all this perfectly.

While this is a pretty obvious effort to make Google+ more relevant by offering an incentive for publishers to make and link to Google+ profiles, it really does have added value for search users, and the additional traffic is quite worth adding 1 measly link for most publishers.

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