Getting your profile pic to appear in Google for blog posts (Google+ Authorship)

May, 2013 by Tom Elliott

Google started using ‘Authorship markup’ for content publishers in mid 2011, whereby content authors can have their Google+ profile pictures displayed in the Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) next to their content. I’ve been using authorship markup for the past year or so for my WordPress blog, enjoying seeing my cartoon style author profile picture appear next to each of my blog posts.

Here’s a screenshot of www.webdevdoor.com in Google for one of my blog posts – position #1 ;) – showing my profile pic alongside title, description and Author info.
Authorship profile pic serps

If I had more people in circles, the text ‘- in XX Google+ circles’ would appear next to my name. (If you want to add me to a circle, I usually add back!). Update: the text ‘in X Google+ Circles’ seems to appear when 20 or more people add you to their circles.

Getting you’re author profile pic to appear next to your blog posts in Google SERPs is straightforward and requires the following steps:

Step 1

Create a Google+ page if you already haven’t done so and make sure your Google+ name is the same as your Author name used for blog posts.

Step 2

If you have Author information on each blog post.
Most blogs have Authorship information on each blog post, such as ‘By Tom Elliott, Dec 2012′. If this is the case, you can link directly to your corresponding Google+ page using the ?rel=author parameter.

An example would be:

By <a title="Tom Elliott on Google +" href="https://plus.google.com/113434671014173399264/about?rel=author">Tom Elliott</a>, Dec 2012.

If you’re using WordPress, you’ll need to find and edit the corresponding code (usually in functions.php or single.php) that adds this link to the WordPress blog post. Alternatively, you can download a plugin that lets you control Author details for each post such as Author Box

 
If you don’t have Author info on each blog post.
You will need a Profile or Author page that appears on each page of your site and link to this page using rel=”author” in the ‘a’ tag from your blog content. I have an ‘About’ page in my main sidebar menu as follows: <a rel=”author” href=”http://www.webdevdoor.com/about/”>About</a>.
 
Then, from your profile page, link to your Google+ page using the full Google+ URL and the parameter rel=author. Mine is: <a title=”Tom Elliott on Google +” href=”https://plus.google.com/113434671014173399264/about?rel=author”>+Tom Elliott</a>

Step 3

From your Google+ page, go to ‘profile’ then the ‘about’ section. In the Links and ‘Contributor to’ panel, add a link back to your blog or the same About/Profile page if that’s where you added your Google+ link.
 
That should be it! Be patient as it can take a number of days for your Google+ profile to appear and can depend on how often Google searches your content and see your rel=”author” links.
 
You can also check your Google+ profile is setup correctly by using the Structured Data Testing tool. Enter your website address and test results (hopefully successful) will appear under Authorship Testing Result and Authorship rel=author Markup headings.

Some Observations

It doesn’t matter how many people you have in your circles to get your authorship profile pic to display. When I initially got my authorship profile working, I only had 6 people. I think you need about 100 people in your circles before Google starts displaying this information in the SERPs.
 
It doesn’t matter how frequent you share things on Google+ either. I rarely share, although I’m trying to post more frequently these days.
 
It’s worth noting that Google does use face recognition, so clearly identifiable mug shots should be used and profile pics that use company logos for example would not display. Stylised and cartoon profile pics don’t always work either – my cartoon styled face hasn’t always displayed next to blog posts and Google will sometimes tweak their face recognition algorithm.


8 Comments

  • Nigel says:

    Hi Tom, I’ve followed these instructions & all works fine BUT it does not show how many circles I am in so people can’t click and get to my G+ account?

    What did I do wrong?

    • Tom Elliott says:

      Hi Nigel, yes Google will only display your circles when a certain number of people have added you to circles. I think this is at least 60 but could be more. I reckon one of the reasons Google do this is to encourage people to use G+ more and make new connections :)

  • LCH says:

    I don’t yet have an author page up on my blog/website, so I’ll link to my Google+ profile at the bottom of each of my blog posts. Our blog has multiple contriibutors.

    So in my Google+ contributor section, is it okay to just link to my blog’s homepage (even though none of my posts may be showing on a given day) or do I have to link to each of my blog posts individually? (I’ve read this on other guides)

    Thanks!

    • Tom Elliott says:

      Hi There. The way I understand it is that for Google+ to properly determine author ownership of each blog page requires each post to link (in some way) to a corresponding Google+ page – either directly from the post/page, or indirectly through an author profile page. If directly linking from each blog post page, I would have thought each post would need to be added to the contributor section in Google+ for the corresponding author. If linking to Google+ from a profile page, you just should be able to link that single profile page from Google+

      I’m not sure the footer approach will work for all pages by just linking from Google+ to your homepage, but you should be able to check using the structured data testing tool

  • Tom,

    Thanks. You are the first person to answer why my Google+ Circles are not showing up when people see my articles. So, if you were to follow the link (https://www.google.com/search?q=%22michael+cohan%22+and+evaluation+criteria&oq=%22michael+cohan%22+and+evaluation+criteria&aqs=chrome..69i57.856j0j8&sourceid=chrome&espvd=210&es_sm=93&ie=UTF-8) you would see an article “By Michael Cohan” but no “14 Google+ Circles” after it. You can see that Paul Napoli’s “32 Google+ Circles” shows up. Also, presently your article shows your “44 Google+ Circles” at (https://www.google.com/search?q=creating+a+custom+jquery+twitter+feed&oq=creating+a+custom+jquery+twitter+feed&aqs=chrome..69i57j0.5825j0j7&sourceid=chrome&espvd=210&es_sm=93&ie=UTF-8). Was there anything you did to change this or did it just automatically change over time as more people added you to their Google+ Circles? Incidentally, I have added you to my Google+ Circle so can you do the same?

    Thanks,
    Michael

  • Gene Eugenio says:

    Hi Tom,

    You mentioned that cartoons or corporate logos won’t appear and that Google + scans these images using facial recognition. Will photoshop ‘stylized’ pictures work? These are recognizable pictures but have been stylized so they look a bit cartoonish. I’d like to hear your thoughts on this.

    • Tom Elliott says:

      Hi Gene, yeah I did have problems with my cartoon face only sometimes appearing in Google but when I changed to photo it looked fine. A less cartoonish, more realistic and stylised authorship profile pic photo I think might work better but the only way to know for sure is to try it and see. All that Google seem to say on the subject is that you need a ‘profile with a good, recognizable headshot as your profile photo’ :)

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