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Authorship Verification - Getting Google show my picture by my website

This article is now outdated.

Unfortunately, Google has changed the way that they display authors and getting your picture to show up next to the search results has become very difficult.

How do I get my little picture to show up by my site in search engine results?

Google+ thumbnail example

You may have noticed the small thumbnail images positioned next to search engine results in the last few months. You may have even thought about how you could have a little thumbnail image show up next to your website when it shows up on Google. This is part of the new authorship verification process through Google+.

What is authorship verification?

Authorship verification allows you to claim the content on your website as your own. This starts with a Google+ profile. Authorship verification basically ties your Google+ profile to your website.

How do I get the little picture of me to show up next to my website?

First, you're going to want to address the www. vs. non-www issue. This can be done through a few simple lines of code in your htaccess file. Then, you'll add whichever version of your domain name you're using to the "contributor to" section of your individual Google+ profile. The authorship verification process is not yet available for business listings. Finally, you'll add a link to your website with something to the effect of "content by: (your name)" and add rel="author" into the code for the link. (click here to see the link on this page)

Click here to view the instructions as provided by Google:

How do I know if the authorship verification process worked?

Once you have completed the process, you can use the "rich snippets" tool to confirm that it was done correctly. Unfortunately, that does not guarantee that the image will show up with your search results. Even when / if it does start to show up, it may show up sporadically. For example, I had one client where I was seeing the thumbnail show up, but he was only seeing it on his iphone when he searched, not on his computer. My advice would be to not get obsessed about tracking exactly when and where it's showing up. Make sure you set it up correctly with the rich snippet tool, and then give it a couple of weeks.

In the interest of full disclosure, this is where the article turns from verified facts (above) to assumptions of the author (below).

I believe that if you can get the image to show up, that's great. Typically, when a user is offered a list of results, even the slightest variation in one result can end up delivering a larger proportion of the traffic. So even if we assume that the authorship verification process will not affect the way that websites show up, it is still reasonable to assume that having your image will increase the amount of traffic you get.

However, I do not believe that the search results will remain the same. I believe that the reason that Google is offering the authorship verification process is to distinguish between content that is unique and owned by the author is to give that content priority.

I don't pretend to know exactly what the penguin update or the panda update did. I don't pretend to know how to trick my way to the top of the search engines. In all honesty, the approach I take to SEO is basically the same approach I've been taking for years; create meaningful and relevant content and target it to a specific geography. It may sound simple, but that doesn't mean it's easy. When you look at most legal blogs or Facebook pages, it's common to see that they simply post links to articles or other people's content. I do believe that Google is adjusting their algorithm to discount this approach to building content. Creating unique and meaningful content, and then going through the content verification process is the best way I know to stay current with what Google's looking for, and with a little luck, a step or two ahead of your competition.

If you have questions about your current website, or how to increase your position on the search engines for your law firm, I'd love to talk to you about it. Feel free to call email or text me if you have any questions about how to increase the performance of your website.