Google Authorship and SEO – How 10 characters brought a Dead Author Back to Life

 How 10 Characters brought a Dead Author Back to Life Google Authorship

Did you hear that Truman Capote is writing fresh content for the New York Times these days?  It’s true, or at least that’s what a recent Google search for “new abortion providers” turned up in recent days.


Of course there’s the minor issue that Mr. Capote has been deceased 28 years ago, certainly long before the article was written, not to mention long before he might have been able to secure a Google account. 


Now before you get your feathers ruffled, I hope you won’t let a little tidbit like the fact that Truman Capote died in 1984 bother you. Hey, there enough people talking about zombies these days; maybe zombie writers are just the next step after ghost writers.


Okay, all humor aside, here’s the story.  The New York Times published a story called “The New Abortion Providers” back in 2010, written by Emily Bazelon.  It appears that Ms. Bazelon may not have initially gone through the process of linking her Google+ account to her articles, and since her byline at the end of the article references her having been studied at Yale, where she was the Truman Capote Law-and-Media fellow, Google in its infinite reach and wisdom decided the author of the article was in fact, one Truman Capote (for whom there was a Google account, which Google decided to link it to). 

google authorship and SEO


Specific article content aside, this lends support to the idea that Google author rank is becoming more important than ever in positioning articles in a Google search engine results page (SERP).  If authorship isn’t obvious via markup on the site (either through the HTML itself or through a plugin that makes this super easy for those of us who don’t code if we don’t have to), Google’s algorithms will automatically use the context of the article to try to assign it an author.  In the case of this article, Google didn’t know who Ms. Bazelon was, but it clearly could figure out who Truman Capote was and assigned the article’s authorship – and SERP ranking – accordingly. 


Now, subject matter aside on that particular article example, this is worth looking at, I think. Some people online are looking only at the absurdity of this particular result and saying that Google blew it.  And maybe in this case, its algorithm wasn’t perfect. 


But consider this:  a long dead writer appeared on page 1 of Google SERP results on the strength of his name and of Google’s association of his name with the article’s content. 


Do you see how this could matter to your content marketing and SEO efforts? 

Increase SEO with Google Authorship 

Content and context are both important in creating a website that is Google (and other search engine) friendly along with your quantity of updates, activity other places online, and so forth.  One of the ways that Google is connecting everywhere you post is via the HTML author tag, rel=”author”  And this is a key step in making sure Google knows you are the author of your content.


Now before you get worried about needing to know any coding, there’s an easy way to add the author tag to your website without having to know anything particularly technical, other than how to install a plugin and what your Google+ profile address is. 


But before you go there – you have to make sure you have a Google+ page, and that you’ve included your website in the “Contributor To” section in the profile. 


Now, copy the address of your profile and add it to any page you’ve authored on your website.  You can do this by adding it to your author bio, for example, or as part of an image you use at the end of each article to give more information about your work (if you add it this way, you’ll need to add the rel=”author” HTML attribute before it. 


A much simpler option is to use a plugin that confirms your Google authorship for you and adds it to the HTML of each of your pages.  There are a number of them out there; search in WordPress for Google+ author and choose one that will work for you.


Google Author Rank – I’m telling you, it’s part of SEO you won’t want to overlook! 


Have you added your Google author link to your pages?  Leave me a comment below saying, ” I did it!” 


  1. says

    Wow, this SEO and Google Plus relationship just keeps getting deeper. I'm so thankful to have an expert like you sharing vital information like this with me…thanks, Liz.

  2. Terressa Cortez says

    Thanks fpor always sharing all that you do. I learn so much from all of the great information!

  3. says

    Thanks Liz for this post.  I was unclear how to go about getting this added until I read this.  Went and found a plugin and followed the steps and now I am verified! :)

  4. says

    Elizabeth, love the post! Hee hee…I have images of zombie writers in my head, right now. ; D This is a great resource and I am bookmarking it and sharing!

    • says

      It does and you can go to the Meta and title page and the Home page seetings and add your author informations t add your author rel there and link to your Google plus page and claim your Blog on your Google profile. If this doesn’t work for you.. you can also use the Google Author Link plugin. I like both of these.

    • says

      I can Shirley.. go to your Google account and sign in.. To to your profile and click on the edit profile button , Next you will see bragging rights.. I put a link to my site there .. and if you scroll a bit you will see the contributor .. If you still need help see me a message on Facebook and we can see if I can talk you through..;)

  5. says

    Thanks so much for writing this Liz. I've done 2 articles and a video on the how and why of doing this and so many people still don't get the importance of it. Having this real life example of how Google uses authorship will certainly help me convert a few non-believers. As usual, you rock!

  6. says

    Thanks Elizabeth, I thought that rel=author will just give me a mug shot on the search engines but now I know that this gives me more than just good seo. But, I am doing it differently though in my WordPress blog. Instead of placing the code to every post I have I use plug in for authorship, is that ok? Do I get the same benefit still?

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