Have you noticed the Google search results pages sometimes has the photo of the person alongside the link. When a person searching for information has a whole page of possibilities to choose from - which one will they choose? Most likely they will pick the topmost result. HOWEVER if one of the lower results grabs your eye based on the difference of an author's photo and stats - the latter item may be the one that actually gets the clickthrough. Do you see the advantage here? Are you leveraging it on your blog posts? You need to be. Let's talk about how to do it.
Google has given us some simple guidelines how to get this done for your pages. Here's the checklist:
1. You need to have a Google+ account
2. Your profile photo needs to be a clean headshot or it will be rejected - no logos and no photos where your face is a tiny speck in the overall picture
3. Your Google+ About page needs to have an entry in the "Contributor To" category of the Links section that points to the site where your blog lives. In fact you may have several entries in that list. Your ActiveRain blog URL, your outside blog URL (if you are using an outside blog), your main web page or WordPress site should also be listed there as applicable.
4. Each site where you are posting your content needs to have a link to your Google+ page. For your ActiveRain blog, this is simply done by editing your AR profile. One of the entries is on your profile is for your Google Plus URL. (see the post Google Authorship on your ActiveRain blog for more info). If you are utilizing an AR outside blog or a WP blog, you will want to consider including a Google+ link in your blog signature. A blog signature is a block of text that automatically shows up on every one of your posts. Many choose to attach the link to a icon/button but you can also simply attach it to text like "find me on Google+". One important special thing not to miss about this link that you put in a signature block is that you need to append the following parameter text at the end ?rel=author
5. Make sure your full name is on your page, preferably preceeded by the word "by" to help Google realize who the author of the post is. Your name needs to exactly match your name on your Google+ profile. Your name should be in your blog signature so it appears on each of your posts. (note in my own case I did not use the prefix "by" but Google figured it out anyway - you will be able to test your own case in the step below)
6. Once all the pieces are in play, test out one of your pages to validate you have done it right. Go to the Structured Data Testing Tool page and paste a URL to one of your blog posts. See if it passes.
That was the birdseye view. Now let's look at a few of the details that you will need to know to help in the steps above.
We can start with your Google+ Profile page. There are several sections that you can edit. Look for the "Links" section and click the "Edit" text at the bottom of the box. Find the "Contributor to" subheading and add links to the pages where your content resides. Each link you add will have two parts 1) what you want the link to say and 2) the URL to the page.
On the ActiveRain side, be sure and edit your profile and make sure the Google+ URL is entered in the corresponding box. Additionally, if you want a Google+ link in your signature (which will make sure your outside blog gets the authorship requirement), you will need to know how to edit your blog signature. In the upper right of the ActiveRain pages you will see your name just above the menu bar. Click your name for a pop down menu to appear. Click "Blog Settings" to get to a page where you can edit your signature. This is what will appear at the bottom of every one of your posts.
Your Google Plus URL will be needed so you can create a link on your AR blog or wherever else you are posting your content. If you go to Google+ and then click the profile button on the left navigation bar, you will see the URL at the top of the window in the address bar. Select the text from the beginning up through a very long list of numbers. Don't select the entire URL, stop immediately after the numbers. Copy that to your clipboard.
Head over to your AR blog signature and create your link to your Google+ page. You can use a button icon like you see I have below or you can just type text like "Find me on Google+" and then link the text. Paste the URL that you have on your clipbaord and then
be sure to type this parameter at the end
(important note: there is to be no space between the last number
and the ?rel=author text - it needs to be together)
After we have all the pieces in place, let's check out our results using the Structured Data Test Tool. Go to one of your actual blog posts and copy the URL from the address bar into your clipboard. Paste the URL on the test page and see what your results are.
Congratulations on your status as a Google recognized author!
Now how's that list of yours going? You know the one called "my long tail keyword goals" None of this authorship exercise will mean anything unless you are writing articles to actually be found by. Head over to blogging boot camp if you want help on that target.
this post was last edited on 3/12/13 to include more information
about the Google+ authorship option via the AR profile page