Questions have been raised lately about how to add the author images that Google is currently adding to search results listings. These are Google Plus Profile images and they do make a listing for a site stand out, which improves the chances that someone will click on your link. Theoretically, this should drive more targeted traffic to a site. Here is how you can make your site stand out in search results.
What you are seeing is an image placed in my Google Plus account that Google is using to display the picture of the author of the article in their search results.
The initial problem that I found is that there are at least three different sets of instruction for doing this posted on various Google pages by Google. None of the instructions contain posting dates, so it is hard to tell if the process has changed and evolved, or if there are multiple methods for accomplishing the same thing. Some of the instructions are complex. I chose the simplest method for my tests. This method only requires that a Google Plus Profile be set up for the author along with list of the sites where the author posts articles, plus each of the author’s articles needs a link back to their Google Plus Profile page. This very easy to set up with a WordPress blog, but can work with any web site with the addition of a simple link.
Essentially, you are tying your articles to your Plus account and your Plus account to your articles.
Setting Up A Google Plus Profile
This is the first and most important step. Go to https://plus.google.com. Either log in using an e-mail and password from an existing Google account, or set up a new account using an e-mail address that is not associated with any other Google account. People in your Google Circles will be able to see your e-mail address, so it may be a good idea to use one that is not highly personal.
As part of the setup process, you will be encouraged to select people to join your Circles. In Google Plus jargon, a circle is a friend, family member, associate, news site or anyone whose Plus postings (called a Stream) you would like to follow and respond to with comments. It would be a good idea to start with at a couple of dozen selections so that you can learn how to use your Plus account. Anyone who adds you to their circles will also be able to see your Stream postings and comments.
You can also add as much personal history and information as you wish, but be careful not to add anything that you do not want everyone to see. Visibility can be blocked for certain items, but is possible to hack almost anything on the web, so just be careful what is added to your account.
An important step in tying your Plus account to your articles is the listing of the web sites where your articles appear. You do not have to be the sole author for a web site. My name is only one of several authors on Tech-Evangelist.com, but the links to my Plus Profile page only exist on the pages where my articles appear.
After the Plus account has been set up,
- log in and select Profile in the left column
- then select the About tab
- select the blue Edit Profile button
- scroll down and click on the Contributor To label.
On this page you can fill in any detail that you wish to display, but the important part is the information at the bottom of the page to the Contributor To section. Just click on the label and a form will expand. The first line it the text you wish to use for the name of the site. The second line is the home page URL. You don’t have to list each article URL. Just list the home page URL for each of the sites.
Another important step is adding at least one image of yourself. For some reason Google prefers to see a large image. I submitted a 500 x 500 pixel image and it complained that the image was small, but it did accept it. Google will ask for an image during the setup or you can add one afterward by clicking on the gray box representing your image while in the Editing mode. There is also an Image tab where images can be added. Just make sure that the blue Edit Profile button has been selected and you will be in editor mode. From there all aspects of the Profile can be edited.
When you have finished making changes to the Profile, click the Done Editing button. Your Plus Profile has been set up.
Adding Links to Your Plus Profile Page from Your Articles
The second part of the process is to let Google know which articles you have written. Set up a link somewhere on the page for each article you have written and point it to your Plus Profile page. This part should be easy. It can be added to the code for the web page, it can be included in a author bio section (easy to do in WordPress is the bio is included in your theme, or you can simply add some text and a link near the top or bottom of each of your articles. In addition to providing the link to the Plus Profile page, the text in the hyperlink must end with a plus sign (+).
I simply added text and a hyperlink on each of my article pages that says, “Connect with Craig on Google+“. The following is the snippet of HTML code that I used. Just use the basic URL including the identifier code for your Profile page. Do not include other info that Google tends to tack onto the end of the URL, such as /posts.
How Long Does It Take for the Image to Show Up?
That is a good question. It could vary. From my experience, it takes 1 to 2 weeks.
A few articles written by others are saying that the images sometimes come and go. Only Google knows why. It took 9 days for the first image to show up for my articles, and other started showing up over the next several days.
The process of setting this up is fairly simple. All it takes is time and a image of you that you are willing to show the world. 😀