Making Google Authorship Work: A Troubleshooting Guide

google-plusSince it was announced in 2011, Google Authorship has been touted as a great way to connect an author to his or her online work. Giving people a new way to connect with quality writers—and find them, of course—Authorship seemed to be delivering a prime function that fixed a major problem for internet based writers…the problem of visibility. Even better, it seemed like it was going to be—gasp—easy to set up! Just sign up for Google+, get your profile set up, start writing, and badabing badaboom, you’re ready to face the world.

Of course, with Google being Google, this did not turn out to be the case. While I won’t dispute the worth of Authorship—the potential is there for it to be a truly powerful and useful facet of the Google Empire—the sign up process is, shall we say, a bit difficult to manage. In fact, a lot of you reading this now are probably having some major difficulties getting Google to show your authorship snippets, which makes a lot of sense because the process is anything but streamlined.

Fortunately, though it takes a fair bit of tinkering, there is a troubleshooting process you can use to get things up and running so you can actually start building your Authorship status, and we have that process right here.

Step 1: Is your Google+ profile properly set-up?

To get things started, we have to go to the source, aka your Google+ profile. This is the engine that makes Authorship go, and if there are any Authorship unfriendly errors then you are going to have a bad time. So, ask yourself these major questions—and check, double check, and triple check their implementation—before moving onto the next step.

  • If you signed up for Google Authorship with your email address, did you sign up to Authorship with the same email address as your Google+ profile? If not, Google+ will have no way of linking the two in search results.
  • If you signed up for Google Authorship with your email address, have you verified your email address?
  • If you signed up for Google Authorship using the content link method, have you optimized your Google profile to include the domain of your email address as a contributor? If not, go to the Contributor to section of your Google profile, and make sure the “” in your email address, is added and visible to the public.
  • Is your profile picture in Google+ appropriate? I.e., does it show your entire face and is it inoffensive?
  • Is your Google+ profile public?
  • Is your name in your byline linked to Google+?


Step 2: Check the byline

No matter if you started Google Authorship with the content link or email verification method, the byline is a very important part of Google Authorship. Without it, you won’t get that pretty little snippet next to your name, so make sure to check the following:

  • Is your byline clear? As in, do you have a clearly separated “by whatsyourname” in the content? Though Google may be able to find out who you are without it, it’s always best to make sure you have it.
  • If you are using the content link method, is your name in the byline linked to your Google+ profile? Alternatively, is it linked to an author page on your website, and is that then linked to your Google+ profile?
  • If you are using the content link method, do you use the rel=author parameter in the tag? Is that rel=author tag visible to humans (no display: none tags)?


Step 3: Check the Content Itself

If you have checked your byline and your Google+ profile and have still not found any issues, there may be a problem with the content you’ve submitted itself, or how it is hosted:

  • Is it behind a paywall or a form? If so, Google will not be able to index your content and complete the loop required for Authorship.
  • Is your content indexable? Again, without it, no loop can be made and no Authorship snippet will be displayed.
  • Did you post it very recently?
  • Is your content high quality, and do you have a history of high quality content?

Just remember; Matt Cutts has come out and said that Google may begin restricting the Authorship tag. If you do not create useful content, Google may not deem your Authorship relevant and you may not receive the reward of an Authorship snippet. So, like we always say, continue writing quality work, and don’t try to take shortcuts. Google doesn’t take kindly to shortcuts.

Step 4: Testing the Snippet

After you’ve tested all this, and if you still don’t have a snippet in the search results yet, it’s time to run a structured data test—using the structured data testing tool—to see if one is soon coming. If, in the results, you see an authorship snippet, or if you see a Google+ profile link, then you may need to wait awhile (Google isn’t instantaneous). Otherwise, one of the above steps have not been taken care of properly.

Take your time, run through everything piece by piece, and make sure you’ve done it all correctly. Also, remember that Google does not allow more than one snippet per author per page; so, if you are seeing only one author snippet, then everything is working just fine.

In the end, Google Authorship is a fickle, fickle thing that can be punishing on even the most mundane of detailsTweet: Google Authorship is a fickle, fickle thing that can be punishing on even the most mundane of details... If you do your due diligence, it’s all worth it in the end when your click-through rates improve from showing rich snippets in the SERPs!


1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Roundup of SEO, Social, Local Search, & Content Marketing Predictions for 2014 | SiteLadder

Leave a Reply

Quick Contact Form

    Uncheck box to submit
    (please prove you're human)

    RSS feed

    Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new blog content by email:

    Content Calendar
    Free Consultation