How To Setup Google Verified Author Accounts on WordPress
Google has become more integrated into the web and has developed their own process for ranking content. Designers and webmasters are working with new tools for handling webpage analytics and digital media. Recently the Google+ social network has allowed authors and writers to connect their blog accounts with Google.
After this is completed you will notice each author’s profile photo will appear in Google search results. This is a nice way of demonstrating who you are and what each writer has done on your website. Some users may have the personal search results turned off, but your account will still have all the benefits related to a Google Author profile. In this brief article I want to explain a couple solutions for connecting into WordPress with Google Author accounts.
Header Meta Tags
The most popular and quickest method is to include an HTML link tag inside your document head. This should point towards the user profile on Google+ and appends the rel attribute for author. Here is an example code snippet you may copy and include on your own site.
<link rel="author" href="https://plus.google.com/117805273496374929333/posts" />
The problem you may experience is dealing with automating the href value. You would need to detect the author for each blog post before outputting their Google+ profile URL into the tag. This can be very difficult if you are not familiar with coding in PHP. But it is easiest to define a small function inside your theme’s functions.php file to detect the current post ID and which author is related to that post.
<?php global $post; $author_id = $post->post_author; ?>
The code here will get the post variable from any page and add this into your function. If the visitor is not viewing a post page(such as the homepage) this value will not return any number. However this is obviously helpful because it’s just as easy to determine the author based on their profile ID. Then using some if/else logic you can switch between different Google+ profiles to return the proper link value.
If you’d rather go a different route there is another option of linking directly to the author’s post archives in WordPress. This is typically known as the Author template which displays a writer’s past articles in chronological order. Based on this Google support article you want to link directly towards the author’s profile page URL so it looks something like this:
<a href="<?php echo get_author_posts_url(get_the_author_meta('ID')); ?>?rel=author">Author Archives</a>
This is all possible through the get_author_posts_url() function and calling the specific author ID on each page. WordPress blogs often include a small “About the Author” section at the bottom of each article. This is the perfect area to link onto the current author’s archives page using the appended flag ?rel=author at the very end. This final tidbit is what lets Google know that this writer is also tied into their Google+ account.
Remember that aside from all this internal code you will also need to have each author place a link back to their posts URL page. This link should go inside Google+ down in the section which reads “Contributor To”. Ideally this whole section would be filled with custom links to blog profiles, or at least onto the blog homepage where they write. Google can usually work with either option but it helps to point their crawlers directly onto the author posts URL archive.
The final and easiest solution is to use a plugin for handling the job. Keep in mind this may be the easiest solution, but it doesn’t offer deep customization within your own template code. If this is something you find important then I suggesting going with one of the other custom methods.
After searching through WordPress you will likely find a lot of unique plugins. I feel the WP Google Authorship plugin works fine but requires a bit more setup. It has been tested with WP3 but not the latest 3.5 release.
This alternative Google+ authorship plugin has a lot more downloads and has been fully supported on the latest current release of WordPress 3.5.x. Mostly all of the user ratings are very high and reviews are quite positive. I find this plugin much easier where you only need to include a link to Google+ in the WordPress admin, plus a link to your author profile on Google. These 2 reciprocal links are the quickest method for putting together a working Google+ authorship connection.
Hopefully this article may provide a bit of help to other WordPress users. The process of setting up verified author accounts isn’t always complex. But when you are running a blog with multiple authors it can get confusing very quickly. Always keep in mind that writers without a Google+ account will not be vilified if nothing is connected into Google. This should not affect your overall ranking in Google searches, either. Instead this key just adds a bit more information about the authors on each published blog post.