Have you searched Google recently and noticed a photo next to a news or a search result? This is called authorship information and Google displays it if you have verified your Google Plus profile as a contributor to the website housing the content that triggered the result.
Online content creators link their Google Plus profile with the blogs or websites they contribute to for the chance to have their picture appear next to the Google search result. I say "chance" because Google will only display it if Google deems it adds value to the user’s quest for information.
And writers are betting that their name and photo next to a search result could deem the result more credible to the user, potentially resulting in more traffic to the page.
So how does someone verify their Google Plus profile as a contributor?
First, make sure your Google Plus profile photo is a recognizable headshot, and that your profile is set to be ‘visible in search’. Second, make sure the website that you’re a contributor to displays a clear byline of your name (i.e. by Rachele Cermak).
Now you have two options to verify, but let’s start with the easier of the two. You can link your content to your Google Plus profile using an email address, as long as the email address belongs to the site you’re contributing to.
For example, I would need firstname.lastname@example.org to be verified as a contributing writer of www.examplesite.com. If you have that, submit your e-mail address to Google’s Authorship form.
But what if you don’t have an e-mail address? You’ll need to edit your Google Plus profile to add the URL of the website under ‘Contributor to’.
Then have the website you’re contributing to add a bit of code that includes your Google Plus profile ID to identify you as the author of the post.
<a href=”[profile_URL]?rel=author”>by Your Name</a>
Now to make sure everything is working, submit the URL of one of your own articles to Google’s Structured Data Tool.
If it’s working, it’ll display green verified squares to indicate the page is properly setup to display authorship information, but don’t expect any instant gratification in the SERPs, as there is no guarantee it’ll be displayed but at least you've done your part.
Learn more about the benefits of creating a Google Plus page for your business in the class, Google Plus and SEO Reputation Management.