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Getting your Author Profile to show in Google Results from your DotNetNuke blog

by Bruce Chapman on Tuesday, September 4, 2012 10:55 AM

You would have seen them by now – little smiling photos of blog authors next to posts in Search Engine Result Pages.   These are great additions in the world of the web, where personal brand and trust factors can be the difference between being heard or ignored.

If you haven’t gotten curious enough yet to look at how to do this, I’m here to tell you how to set this up on your DotNetNuke website, so your smiling dial appears next to your blog posts:

author-snippet

Hey! That’s me!

How does it work, and what’s it all about?

Well, ostensibly, it all works through the technology of ‘rich snippets’.    Rich snippets are the Google terminology for web meta-data – that is, data about the data on the web.  Tim Berners-Lee – he of inventing the world wide web – started talking about this years ago, because so much data on the internet is context-less from a machine point of view.  While you might look at the photo of me in the sidebar and conclude – correctly – that I wrote this blog post, it’s much harder for a piece of software to deduce that correctly.  He called it ‘the semantic web’ back in internet pre-history of 2001.

It sound complicated, but really, it isn’t.  We’re all used to the concept that putting <i>around</i> a word is supposed to tell the browser software that it’s an italic word.  Semantic Web standards are just the same, only we put tags into the markup that only make sense to software.  We’re all using this already – the ‘meta’ tags at the top of just about every webpage around are examples that help describe what is on that page.   It’s just taking that concept further, and describing individual pieces of content on the page, and tagging those as having a specific purpose.

Like tagging a byline ‘By Bruce Chapman’ as being of type ‘author’ from a specific taxonomy.  Once you’ve done that, any software can make the correct deduction that the person tagged with ‘author’ was the one who wrote the page.

And that’s what Rich Snippets are – Google terminology for integrating semantic markup in content back into search results.  It’s how Google works out who is the Author, what the rating or price of a product is, and then inserts that information into the search results pages.  The full list of rich snippets for content is Reviews, People, Products, Recipes, Events and Music.  No doubt they will add more as time goes by.  Read about the full list on the Rich Snippets help topic.

But for now, we’re just going to concentrate on the Author profile.

Getting your Author profile to show up in Google

It’s really easy to do this.   If you can post a Blog post, you can link up your Author picture.  So log on to you DotNetNuke site as an administrator, and follow along with me.

Step 1 : Choose a microformat to use

Superficially, you just tag your posts with your Authorship using your choice of semantic markup.  Google says it supports these formats:

-microdata

-microformats

- RDF a

I chose to use the ‘microdata’ format for no other reason than it looked simple and easy to incorporate into my existing profile.

Step 2 : Add (or modify) your Author profile

As already covered, you need to change your html so that a machine reading the page can work out the context of the content.  In plain english, we need to identify the author data on the page with some special tags.

Now, I use the DotNetNuke blog module to blog with – but the advice I’m about to give you doesn’t actually apply to the Blog module, simply because I’m going to be using an ordinary Text/Html module.

On the top right of this page there has been for some time, a ‘headshot’ and short bio.  It’s my firm belief that putting a face to an article is important for building trust – Newspapers have been doing it for years, so I’m assuming they know something about retaining regular readers.

So, after reading the ‘rich snippets – people’ section of the Google webmasters help, and having chosen the microdata format, I just needed to modify that existing Html.

If you don’t have an Author profile on your blog, now is the time to add one by adding a Text/Html entry.  If you’re using another blogging tool, you may be able to modify the template or use some other option to show the required data.  The location isn’t important – you just need the data somewhere on the page.

blog-author-picture

The above picture is the Author profile (this is a plain Text/Html module, dropped into the sidepane of my site skin), and so I just added in the new markup:

author-snippet-html

The above image shows the markup used for the Author profile Html.  [Click to enlarge]  The yellow highlighted areas are the microdata format tags I added.  Again, this is just entered onto the blog page as a DotNetNuke Text/Html module.

However, the wise and inquisitive reader will have already noted that the headshot on my Blog page isn’t the same as the one that shows up in the Search Engine Results Page as first shown in this post  (SERP).   Yet I have marked up my Author profile to show that it is a person, and I’ve clearly marked ‘itemprop=photo’ to indicate that the selected image is the photo of said person.

But this is not the photo that shows up in the search results.  Why?  Answer : Google+ .  The profile shown in the SERP comes from my Google+ profile picture.

Step 3 : Configure (or open) your Google+ Account

Google has learnt its lessons wisely, and knows both how easy it is to put fake data into meta content, and also how important it is to leverage existing near-monopolies into new ventures.  So you have to be a Google+ member in order to get your Author profile linked.   Well, one might raise an eyebrow at this, but seeing as I already have a Google+ account, it’s no big problem for me.   But the takeaway here is this : if you want your Author profile to show up in the Google search results, you need to sign up for a Google+ account.

Here is the link to link your Google+ profile to your own blog content:

https://plus.google.com/authorship#authorship

You can use that link to sign up + link the content, or just to link the content if you already have a Google+ profile.

There’s a couple of things on that page that show what you need :

  1. A ‘byline’ on the page that shows content somewhat like this ‘By Bruce Chapman’
  2. The byline name needs to match your Google+ name (this is a problem if you have a pseudonym)
  3. The email address should be on the same domain as the content (ie @ifinity.com.au matches ifinity.com.au/blog)  - however, on this point, Google does have another method for verifying the email address (see above link).

Note that the DNN Blog module automatically includes a ‘By Display Name’ in the Blog entry, so you shouldn’t need to modify anything there.

Once you have linked up your Google+ account to your content, you’re all finished – you can now try it out.

Step 4 :  Test out your blog page content and Profile Link

You can use the Rich Snippets Testing tool to check whether you have set it up correctly.  This is an online tool from Google that you can provide a Blog Url to.  The tool scans the Blog Url, and parses the content, then pulls in your Google+ profile and gives you an example SERP to check whether you’ve done it all correctly.

http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/richsnippets

The results from the tool look like this:

image

Note that the above screenshot was taken when I first set this up – if you compare to the actual result, you’ll note it is a little different.  So it’s not a perfect representation of the eventual SERP.

Step 4.5 : Bonus step : link Twitter account

You’ll note that the ‘Extracted Author/Publisher’ information on the rich snippets testing tool shows my Twitter profile as well.  This is because I have a small Twitter ‘follow’ link on the side pane of the blog as well.   I just modified that Html snippet very slightly, so that it looks like this:

author-twitter-link

Just by adding the ?rel=author (note: also a Microformat) to the end of the Twitter follow link, Google now can link my Blog, Google+ profile and Twitter account together.

Step 5 : Wait

Once you’ve finished these simple steps, wait about a week or two, and keep checking your own blog posts by doing a search for them.  Soon enough, you’ll have a face to your SERP.  And hopefully the traffic will go up as well.

Helpful links covering this topic:

Getting your rich snippets into your blog

Using Google+ to link to your profile

Conclusions

This is a very easy way to improve the SERP ‘clickability’ of your Blog Entries.   Over time, you should be able to pick up an increase in click-through rate of your Blog entry listings from Google.  A couple of minutes work, more visitors.  What could be better than that?

UPDATE :  Apparently this works for other pages on the site, where your author profile is

image

I’m pretty happy with my vanity SEO efforts 2 out of the top 6 spots against some tough competition – and the only one with a picture!

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Bruce Chapman

The craft of writing code. The outcomes from being crafty with code. Crafty Code is tales from the coding bench.

9 comment(s) so far...

Anonymous 9/4/2012

Awesome tip Bruce, keep it up!!

 
Anonymous 9/4/2012

Bruce, thanks for bringing this up. I set up "author attribution" for one of my marketing clients last year and it works really well. I am also setting it up on my new blog that I am about to launch. I really got confused with all the instructions about choosing a data format, etc. Ultimately I only did these three simple things. <br /><br />1 - I created an account for my client on their DNN-based site and used that account when blogging. On that account page I added a link to their Google+ account and in the html I added the tag rel="me" in the anchor tag. <br /><br />2 - Then on the blogging module (I use digArticle), I went into the template and added the tag rel="author" in the Posted By link that links over to the DNN profile page that already has the Google+ link with rel="me".<br /><br />3 - I created a Google+ account and went into the Edit Profile mode. There you will find a section called Contributor To, where I added my custom link that goes to the Profile page on their DNN site. This was a little confusing because most instructions say to link to the blog. But in my case I linked to the Profle page and it works. You can go to <a href="http://www.dreisner.com/blog"">http://www.dreisner.com/blog" rel="nofollow">www.dreisner.com/blog</a> and see how this works. <br /><br />So this creates a triangle. Each blog post points to the DNN profile page which points to the Google+ account, which points back to the DNN Profile page. Google's thought is that you have to be in control of each of these accounts to be able to add the required rel="me" and rel="author" tags and so this allows Google to more accurately determine and attribute content to the correct author, which solves the big problem they were having with people stealing and reposting content.<br /><br />You can go to <a href="http://www.dreisner.com/blog"">http://www.dreisner.com/blog" rel="nofollow">www.dreisner.com/blog</a> and see how this works. You can see that Posted By Dr. Richard Eisner on each blog post that links to the Profile page, which then links to the Google+ account, which links back to the Profile page. <br /><br />Search for a blog post title like "Is it Time for LASIK? Take This Quiz to Find Out." and you will see the blog post show up at the top of Google with his picture. <br /><br />I plan to do a post on my new blog site as well with some images that will be helpful. When I did this last year it was not a requirement to use the Google+ account. You could use another online profile account. But it looks like this might have changed to require a Google+ account.

 
Bruce Chapman 9/4/2012

@cliff thanks for your comment. Essentially you're describing the same thing - using a microformat to tag the author (?rel=author) and then linking a G+ profile to the blog (I didn't know it would work with a generic profile page).<br /><br />What you say about Google using this to identify original content is accurate - I think the fact you need a G+ account to do it also helps them out. Everything I have read stipulates needing a G+ account, but I might have this wrong - if anyone know any differently I'd like to hear it.

 
Anonymous 9/13/2012

Bruce,<br /><br />Any idea on how to accomplish this with a Google+ page? I've got a business and I've got it linked to my G+ profile with it's own separate G+ page. Each time I go to the authorship portion of this it tries to link it to my G+ profile and not my G+ page.<br /><br />Any thoughts on whether or not it's possible?

 
Bruce Chapman 9/13/2012

@Justin - no, sorry, I haven't seen any information on connecting up a G+ page with a G+ profile - the instructions here assume you have a matching email / site domain, although there are further steps you can take if your email doesn't match the site domain. I would probably look at those, and see if that can help.

 
Anonymous 9/13/2012

Thanks for the info Bruce. I followed the steps here: <a href="http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1408986&expand=option2" rel="nofollow">support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1408986&expand=option2</a><br /><br />Unfortunately I'm unable to do step #2 with a G+ page. Luckily, I just implemented step #1 and tested it with the rich snippets testing tool and it shows up properly. I'll follow up with you in a few weeks and let you know if it actually shows up in the SERPs.<br />

 
Anonymous 9/26/2012

i've follow many tutorials about this. webmaster rich snippet tools display my pictures and author has been verified.<br />However it's been months that my picture doesn't appear on Google.<br />I've try on 3 of my blogs. doesn't know why

 
Anonymous 10/26/2012

hi Bruce,<br /><br />I was wondering if I could use this tecnique to show a business logo image (I'm going to create the related Google+ page) rather than a face. We run a tourism destination portal based on dnn and we'd love to improve the way Google lists our web pages in search results. After searching around the web it wasn't clear to me whether the schema.org business type is already supportd in Google or I may tweak something in the coding so that the logo is displayed next to the search results. Thanks a lot, Mario

 
Bruce Chapman 10/26/2012

@mario - you would have to read the Google specifics, but I'm pretty sure for the moment this is author (ie, person) based. You could probably hack the process by setting up an author profile but changing your logo instead of a profile pic, but I would read all the guidelines/rules before doing somethign like that. It wouldn't surprise me if Google specifically excluded use like that, and violation of those types of rules can do much more harm to your rankings.<br /><br />If you're doing local search for tourism, there are a lot of things you can do in order to feature better on local search - I would make sure you have followed up all these avenues. Sorry, before you ask, I'm not an expert in local search.

Bruce Chapman
Hi, I'm Bruce Chapman, and this is my blog. You'll find lots of information here - my thoughts about business and the internet, technical information, things I'm working on and the odd strange post or two.
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