Thanks to this great tutorial that even a blind five year old could understand, I’m now completely clear on exactly what will enable Google to show pictures next to your search results.

I’m referring to the profile image of the content author, and when working, it appears on the left of the SERP, and shouldn’t be confused with the one underneath the result, which is the tiny image that comes with someone sharing via Google +1.


These images attract the eye of the viewer, and my guess is that it will increase click-throughs on that result.

Google will display these author images in SERPs only if these three* criteria are met:

1. The page in the SERP must have a link back to another page on the SAME DOMAIN that can be credited as the “author” or “profile” page, and that link MUST INCLUDE rel=”author”.  This page can be in the menu as an “About page, or in the footer, sidebar, or elsewhere in the content body.

2. That “profile page” must then link back to the user’s Google Profile (a.k.a. Google Plus profile), and it MUST HAVE the rel=”me” attribute – THAT’s what WordPress makes so difficult.

3. Finally, the Google profile page must then be validated as legitimate by having that Google user log in to their Google Account, and add a “Custom Link” that points back to that author page on that domain.

The details and specifics from that article were great, and those three steps are pretty easy to understand, but I was having trouble in WordPress.

The “problem” was that by default, WordPress strips out the rel= tag after you save it, just as fast as you can put it in.

After I figured out what was going on, I found this technical tutorial from @yoast where he offered some code that did technically work, but in the end, I preferred another solution.

Let’s hope WP relents to the demand and changes this, but in the meantime, @johnpoz has written a WordPress plugin that will allow us to use the rel= tag (and other .html) in your author profile.  Nicely done, @johnpoz

I like that better than Yoast’s solution, which was letting me keep my rel=”me”  but not my target=”_blank”.

Thats it. Use the plugin, edit your WP profile page, add that URL to your Google Profile, then instantly test it here at Google to see if it works!

*Update 8/11/2011 –
After much feedback, Google has simplified the process by removing the forced “three step” verification.

Now, you can link directly from any post or page right to the Google profile, as long as you use ?rel=”author” in the link, AND the anchor text begins or ends with a + sign.

If the site just has a single author, you can even just add the link in your footer, and once the domain is added to the Google Profile, you’re all set!

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I'm the CEO of Search Commander, Inc. and the founder / creator of SEO Automatic. I live with my wife and two sons in Portland Oregon, USA. and you can stalk me at Twitter or Google+, or even at both!

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