Google announced today that it is now supporting authorship markup, which it will use in search results. The company says it is experimenting with using this data to help people find content from authors in search results, and will continue to look at ways it could help the search engine highlight authors and rank search results.
This seems to indicate that Google will be placing even more emphasis on authority and/or personal connections with content. We have to wonder how this will affect content farms down the line.
In the Webmaster Central Help Center, Google says, "When Google has information about who wrote a piece of content on the web, we may look at it as a signal to help us determine the relevance of that page to a user’s query. This is just one of many signals Google may use to determine a page’s relevance and ranking, though, and we’re constantly tweaking and improving our algorithm to improve overall search quality."
"We now support markup that enables websites to publicly link within their site from content to author pages," explains software engineer Othar Hansson on Google's Webmaster Central Blog. "For example, if an author at The New York Times has written dozens of articles, using this markup, the webmaster can connect these articles with a New York Times author page. An author page describes and identifies the author, and can include things like the author’s bio, photo, articles and other links."
"The markup uses existing standards such as HTML5 (rel=”author”) and XFN (rel=”me”) to enable search engines and other web services to identify works by the same author across the web," continues Hansson. "If you're already doing structured data markup using microdata from schema.org, we'll interpret that authorship information as well."
Schema.org was revealed last week - an initiative on which Google, BIng, and Yahoo all teamed up together to support a common set of schemas for structured data markup on web pages. Schema.org provides tips and tools for helping sites appear in search results.
How to Implement it
To implement the authorship markup, Google says:
To identify the author of an article or page, include a link to an author page on your domain and add rel="author" to that link, like this:
Written by <a rel="author" href="../authors/mattcutts">Matt Cutts</a>.
This tells search engines: "The linked person is an author of this linking page." The rel="author" link must point to an author page on the same site as the content page. For example, the page http://example.com/content/webmaster_tips could have a link to the author page at http://example.com/authors/mattcutts. Google uses a variety of algorithms to determine whether two URLs are part of the same site. For example, http://example.com/content, http://www.example.com/content, and http://news.example.com can all be considered as part of the same site, even though the hostnames are not identical.
You can also link multiple profiles, as author pages can link to other web pages about the same author. You can tell Google that all of these profiles represent the same person by using a rel="me" link to establish a link between the profile pages. More on this in the help center.
Google's rich snippets testing tool will also let you check your markup and make sure Google can extract the proper data.
Google has already been working with a few publishers on the authorship markup, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNET, Entertainment Weekly, and The New Yorker. They've also added it themselves to everything hosted by YouTube and Blogger, so both of these platforms will automatically include the markup when you publish content.