Google’s Authorship Markup – Author vs. Publisher

We’ve been getting a few calls this week about Google’s authorship markup, and so I’d like to take the time to explain what authorship markup is, and how to set it up for your hotel website. But first, let me introduce Authorship’s little-known second-cousin, Publisher Markup.

Verified Authorship

Verified Authorship helps Google understand what your website and articles are all about. Google rewards websites that use verified authorship with richer search engine result listings, which can include images, company info, site links, and other calls to action (CTAs). These are all important because they improve click through rate (CTR)—basically, you’ll get more visitors to your website.

In fact, Google’s executive chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt accidentally spilled the beans this week while promoting his new book, as reported by TechCrunch. He flat-out said that websites that use verified authorship to verify online profiles will rank higher in the search engine result pages (SERPs):

Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.”

Many SEOs notice that authorship is already having a dramatic affect on SERP rankings. When verified authorship is connected to a piece of content, Google will consider that content to be the origin and source, and they may lower the rank or completely de-indxed identical content elsewhere on the web. Authorship and Publisher markup is then a great way to secure and protect your content (read this excellent article on SearchEngineLand for more on this).

This revelation makes it essential and urgent that all hotel websites set up verified authorship or publisher markup. Let me explain the difference between the two.

rel=”author”

Authorship markup informs Google who the author of the content is. Google expects the author to have a Google+ Profile, and Google will use the information on this profile to enrich search engine results associated with that author.

For example, articles that have successfully set up authorship markup can often appear in the SERPs with images of the author. Google may also include a handy link to both the Google+ Profile of the author, and to a list of other articles the author has written.

google-authorship-markup-for-hotels

google-authorship-more-by-author
Click the image for a larger view.

rel=”publisher”

Publisher markup informs Google who the publisher of the content is. This is usually a business, such as a blog or a newspaper. Google expects each publisher to have a Google+ Business Page—not a profile—and Google will use information on this business page to enrich search results for that publisher.

For example, if you Google a business like TechCrunch, The New York Times, Microsoft, or even buuteeq, Google may display a large box to the right of the SERP which will include the business’ vital info, such as address, phone numbers, hours of operation, website link, and photos.

google-publisher-markup
Click the image for a larger view. In this instance, our Google Local listing is appearing instead of our Page. This happens when a business has both an online brand identity and a physical location. I realize this further complicates the issue, and I will explain this in detail in a future post. Google “TechCrunch” and you will see a box to their business page. Customers never need to find their physical location since they are an online publication. However, Google “Microsoft“, and you will see their Local listing instead of their business Page, because they have an often frequented physical campus.

rel=”author” vs. rel=”publisher”

I recommend hotels enable publisher markup on their websites, instead of authorship markup. The reason is simple:

google-authorship-this-is-bigger-than-this

Publisher markup will quickly give your hotel guests the vital info they need to contact you and book a room. Authorship markup, while nice, doesn’t immediately provide guests with any essential information about your hotel.

That said, it is possible to install both authorship and publisher markup on the same website, but I recommend you only install authorship if you are marketing yourself—the business owner or manager—as an online personality and authority on a certain subject. buuteeq’s Cloud DMS software supports both authorship and publisher markup. Here’s what you need to do to install them.

How to Set Up Authorship Markup for Yourself

Google gives authors two ways to set up authorship, as they explain here.

Method 1 – The Easiest

Use this method to verify authorship by email. This only works if your email address shares the same domain as your website (for example, brandon@buuteeq.com would only work to verify me with buuteeq.com).

  • Create a Google+ Profile for yourself. If you already have a YouTube or Gmail account, then you already have a Google account and simply need to set-up your profile.
  • Sign up for authorship using the email address associated with your Google+ profile. This is the email address you use to sign into your Google account.
  • Google will send you an email. Follow the instructions in the email.

You’re all done! To test to see if it worked, paste the URL to your article or page into Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. You should see something like this:

structured-data-testing-tool-for-hotels
Click image for a larger view.

Method 2 – Still Pretty Easy

This method involves creating a link to your Google+ profile from you website, and then linking to your website from your Google+ profile.

  • Create a Google+ profile, as I explain above.
  • Create a link to your Google+ profile from your website, and place the rel=”author” attribute in the link. Simply copy the HTML listed below, and replace [profile_URL] with a link to your Google+ Profile:

For example, the link to my Google+ profile is https://plus.google.com/100588133120378013221/. Yours will look similar.

  • Create a link back to your website from your Google+ profile in the “Contributor to” section.

contributor-to-hotels

4)      You’re all done! To test to see if it worked, paste a URL to your article or page into Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.

How to Set Up Publisher Markup for Your Hotel

There is only one way to set up publisher markup, as Google explains here.

1)      Create a link to your Google+ business page which includes the rel=”publisher” attribute. Use the sample HTML below, and simply swap out the [yourpageID] with the long string of numbers that represents your page’s numerical ID.

yourpageID]” rel=”publisher”>Find us on Google+

For example, buuteeq’s Google+ business page URL is this: https://plus.google.com/104910924823950372403/ so our numerical ID is 104910924823950372403. Yours will look similar.

2)      Create a link to your website from your Google+ business page. Insert this link into the ‘website’ field in order for Google to complete the setup.

 website-field-hotels

You’re all done! To test to see if it worked, paste a URL to your article or page into Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. A little gray check mark will appear next to your website URL when the sync is complete.

publisher-verified-markup

Note that Google doesn’t guarantee to show rich, structured data about your property or you in SERPs. They often do, but sometimes they don’t, and the decision it is totally up to them. I have found that they tend to show structured data to me when the article is something I haven’t read before. Good luck with structured data for your hotel website!

About Brandon Dennis

Brandon M. Dennis is the Technical Marketing Manager at buuteeq, the digital marketing system for hotels. He manages buuteeq’s SEO, paid media channels, contributes content, and writes for the company blog. You can connect with him on Twitter @oxhorn.

30 Comments

  • Thanks for the tips provided here about how to set up Google authorship.. It really helps to Google to engaged socially with users as well as with webmasters.. it will increase the credibility of the website owner and also establish his social presence..

  • Thanks for this post. Your example is not a hotel website and I have not seen this info show up for hotel results. Do you have any examples of hotel sites that where the search results show publisher info?

  • All I can say about that is that tables are a big no-no if you can avoid it, especially when used for site structure. I’ve heard stories that Google has a hard time understanding content found in tables. I’d be surprised if this were true, as surely Google is sophisticated enough to understand a simple , but that’s what they say.

    Try searching for your content from other browsers, or from an incognito window in Chrome. Sometimes Google doesn’t show the authorship photo for signed in users, but they do for not signed in users.

  • I have both Author as well as Publishor tag in blog page. will it effect to get my profile pic displayed in the google search ??

    or should i place only one among them ???

    Please do reply

    Thanks !

    • It’s safe to have both up (I do for this blog). I’ve never had an issue with Google not showing my author photo because of it.

      Your best bet is to have Publisher markup installed for your homepage ONLY, and Authorship markup installed for your individual articles only.

  • Thank you so much for the clarification, my site is a single author site and I currently have the publisher and authorship markup in the header but I wasn’t certain if the authorship markup was okay to be there. I’ve scoured the net looking for the answer but no one has simplified it like you have.

  • I don’t see any of those “info boxes” on the side of a company on google search results page… has that changed?

  • Thanks a lot for your detailed steps!

    There is one question I would like to ask.
    For the publisher markup, is it possible to add multiple addresses, for example, Sydney and Melbourne? So depending on the searchers location, one of the proper addresses would appear? Is it doable?

    • Sadly no, you may have only one address for each Google+ Local Page you synchronize with your website using Publisher markup. So, choose one, and run with it.

      That said, you could always create a second Google+ Local Page with a different address, and then also associate it with your website using publisher markup. However, if you choose to do this, I recommend you only do it on a page basis. So, for example, point to a specific article on your website from your second Google+ Local page, and then point to that new page from your article only. Then optimize both the page and the Google+ Local Page for the location based keywords you wish to rank for.

      This solution gets a tad messy, and I wouldn’t personally recommend it. Still, it could work.

  • In your publisher example, there is a photo being displayed to the left of the map being shown. When my publisher “large box” comes up, Google shows only the map (no photos.) Is there something I am missing that allows the photos to be displayed or is it completely up to Google?

    • This means that Google hasn’t finished processing the photos you uploaded to your Local page yet. I had this same issue when I made our buuteeq page. Basically, it takes up to 2 weeks for Google for approve your changes (including photo uploads and another 2 weeks for your photos to appear on your page. Some photos will appear first, and others will come in later.

      Once your photos appear on your profile, they will begin showing up in the box in the SERPs.

        • Great job! I did an incognito search for your business and see that you have both publisher and authorship markup installed correctly. Plus, with 51 Google reviews and a 28 Zagat score, you’re rocking it!

          I did have to click an arrow to twirl down your Google+ info box to see this, which most people won’t do (and I see that only your map shows, as you mention). I think this is a situation where it’s just up to Google to show images or not, based on image popularity. One Google rep I talked to said that they show images that have been clicked on and +1ed the most.

  • Can you or should you add the publisher code on all of your hotel web site pages or just the home page? If you want to do both publisher and author on your home page what shows up in the results? Are there advantages for having both? Thanks

    • Yes, you can add both. The advantage to adding both is that you get your face next to your SERP listing, AND you get a nice big box for branded queries. I suppose having a human face appear might be suitable for B&Bs, but I don;t think large or boutique hotels need to use authorship markup, unless they have a blog in a sub-folder of their website (and then, they should only use authorship markup for the blog).

      You should set up authorship and publisher markup on every page of your hotel website. This is usually easy to do, as most CMSs and DMSs–including buuteeq–have dynamic headers and footers, meaning if you install it to the header section of your website, it is installed for every page of that website.

      • Thanks for the great input! I plan to add both to all pages. I just took all the rel=author off my pages this morning and replaced with rel=publisher. Results were not good this afternoon when I searched for my inn using the typical search term. The inn was in local with the map and other inns but not indexed on it’s own on any pages (stopped at page 8). Other inns that have done nothing were still on. Did not have this issue with rel=author. Was in the local with the others and on page 1 at the bottom. Thanks again!

        • Remember that there is a different between organic search results and “Google + Your World” search results. When you are logged into any Google product, including Gmail and Google+, Google may place websites you have previously visited higher on the SERP, giving you the impression that the website is ranking higher than it naturally does. You’ll know when Google does this because they will include a gray person icon next to the listing.

          Because of this, many hoteliers think their websites are ranking higher than they really do, because they visit their own website often, and when logged into Google, Google will display their own website higher, thinking that this is the result you want to see.

          To fix this, log out of all Google products and open an “Incognito” window. This is easy to do in Chrome (the browser I recommend): Click on the options icon in the top, right-hand corner of your screen (the three horizontal bars) and choose “new incognito window).

          Now, perform your search again, making sure you are logged out of all Google products. You will finally see true, organic search engine results. Your website may rank lower than you thought, because of this.

          Remember that changes you make to your website are often not instant. Google sometimes messes with us in order to keep their secrets, by delaying their ranking algorithm until days, or even weeks after we make changes to our websites, to keep us from gaming the system and figuring out what leads to better rankings. So, you shouldn’t always expect an immediate ranking change when making a change to your website.

          Thus, it is possible your website ranked lower because rel=”author” was removed, or it could be because Google has “Google + Your World” turned on when you’re browsing. It’s hard to tell.

          All hotel properties should have rel=”publisher” installed for their websites. Remember that the box in the SERP for your property will only show up for branded queries -that is, when you Google the actual name of your hotel or website–not organic queries (which include keywords you hope to rank well for).

          rel=”author” is not required for hotel websites, but it can’t hurt (though it may confuse people–imagine a man’s face appearing next to the corporate website for Hilton, for example).

    • I’d have to see your website to know for sure what you mean. If you mean the button, then yes, the code needs to be added in addition to having the button. The button just allows your guests to “+1″ your website–think about it like the Facebook “like” button. It has nothing to do with authorship, and everything to do with community kudos.

      In order to complete authorship, you should add the rel=”publisher” link to your website’s sidebar. If you are running a buuteeq website, this is very easy to do. Either add the code yourself to the custom HTML widget code field when editing the homepage, or send the code to your customer success representative. He or she will be happy to add the code for you :)

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