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Google’s Hidden Author Search (plus Bookmarklet and Video)

John Doherty —  February 11, 2012
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Google has an author search. Did you know that? We’ve been talking about author authority for some months now, and in earnest for about the past five or six. When rel=author was announced back in June, the SEO world went nutso talking about “SEO is dead” and “The Era of Linkbuilding is Over” and “We all have to go in-house now” and all sorts of craziness.

I’ve always been a fan of author authority. During a recent discussion, a trusted friend brought up that it’s now interesting that people are moving away from the authority of a site, and now moving more towards reading content because it was written by a certain author. I certainly think that is true. I at least am more inclined to read a post on certain sites if I know who wrote it, instead of just the title. Knowing the author helps to weed out the noise that is prevalent in the SEO/online marketing industry.

But back to the point at hand. Authors. In search. We all know that when we search for a topic, sometimes we will see someone’s face staring right back at us, like so:

But there is also this nifty little link that was pointed out to me last week by a coworker:

When you click that “More by (author)” link, you get taken to a page where you see all of the posts written by that author for that topic. Pretty awesome, right?

That’s cool and all, but how can we take it further? Lucky for you, I did a little digging (it wasn’t too hard, to be honest) and found some cool learnings that we can use for many different reasons, not the least of which being link prospecting.

The other day I found a way to pull all of a Google verified authors posts by manipulating the URL. To make your life easier, I have created a bookmarklet for you to use when you are on someone’s Google+ page.

Get the bookmarklet:

Author Search!

Here’s the TL;dr (too long; didn’t read) steps for you. If you care more about the technical details, read on below these.

Technical: What this bookmarklet does is first search for the person whose Google+ URL you are on:

It then brings up a custom search for that person:

Type in a query for that person:

And you get all of the posts for that query written by that person on the sites they are verified on, like so for Danny:

BOOM!!!

Here is a video about how to use it:

Once again, get the bookmarklet:

Author Search!


Deconstructing the URL

Let’s get slightly technical for a minute. If you are an SEO, you should be able to hang with this.

What this bookmarklet does is pull the person’s First+Last name and Google+ ID. It takes you to a custom search for that person. You enter the query and you are returned all of the posts that the person has written on sites that they are verified for. At worst, you’ll find a bunch of results where they’ve been mentioned. Not bad, right?

Let’s deconstruct the URL and I will show you the important parts of it that you must change in order to use Author Search for your needs.

Here’s the URL for a search for “43 answers to questions about seo rand”, once I have clicked on the above highlighted “More by Rand Fishkin” link:

You’ll want to enlarge that

There are three key parts that you need to know about:

  1. The search query section;
  2. The author’s Google+ ID;
  3. The Author’s name

Here you see how the query is constructed:

As you can see, the query begins with “&q=” then has the query, with each word separated by a +.

Next, we find the author’s Google+ ID, as seen here in the above URL:

And finally we find the author’s name, which is in the format of “First+Last”, with the first and last names capitalized:

So now we know the different sections of the URL that we need to change. Remember, the Google+ ID and name come from their Google+ account.

Why You Care

The reason I just walked you through that little tutorial of the URL is because you can now change these variables in the URL so that you can find articles written around a topic by any author whose authorship has been verified by Google. Like this guy:

This is HUGE. Check it out.

When I manipulate the above URL to Danny Sullivan’s name, his  Google+ ID, and the search query set to search engine optimization, I get this:

Check the link out for yourself.

Uses?

As I am sure many of you are thinking, this could be awesome for linkbuilding, especially guest posting, because now you can know posts that the author has written around the Internet (if they are verified for multiple sites, like Tom Critchlow is for Moz and Distilled) and can tailor your pitch to them.

Here are some more examples:

Jason Acidre on link prospecting

Tom Critchlow on Content Marketing

Everything by Rand mentioning spam

Bookmarklet

Once again, to make your life easier, I have created a bookmarklet for you to use when you are on someone’s Google+ page.

Get the bookmarklet:

Author Search!

See the steps listed in the first section about for how to use it properly.

Here is the Javascript if you cannot get the bookmarklet to work by dragging and dropping it onto your Bookmarks bar:

javascript:(function(){var url = document.location;var links = document.getElementsByTagName(‘link’);var spans = document.getElementsByClassName(‘fn’);var canonical = ‘none’;for (var i = 0, l; l = links[i]; i++){if (l.getAttribute(‘rel’) == ‘canonical’){canonical = l.getAttribute(‘href’);break;}}var plusid = canonical.replace(“https://plus.google.com/”,””); var name = spans[0].innerText.replace(” “,”+”);location.href=”http://www.google.com/search?tbs=ppl_ids:–”+plusid+”-,ppl_nps:”+name;})();


I hope this is useful to you. I’d love to hear thoughts you have about other ways to use it.

John Doherty

Posts

I'm the new (as of October 2013) Online Marketing Manager of Hotpads.com, soon to be based in San Francisco. Previous to Hotpads I worked at Distilled for 2 years as an online marketing consultant. In my spare time I shoot lifestyle photography, explore new and interesting food in New York, ski, rock climb, and update my Twitter and Google+ accounts.

46 responses to Google’s Hidden Author Search (plus Bookmarklet and Video)

  1. Does not work on my FF6.

  2. Interesting post but I’d like to see how Google quantifies the PR in terms of keyword and link relationship.

  3. Interesting post. I’d like to see how Google quantifies the PR in terms of keyword and link relationship.

  4. Thanks for taking the time to make the video. Super-helpful. I’ll be using this a lot for connecting with my favorite people. Now if only there was a replacement for the Salesforce-acquired (and shut down) etacts…

  5. awesome post. thanx for sharing

  6. nice article..I can see all my posts now…

  7. due to the awesomeness of the latest builds of firefox i have switched back from chrome. lovely having twice-as-fast load times and not having tab crashes and scroll freezes.

    just wanted to let you know that this script is also not working in the fox’s latest builds.

    • Thanks Archer. A couple of people have told me about that. I’ll see what I can do, but as this bookmarklet put my JS to the test (and ultimately I ended up using my boss’s script), not sure that’s gonna happen :-)

  8. Works fantastic for me. :]
    Thanks for sharing this with us John Doherty.

  9. Niiiice detective work! Love the URL deconstruction!

  10. You need to add instructions for the average Joe on how to add a bookmarklet. And I can’t get it to work for me in Chrome at all here.

  11. Awesome! Thanks so much for updating us all on this.

  12. Great tip, thanks for sharing the video too!

  13. I put the bookmarklet in my Chrome toolbar and when I visit a blog site and click on the Author Search bookmarklet, it opens up with the author’s name but when I put in a subject, it just gives everything ever said by anybody on that subject, not what that author says.

  14. Thanks for making the bookmarklet. I was able to follow your train of thought for deciphering where to copy and paste different data in the URL string to get different results (lord knows I’ve done similar things in the past to get link contacts), but the bookmarklet makes it much easier.

  15. I loves the URL deconstruction because I was able to follow :)

    Only it doesn’t seem incredibly useful when the only people making use of it are SEOs or people who are highly visible anyway.
    It could be so useful for following favorite writers who don’t have their own home page. If they used it.

  16. Incredibly Awesome Post… Wondering how would you get the idea to think about such kind of thing… thumbs up… :)

    • Hey John,
      Awesome post. I actually found this post by searching for “search query for authorship” I’m trying to figure out a way to create a Google Alert for posts by authors I want to build a relationships with, so I can comment on their posts, etc. Any ideas how to do this?

  17. I am unable to show my author search display. I have tried all the way, but no result. However I tried checking rich snippet testing tool and it shows ok, but Google doesn’t display.

    Doherty, what may be the issue? Is it like Google taking time to display it?

  18. I really love your site.. Very nice colors & theme.
    Did you create this web site yourself? Please reply back as I’m wanting to create my own personal blog and want to find out where you got this from or what the theme is named. Many thanks!

  19. Hi, I do believe this is an excellent website. I stumbledupon it
    ;) I may return yet again since I saved as a favorite
    it. Money and freedom is the best way to change, may you be rich and continue to help others.

  20. Hi John,

    Great article – however, has google changed something as I have noticed 2 things:
    1/. None of your example links seem to work. It seems to bring up the right query, and you get to see the profile of the author in the top right, but the listings are only related to the query – not the author?? EG click th “Rand Spam” and the top 2 results are Wikipedia. Non of the other results seem to be connected to Rand in any way either??
    2/. I previously used to see the “More by Author” link SERP’s, but this link seems to have disappeared in recent search results?

    Any thought on why it no longer seems to work?

  21. I have had some problems too, but the idea sounds good, will work on it a little more. Anyway Google+ seems to be a hot trend now from what I have been reading around the internet.

  22. @John|: Great idea: the bookmarklet. But it doesn’t work because the ‘more by this author’ function has vanished: http://searchengineland.com/google-downplays-google-with-updated-authorship-snippet-156870

  23. All sorts of ways to eliminate the warning message “Automatically detected on the webpage author name: Not Found” always fails

  24. What’s up, everything is going sound here and ofcourse every one is sharing facts, that’s actually
    finе, keep uр writing.

  25. This is a topic that is close to my heart.
    .. Best wishes! Where are your contact details
    though?

  26. I’ve been surfing online greater than 3 hours nowadays, but I never discovered any interesting article like yours. It’s
    lovely price enough for me. Personally, if all website owners and bloggers made
    good content as you probably did, the net can be much more useful than ever before.

  27. Great blog! Do you have any hints for aspiring
    writers? I’m hoping to start my own site soon but I’m a little lost
    on everything. Would you recommend starting with a free platform
    like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that
    I’m totally overwhelmed .. Any ideas? Thank you!

  28. I’m really enjoying the design and layout of your website. It’s a very easy on the eyes
    which makes it much more enjoyable for me to come here and visit more often.
    Did you hire out a designer to create your theme? Exceptional work!

    My website – colour leaflets

  29. Thanks for sharing the bookmarklet. This will surely help in the link building process. Great post!

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