Why won’t Rel=Author show for my site?

I marked up my site with the rel=author a few months ago, basically as soon it was announced back in June. I followed the instructions set forth by the powers that be (aka, Google), but still nothing has happened.

Here is what I currently see in the SERPs:

What I do not understand is why the rel=author tag works for some people yet not for others. For instance, my boss Tom Critchlow marked up his personal site with it, and within about a day his picture was showing in the SERPs. Here’s how it looks:

It even shows on the Distilled blog:

Mine doesn’t:

This can only lead me to conclude one of two things:

  1. I’ve not correctly marked something up, probably linking from my Google+ profile to these sites; or
  2. Google has a whitelist and they’re arbitrarily allowing some people and not others in.

I’m honestly suspecting that it is the second, but just to be sure, here is my installation of it:

Linking from every article back to my “About” page using rel=author

When I first implemented the markup, I was actually linking back to my author archives, which I then realized I had blocked using Yoast’s SEO plugin. Oops. Even though I unblocked the author archives, I didn’t have a good way of marking up the site. This site is a bit more complicated than a single-author blog, because I’ve also had a guest post (and I’m open to having more, by the way). So I had to come up with a way to link back to my About page from the pages where I am the author. Sigh.

Thankfully, Joost was once again to the rescue! In this article he gives a way to connote a custom author page for the blog post author (in my case, for when the author is “admin”, aka me). I inserted this custom code to my template and voila, it links to my John Doherty About page.

Linking from my About page to Google+ using rel=”me”

Then I needed to link to my Google+ profile from my About page, right? If each blog post points to this page using rel=author, then this is the next step.

So I ran over to good old Google Images and fired up a “google plus” query. Copy -> Paste and I had a Google+ icon on the bottom of that page. Then I linked to my Google+ profile using this code:

<a href=”https://plus.google.com/112310499813770104747” rel=”me”>

Linking from my Google+ page back to this site as a contributor

Finally, I added a link from Google+ back to this page, so that Google knows that I am a contributor/author on this site (though if they can tell who you are on other sites, shouldn’t they know this already? I guess this is just another case of us needing to hold Google’s hand…). Here’s a screenshot of how I did this (and curiously enough, they’ve changed this a few times since I marked it up):

What now?

I’ve kind of accepted that at this point, Google just does not want to show my face in the SERPs for some reason, though they show it on News items, such as when I publish blog posts on SEOmoz:

That isn’t even my Google+ profile picture, but rather my SEOmoz profile picture (and yes, I think it’s a terrible photo as well. I’m much more handsome than that).

All of this leads me to ask why Google is showing the photo for some people and not others. Brian Whalley from Hubspot has also marked up his site, but has not had any luck getting his photo to show. The only factor I can currently figure is that Google needs to have a certain amount of trust in you as an author before your photo will show, and maybe part of that is being in a lot of circles.

Any thoughts?

40 thoughts on “Why won’t Rel=Author show for my site?

  1. having the same problem here. Like you mentioned, I just take it as Google having some sort of white list or my blog posts / information just sucking… Interested in seeing what you figure out

    1. Yeah Craig, I think it’s the whitelist thing. I don’t think that it’s the quality of the posts (though that probably matters overall for your author trust), but rather that this is a “field trial”.

      That doesn’t make me want it any less though 🙂

    1. Rich snippets testing tool tell me that the technical implementation it’s ok and it shows my profile picture.
      Maybe the authorithy is a factor that Google takes to display the picture.

      1. That’s all I can figure, Natzir. I know it’s a field trial, and Google could take it away tomorrow, but I am seeing more and author photos in the SERPs, so I’m hoping that they are rolling it out more widely now.

        1. Hi John. I had the same problem on my site. I originally took the quick approach so had my profile set as a contributor to my site which was supposed to work according to Google. The rich snippet tool told me things were working normally. Three weeks went by and actually only some posts displayed rich snippet photos but most were showing the incorrect author images from other authors on the same site… What was funny was Google was displaying the photo of the person listed first on my author widget/block (listing all authors) which does appear on each page (they need to work out that kink). So I wired up each author’s post to link to their G+ profile and like magic as soon as each page was recrawled the correct author photos started showing up!

  2. Same problem here. I have everything set up correctly according to the Rich Snippet Testing Tool and I submitted it to Google over two an a half months ago and nothing.

    For other rich snippets implementations not related to the author tag it took about 3-6 weeks for them to start showing up. This is frustrating!

  3. Hey John, as a single author blog, have you tried experimenting cutting out the rel=”me” to an about page step, and simply using rel=”author” on your site wide G+ link?

    1. Meant to add…but yeh, wouldn’t be surprised if they were using some sort of ‘klout’ type authority rating to decide who to show.

      1. Thanks for the feedback, Niall! This actually isn’t a single author blog. I’ve had a guest post from Mike Essex (of Koozai) and am looking to have more. I need to look into how to do that with the rel=author markup (once again, Joost has a good resource on it, I just have not taken the time to implement it yet).

  4. I think it’s a “Google thing” too. I only see my face when it’s attached to something I shared, but not for my regular SERPs. The Rich Snippet testing tool shows my code is properly marked up, but I guess that’s not enough for the big G.

  5. This is definitely strong evidence that Google is assigning, tracking and measuring their perceived authority. You should compare your social metrics with Tom and see what the differences are.

    1. Ryan –
      He definitely has a lot more authority than I do as an author, especially in SEO. Sure, I’m on a lot of the same blogs, but he’s just been around a lot longer.

  6. From the domain registration info, it appears that this site has been active for less than a year (?)

    I wonder if domain/site age might be a factor in determining authority, and whether author images are displayed in SERPs.

    FWIW, I’ve tried to check the Tool Bar PageRank for this site too, but it’s coming back as n/a.

    1. Hey Gary –
      The site was registered in January or February. First post was Feb 8th I think. Domain age may have something to do with it, but I’m not convinced. Tom’s site is not much older than mine, if any.

      On my Chrome browser I see a TBPR of 3. This site’s mR and mT are right around that too I think.

      1. I’m not sure if age is a factor. Coded my site as well, and Google Snippet Tool says it’s done the right way, and it’s 4 years old. But I can’t get my mug display in SERPs as well. Could be a lot of things, but I’m inclined to what the other comments say, Google perceives the authority of the author.

    1. Dixon –
      Thanks for the comment and thanks for reading my site. I’m in over 900 circles on Google+. Do you think that breadth of sites that you are connected to affects this? I’m wondering if I should connect more of my profiles up to my Google+ profile page.

  7. I was told by John Mueller that it’s on limited rollout (or something to that effect). I don’t remember his exact words, but you’ll probably get it at some point, assuming the snippets tool shows everything ok. I just checked, and mine is finally working – it wasn’t as of just a couple of weeks ago, or whenever it was that I last checked.

  8. Ok, I found my Google Plus post where John commented, so here is his exact wording, “At the moment, we’re rolling this out fairly slow to make sure that we get it right. I know that’s probably frustrating when you’ve got things ready, but hang in there and we’ll get you set up yet :)”

    Hope that helps.

  9. Your picture is now showing up in google (or it did when i saw this post) so maybe it just takes some time. Unless you did something differently?

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  12. All the pictures I see are from people who are in 1,000 or more circles. My markup is correct, and the Rich Snippet tool says it’s ok. So I hope google will role it out to more people soon, or is there a good way to contact google and ask them to review the site (or even be whitelisted)?

  13. I put my code up 4 months ago and it just yesterday started to show my face in the SERPs. I don’t have many circles, and I haven’t written loads of posts, but the few I have written have been G+’d by people and this may have helped. Or it could just be a roll out issue and they just got around to me.

    I used these instructions to get mine working – but like I said, it did take several months – it was by no means instant.


    1. Like Liz above, it took well over three months for mine to start “working” – Now I’m hoping that someday soon rel=publisher will begin to do the same – i.e. show the chosen logo for businesses that have a Google Plus page – It’s the next logical step, I would assume, so we’re getting it in place already.

      1. Yes Scott – I am thinking exactly the same thing. Unlike author images I haven’t yet seen any company logos showing – I notice for example that Dell have a logo on their Google+ page, but despite having a huge Klout and presence in the index, their logo does not show.

  14. Were you able to get this working? I recently launched my new site and have the rel-author set up properly, but it’s been around a month and I am still having no luck.

    My guess is that if your site is newer or less authoritative, than it may not show up nearly as fast until you have proven that your site provides valuable content. I have a post going soon on a bigger site, and will be curious to see if that is the golden nugget to getting my rel-author to display in the SERPs.

  15. Patience is all it (should) take. I extended our WordPress theme with support for showing authors like 5 days ago, and still no luck (yet). It likely simply depends on the time the article is live, and the # of competing authors in the same area/sphere. I am pretty sure Google won’t let each SERP have a photo since then it wouldn’t be that “special”.

  16. Well, a bit of an old post and i imagine most people have it figured out now, but I will post my experience, es well… I found that if i put in the ‘contributor to’ and embed the rel=author tag, that is just works. However, I am referring to stand alone website, not blogs… Although all my blogs from my websites appear to show with authorship. Not really sure if i am missing something here, but I am trying to get more out of google.

    You could alse add a google+ page and a new website, then embed the publisher and author code for both, and have the snippets. It seems to just work. I have done is with new dowmains, and it worked, but that is generally a site with some pages, or an older domain on a new custom html.

    A new domain, new page, and single page simple template website, sometimes has not worked right away, but add a few pages and a few links to the website, and whoala.

    With a business page in addition to the profile, businesses can show up in the google maps/places for businesses searched by region, much like the old school ‘google places’. I have never had google places continue to work properly over any extended period of time, though… always been buggy for me.

    For me it has worked with and without a logo or any text.

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