Many search results in Google now include an image of the author of the website or a blog post. If this is something you’ve noticed and wondered about, then this blog post is for you. I’ll explain what it is, why it’s beneficial and how you can add your image to your search results.

First up, what’s going on – why are all these profile photos showing up under search results?

If you are not aware of this growing trend, here’s a screen-shot from a Google search for Web Matters.

google-author

As you can see, my image and name are being added to the search result for the main website, and it is also showing up for some of my blog posts.

The photos are showing up as part of what is called ‘Google Authorship‘ – Google matches your image to your website. Don’t worry if this sounds a little too spooky for you – it’s not mandatory and you need to take some steps to get it to work.

The technical term for these enhanced search results is ‘rich snippets’. Another example of rich snippets is seeing review star ratings in search results – something that’s really important for e-commerce sites.

So what’s so good about Google Authorship?

Basically it personalises search results which leads to a higher click-through rate (a 150% increase according to this report).  Web searchers are more likely to click on a personalised search result over a non-personalised one. People like looking at people (we’re a social bunch) and are highly visual, so adding a photo can make a big difference in attracting visitors to your site. It will give you a competitive advantage over websites that are not personalising results.

Ok, so here’s how to get your image into the search results:

You will need:

  • A Google Account
  • A Google+ Profile
  • A profile photo with a good head shot
  • A website or a blog that you contribute to and which has your full name on the articles (e.g. ‘By Michelle Sullivan’) and this full name needs to match the name you have used on your Google+ profile

If you have all of that, the next steps are:

  • Verify your email address with Google+
  • Note, that the email address must use your domain name – so for Web Matters, we verified [email protected] (which uses our domain name).

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