When To Use Google Authorship Versus Publisher Tags

By Sarah Bonner | Sep 23, 2013
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Authorship eyetracking study

When Google Publisher and Authorship tags are used correctly, they can be very helpful to overall search engine optimization and, most importantly, to searchers looking for your content. They can help your content stand out in search results, and studies have even shown that search results with authorship rich snippets can attract more clicks than search results without them (even higher ranking ones!), while publisher tags help Google see your Google plus profile and website together.


Unfortunately, they are not always used correctly. Each tag tells Google something different, so it is important to understand their differences and benefits, as well as place them on the right pages of any site.


What are Rel=Publisher tags?

Publisher tags are a simple way to link your website to your Google Plus profile. When this link is in place, it gives Google official information to determine the relevancy of your site to search queries. Publisher tags should only go on the most significant page of your site, usually the home page. Learn how to set up these publisher tags in the Google Help Center.

What are Rel=Author tags?

Authorship tags are a way to link your content (specifically, by-lined content such as articles, blog posts, and even PDFs) to your Google Plus profile. Once you’ve set up authorship, it gives Google information about your content to determine its relevancy to search queries and signifies original content by one author to the searcher. Learn how to set up authorship tags in the Google Help Center.

Differences and Benefits

Authorship is reserved for blog posts and articles that have one human author, not a committee or random pages of a website, while publisher tags are used to link a website with a Google Plus profile. Authorship tags help build trust in content and search results by showing an author’s picture next to their content in a SERP.

Authorship Example

Not only does this picture help build trust by signifying original content, but those results stand out, and could increase click-through rates. Authorship also gives users the opportunity to see more content from the same author. If a searcher clicks on a result with authorship, reads the article or stays on that post for a specified amount of time (some say two minutes), then goes back to the search results, they are shown “More by …” underneath those results, which could increase page-views. Some sites abuse authorship tags, by placing them on every page of their website, whether it is original content or not. Although Google hasn’t given us a definitive answer on penalties for this type of abuse, Matt Cutts has implied that it is in the works.

When To Use Each

Publisher tags should be used on any website that you would like to link to a company Google Plus profile. (Step one: set up a company Google Plus profile!) Remember you only need one, usually on the home page.  Authorship tags should be used on all original blog posts or articles written by a person with a Google Plus profile (Step one: have your authors create individual Google Plus Profiles!).

Have any questions about publisher or authorship tags? Comment below or tweet me @smb1213 with any questions or comments!

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