Update: Google Authorship is now deprecated. It was discontinued in 2014, by Google.
Google has definitely made an imprint on our modern lives. There are some who make their living off of ascertaining what Google is up to and how they do it, with their algorithms and methods. (Hint: Only Google truly knows what Google is up to, and understandably so.) Google Authorship is another Google "feature," if you will. Some may view it as a benefit. Others may be wondering what it is.
What Is Google Authorship?
Google Authorship refers to the linking of your Google profile to content that you write on the internet, even content that is not published on your own blog. Maybe a more accurate way to say that would be *especially* the content that is not published on your own blog.
Why Google Authorship?
One of the most appealing aspects of Google Authorship is that your profile pic (avatar) shows up alongside the article description in the Google search results. When the Google searcher (person searching) continues to see your Google pic, alongside appealing, authoritative and credible content, you are seen as an expert in your field. At least, that is the hope. This creates a branding that, if used correctly and consistently, can help your business in ways that go beyond the benefits of the content alone.
Through proper set-up and use of Google Authorship, you can brand YOU, as that expert.
How Do I Do It?
The Google Authorship process is like a handshake between your Google+ profile and the blog itself. There are a couple different ways to do it, but one of the most common, and self-reliant ways of doing it is to include the blog where your article is published, in the "Contributor To" section of your Google+ profile. The video, below, demonstrates how to do that, specifically in the case of setting up for your Google Authorship on your own blog.
Refer to Webmaster Tools Help Section.
The how-to video, above, shows you how to add the code for your entire blog, so that your blog posts show up in Google SERPs, but the same code can be used in your author bios on other blogs. The key is the link to your G+ profile, with the ?rel=author added to the end of the link.
Some publishers allow a Google+ link in author set-up in the blog. What this means is that when you set up your author profile on their blog, there is a spot that asks for your G+ profile link. Don't assume that the link has the proper tag (?rel=author), as it is possible it is just a link. You can double check with the blog owner to be sure. If the publisher/blog owner does not have that author profile set-up, you can still include your Google+ link, yourself, in your author bio. Again, ensure that the end of the Google+ link includes the ?rel=author so that it is valid.
There are also some publishers who have coded the authorship link in the header of the site (similar to what is described in the video, above, for site-wide purposes) and your article shows their gravatar instead of yours. Unfortunately, this is not uncommon, and quite expectable. More and more publishers are learning how to include profile options for the authors so that the G+ link is pulled from the author bio instead of the blog coding. (One such blog that comes to mind is BasicBlogTips.com.) If you find that a blog does insert their own pic, you may want to approach the owner and ask what options are available in order for you to get the benefits of Google Authorship. Don't assume it is intentional, against you. It is more likely a case of needing the know-how in the coding of the blog.
It takes awhile for Google Authorship to "take," so don't expect it to be overnight. It is helpful if you start to learn how to code the link to your Google+ page (with the rel=author tag) and don't forget to add the web site to the "Contributor to" section of your G+ profile. Then, sit back, wait, and your pic should be showing up in those SERPs.