How to Get Your Photo in Google Results and Why Google+ Worries Me

By: Ramsay | 72 intelligent opinions, add yours

One of the most important things you can do for your search engine rankings is to set up Google Authorship.

This is where Google displays a little photo of your handsome mug next to any results that you have authored (I’ll show you how to set this up down below).

Here’s a screenshot of how one of mine looks:

Google Authorship photo in search results

Some of the benefits of this are obvious:

  • Higher CTR
    Results with a photo are going to get a higher click through rate than those without. Unless, of course, you have a really ugly mug!
  • Increased exposure
    An important part of a successful brand is making sure that your “image” appears in as many places as possible. This is great exposure for you and your brand.
  • Increased trust and authority
    Results with Google Authorship look a lot more trustworthy than those without. It makes the result seem more official. This is particularly important for brands that are trying to sell a product.

But the less obvious benefit that many people are reporting is that they are ranking much higher in the SERPs (Search Engine Ranking Positions) since they set up Google+ and added Google Authorship to their blog (you need both for the latter to work).

And while this might seem like an awesome thing it does worry me a little bit.

Here’s why.

Why Google+ worries me

Let me start by saying that Google+ is completely essential for anyone wanting to succeed online.

It is no longer an “optional” social network. Brian Clark, of course, has been saying this for a while.

Why?

Because it is so intimately linked to search results and, over time, it will become integrated with every other Google service such that if you ignore it you will be left behind in more areas than just rankings.

And that is precisely why I am worried about it.

You see, I love Google. Incidentally, I also really love Google+.

Without Google probably half of the people reading this article would never have encountered my site.

Without Google I wouldn’t be able to make a regular income from affiliates and blogging.

Without Google… you get the idea.

But as blogger I am inherently wary of Google. Call it a healthy mistrust. I think anyone who makes money on the internet should have it.

And the reason is that we become too dependent on Google. And with Google+ being integrated into hundreds of millions of smart phones, local search results, videos, emails, etc. the reliance is going to get even heavier.

Don’t get me wrong here – it’s not that I don’t trust Google with my information. I do. I am a paranoid person by nature but I don’t think Google is some big giant corporation trying to gather data on us all so that we can be enslaved into some mindless zombie-race.

As far as corporations go I think Google is very honest.

But it’s still not a smart business decision to rely on them too heavily.

Two cautionary tales of Google reliance

If you’ve been reading Blog Tyrant for a while (nice work!) you’ve probably heard my story about getting de-indexed from Google’s results with one of my early blogs.

The first story

In case you haven’t, the story is pretty simple. I built up a fitness blog with quality, original content and then started making regular income from Adsense on the site. One day I woke up and with no warning found that my site had been de-indexed from Google and my revenue had completely dried up. The traffic was gone.

I was in trouble. But I was also an idiot.

I don’t know whether someone reported me for a made up offence or whether it was just a glitch in their update but Google tooketh awayeth as fast as they had giveth. I was relying on their organic search traffic almost 100% and when it went away so did my income.

Of course I still wanted to date Google (badly!) but I promised that we’d never be exclusive again. I needed to start seeing other people.

And then Google+ and Google Authorship came along.

The second story

I set up my G+ account and then added Google Authorship to my blog so that my photo would appear in the search results (I’ll show you how to do that later).

Everything was going swimmingly – one post in particular was performing quite well with the new photo and I was getting a little bit of extra affiliate income each week.

But then I noticed the photo disappeared.

And then came back again.

And then disappeared again.

And I wasn’t the only one who was experiencing the issue.

Guess what? When the photo was gone that affiliate income dropped in line with click throughs. Once again I found myself relying on Google traffic for an income source instead of building up my own self-reliant asset.

It happened to a lot of “real” businesses after the Panda update too.

What should I be doing instead?

As I said, there is nothing wrong with Google traffic.

There is nothing wrong with getting a crap-tonne of it either.

The problem is when you rely too heavily on it and my worry is that Google+ is making us all so integrated and dependent on Google services that a lot of bloggers, website owners, etc. will find it hard to live without them.

Here are some steps I think we should all be taking:

  • Keep going with Google+ and SEO
    Don’t interpret this post as me telling you to run for the hills and leave Google behind. That’s crazy talk! Keep learning and growing on Google+ and with your SEO strategies.
  • Keep writing solid content with a strategy
    Now, more than ever, you need to focus on writing solid content that has a strategy behind it. A lot of bloggers have problems with that strategy which is something I’m going to help you with very soon.
  • Really focus on the email list
    Make sure you are using AWeber or MailChimp to grow a mail list that is engaged, involved and, most importantly, yours. These amazing people are your primary and your back up plans.
  • Diversify your traffic sources
    I would say that you want to have greater than 50% of your traffic coming from non-Google sources. That means guest posts, sites that link to your wicked content, forum discussions that you participate in, legitimate advertising methods, etc. The more organic, non-search referrals the better.
  • Diversify your content styles
    One of the best ways to get diverse traffic is to use different methods of content. Instead of just pumping out blog posts consider things like infographics, photos, tools, eBooks, podcasts, videos, tutorials, etc. These will attract different types of links to your site. All this quality content will also help keep you in good stead with Google.

If you are clever and plan your time well you will be able to get across all of these things without too much trouble.

How to set up Google Authorship and get your photo in search results

There are a lot of tutorials out there on how to set up Google Authorship but I thought I’d run over it in this post quickly to save you looking around. I’ve done a video version and a written out version below.

To get your face in the Google search results you need:

  1. A Google+ account
  2. A snippet of code added to your blog/posts that you author.
  3. A link on your Google+ profile back to that blog/those posts.

So you start by getting a Google+ account if you haven’t done so already. Just go here to get started and make sure you think carefully about which email/Google Account that you use as it will be connected to your emails, YouTube Channel, analytics, etc.

set up Google Authorship

Once you’ve done that go to your blog and open up the code for your About page. You need to add a special link back to your Google+ profile from your About page. Actually, it’s just a regular link but with a special element.

The link should look like this:

<a href=”http://YourGoogle+ProfileAddress” rel=”author”>Google +</a>

It is really important that you include the re=”author” part of the code as that is what tells Google that you are the author of that content.

set up Google Authorship

Once you’ve done that, head back to your Google+ account and go the the Profile section.

Click Edit Profile and go to the About tab.

Scroll down until you find the Other Profiles are and then Add a Custom Link back to the page where you just added the special author link.

set up Google Authorship

That’s it! After a few days or weeks you should start to see your face appearing in the search results. You can check my Profile to see what it should look like.

If you’ve authored articles in many places you can repeat the process and add links back to the other sites under Contributor To.

Are you worried about Google+?

Have you set up Google Authorship for your blog? Are you seeing any interesting results? I’d really like to hear from anyone who has an interesting experience in this area. I’d especially like to hear from you if you’re worried about Google+ for some reason and whether or not you’re resisting signing up.



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72 Comments

  • Thanks Ramsay – I always enjoy your blogging tips coming through the email!
    ~neil

  • Thanks for doing another scrumptious video. I haven’t done Google + yet but I’m going to.

  • All sorted Ramsay, thanks for proving a great little nugget ;-)

    Dan

  • Have had GA+ in place since it came out, but the photo showing up is very erratic to say the least. Google slapped my transport site last year and one other site that’s won a tonne of awards is now getting “unnatural” link warnings. This really pisses me off as we take sponsored posts but they are professionally written, the fee is for the writer and not the no-follow link. I’m expected to chase Google and get everything made okay, but if they can’t tell a no-follow link from a do-follow link then we are in trouble. The site has over 2,000 ordinary blog posts yet the three no-follow sponsored ones are a “problem”.

    I’ve quite chasing search engines and trying to please tehm, I’m just going to please my readers and if they don’t like it then tough, what’s the worst they can do? Send me no traffic?

    • Ramsay

      Sorry to hear you’re having trouble Sarah.

      I think you’re on the right track. Quality content – they’ll figure it out sooner or later.

  • Google Plus is also important in regards to preventing duplicate content penalties when people copy your content. It basically attributes your content to your Google Plus author profile, so be sure to fill out all your website URL’s on the Google Plus profile and link back to that profile from your About page.

    • Ramsay

      Great point Brian. I hadn’t thought to mention that. Thanks!

  • As yet I haven’t set myself up with an Author account as I want to get the account right, as you know I write for a site that isn’t mine and under a kind of pen name so I want it to be for me. Cannot go rushing into this as I am sure there is only one chance.

    As for relying on Google, so very true, they do seem to want everyone to go over to them in a kind of ‘Emperor and a dark side thingy…’

    They may not be Evil but relying on them can be dangerous if they do a few changes or decide that they do not like what you do even if it was what Google accepted last week you can lose out big time as you have found out.

    Many marketers lost very profitable businesses overnight which is ok if they are very wealthy but if you are relying on that money as your main source of income to feed the family etc then you are screwed. Starting again isn’t always easy when your back is up against the wall.

    Guest blogging is an excellent way to generate traffic without Google but it seems that they are looking into the guest blogging phenomena which could end up having some sites penalised for having too many guest posts.

    Will be interesting to see what happens. :-)
    Great read as always Ramsay.

    • Ramsay

      Nice new photo Andi!

      In regards to getting it right the first time around: I set up G+ and then deleted it a few days later when I decided that it was too invasive. I had several thousand followers at that time because so many people had added my email when they’d started their own. Then when I decided that I’d have to get back on it I re-opened it but couldn’t get all those followers back.

      Whoops.

      • Why thank you kind Sir. :-)

        I write for another site as a guest poster on a regular basis and was given an author account and they insisted I ‘outed’ myself. Now you can see that I am real. :-)

        They wanted me to do a Google Authorship as well which I have yet to do because like you I will need to start from scratch. My Google+ account is not me but Minion Leeman so you see why I want to do it properly.

        Fortunately I don’t stand to lose thousands though, I am not as popular as your good self. :-)

  • Ramsay – this is GOLD! Thanks!

    I do have a google+ account and page for my site, but it’s tough to get anywhere near the same level of engagement that I get on BookFace and Twitter.

    Any theories as to why?

    • Ramsay

      I think that’s the story for everyone over there. The main tip is to find the right communities, join them and then post there – not just on your home page.

  • zimbrul

    Now it is HUGE but if eveybody will do it we’ll be just like before but with our pretty faces on Google

    • Ramsay

      Yes, true. I have a feeling they won’t let everyone do it after a while.

  • I had my photo in search results for a while, then I decided I don’t want it there. I edited my profile and put a pic of palm tree instead of my profile photo. I thought Google will drop that palm tree immediately, but it has been three days a picture of palm is showing next to my Google search results :D

    Other than that, I find this really really disturbing and it’s annoying me more and more. If I only knew how to change this!

    • zimbrul

      Try to put a blank picture to match the background of the google search page or simply put an indecent picture and Google will remove it automagically.

      • Ha ha, incident picture :D Actually palms are great for click-through as it turns out. I don’t mind it there, just wondering whether they are going to keep it.

    • Just go to your google profile and hit Edit.
      Find this settings:
      “Profile discovery Profile visible in search”
      and uncheck “Help others discover my profile in search results”.

  • Great, thanks for sharing this blog post. Fantastic

  • Hey Ramsay,
    I am new here. I landed here from your recent guest post on ProBlogger regarding selling blogs. In that series of posts on ProBlogger I wrote about buying blogs.
    So we both are like-minded :)

    As always this is another definitive article. To be honest I am doing BAD in G+. I am an fb guy. FB may help me in getting higher rank in Google as Google value social responses these days more.

    But definitely as you said G+ has better value. So regardless of our love to it we gotta use it :(

    Will work more on G+ coming days.
    Thanks for the heads up!
    Shahzad Saeed

    • Ramsay

      That was a great post man! Awesome to see you over here.

  • Great walkthrough. I unsubscribed from a ton of lists lately and I’m still really happy that I stayed on yours. You and Pat Flynn are the only ones allowed in the inbox. Keep up the great work!

  • Thanks, as usual, for the great info. OK, so I still had to ask my software engineer husband to help me find where to put that little code on my Word Press set, but it was easy when he did it! Lol.
    Thanks again!

  • Your my hero! I’ve literally watched a dozen different tutorials that all say to do entirely different things and implemented all of them and NONE of them worked. What’s strangest is that all of the steps you laid out don’t have anything in common with any of the other videos (Other profiles as opposed to contributor to, put the link on a single page, leave the posts?hl=en part in)
    Thank you so much this was giving me such a headache!

  • I’ve got the rel=”author” bit in the column, so it is on every page.
    Does that mean there could be a problem as I’ve not just got it on the ‘About’ page?
    I’ve done the same with my other sites as well.

    • Ramsay

      I’m not 100% sure about this one Peter. I’ve also done that in my sidebar. The best way is to check with Google Rich Text Snippets and see if it’s all correct.

  • I did this when the option first came available and I think it definitely helps. The problem is g+ is yet one more place to post unique content. FB, twitter, G+, and even linkedin. I auto-post to twitter and linkedin for new site posts. FB, I use for a little bit of everything related to the topic – musings and whatnot – mind you in this case I have a brand page. G+ – what do you get? And how much do I want to post in yet one more place!?!

    I like g+ but found that within my niche it seemed like a flash in the pan. ARGGGGH!

    • Ramsay

      Ha ha. Yep. I know the feeling. Darren Rowse even writes whole new posts on G+ now. Lots of work.

  • Ok…I’m usually pretty competent about these things, although I admit I’m not a HTML expert. I’ve spent about an hour trying to get the Google + link set right on my “about” page and it’s just not working. Can you clarify the text? I’ve tried every version I can think of..Any help would be appreciated. No issue with setting it up on the Google + side.

    Google +

    • Ramsay

      Hi James.

      If that is the exact link code you’ve pasted above you’ve made two small errors:

      1. the start of the URL should have the http://

      2. the end of the URL has an extra ”

      Hope that helps.

  • How about authorship for forum posts?

    If you add a Google+ link from your forum signature back to your Google+ page and also link to your forum profile as a contributer from your Google+ page, will you get credit for the content you add to forums?

    • Ramsay

      Hmmm…. very interesting question. I have absolutely no idea!

  • That’s true how many of us rely on the Google search engine. That’s good as well as bad like you pointed out. I wonder when another search engine or creation will over take Google.

  • Hi, Ramsay!

    I’ve been reading the BlogTyrant for almost 3 weeks now, and I’ve learned so much! Thanks! =)

    I’m updating my portfolio to have something that works as a blog too, and the authorship seems to be a great tool for me. My (probably stupid) question is: do you think I should put the authorship linked to my “personal” google e-mail or start with a “professional” profile? My doubt is because I’ve lots of friends that could be already counted as contacts in my personal account, while in the personal one I’d be starting from zero.
    What do you recommend? Is possible to attach two authors?

    Many thanks!!! =)

    (Ps: I’ve read a post where you discuss abut “short x long” posts, the comments were closed, but I think the content of the posts is really good, but the title is not attractive enough, doesn’t reflect the content. Maybe you can update these posts and “re-launch” them with new titles, or just do an experience! =)
    Again, many thanks for your blog, you have about 50% of my chrome tabs filled with your posts right now! =D)

    • Ramsay

      Hey Isis.

      It’s a tough question on personal email vs professional one. In the end I didn’t use my personal email as I want there to be some separation from my private life and this work. But a lot of people just use the one email.

      Which particular long vs short articles are you talking about where the titles aren’t very good? Perhaps I should re-think them.

      • (TRYING TO CORRECT SOME MISTAKES I NOTICED AFTER SENDING)

        Hi, Ramsay!
        Sorry for the late reply, I didn’t know you’d answered! Thanks! =)

        I tried to come back to your old posts to find examples for the titles, but I just could not find a way to see all your posts…So this maybe could be a start, as Jacob do here: http://justcreative.com/featured-articles/
        But I can remember that this issue was more in older posts. Just to talk about one, in the “long x short” (http://www.blogtyrant.com/long-vs-short-blog-posts/)
        The URL doesn’t match the title, and I think the URL is more like the way that someone would search on google, something like “short+or+long+posts+better”.
        I also think people like titles that suggest “lists”, so I’d put the title as something “Short Posts x Long Posts: 10 ways to find-out what is better for you now” (sorry, my English is not very good, but I think you got the idea)!

        I’d say that an easy way is to think that the titles should answer the questions: to who – why – when – how. All them, if it’s possible. =)

        As I said before, I really think your titles improved a lot, so maybe this is not an issue now. But I can remember I felt a lot that the content was actually much better than what I could expect just reading than the title, and this was great! =)

        Juts to give you an example, I’ve a very particular way to navigate, I open 300 tabs and start to read them from right to left; then I save what is important and then I close the tab. This is how I did to read a lot of your articles (everytime I see a interesting link, I open a new tab), but it was difficult to find some of the articles now, so I think having a list would be useful, and have a fixed menu with a search can be good as well…

        I’m really just starting in blogging, so I’m sorry if I said something too stupid or obvious, but I’m a UX and Graphic designer, so if you need any other opinion I’d be happy to help you as you have been helping me from the time I’ve been reading your blog! I’m sure you already know all the good ones in this areas, but I’m here if you need me! =)

        Again, thanks a lot for your answer! I think I’ll just separate both profiles, or start with them together and hope that Google launches an easy way to export your circles from an account to another…

        Sorry for the long reply and have a nice day!
        Isis

  • Some great points there.
    As far as CTR goes, I’ve seen the difference first hand. This is, I believe, especially true about reviews or similar content- it gives that feeling of transparency, making it easier for searchers to trust your snippet way more.

    Another thing that saves from the exercise in frustration is diversifying income streams. So far I use only affiliates, and when ranking fluctuates there is always a headache. But what is more important is not diversifying income streams as much as diversifying traffic sources. This gives the option to choose income streams.

    This post was great, and very useful for those not knowing the benefits as well as the process of incorporating Google authorship. For me I guess, if I have to take away one thing, it’s definitely variety of content. It’s what I’m currently working on, and what I believe will improve the quality of my site.

  • Ramsay, I have been going through the process but the EDIT button on my Google+ profile isn’t there. Ever run into this? I couldn’t find it on their “HELP” list. What should I do?

    • Ramsay

      Are you sure you’re logged in with the right email?

  • I like Google. I’m a new blogger with little traffic but I get a lot of interactions on Google. It’s more personable. Thanks for your tips.

  • I’ve tried two tutorials before this and it didn’t work. They were different to this one so hopefully this should work for me.

    Thanks!

  • Thanks for sharing this tutorial. I still can’t seem to get my photo in the results. I’m going to wait another few days before trying again but it seems as if I have everything setup just as you instructed.

    • Ramsay

      Hey Ryan.

      I had a quick look for you and found the problem. You’ve got two ” in both the URL section and the “author” section.

      It should look like:

      a href=”http://yourgoogleplus.com/” rel=”author”

  • Hey Ramsay!
    Thanks for your awesome sharing.I was searching to know about Google Authorship.Thanks its really helpful.And mostly thanks for your tips.

  • Tyrant,

    I love this post, as it makes me feel like I am “ahead of the game”. I have a question. When setting up Google +, you are required to have your personal page and then stem off that page with a business page. Is your google + account for the blogtyrant your initial personal page or is it your business page? Whenever I google+ or follow someone it is adding them to my personal and not business page….any help would be cool!! Thanks a million!

  • (and sorry for the lot of errors in the text, is 5am here in France! =D)

  • I love what you point out Ramsay about not plugging your umbilical cord into Google.

    1 is a bad number in business – 1 vendor, 1 salesman, 1 designer, 1 source of new leads, etc.

    And this is why I think your advice for not just relying on Google can extend even further to not just relying on the internet to keep your online business afloat.

    Too many people ignore offline marketing because they like the ease and they the fact that you can spend all your working hours using tools that are free.

    Merchants and peddlers go get customers in order to make sales. That’s as far ahead as they think about operating their business. These people live to make a sale and their days are judged by whether the amount of people they sold something to was satisfactory or not.

    Successful entrepreneurs think the complete OPPOSITE way.

    We make sales to get customers. The sale is not the outcome. The sale is the path to equity.

    I imagine that when people bought any of your blogs, they weren’t buying a building. There were no locations. There was no equipment. There were no patents.

    There may have been copyrights and trademarks and big ass library of content but there’s no value in the content if there’s not customers to buy it.

    So what did investors buy if they were smart? Customers with long-term equity value.

    The hardest transformation to make as a business owner is that of moving beyond what most business owners do which is try to spend as little as possible to get the customers they need to make the number of sales they need in order to meet payroll for the month and hopefully have some money left over for themselves.

    “How can I spend as little as possible?” is most business owners’ primary question. They see themselves as spenders and they think of everything they have to do in order to get a customer as an expense.

    And this is why they’re in complete terror if any of those expenses go up or media channels dry up. These people are traumatized if postage goes up or if the rates of any media they’re using goes up or if they disappear from Google.

    When you know how to find customers that have enormous equity value, you have made the switch to becoming an investor; not a spender.

    The direct response marketing business Guthy Renker, who sells over a BILLION dollars worth of stuff a year dominates their competition, not with their products like the acne glop Proactiv, but rather because they’re willing to outspend their competitors to get a customer.

    If I’ve got $500 bucks to go get a customer and my competitor is only willing to spend $50, I’m going to kick their ass all over because I can get more customers. Even if I’m dumber than they are and new to the market.

    Figuring out how to become an aggressive investor is a massive transformation that will empower your business like little else can. Growth is opened to you when you embrace this role.

    And the first step is to stop betting the farm on any single cheap source of leads. Thank you Ramsay for reminding of such an important lesson. The “Fundamentals” can never be drilled enough times. :)

  • Hi Ramsay, thank you for the great post!

    My question is similar to James’ (11th March).

    Does Google allow you to author under a Brand Name as opposed to your personal name?

    EG would you be able to have the author as ‘Blog Tyrant’ and have your logo as the image?

    Thanks in advance

  • I have google+ and a wordpress blog. On the google+ page I entered the code with rel=authorship. However, it’s not working (it’s been abt 2 months). I have read that if you have a wordpress.com blog, it doesn’t work. You have to have the wordpress.org. Is this true? Thanks

  • Ramsay, still waiting for my photo to show up on Google but what DID show up was an image of peppers that I had on HubPages with my recipe for stuffed peppers. I went to look it up so that I could follow my own recipe and there it was. Very striking. Loved seeing it there on Google!

  • Jennifer Cunningham

    Hehe. I stopped what I was doing to look for the chili peppers on google. I can’t get any picture to show up. I certainly don’t want my post pictures showing up as me.

  • Victor

    Ramsay write,

    I just wanted to write a few sentences to thank you for the free information you provided on how to write an ebook. With the economy the way it is, I have been thinking on finding new ways to make some extra cash.

    With my education in engineering and statistics, I know that I can write some useful information for students and businesses alike. So, I will go back and read your writings and follow your instruction. And, I will pin your web site address to my favorites.

    Thanks a bunch Ramsay and I wish you continue sucess.

    Best Regards,

    Victor

  • Adding the photo in the Google result seems to be very interesting and amazing. The information shared is very unique and good. Really many people would attain the good knowledge from this post and seriously very valuable post.

  • Really nice post but its true i often find alot of people depending on google :( including myself.

  • Hi Ramsay,
    A very good informative tip about google authorhip that I was searching for on the web,Its indeed a step by step guide to setup google authorship.Keep up the good work

    Regards,
    Joel