How to Set up rel=author for Google+ SEO in Complicated WordPress Themes

Google SERP Author Result

This type of search result with image and G+ link are what we are trying to achieve.

Are you trying to figure out how to add the Google+ rel=author tags to your WordPress theme without much success? Hopefully you are aware that adding this snippet to your blog posts and linking them to your Google+ page allows for you to be credited in name and photo in Google search results (i.e. your posts get preference in search result rankings and feature your lovely mug). There are a number of GREAT blog posts out there (many of which are linked below) that explain how this works for SEO and how to implement it in WordPress generally, but, in our case, our theme setup and layout just wasn’t conducive to their advice—read: I just couldn’t make it happen for a whole host of reasons.


What follows is the method I came up with after reading many blog posts and the Google references for how to setup the rel=author attribute to tie your blog posts to your Google+ page.

How it works

The rel=author attribute, when appropriately implemented, creates a circular set of references that link your authored posts to your Google+ page.

  1. The post references an “About Me” page on your site (if you have one and most people do; if not, you can directly reference G+ from the post and there will be more on this below)
  2. The “About Me” page references G+
  3. The G+ page references the SITE for which you write. (not the blog page—this is important and I will expand on it below)

The Issues I had

Our WordPress site is set up to advertise our business, Spectate Inbound Marketing. We have a blog with posts from multiple authors and a series of pages set up as individual “About Me” pages for each author. The author designation on each of our blog posts, however, does not link to these individual author pages, but instead to a list of archived posts by that author (if this link was in place, it would have made everything SO much easier! If that’s your situation, tell me below and I can help you out). Instead, these pages were created without any type of tie-in link to the fact that the people described were our authors.

So if you similarly created “About Me” pages for your team that aren’t connected to their blog posts directly now, read on. If not, Yoast explains well how to implement the rel=author attribute for a single author blog and for multi-author blogs that DO already have a link on each post tied to “About Me” pages. AJ Kohn also has a good explanation (that is actually well-written for the less tech-saavy) on how to implement the author attribute.

My Solution

The solution I had to implement involves a WP plug-in that creates and populates an Author Box at the bottom of every blog post. The box link to the author’s “About Me” page, which link to G+ and back again. Easy enough, right? It’s actually a little finicky. Follow on for the exact nuances and HTML code snippets.

  • FIRST/LAST NAME: These have to be filled in if you want a name to appear in the Author Box.
  • WEBSITE: Use the URL for the author’s “About Me” page. OPTION1: This is where you implement the rel=author attribute. After the URL add “?rel=author”
    ex: →
    (If you choose to not implement the attribute here, use the original url.)
  • BIOGRAPHICAL INFO: Write the text for your Author Box. OPTION2: Include a link to your author’s Google+ profiles here with the rel=author attribute tag (Both Options are not necessary. Option 2 technically bypasses the About Me page and links directly to Google+. As I’ve mentioned, this is acceptable to Google. Which method you choose is up to you. FYI, I included both on our blog; The way I figure, an extra opportunity to be circled on Google+ can’t hurt!).

  • Download the Plug-in: Cool Author Box
  • Author Box

    The Author Box plug-in we are implementing

    Once downloaded and activated, you don’t necessarily need to edit anything about the plug-in settings. It will automaticlly appear at the bottom of all of your past blog posts. For our site, I did edit a little of the CSS (the font styling in particular) to make it look a little more like our website.
    NOTE 1: The blue color box at the bottom can’t be changed. So if blue isn’t for you, you may have to explore other author box options (like Author Exposed).
    NOTE 2: Changing the link color can’t be done. You have to work with the CSS in the Plug-in file to change the links colors if you want it to appear differently.
    The information from each user profile populates automatically into this box, which brings us to Step 2….

  • Fill out the User Profile information in WordPress for each author
  • Edit User ProfilesAs the Author Box populates from information in each User Profile, you need to make sure it is filled in. Each user profile can be accessed by a site administrator in the Users area of the left-hand navigation menu of WordPress. Below are the imperative fields for implementing the rel=author tag.

    NOTE 1: Remember to use your own Google+ URL! Your numbers in the URL will be different than mine, but the rest will be the same.
    NOTE 2: According to AJ Kohn, a BFD in the Internet Marketing world, it’s best to use the base url for these links to your G+ profile. Be sure to remove the “/posts” suffix from the URL. This suffix will automatically appear, but just remove it.

  • Add a link to the Google+ Profile on the “About Me” page.
  • Now the “About Me” page needs a link to the author’s Google+ profile. If you used Option1 for the rel=author attribute, you MUST do this step. You may include it anywhere you like, but this attribute must include the rel=me tag, not rel=author. Here, you are claiming your G+ profile as your own, as “me”, which is why you use this attribute instead.
    ex:Connect with me on Google+!

  • Link back to your site from the Google+ Profile
  • Google+ Edits

    Add your links back to your website here on your G+ profile

    There are two links to create on your Google+ profile—and remember, this is your author page, not a company or product page.

    • Under “Other Profiles” add a link to your About Me page on your website
      ex: “Spectate – About Caitlin”
    • Under “Contributor to” add a link to your WEBSITE, not the blog page or a single post.
      ex: “Spectate Inbound Marketing”

  • Verify that it all worked!
  • Google Webmasters Tools includes a verification tool for these snippet attributes you have now implemented. Go to the Rich Snippets Testing Tool and input the link of a single blog post to verify the correct setup.

    If it is correctly implemented, you will see something like this:
    Google Rich Snippets Testing Tool
    If you missed the last step, the setup link on Google+, you would see this:
    Rich Snippets Testing Tool Error

    Next Steps

    There are a number of other tactics you can use to optimize your G+ profile page to help your authorship ranking. Here is an incredible (and long!) article that talks about specific, small changes to Google+ to boost SEO that can help you rank better.

    Good luck! Feel free to write in the comments if you have a question—I will do my best to answer it!

    Other References:
    Video from Google's Matt Cutts and Othar Hansson re: Authorship Markup



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    Leave a comment
    1. Veena Furtado February 6, 2012 at 10:17 am #

      WOW, I love WP and I must get this plug in for my sites. People do not understand how very important it is to have professional looking WP sites…am glad I found this site :)

    2. Craig February 16, 2012 at 5:31 pm #

      Thanks for the great advice. I’ve installed the author plugin but don’t know how to change/add my picture?

      Can you assist?

      • Caitlin vonHedemann February 17, 2012 at 9:46 am #

        Hi Craig!

        The picture populates from your gravatar in WordPress. If you don’t have one, go to to upload one. Use the email address you have linked to your WordPress account to sign in/create a “profile”. Once you have uploaded a gravatar successfully, you should see it in WordPress in the Users area next to your username.

        I will admit, it took me a couple different attempts to get to recognize me as a valid/existing WordPress user, but hopefully you won’t have the same troubles I did! I found the email address to be the way to go over entering your WP Username.

        Happy to help!

        • Andy Roberts September 10, 2012 at 12:26 pm #

          Hi Caitlin, it was funny finding your blog – my eldest daughter has the same name!

          I too am having an issue with gravatar, I’ve re uploaded so I’ll see if that helps.

          Secondly, I have check my process in Rich Snippet tester and it looks fine but one thing I couldn’t get to work is adding the link to my About Us page, I’ve replicated your example but it just sits there as text it doesn’t become a link if you know what I mean!

          Any advice would be great


          • Caitlin vonHedemann September 11, 2012 at 11:06 am #

            Hey Andy! I can tell you your Gravatar is now working because it has come up in my comments alongside your name! A good sign!

            This is exactly the HTML I have on my own personal “About Us” page, if it helps.

            Connect with me on Google+!

            The ‘rel=”me”‘ bit is how Google+ knows that this author is related to my Google+ account. This “About Us” page where this appears is tied to my name as the author of our blog posts and that’s part of how this rel=author loop is confirmed for Google.

            Hope this helps!

    3. Caitlin vonHedemann February 17, 2012 at 4:26 pm #

      You can verify that this is working within Google Webmasters Tools. AWESOME.

    4. Liz Jamieson February 24, 2012 at 3:46 pm #

      We also have a plugin that can help especially with the more complex authorship arrangements that you describe. For example, you might have multiple authors and a company Google+ Page – in which case there would be a logo that could show in the SERPS too … not just author images. So a single site might have some posts showing for author A, others for author B with their respective images in the SERPS but with tag and category pages showing the site’s logo (via the site’s Google+ page). The site logo would also show for the home page.

      Please take a look at

      • Caitlin vonHedemann February 27, 2012 at 10:41 am #

        Thanks Liz! Always nice to see ways other people are getting this markup achieved in WordPress.

    5. Caitlin vonHedemann February 24, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

      ADDENDUM: We over here at Spectate recently updated our WordPress instance to version 3.3.1 and Cool Author Box no longer works for us as a plug-in :( We have now implemented an alternative which works quite well (and similarly to Cool Author Box!) Here is the plug-in page (; it is called “Custom About Author”. The biographical information, as before, populates from the User Profile and now there are Social Media Profile links to get the snazzy SM link graphics below your information! Even with this Google+ link you will still want to include the rel=author attribute in a link within the biographical information to get that connection to your G+ profile as the author of the content you post.

    6. Joe K April 30, 2012 at 12:38 am #

      Hi Caitlin, I am a newbie and am going to try to implement the “How to Set up rel=author for Google+ SEO in Complicated WordPress Themes” on my own site.

      I have read many articles on how to do this and yours is the easiest to understand so far. It still looks a little complicated but I will give it a try. Thanks for the info.


      • Caitlin vonHedemann April 30, 2012 at 10:11 am #

        Glad to help, Joe! It is a bit of a complicated process, but it CAN be done. Let us know if you need further help!

        • Joe K May 1, 2012 at 11:01 am #

          Hi Caitlin, I am trying to set this up using option 2. I am using a similar author plugin called “Social Author Bio” and I have my Google+ link set up in it ok.

          But I am not following what to do after your article heading “Add a link to the Google+ Profile on the “About Me” page.” It seems to reference option 1 “about me” which I do not have a page for that.

          It looks like I need to make 2 links from Google+ under “other profiles” and “contributors” but you are showing an example link to an “about page” so I am not clear what to use for a link?

          And under “contributors” example it has ex: “Spectate Inbound Marketing” Not sure what this is suppose to be, code?

    7. Joe K May 10, 2012 at 6:09 pm #

      I got it working now, thanks!

    8. Sam Kear May 28, 2012 at 1:29 pm #

      Thanks for the useful guide!

      I ended up using the Custom About Author plugin and it seems to work very well.

      For some reason WordPress strips out the rel=author tag on the link in my profile. I was able to get it working by appending ?rel=author directly after my Google+ ID and it worked.

      • Caitlin vonHedemann May 30, 2012 at 9:32 am #

        That’s great to hear! It seems multiple plug-ins are coming out to make this process easier for folks–certainly helps!

    9. Lee Forbes July 11, 2012 at 12:59 pm #

      I have traveled across many authorship tutorials and yours helped me fix “contributor to” links and “other profiles” links to get it working! I thank you. Also setup my gravatar account for the image…

    10. prabhat July 15, 2012 at 2:10 pm #

      hi caitlin,
      fist time visitor to your site..loved your writing style. i tried the things you explained ,here. but i think i must be doing something wrong because i am not able to do it.will try again and again.
      keep up the good work

      • Caitlin vonHedemann July 17, 2012 at 7:19 am #

        Thanks for the comment! I’ll look into any modifications in the process. Plugins can be a challenge with differing frameworks and versions of WordPress, so that may be part of the issue. Good luck!

    11. Don Bistrow August 17, 2012 at 11:04 pm #

      I clicked on your link to “Cool Author Box” and got the follow message in the header:

      “This plugin hasn’t been updated in over 2 years. It may no longer be maintained or supported and may have compatibility issues when used with more recent versions of WordPress.”

      Why would you recommend a WP plugin that hasn’t been updated since May 10, 2010? You originally posted this on Feb. 6, 2012.

      • Caitlin vonHedemann August 23, 2012 at 7:31 am #

        Thanks for you input, Don. I chose this plug-in because it was highly recommended when I search for author options for multi-author blogs. While it may not have been updated in a while, I found it to work well for us. We haven’t had any problems with it for our version of WordPress 3.3.1!

        We have since begun using an alternative multi-author plug-in for some other reasons unrelated to the rel=author implementation. “Custom About Author” is what we have been using more recently and it is a good option if you are wary about using an older plug-in.

    12. Ninja Life Tips October 2, 2012 at 11:24 pm #

      Super Awesome Tip. Implemented it on my life tips blog and was amazed at how easy it is. Now users can feel more compelled to read a post that has the author and the image :)


    1. Why “rel=author” might be of Value, eh? | CanuckSEO - October 12, 2012

      [...] My own setup was a bit different than yours might be as my blog is a WordPress blog so I needed to make a couple of small changes there too…but that can be looked up again in Google with a simple “rel=author for WordPress” web search. I especially like Joost’s blog piece here…or Caitlins piece here. [...]