Earlier this week Google announced that they were beginning to support authorship markup. Since then there have been a slew of individuals that immediately assumed that this meant that you could steal credit for another author’s work just by editing markup. This is not the case.
The way authorship markup is designed to build the reputation of content creators. It does this by designating all pages as either a content page or an author page. Content pages would be ones such as a blog post, while author pages are pages that list posts by an author and perhaps some additional information on the author.
Under the headline for this post you’ll see the date that this post was posted and that it was written by Brian LePore. The link is marked up with the additional
rel="author" markup to indicate that I was the author of this post. Doing so marks up that link as an author page. What’s important to note is that the
rel="author" markup can only refer to a page on your site. Your average blogger cannot link to an article on the New York Times with the author markup and claim that this is their content.
If you visit the author page you’ll see my picture, a brief description, and links to my Twitter, LinkedIn, and foursquare accounts. Each of these accounts belongs to me, but does not point to any page on our site. Because this is an author page Google supports the
rel="me" markup to establish a link between profile pages. This tells Google that both of those profile pages represent the same person. Both of these pages need to be author pages in order for the linking to work. Linking to a content page won’t work either. I cannot link my author page to a content page on the New York Times Web site to steal credit from that site.
This post was originally published as Clearing up the confusion on Google’s new authorship support for The BrandBuilder Company.